In the beginning, there was Hardware and Software.
The earliest consumer computers, like the Apple II and the Commodore 64, were a complete package: Computer (Hardware) with the operating system (Software) included.
That’s right, you can’t forget this simple fact about computers: Without an operating system, they would just be a pile of components. But wait! Isn’t software all the programs we run? Word, Excel, Photoshop? Absolutely; software, but a different type. The programs we use for work and play are Applications. Hence the term “Apps” for the programs on our smartphones and tablets.
So to get out of the gate with a functional system, you need the Hardware and two types of Software; the Operating System and Applications. Two down, one to go: THE CLOUD. What is The Cloud anyway? If you believe the News, Cloud Computing just dropped out of the sky recently, when the term became part of the popular vernacular. Actually it has been around for quite some time. We’ll get back to that in a minute. First let’s tackle the big question: WHAT IS THE CLOUD? Put quite simply, Cloud Computing is anything you use that is not on your device; smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC. It is somewhere else and accessed through a network. Huh? I know, a bit confusing, so let’s clear it up. Anything and Everything you access on any network, including the internet is Cloud Computing. All websites, web based email, online backup and data storage; these are all examples of Cloud Computing.
In the past we referred to things as Web Based, like Web Based email: Gmail, Ymail and more. Now we call it The Cloud. Same thing, new name. A recent trend in the Cloud is online storage; which with offerings like Google Drive and Dropbox give us the sense that The Cloud lives in our devices. Cloud based software has been used for quite some time for bigger businesses, and now has moved into the mainstream with products like Genbook and Schedulicity. These are both Scheduling systems that a business can sign up for and with a small monthly fee, have advanced functionality that would have cost much more not so long ago. Whatever your business, there are many Cloud based solutions ready to save you time and money with more on the horizon every day. Welcome to the future! Hardware, Software, Cloud.
Out with the old, in with the new goes the saying. Each New Year brings fresh challenges to every business. A never ending challenge that faces us all, is how to reach new customers, and stay connected with the ones we have. This of course falls under the umbrella of "Marketing".
The tools we use to Market and Sell our businesses are changing at a faster pace than ever.
"OLD" standards just don't fit anymore. For many businesses, newspaper and phone book ads have been a mainstay. With the explosive growth of Smart Phones and Tablets, phone books have been replaced by online search. Newspapers haven't fared much better, with many closing their doors, and readership down across the board. The argument can be made that remaining readers look less to print ads, and more to online options.
The "NEW" has arrived in full force. Social media, blogging, Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing allow us to reach our customers where they now spend most of their time; ONLINE.
If you haven't already done so, its time to move your marketing plan into the online world. Not soon, not someday, not tomorrow; TODAY.
The turkey leftovers are dwindling in the fridge and Christmas shopping is at full court press. December is such a busy month having fun with our families and focusing on our faith that work can get lost for a bit. A lot of our customers are as busy as we are, so it is a perfect time to do a little housekeeping and tidy things up to be fresh and ready for the new year. A new year means new budgets. Many folks and businesses are ready to spend again after the first, so we want to be present and ready.
Blogging about new services, focusing on services and products that you would like to grow, are all things to put out there for your customers. Testimonials from the past year are a good tool as well. This is a good time to update pages, change the look and feel of things a bit; a fresh start for the new year.
Perhaps you are that new business coming to town and you are looking to put up that initial website. We are here for you. Starting from scratch is our forte:
- Complete Website with Blog
- Google+ Local (formerly Google places)
- Ongoing site and social media maintenance
- and more
Let us help you with your year end needs.
From all of us here at DougDartsch.com we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and joyous holiday season.
Well, here we are, another year down. Just two days from the Turkey Feast. We are so thankful for our customers, our friends and families. We wish for all of you that you have a safe, fun, revitalizing time with your family and friends this Thanksgiving weekend.
When You Run a Business, It’s All About You
When someone searches on Google, what will they find? What will they learn about your business? Will they find answers to the question: WHO ARE YOU??? If not, then your web presence needs a major overhaul.
Remember the old 5 W’s and H? When consumers are searching for a business, they don’t just grab the one at the top of the list, they, we, do some digging. They want to know: WHO ARE YOU? If your answer isn’t as complete and clear as the competition, you lose. Your web presence needs to tell them what they want to know:
Do you think you have all those bases covered? Will they find your company story, information about WHO are the key team members, WHAT it is you do, WHEN the business started, WHERE you are located, WHY you do what you do, and HOW you do it better than the competition? In a word, will they find your STORY?
If not then let’s get cracking on that overhaul. All the information above needs to be gathered and crafted into easily read bullet lists and paragraphs. Manageable bites that won’t lose people half way through. Well written, clear concise and compelling is what it needs to be. Nothing less will do. They need to hear the same message you share with prospective clients; the words that make them smile and say “yes” they would be glad to do business with you.
This is what WE DO BEST. We get to know you, think like you and put down in words, what it is that makes your business unique and successful.
The real key to all of this is to mimic the real world. There is a tendency to consider a website an obligatory web presence and stop there. Put it up and never change it. When you deal with people in the real world, do you simply repeat your last meeting over and over? Of course not. It is ever changing: New thoughts, ideas, products, services, locations, staff members, news and more. Do you have one avenue of contact alone? Face to face, phone, email, text? Not even close. It is a rich mixture, ever changing with the times and the needs of your clients. Your web presence must do the same.
A vital fresh web presence must engage others in many ways, and make them want to come back for more. A blog component on your site is key. Adding and deleting entire pages or sections of your website as your business changes and grows is also key. Social media is not a fad. It is here to stay, and is a great way to magnify your web presence and broaden awareness of your business in your market and beyond.
Don’t repeat the same dry story over and over again. Let us tell the complete, ever changing story, let us engage your present and future clients, and let the greater world know you are there.
Dole has decided to step up and use some creative marketing for one of their most prolific products; the humble banana. These stickers started appearing on bunches of Dole's perennial yellow favorite awhile back. At first glance, the label makes you think you are learning about a new product, but when you follow the QR code to a very well put together mobile site, you discover that "Nature's Original Energy Bar" is none other than the Dole banana.
Different, maybe even a bit quirky; but an attention grabber. QR tech is coming into its own and here, Dole has used it to great effect. This is a very successful marketing technique going at it three ways:
1. The label itself, which doesn't really declare that the banana is the product, makes you wonder just a bit. The fact that the color scheme doesn't match the typical Dole label keeps us guessing.
2. The QR code draws out the geeks (like me) who can't help but grab their smart phone and find out where this leads. We are urged a bit more to take action by the "SCAN TO ENTER" line on the label, just below the QR code.
3. Then last, but not least, a great mobile website with all the right tools to engage the consumer: Sweepstakes Entry as promised, interesting product info, a game, recipes and more.
Don't be afraid to step out of the box and into the world of modern tech to promote your business. Who would have thought we would get a solid marketing lesson from a bunch of bananas?
Okay, go ahead, pull out your smartphone and scan away. (Yup, it works, right off the screen)
Okay, you have a website. Woop-dee-doo! But before you get too excited, let me ask you a few questions. When was it last updated? Hmmm, I thought so. Do you have a blog component to communicate with your customers? If not, you need one. Is your site a good representation of your business? Does it speak in your voice? Why else would you have a site, if not to communicate who you are, and what you do? Have I got you thinking? Good.
“A Website” is a start, but not necessarily a good start. If it is boring, confusing, or worse, really doesn’t represent you, not only is it not enough; you would be better without it. Look at it this way; would you hand out business cards with the wrong phone number, or an address you have since moved from? Of course not. Yet, it is not uncommon to drop in on a business website, especially small business, and find unclear, outdated information. You will often find a blog with a seasonal posting that is months out of date, or a promo for a deal that expired long ago. If you are in a brick and mortar business, what would your customers think if you had full Christmas decorations in July? Halloween décor in March? Get the picture?
Your website represents you and your business. You want the world to think your business is important, relevant and up to date right? Why would they think that your business is cutting edge, if your website is not? Even if someone comes to you on a referral from a friend or acquaintance, odds are they are going to hop online and Google your business name before they work with you. Have you done that lately? Gone to Google and looked up your own business? You should. Okay, if you just did for the first time in a long time, now look up some of your competitors. I bet you are finding some that have a line or two, and some that fill the whole page.
Now we get to the next step. I talk about this often, Web Presence. If you only have a website without any other web presence, then the one line result makes you and your business look small; irrelevant. A robust web presence includes the things I can help you build and manage: A Great Website, Facebook Page, Twitter Feed, Linkedin Account, Youtube Channel and more. You will also fill up a page by being involved in your local Chamber, BNI or other networking groups. Every time you sign up for something that puts you on another site, such as BNI and the Chamber, you expand your web presence. Put your money where the people are; ONLINE.
Is a website enough? NO, NOT EVER. The world has changed and we need to join the fray. Get yourself and your business out in front of your customers. Building your Web Presence is not an event, it is an ongoing process, a never ending journey. I would be happy to be your guide.
by Doug Dartsch
A Web Presence isn’t some mystical tool that simply needs to exist to generate traffic. So the question “If You Build it Will They Come?” is really a function of marketing, just like anything else. Major league teams in every sport have enormous marketing budgets, even the ones who just won the title last year.
It doesn’t matter how much you are known, how much success you have had, how much people like and believe in you. What matters is; when did they last think of you?
So how do you make it all work? Simple steps are the answer: Drive people to your web presence and once they “like” you on facebook or “follow” you on twitter, they will hear from you often. To make that happen, each business needs to send their customers to their Web Presence. A business Web Presence is comprised of their Website (the foundation) Social Media (facebook, twitter and more), Search Engine results, and much more. Let’s focus on the big players; your Website and facebook.
All printed materials, cards, brochures, Point -of-Sale materials, vehicle signage, billboards, etc. all need to direct your customers, present and future to your Web Presence. Website address and facebook address should appear in all of these places, and more than that, each should have when possible the QR codes as well.
Facebook has a handy place for your Website address, and you must have links to facebook and other Social Media on your Website.
In the end it is this simple: If you just build it (your Web Presence) and don’t interconnect the pieces and drive people there, they will not come.
Build it, connect the pieces, and drive the crowds in. Then and only then will they come.
Are you using QR Codes? They are growing in popularity, and unfortunately, the misuse of QR Codes is growing too. Size, color, complexity, error correction and clear area are all variables that affect the usefulness of this marketing tool.
Don't know what QR codes are? Not a problem. The black and white image you see above is an example of a QR code, and in fact is the QR code for the Home Page of this website. Even if you are not familiar with them, you have surely seen them in magazines, on Point-of-Sale materials, and even on billboards. They can also appear on websites, vehicles and any printed matter. There purpose is simple. To give the reader/viewer an instant link to a webpage (or other option, more on that later), without any typing.
QR codes are used by '"scanning" them with a smartphone's camera. There are a number of Apps available for today's phones. Although QR codes have been around for some time, they have been slow to take hold, but growth has been steady and their use is now significant.
The most common uses are in ads and on point-of-sale materials. Most often QR codes will bring your browser to a specific web address, usually a Home Page or Facebook Page. Here are more options:
- You can bookmark a website.
- You can make a phone call.
- You can send a short message.
- You can send an e-mail.
- You can create a vCard (v2.1 or v3.0) with coordinates to add a contact to your device.
- You can create a meCard to add a contact to your device.
- You can create a vCalendar event to add to your calendar.
- You can create Google Maps URLs.
- You can create Bing Maps URLs.
- You can create raw geological coordinates.
- You can create iTunes app and review URLs for iOS devices.
- You can create market:// URLs for searching for publishers or packages on Market app for Android.
- You can create Foursquare venue URLs.
- You can create special youtube:// URLs for YouTube app on iOS.
- You can fetch and encode the latest tweet of a Twitter user.
- You can overlay a Twitter profile image over the code.
- You can create a mobile URL to tweet on Twitter.
- You can initiate a chat to a particular Blackberry PIN on Blackberry Messenger.
- You can connect to a WIFI network on Android devices.
- You can read plain or free formatted text on your device.
Got a headache? Daunting, isn't it. Not to worry, we are the experts; ready to guide you through the maze. We will get you set up with what you need to grow traffic to your Web Presence and grow your business.
As Gandalf told Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, " keep it secret, keep it safe!" This is the rule we all need to apply to our ever more important data. Not just business, but personal as well. I cannot count the times I have tried to pound a hole through my desk, due to the utter frustration of data needlessly lost. First, think about your data: For you personally, your own data represents; bills, budgets, the video and photo history of you, your friends, your family and so much more. For your job or business; customer contacts, sales information etc. and for those of us who's work product resides on our hard-drives, it is the essence of ourselves and our work.Loss of our data is truly needless. It shouldn't happen; period. But it does over and over. In the earliest days of PC's we had floppies, then tape back-ups, cd's, online back-up and now, finally, the solution that takes away all excuses: Cloud storage. As little as a year ago, an IT professional warned me against cloud storage and cloud computing as unsecure and unsafe. Here we are now, with major corporations, institutions and government agencies, now all moving to the cloud. The "Cloud" in simplest terms, is offsite storage of programs and information. For most of us, our first use of "The Cloud" was web based mail. We just didn't call it the cloud back then. Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN and Gmail; all part of the cloud.Now the move is to use cloud storage for all your data. Dropbox and Box have been at it for a bit, with I-Cloud from apple, Skydrive from Microsoft Amazon Cloud drive and very recently,
as in a few days ago; Google Drive
all getting on board. They all have the best antivirus, antispam protection. They have nearly 100% up-time, and they all store your data in a number of very secure locations.I have been using dropbox for a while. I love the fact that I can install it on any computer, and by connecting it to my account, have all my files updated on all my machines. Perfect. The other great feature of the Dropbox style is that your files just need to be under the dropbox folder. Couldn't be easier. So if you haven't
gone to the cloud yet, don't wait. There is no excuse for lost data other than you. I haven't tried them all, so click on the links of each above, and see what works best for you. I would appreciate your comments. Let me know what you use and why.