Don’t Forget the Little People

Posted in Business, Musings on May 31, 2012 by wolfwomyn

I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately watching the news, listening to people.   It seems that in today’s economy there is a major focus on the big corporations and the people with a lot of funds, what is being termed at the 1%.  But in all the hullabaloo, the little people, the middle and lower class, are being completely forgotten and swept under the rug.  So I thought today I’d write a little bit on my own, rather than putting forward yet another article, and speak up for the people where most of the income actually comes from.

Realistically, most of the spending in this country come from the middle to lower income groups.  The rich seem to be keeping it tied up and stashed away.  So rather than focusing the attention on getting the attention of the 1%, time and energy should be focused on where the business actually is and keeping prices withing a range where we can actually connect ~ especially for the small business folks.  Keeping prices to a reasonable level, rather it be for services or merchandise, will keep the flow of the energy of money running.  If we out price these groups we are, as the old saying goes, cutting of our nose despite our face.   So it means cutting the profit margin, that margin won’t be there if we are not getting business.

What does this mean?  Being realistic, and not running scared, about where the economy is and what people can afford.   We are in a major recession.  People don’t have the expendable income that used to be there.  And they are really tired of promises that are not kept, and companies that used to be there and care are no longer, and things that used to be reasonable priced doubled and tripled so that basics cannot even be reached.  Being realistic about our pricing for services and merchandise is mandatory these days.

Another way to keep the general population involved and coming into your business is customer service.   I recently went to Hawaii and experienced their ‘Aloha Spirit’, and it was obvious everywhere I went.   When I walked into a store, no matter what size, the workers actually looked up, caught your eye, and with a smile and warm heart greeted you with a very happy Aloha.  You actually knew that they knew you were there and they actually wanted you there.   To very basic human interaction, while driving I noticed that people actually stopped to let another person turn across the road, and people actually stopped for pedestrians waiting to cross the street, and everywhere there was a feeling of care and concern for others.    And this from a people who are fighting for their country.  I know most of you probably are not even aware that the US in a military coo, started by the missionaries children, took over their country and arrested and imprisoned their queen in her own palace.   And yet, the still smile, greet the outsiders with Aloha, and for the most part treat us well.   In this harsh economy that we are in everyone needs some Aloha.

So what is the moral of the story.  Remember the little people, and remember we all want to be acknowledged and treated with respect.  Even if you don’t feel it, pretend and it will come.  Treating people with respect, caring about where people are, and being conscious of this and setting our pricing within that range will keep people coming back for more of whatever you are offering.

Pay Attention To Your Customers

Posted in Small Business, Uncategorized, Websites on April 10, 2012 by wolfwomyn

You know the more I have contact with potential customers out there, the more I hear that they are angry, frustrated, and just plain tired of hiring people who don’t listen to what they want.  Instead they put their hard earned funds into a person who is insistent on doing what they want and not what the customer wants.  Now this philosophy, doing what I want and not my customer, is applicable (maybe) if you are doing your own thing, creating your own products.  It surely doesn’t apply when you are in a service industry.

When you are in a service industry, one that is there to “serve your customer”, your responsibility is to your customer.  It doesn’t matter if you agree with their ideas, or their style.  You are there to create what they want.  Giving advice is definitely called for, but it is up to your customer if they want to take it.  If they don’t, it is up to you to “serve” them.  And, in the case of websites, it is important that you get their approval before launching it.  Too often websites are put up live before the customer has the option of approving it, which leaves them with something that they potentially didn’t want.  And to make it worse it is out there for the world to see.

So if you are in a service profession remember  the old saying, “The customer is always right.”   It is their time, their energy, their funds which are paying for your services, and that is what will keep your business going.    Listen to your customer, give them the benefit of your wisdom, and design something that works for them.  In the long run you will have happy customers, which means that you will have customers that are more than happy to refer you to their friends which will expand your business.  Word of mouth is one of the biggest reasons that businesses succeed.  And in this time of the world wide web their words go a long long way.

 

Five Ways to Make Your Website Tablet-Friendly

Posted in Websites on April 3, 2012 by wolfwomyn

You’re seeing tablets more and more: on subways, in planes and in waiting rooms. To ensure you don’t miss out during this cultural switch in reading habits, a number of publications have covered ways to ensure your site is tablet-friendly.

We’ve decided to highlight the tips provided by CIK Marketing, as they’re practical and immediately useful. Here are five:

Avoid Flash. Adobe’s Flash technology doesn’t work on Apple mobile devices— and Flash tends to weigh sites down in any case. Substitute flash with HTML5 or JavaScript, which provide the same cool effects.

Ditch the drop-down menus. Instead, consider a showcase page for different sections of the site, better enabling tablet users to find all available subpages. If you want to keep your drop-down menus, create visual cues (like arrows) that show users the menu can be opened and expanded.

Design for touch interaction. Tablet users aren’t clicking or scrolling with a mouse, so design buttons the size of a fingertip instead of a cursor. Links placed too closely together will also frustrate users; remember that touching and swiping are the gestures to design for these days.

Choose colors, textures and typography wisely. Bright background colors and patterns reduce the appearance of glare or smudges on an iPad or Blackberry Playbook. Avoid solid blacks that look like untextured voids. Ensure your font isn’t too large or too small for tablet navigation. When in doubt, test on a tablet or two.

Design forms to fit. Many company sites require users to fill out a form. Look yours over and ensure all fields are clear and easily accessible to tablet users. Avoid including too many fields, as longer forms on tablets are frustrating.

The Po!nt: Think flat and touchy. The reading-and-browsing world is moving further in the direction of tablets, making it crucial that your site experience be as seamless there as it is anywhere else. A few tweaks could be all you need to ensure compatibility.

Source: Get to the point:Social Media

Case Studies: How to Use Storytelling as a Marketing Power Tool

Posted in Small Business on March 20, 2012 by wolfwomyn

Every day you and your employees create or update data. You gather customer information, update financial documents or create marketing materials.

Each bit of this data is critical to some part of your business. It might be the up-to-date information you use to ship your products, serve your customers, get new customers or file taxes.

But many small-business owners focus on increasing revenue and forget to protect this valuable aspect of their company. If your server crashes this afternoon, can you recover your data? What will you do if your office burns down tonight?

Security breaches are important part of data protection. Have you taken precautions to prevent a data breach? Craig Blessing, with security company Datacastle says the average data breach costs a company $7.2 million, or $214 per breached record.

Because the stakes are high, make the first item on your to-do list properly protecting your data.

Here are three things you can do to help protect your data. Follow these steps so you can get your doors open again in case of a loss or breach.

Back up your data

One of the most important safeguards is to regularly back up your data. Security experts do not recommend copying unencrypted data to a tape or portable drive each night. The data can be stolen. To prevent theft, all saved data must be encrypted.

“While we recommend that you have onsite backup, it’s absolutely critical to keep an encrypted copy of your data off-site as well,” said Amanda Harper, president of Gaeltek Technology Solutions in Northern Virginia. Harper wrote Business IT 101: A Business Owner’s Guide for Finding Hassle-Free Computer Support.

If a disaster or theft makes it impossible to access your computers or servers, the onsite backup is useless says Harper.

Jeff Hoffman, a small-business data-security specialist with ACT Network Solutions, recommends backing up any data that would hinder your business if it is lost.

“Identify the information that you can’t live without to operate your business, like the accounting system, the client-tracking system, any contracts, your quoting system if you have one, your customer-support files,” said Hoffman. “Sometimes people go overboard and try to back up everything, including pictures of last year’s company picnic.”

Get advice on which online backup services are recommended for small businesses.

How often should you back up your data? The answer to this question depends on your specific industry and business needs. If your data changes dramatically during the day, then back up throughout the day as critical information changes. For most companies, a nightly back up is sufficient.

Often, companies will set up a backup system and then not check on it until they have a data loss. Only then do they realize that the backup stopped working six months ago.

“After you have a good backup system in place, you need to test it regularly to make sure it works,” said Harper. She recommends testing the backup at least once a month and more often if the data is critical to business operations.

Develop data-recovery and disaster-recovery plans

“If your building burned down, what steps would you have to follow to get your business up and running?” asked Jeff Hoffman, with ATC, a small-business security company.

Write out a plan for data recovery as well as what you would do after a disaster. Remember that if you ever have to use either of them, you will be under stress and most likely you will not have access to company resources. Be as detailed as possible and include all phone numbers and websites you need to execute your plan.

Keep a copy of the plan in several locations, both onsite and off-site. Hoffman said two businesses he worked for were involved in a fire. “One was up and running within 48 hours and one had to close their doors,” he said.

Educate employees

Train each of your employees on the importance of data safety.

Make sure they password-protect their laptops and mobile devices with strong passwords. Require that employees not use passwords that contain the word password since Password1 was recently found to be the most common password.

Data protection should be an ongoing priority in your office. Each quarter, set time aside to review your data-protection policy and make adjustments. You may have added a new location or a new technology.

The time spent on data protection is much less than the time it will take to recover your losses, after something goes wrong.

Photo credit: Thinkstock, Jennifer Gregory

Four Keys to Finding Better Keywords

Posted in Websites on March 13, 2012 by wolfwomyn

In a recent guest post at It’s All About Revenue, Brian Posnanski shares tips on finding just the right keywords to boost standings in search results. “Keywords are the ingredient that make content searchable and discoverable,” Posnanski notes.

That’s why TrafficPRM—Posnanski’s interactive agency—created the Seven Keys to Keyword Research guide to help inbound, social and content marketers find the right keywords to optimize their content and ultimately achieve higher organic search ranking, Posnanski explains.

Here are some of the tips the guide offers for deriving more specific keywords:

Benchmark current rankings. Use your content management system, Google Analytics and other tools to assess where you are and track where you’re going.

Brainstorm a beginning list. Through a combination of people and tools, identify the terms that map to your customers’ and prospects’ interests or needs.

Don’t rely solely on Google AdWords. Many organizations base their optimization on a raw list of keywords, pulled from Google’s AdWords keyword finder, Posnanski says. But often these keywords are too generic or competitive, he cautions, and may not be right for your organization.

Start with a keyword cluster or silo. Determine which group of keywords is most important to you right now, he suggests: “Don’t try to optimize everything at once.”

Once you’ve identified some truly stellar keywords, create a short SEO “cheat sheet” for your marketing team, with top keywords and their corresponding landing pages, Posnanski advises.

The Po!nt: A valuable keyword list is a key to online success. Use it to optimize all your digital assets, monitor progress and adjust your approach to buyers as necessary.

Source: Marketing Prof’s-Search Engine & It’s All About Revenue.

Four Lessons From the Social Business Trenches

Posted in Social Media on February 28, 2012 by wolfwomyn

On CMSWire, Web engagement strategist Dion Heathcliff shares what he has learned from successful—and not so successful—social businesses in recent years. The lessons he offers address “what to focus on and what drives improved outcomes when applying social media within a large organization.”

Read the full article for the meat, but here are a few observations to whet the appetite.  (http://www.cmswire.com/cms/enterprise-collaboration/seven-lessons-learned-on-social-business-011880.php?)

Changing staff behavior is more important—and harder—than selecting social tools. Today’s workers multitask over a wide array of tools—too many, actually, Heathcliff says. Your task is to get them to change their habits in a natural and intuitive way. Imposing more tools is the typical approach to doing this, but it’s an ineffective shortcut, he argues. Work processes must become more open, shared and transparent in the social business world.

The more control over social you seek, the less you’ll have. It is imperative that you design your social outreach for how you want users to behave. Create their paths in ways that take your needs, legal and otherwise, into account from the very beginning of their engagement journey.

Help people help each other. Successful social communities aren’t purely self-organizing. They still need leaders and effective support systems (like community management and well-integrated CRM that acknowledges the most pertinent current user needs).

Don’t lose the observable value your social business creates. Store your activity streams, and make them accessible, discoverable and trackable. Most of their value lies in the information accrued, so make sure you employ resources for distilling trends and market signals from all that conversation.

The Po!nt: Implement intelligently! Social business has matured enough that we can glean what works and what doesn’t from past experience. It’s time to take heed of the lessons of those who have already walked the path.

Source: Get to the Point/Social Media

Why Targeting Matters

Posted in Marketing on February 21, 2012 by wolfwomyn

In a post at her eponymous blog, Elaine Fogel asks how frequently you receive email with content that has no relevance. “I’ll bet it’s a lot,” she says with certainty. “Let’s just look at the ones you receive from companies and organizations that have your permission to send communications. Count the emails they send that have nothing to do with you at all. Delete.”

Fogel gives a quick rundown of blatantly irrelevant messages she has received. Here are a few:

  • A nonprofit organization thanked her for attending a fundraiser she didn’t attend.
  • An airline sent offers for flights that didn’t depart from her city of residence.

Let’s face it: Even if you like a company, like its product or service, like the people who answer the phone—you’re going to unsubscribe from an email campaign if you keep getting wildly untargeted messages.

Are you subjecting your subscribers to this type of treatment? According to Fogel, small businesses are especially likely to implement untargeted email campaigns. “Maybe they don’t have a marketer on staff to guide them,” she conjectures. “Maybe they don’t know what segmentation is.”

When you send email without considering the specific interests and needs of the subscriber, you miss out on a host of benefits like:

  • Grabbing a customer’s interest and building engagement.
  • Seeing your relevant content shared in social networks.
  • Gaining new customers and subscribers who see value in your content.

The Po!nt: Make yourself useful. Your untargeted email program might seem successful, but you’ll never know just how successful you can be until you segment.