Businesses of all sizes have been drastically affected by the coronavirus outbreak. As things have unfolded over the last few months, it is an interesting time to be in marketing and communications.
One thing that is abundantly clear is that many businesses have experienced a situation unlike any before. The pandemic is a perfect example of a case for a communications plan.
Having an emergency communication plan is essential for your business. You need to know what to say and when to say it. When you are faced with a crisis, you don’t want to be in a state of confusion scrambling around for the right things to say, regardless if it is an outbreak like coronavirus, a social issue, or an emergency within your staff or family. Your messages should be kept simple and updated regularly.
Database Marketing Is For Everyone!
Whether you're a partner in a consulting firm, a contractor or electrician, or CEO of an international conglomerate, database marketing is crucial for your success.
Database marketing can be simple or sophisticated. The key is that instead of just having a mailing list of prospective customers or a single list of current customers, you can use a computerized system to evaluate and manage the information more precisely.
For example, you may want to send a reminder mailing to every customer twice a year; a monthly mailing or email newsletter to more active customers; and even place a phone call from time to time to your very best customers. Then maybe set up email reminders and news for prospective clients and general contacts.
Using a Mix of Marketing Vehicles
Historically, database marketing relied overwhelmingly on direct mail. Then increasingly telemarketing had been used. And now there are a slew of better alternatives to consider, including email, fax, social media and text.
Particularly for closing sales for higher-ticket goods or services, a combination of several different contact methods may work best. For smaller businesses, email marketing and social media are always the most cost-efficient way to go.
Fancy and Expensive Doesn't Always Sell!
Again and again, I've learned in marketing campaigns that fancy and expensive doesn't always mean better results. Also, once you get into four-color printing the costs are high, so it is very expensive to mail high quality printed materials.
TEST! TEST! TEST!
In database marketing, changing even a small variable can wildly change your results. So trying different combinations and making sure that you are tracking ROI are key to these efforts.
Maria L. Novak Dugan is president of Marketing Solutions & Business Development, a firm in West Chester, PA, offering creative marketing services and goal implementation for small & medium sized businesses. For more information, contact Maria at 610-405-0633 or Maria@Maria-L-Novak.com or visit www.Maria-L-Novak.com
Practically every business has a website. But surprisingly, the IRS hasn’t yet issued formal guidance on when Internet website costs can be deducted.
Fortunately, established rules that generally apply to the deductibility of business costs, and IRS guidance that applies to software costs, provide business taxpayers launching a website with some guidance as to the proper treatment of the costs.
Hardware or software?
Let’s start with the hardware you may need to operate a website. The costs involved fall under the standard rules for depreciable equipment. Specifically, once these assets are up and running, you can deduct 100% of the cost in the first year they’re placed in service. This favorable treatment is allowed under the 100% first-year bonus depreciation break.
Similar rules apply to purchased off-the-shelf software. However, software license fees are treated differently from purchased software costs for tax purposes. Payments for leased or licensed software used for your website are currently deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses.
Was the software developed internally?
An alternate position is that your software development costs represent currently deductible research and development costs under the tax code. To qualify for this treatment, the costs must be paid or incurred by December 31, 2022.
A more conservative approach would be to capitalize the costs of internally developed software. Then you would depreciate them over 36 months.
If your website is primarily for advertising, you can also currently deduct internal website software development costs as ordinary and necessary business expenses.
Are you paying a third party?
Some companies hire third parties to set up and run their websites. In general, payments to third parties are currently deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses.
What about before business begins?
Start-up expenses can include website development costs. Up to $5,000 of otherwise deductible expenses that are incurred before your business commences can generally be deducted in the year business commences. However, if your start-up expenses exceed $50,000, the $5,000 current deduction limit starts to be chipped away. Above this amount, you must capitalize some, or all, of your start-up expenses and amortize them over 60 months, starting with the month that business commences.