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Monday, July 15, 2013

SBA Final Rule Clarifies Consequences of Misrepresenting Small Business Status

SBA Final Rule Clarifies Consequences of Misrepresenting Small Business Status
By Bryan King
The Small Business Administration released on June 28, 2013, a Final Rule amending the SBA’s regulations to implement provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 relating to the size and status integrity of small businesses. The new regulations, which go into effect on August 27, 2013, will be of great interest to government contractors—particularly those competing for small business set-asides.
The current SBA regulations merely provide general statements that the Small Business Act provides for severe penalties for knowingly misrepresenting a concern’s small business size/status. However, the specific penalties involved were unclear. The Final Rule addresses the issue, and clarifies the penalties for knowing misrepresentation. The Final Rule has added new regulations, as well as new provisions to existing regulations, that specify the penalties for a concern misrepresenting itself as a small business in the pursuit and award of small business set-asides. The highlights of the amendments to the regulations are as follows:
  • Any time a contractor seeks and obtains a federal contract or subcontract through willful misrepresentation of its small business size/status, there is a presumption of loss to the government equal to the value of that contract or subcontract;
  • The new regulations clarify the penalties for individuals and businesses misrepresenting small business size/status, including suspension and debarment, as well as civil and criminal penalties;
  • An offer for a federal contract set aside for small businesses will in certain circumstances be deemed a certification of small business size/status;
  • An authorized official of the offeror must sign a certification of small business size/status included with every offer on procurements set aside for small businesses; and
  • Small business concerns must annually update their size/status in the applicable database (SAM), and concerns failing to do so will not be identified as small (or disadvantaged) until updated.
The Final Rule amends the sections of the SBA regulations pertaining to small businesses (13 CFR § 121.108), the Small Business Subcontracting Program (13 CFR § 121.411), the 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business program (13 CFR § 124.521), the Small Disadvantaged Business program (13 CFR § 124.1015), the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program (13 CFR § 125.29), the HUBZone Program (13 CFR § 126.900), and the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program (13 CFR § 127.700). While each small business program’s individual regulations were modified separately, the changes are generally uniform throughout.
Misrepresentation as a Small Business
The new regulations establish and clarify the consequences of a contractor willfully misrepresenting its small business size/status. The first consequence outlined by the new regulations is the establishment of a presumption of loss to the government. Where it is revealed that a contractor willfully sought and obtained award through misrepresentation of its small business size/status, the presumption of loss will be equal to the total amount expended on the contract or subcontract. This presumption of loss can be utilized by the government in civil and criminal proceedings in Federal court.
The new regulations also state that individuals or concerns that are found to have misrepresented small business size/status are subject to severe civil penalties under the False Claims Act and Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act, severe criminal penalties pursuant to the Small Business Act, as well as possible suspension and debarment. These penalties apply to both misrepresentations of small business size/status, as well as failure to correct “continuing representations” that are no longer true. (Note: Only the amendment to the 8(a) program regulations did not include a section on Penalties for Misrepresentation. Such penalties are currently covered by existing 8(a) regulations—13 CFR § 124.501(i)).
In order to avoid unfair penalties for simple and innocent mistakes, the new regulations include limitation of liability provisions. The consequences discussed above are not meant to apply to situations involving unintentional errors or similar situations in which a misrepresentation was not affirmative, intentional or willful. Also, the new regulations do not penalize a prime contractor for good faith acceptance of the representations made by its subcontractors.
Certifications of Small Business Size/Status
Under the new regulations, certain actions taken by contractors will be deemed to be a certification of small business size/status. These actions include submitting a bid or proposal on any contract or subcontract that is either set aside for one of the various small business programs, or where the procuring agency is in any way encouraged to count the award as one to a concern in one of the various small business programs. In addition, a concern’s registration in any Federal database for the purpose of being considered for an award of a set-aside contract will be deemed a certification of small business size/status.
In addition to the deemed certification simply by virtue of submitting a bid or proposal on a set-aside procurement, the new regulations also require an authorized official of the offeror to submit a signed certification of small business size/status with the bid or proposal. This requirement opens the door for individual liability for misrepresentation of small business size/status.
Annual Updates of Small Business Size/Status

The new regulations have added a requirement of an annual update for those small business programs that allow for self-certifications, i.e., small business, SDB, SDVOSB, and Woman-Owned. The certification requirements of the 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business program and the HUBZone Program are currently covered by the existing SBA regulations (Part 124 and Part 126, respectively), and thus were not amended by the Final Rule.
For those programs allowing self-certification, the new regulations do not allow a concern to self-certify in a Federal database (such as SAM) unless it updates its certification on an annual basis as relates to the applicable eligibility requirements. A concern that fails to perform the annual certification will not be listed as the applicable small business type in Federal databases until the concern recertifies its status.
Practical Counsel for Small Business Government Contractors

These new regulations have significantly increased the importance for small business government contractors to ensure their certifications and representations are true and accurate. The penalties outlined above apply not only to new certifications and representations, but also to companies and individuals failing to correct certifications and representations that for whatever reason are no longer correct. It would be a wise course of action for small business government contractors to engage legal counsel familiar with these regulations to ensure compliance and avoid costly penalties.

Google Will Demote Non-Mobile Friendly Pages In Mobile Search Results

Google Will Demote Non-Mobile Friendly Pages In Mobile Search Results

Google has taken a strong stance on mobile SEO, announcing there will be demotions if your site is not mobile friendly or is misconfigured when it comes to being mobile friendly.
Google said the demotion will only impact mobile, smartphone friendly, search results and only impact web pages that are not smartphone friendly or misconfigured when it comes to being smartphone friendly.
Google then documents two of many common smartphone mistakes that webmasters make. The two include:
(1) Faulty redirects such as pointing individual pages on your site to your mobile friendly home page, as opposed to a mobile friendly version of that specific page. When possible, Google may even try to fix that for you.
(2) Serving Smartphone-only errors such as 404ing mobile users, other error pages, incorrectly handling Googlebot-Mobile, and unplayable videos on smartphone devices.
Again, Google is getting serious about mobile SEO. If your site is not built right, it won't rank well in the smartphone search results in Google.
Even more so, Google announced last night at SMX that site speed ranking factors will be coming to mobile pages and from my understanding, it will have it's own speed factor. By Barry Schwartz @ SearchEngineRoundtable

This announcement by Google is the exact reason SMB owners need to make sure they have their Mobile Solution ready-if not YOU ARE WASTING $$$ & LOSING PROFITS. If you're close to retirement or okay with possibly being out of business within 5 years-Do nothing. However if you DON'T want 80% of YOUR prospective customers doing business elsewhere, either get a DIY Mobile Solution, or let the experts at ValleyMOBI help educate you.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Mobile Marketing Strategy That Helps First, Sells Second » Techipedia | Tamar Weinberg

A Mobile Marketing Strategy That Helps First, Sells Second from Techipedia
by Jay Baer.

Brands have rushed to provide value (optimally) or promotions (typically) on every new communication platform, all of which are increasingly accessed through mobile devices, making customers’ relationships with brands solely a collection of micro-experiences. This is the “appification” of brand value.

For decades, the key question has been “how valuable is the brand?” The key question moving forward is “how valuable are your apps?” Apple, of course, started this trend with the introduction of the first iPhone, but distilling entire companies down to a collection of utilities is now pervasive, and that is where the vast majority of technology and marketing development is headed. When fully implemented, this atomization of brand value will make the web far less valuable than it is today, and will make real-time relevancy via Youtility the primary battleground for all companies.

George Colony, chief executive officer of Forrester Research, has been sounding this alarm for years. He calls the trend the “App Internet” and believes it will usher in a new breed of corporate winners and losers in every category: “As the Web becomes the AM radio of digital, the mobile App Internet will rise. “It doesn’t matter what you sell—insurance, pills, cars, energy, bonds—you’ll be reaching many of your customers through these ecosystems in the future.”

Figure 23 - 309 Billion App Downloads

Mobile research and commerce lifestyle is more ubiquitous among today’s younger consumers. The Social Habit research found that more than 41 percent of twenty four- to thirty-five-year-old American social media users with a smartphone purchase products directly from that device at least monthly, 7 compared to 16 percent of forty-five- to fifty four- year-olds who also use social media and don’t own a smartphone. Today’s younger consumers aren’t just researching and buying via mobile either. The app-ification of brands is actually more persuasive to this generation than other forms of marketing. In an amazing 2012 study, SymphonyIRI found that Americans in the Millennial generation are almost four times more likely than American consumers overall to have their purchases influenced by smartphone applications.

The impact of these apps on their purchase decisions is greater than recommendations from blogs and social media, and from manufacturers’ websites or e-mail. Within a generation every customer and prospective customer of every company in every developed nation will have never known a world without the ability to access information at any time through a mobile device.

When using a mobile device, customers and prospective customers are often sending a steady stream of information about what they might need. Tapping into a consumer’s location and then providing geography specific usefulness is the most common way companies can be helpful in a mobile context. Many of our most used applications— like Google Maps—rely on it. Each time Google Maps prompts you to get driving directions from “your current location,” Google is polling your mobile device and using geolocation to create usefulness. We may not always perceive it, but this is a massive advance over the previous generation of way-finding that required you to know your current position to plan a route.

So how can today’s marketers respond to the drive towards mobile marketing? By being a Youtility.  Not “utility,” because a utility is a faceless commodity. Youtility is marketing upside down. Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers. To be a Youtility in today’s marketplace, you need to reach customers where they are: on their mobile devices.

There are three ways to provide real-time Youtility with intrinsic value. The first is to be useful based on the customer’s location. The second is to be useful based on the customer’s situation. The last is to be useful based on seasonality or external factors. In nearly every case, appification and providing value via mobile is the easiest path.

Are you ready to create Youtility? By Jay Baer
If you don't have your Youtility let ValleyMOBI help educate you on how to implement a successful Mobile Marketing Strategy. ValleyMOBI is the premier web design and marketing firm for the Small Business Owner. We believe in keeping our clients updated on every step of the design process, from concept to completion. If you are ready for your business to EXPLODE, Contact ValleyMOBI to handle all your digital solutions!

Three in four mobile web users exposed to ads as mobile share of internet ad sales quadruples 2010-12, reports Mintel - PR Newswire - The Sacramento Bee

Three in four mobile web users exposed to ads as mobile share of internet ad sales quadruples 2010-12, reports Mintel - PR Newswire - The Sacramento Bee

/PRNewswire/ -- As the nation becomes ever more connected, the advertising space brands buy into has never been more important. And proving the value of the mobile space in the world of advertising, new research from Mintel reveals that three in four (76%) of mobile web users in the US have seen an ad in the past month, including 91% of 18-24-year-olds and 83% of those aged 25-34, a total audience of about half (49%) of all adults (when those without smartphones or Internet access are taken into consideration).
"Typically, nascent markets related to technology show slowing growth each year," says Billy Hulkower, senior analyst, technology and media at Mintel. " However, in the case of mobile ads, consumers will still be acquiring their first smartphones and tablets through 2015, suggesting that sales growth deceleration will not occur at the same pace that would be seen for a hardware market—instead, sales may accelerate further as the audience for mobile media expands."
The most commonly viewed ads are app and banner ads. Roughly half of all 18-34-year-olds have seen ads in the past month in an app, in a banner, or in a mobile game. About four in 10 18-34-year-olds who use the mobile web have also seen a video ad and seen (or heard) an internet radio ad in the past month. All of these penetration figures can be expected to rise on a monthly basis through 2014 as the late majority of adults adopt mobile media.
From 2010-12, sales of mobile ads increased from $0.6 billion to $3.4 billion*, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 138%. Local mobile ad sales, primarily from retail establishments, are also expected to propel mobile ad sales, with local mobile sales expected to rise from an estimated $1 billion in 2012 to a projected $2 billion in 2014. As the reach of mobile ads continues to climb, ad spending will become more desirable still.
"The majority of adults and teens now own a smartphone, including more than three-quarters of the youngest adults and highest-income groups. Advertisers may feel squeamish about the personal nature of the phone and its small screen size, but it is now where the most desirable consumer audiences lie. Growth is likely to continue rising rapidly as more consumers adopt both smartphones and tablets, with the late majority boarding these hardware platforms for the first time." Billy Hulkower continues.
Furthermore, it seems mobile couponing in particular presents a clear opportunity for driving sales via mobile ads. About one in six adults (18%) have redeemed a mobile coupon, including over 20% of respondents from households with more than $100K in annual income. Furthermore, Mintel's research reveals huge potential to increase mobile ad viewership by rewarding consumers for viewing ads by giving them free access to streaming media and apps that typically carry a small fee. More than one in four (28%) mobile web users are willing to receive ads that support free usage of a mobile app, with this sentiment distributed somewhat evenly across age groups (albeit favoring 18-24-year-olds where the willingness increases to 34%).
*according to figures from eMarketer and BIAKelsey as analyzed by Mintel
About Mintel Mintel is a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence. For more than 40 years, Mintel has provided insight into key worldwide trends, offering exclusive data and analysis that directly impacts client success. With offices in Chicago, New York, London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Sao Paulo, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand. For more information on Mintel, please visit www.mintel.com.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/07/12/5562998/three-in-four-mobile-web-users.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The “Secret Sauce” Behind Successful Mobile Advertising

The “Secret Sauce” Behind Successful Mobile Advertising

Written BY: Marc Payne

Percent of Amercian with a Mobille Device
Percent of Americans that use Mobile Search
Percent of Americans with a Smartphone
Percent of Businesses that can be found on a Mobile Device


Here’s a new word you may soon become familiar with-Appification. What exactly does it mean? Well the above statistics says it all. The world is increasingly becoming a mobile playground. Remember when you had to pay 25 cents to use a phone booth, or when you could only watch TV on TV. Those days are pretty much a thing of the past. Now we have our “Jetsons phone” with Skype. The World Wide Web has quickly become a pervasive part of our life. However, we are currently in the midst of another shift in the landscape of the Information Age. I’ll tell you a secret-The Internet is about to become like AM radio.

The Internet has become the way to do business. Whether talking about gaining more customers with giveaways, educating clients as to how your services will help them, or simply providing a digital extension of the cash register, almost every business realizes the necessity of a website. Whether a custom or semi-template design, a DIY job from Wordpress, or a simple Facebook page-almost every business has some sort Internet presence. However the rules have changed with the creation of the Smartphone. Now consumers don’t have to be “confined” to visiting you from the comfort of their homes, now they can reach you while in the movies, buy your music at a concert or even apply for a mortgage. While some traditional websites are viewable on mobile screens (with some difficulty), Flash websites just don’t seem to be compatible with mobile devices-causing an error screen when a customer searches for your business.  There is a simple fix for the problem, a simple redirect script built into a traditional site that leads to a mobile website. The problem is that over 90% businesses have neglected to take the simple step of getting a mobile site-to the delight of the few that have. Many small business owners have been unwilling to take the mobile plunge because of the initial costs-but in 2013 the costs of mobile web development have reduced and the ROI is almost inestimable. By adhering to these three simple tips, you not only ensure a complete digital presence you can make your mobile advertising more appealing to your customers:

1.      Consistently deliver value-The question one asks upon viewing a mobile ad is “What’s in it for me-is this worth my time, because I’m a busy person?” Value, duration of interaction and enjoyability are all key factors when consumers view an ad.

2.      Nonintrusive formatting-No one likes to be interrupted for a sales pitch. Not in person and not on their mobile device. Advertising must present a native feel, coming in natural break periods, instead in the midst of the content.

3.      Choice-Consumers may consistently choose the same brand, but they still want choice. Instead of mandating a reward, allowing the customer to choose their reward can go a long way towards customer satisfaction.

Title: Mobile is the new way to reach your customers - Description: Canyour customers find you with a Smartphone? If not, chances are they are "cheating" on you with a business that does. Get your website a more professional look that your customers will appreciate-and that always means more profits.

So the question every small business owner needs to ask is-“Can I be found on my Smartphone?” if not, let ValleyMOBI show you how profitable a mobile advertising campaign can be for your business. ValleyMOBI can teach you all you need to know about the ways your business can use a mobile solution-the ways are virtually limitless.
Written By: Marc Payne, Director of Sales, ValleyMOBI

Mobile Ads Standardized

Mobile Ads Standardized

By: Marc Payne

On July 11, 2013 the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), in conjunction with the Media Rating Council (MRC), finally dispensed official mobile web advertising guidelines for mobile applications. The IAB and MMA solicited and received input from 40 of their members(including CNN.com, Dow Jones & Co., Microsoft Advertising, Google, NBC Universal Digital Media and many other industry leaders)  in an effort to have the MRC draft new and updated guidelines which will help alleviate many of the filters, and eliminate much of the erroneous data which has kept mobile web advertising from stronger global growth.

The mobile advertising guidelines were initially released in November, and in May Apple’s iPad became the first mobile ad network to be fully accredited by the MRC for guideline compliance. Currently another major mobile ad supplier Medialets, among other firms, is undergoing the MRC accreditation process; Medialets is already a member of the MMA and the  Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence. Medialets COO Richy Glassberg “Finalizing these guidelines is the culmination of a tremendous amount of effort and input,” and should bring about “higher level of standardization and accountability to mobile advertising.” The MRC’s CEO, George W. Ivie is on record saying “Now that there is clear and specific industry measurement guidance in place, both buyers and sellers of mobile advertising will have enhanced confidence that the performance and effectiveness of campaigns can be consistently and accurately measured, which will lead to greater accountability and increased investment by marketers in the mobile space.”

An absence of mobile industry standardization has long been the culprit behind the stagnant growth of mobile. However, earlier in the week the IAB published a report which shows robust mobile growth; the global mobile advertising revenue data they have compiled shows an increase from 2011 to 2012 of 83% ($5.3 Billion to $8.9 Billion), and earlier this year found that US mobile ad revenue had more than doubled in 2012 to $3.4 Billion.

Title: Global Digital Ad Spending - Description: From 2012 to 2016 Mobile ad spending is expected to mushroom from $105.02 Billion to a staggering $173.15 Billion; the bulk of this growth will occur in North American and Asian markets.

The guidelines themselves require client-side counting for mobile advertising impressions (views), and hope that this will reduce the incongruities in earlier mobile impression counts. These new rules include:

·         ONLY client-side counting is permissible for compiling data on mobile application ad impressions.

·         An understanding that HTML5 quite possibly will affect how and when mobile ads are counted; this will require close auditor inspection.

·         A firm end-date requirement for counting and reporting the ad impressions that have been viewed while the app is offline.

·         A mandate that any measurement or counting of ad impressions is not counted prematurely by Software Development Kits.

All of these requirements among the others, are expected to spur the growth of existing mobile ad networks, and create new opportunities for mobile advertising investors, especially for small business owners who have been fearful of entering the mobile marketplace, due to these inefficiencies. With these filters removed, small business owners can be confident in the effectiveness of their mobile campaigns.

Title: Is Your Business Mobile Friendly? - Description: Are you ready for your customers to find you on your mobile device? If not, you're hurting your sales because 70% of consumers use mobile search to find a business to become a customer of and 90% of CEO's use mobile search to find suppliers (Google/IPSOS) Is YOUR business getting found!

ValleyMOBI plans to be right there to assist small business owners in procuring this type of quality advertising for all of their clients. No matter how big or small your operation, you can be assured that ValleyMOBI will give your business the quality advertising your business deserves!

Written by Marc Payne-Director of Sales, ValleyMOBI