LOCAL BUSINESS SUCCESS CENTER

Tips, trends and marketing advice to help you grow your business.

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Incubator News] Constant Contact Launches Small Business Innovation Loft

On Tuesday, Constant Contact launched the Small Business Innovation Loft (SMB InnoLoft), the home of a new program designed to support entrepreneurs as they solve problems for small businesses through the development of new products, features, and services.

Startups selected for the program will have incubator space at Constant Contact’s Massachusetts headquarters for 4 months. Additionally, program participants will receive financial resources, mentorship, and access to small businesses who have opted in to provide feedback on new offerings.

SMB InnoLoft is accepting submissions through March 31 for the inaugural class of startups. The program is scheduled to begin in summer 2014.

Key Takeaway: This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to get the mentoring, financial backing, and insider access they need to grow their business. If you're an early-stage startup or entrepreneur that supports small businesses, you can apply for the program here.

[Social Media News] Facebook Acquires Link-Sharing App Branch

On Monday, link-sharing service Branch announced their acquisition by Facebook. Branch developers will become part of a new “Conversations” team at Facebook with the goal of helping users “connect around their interests.”

Branch currently offers two services: Branch, a web-based link-sharing service that provides a platform for users to discuss a piece of content and share that discussion anywhere on the web, and Potluck, an iPhone app that provides bite-sized news clips you can discuss within the app.

Key Takeaway: This acquisition falls in line with Facebook's recent changes to its News Feed to serve up more relevant, news-oriented posts to users. All signs point to the continued importance of sharing high-quality, interesting content with your followers on social media, especially on Facebook. Make sure that the content you curate for your audience is meaningful—and if you haven't been creating your own newsworthy content on a company blog, you may want to start in 2014.

[Restaurant News] 70% of Chain Restaurant Patrons Won't Try New Menu Items

New research from the NPD Group released this week revealed that, at chain restaurants, 70% of surveyed consumers tend to order menu items they’ve ordered before, rather than trying something new.

Consumers indicated that they would be willing to try new items based on their appearance, price, and healthfulness.

The survey also suggested that consumers would branch out and order a new menu item if it falls under the same category as their regular orders, or an item that’s a regular fixture on a restaurant’s menu.

Key Takeaway: If you want to get your customers to branch out and try new things, make sure to give them as much information as possible about new items: photos, descriptions, health information, and pricing. Also be sure to categorize new menu items appropriately, which may increase the likelihood of experimentation.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know! 

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