Youngstown, Ohio gets the presidential treatment. In our May issue, we chronicled the unlikely rise of Youngstown, Ohio, a city long-since abandoned by the steel industry now trying to reinvent itself as a hub for technology entrepreneurs with the help of the Youngstown Business Incubator. Yesterday, President Obama toured Youngstown and used the city as a backdrop for a speech on "how our economy is growing again," thanks in part to the president's stimulus plan. Obama spoke from a former steel plant which has been renovated to become a pipe-making plant which recently announced plans for a $650 million expansion, in part made possible with a $20 million investment from the stimulus package.
How to make marketing your friend. MP Mueller, president of the ad agency Door Number 3, makes the case for doing your own marketing in a blog entry for The New York Times. Mueller writes that business owners have to reevaluate their advertising tactics and decide whether or not they actually do justice to the brands they're trying to sell. "Throw out those stock photos on your Web site of model perfect professionals shaking hands across a board table," she writes. "Replace them with pictures that reflect your staff, culture and personality." If you're uncomfortable tooting your own horn, Mueller also suggests doing pro bono work or working with non-profits, to let other people spread your corporate values by word of mouth. She writes, "Don't be shy about asking for exposure you would like in exchange for your donation." Back in November, Mueller also spoke with Inc. about the benefits of pro bono work.
Om Malik on the surge in tech M&As. If you're a start-up, GigaOm's Om Malik has some good news for you: Silicon Valley companies of all sizes are on a shopping spree. What's prompting this surge? For the past year, to get through the recession, companies were cutting costs and in some cases workers. But as the economy rebounds, large companies are looking to add new products and spruce up the business, says Malik. For example, Yahoo recently acquired Associated Content which develops content online, as a way to get in on the demand for display advertising. Malik says it's a short-term trade meant to boost ad revenues. "I won't be surprised if we see the drumbeat of deals get louder and louder. For start-ups that means one thing: good news."
Why aren't more women business owners using social media? That's one of the more surprising results of a survey that Small Business Trends picked up. More than 60 percent of the 320 women business owners surveyed by Forbes Insight and KeyBank's Key4Woman said that they don't track social media to find out what they're customers are saying about them. Even though the majority said that customer relationships were the core of their businesses, 24 percent of the women said they weren't using any type of social media to engage with them, and a whopping 25 percent said they didn't even have a website. If you haven't already, check out (you too, men) our 12 tips for stepping up your social media presence.
The dilemma of innovating a better umbrella. Ever wondered why it's so tough to find affordable and sturdy umbrellas that can survive at least one wind-whipping storm? As The Wall Street Journal reports, innovating a better umbrella is tricky business. Hundreds of components plus consumers' unwillingness to spend more than a few dollars on a device they will very possibly misplace have umbrella manufacturers searching for new answers. Some companies believe they have found them, the paper explains.
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.