Tag Archives: business

Social Media As A Business Tool – First, Engage You Buyers

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageIs there a better way of getting your brand, product or service out to people? In our ever-expanding world of digital advancement, the ability to find and share content has grown by leaps and bounds. Businesses in the know understand social media isn’t just for teens and college kids anymore.

While businesses are capitalizing on the impact a strong social networking presence can have, there’s still a hard line when it comes to actual interaction.

Many businesses still work on the premise of “if we build it, they will come.” Though this approach may have worked in the past, people aren’t just interested in what you’ve built, but what’s inside. The point of social media isn’t just to keep talking about your company and its services; consumers want to know what makes you tick.

If you’ve made a video that promotes your company, employees or services you provide, consider including a behind-the scenes look at making the video, including a gag reel or bloopers. Marketing data and spreadsheets mean little to the average consumer. Show your customers the heart, soul and human side of the company they choose to support.

“Going viral” is a popular turn of a phrase related to the sharing of pictures and videos across social networks. Thanks in part to sharing, “Gangnam Style” made Korean rapper Psy a sensation in the United States.

Memes are another one of those viral cases, in which something is elevated through the use of pictures or words. Former presidential nominee Mitt Romney had at least two of his awkwardly worded statements turned into viral memes as the 2012 presidential race heated up.

Why did these videos go viral in the first place? The case could be made that Romney was famous, being a former governor and presidential candidate, but Psy was an unknown singer and rapper.

While something to strive for, going viral isn’t just about putting up content for people to find. Anyone can upload a video; the difficulty is in knowing what that content should be and how to attract viewers who ultimately share it. It goes without saying that social media is one of the biggest pushers of content, from Facebook to Twitter to rising star LinkedIn and newcomers like Google+ and Pinterest.

Understanding these platforms is first and foremost the most important thing when trying to get people to your business. Facebook is not Twitter and, despite their perceived boxing match, Google+ is not Facebook. Being on just one social media site isn’t enough; a business needs to be on all platforms that will work towards its business and customers.

Another crucial step is learning about your customers. Many businesses try to market to everyone without regard to their actual consumer base. Why market material of scantily clad women on top of cars when a customer base is mostly women? Or senior citizens? To this end, not only is it important to know your consumer but, know what they will like and most likely share. As the saying goes, “content is king” and, not having interesting and engaging content is a deal breaker for many.

Memes are popular because they make current events humorous. Animal videos, from cute kittens snuggled together to pandas getting wellness checkups, make people happy and more productive. Clearly not all marketing will benefit from the use of a meme or a video of a hedgehog toddling across a countertop, but interesting content spurs people to share with their friends, family and coworkers.

However you market to your customer base, be sure to engage your buyers. Social shares can drive sales and bring great success to a company that invests time in learning its customers’ interests and the kind of media that will make them go “Aww!”

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Filed under Business Development, FaceBook, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Twitter

The 411 On Enterprise Resource Planning Software

Guest writer Sachin, lays out the case for Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP) – what it is, and what it does.

imageEnterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an integrated approach to a whole suite of business operational functions. ERP software is an integrated suite of software designed to manage these functions on a “same page” basis. It’s similar in some ways to project management software, but covers multiple field of business needs.

ERP software basics

ERP software provides a very large range of functions, and like good business software should, it’s able to be customized to suit any business environment, seamlessly.

This class of software is generally considered best practice, high-ROI software because of its ability to provide a single-stream management function. ERP software includes:

  • Quote functions
  • Business planning templates,
  • Manufacturing processes,
  • Sales
  • All aspects of marketing
  • Reporting functions

The software also provides functions like stock control capabilities, ordering, customer service functions, financial management and staff payroll, etc.

As you can see, this is a comprehensive list of basic business operations, consolidated on one system, which is where ERP software provides valuable solutions not available on other packages. A package like MYOB can do some things, but not others. ERP software is designed to provide this overwatch capability in one package.

This huge range of functions is particularly useful for businesses in planning mode, because it provides a useful structure which can operate as a single entity, not sourcing materials from outside or other programs. For small businesses, it’s a godsend, providing increased capabilities on one system, not an expensive range of different software.

ERP in the workplace

ERP methodologies are part of the new generation of advanced business management practices and techniques. The fact is that management is now very much based on business software. The better the software, the better the management capabilities, so being able to manage a business from a single desktop environment is best practice in more ways than one.

ERP uses a concept called “workflow”, which is a systemic, step-by-step methodology designed to operate as a quality control system, ensuring, for example, that all steps of ordering are carried out properly, in sequence, from order picking to invoicing.

The good news for businesses is that this drastically cuts down on administration. Time is more than money. ERP software automates administration, as far as possible. (Those who’ve spend hours on administrative details will appreciate how much of a saving on time, frayed nerves and other distractions this really is.)

Applying ERP software to your own business

The best way to check out the advantages of ERP software is to “test drive” the software and see for yourself the practical applications.

Check out in particular:

  • Reporting functions – These are critical to any business, and a well-organized reporting system really does provide management with a wealth of information, quickly and efficiently.
  • Sales – Another key aspect of any business, and if you’ve been finding your sales data more cumbersome than helpful, you need to look at this aspect closely.
  • Marketing and related operations – This very high value, and often capital intensive area of operations can be streamlined and literally put on a single page, single function basis for management.

ERP is likely to be exactly what you need to move your business forward and streamline your administration. Check it out, because you won’t be disappointed.

Guest article by Sachin.

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Filed under Business Applications, Commercial Applications, Computer Tools, Guest Writers, Point of View, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Social Media – Advantages for the Business Owner or Marketing Executive

Guest writer Bryan Keller, gives business owners the lowdown on social media  and explains how taking advantage of social media and online business communities, can positively impact the bottom line.

imageAs recently as only 2-3 years ago, very few business owners took much of an interest in becoming part of the growing number of social media or online business communities that have exploded across the Internet in recent years.

Today however, most if not all business leaders, from the very smallest sole proprietorship to the very largest corporation, are aware of the fact that the Internet is quickly becoming the average consumer’s first resource in locating and choosing the party they ultimately choose to do business with.

Electing not to participate in this expanding progressive electronic evolution, would and surely will, have a very severe negative impact on those businesses that are not fully invested in the experience.

The number of professional user groups on websites like Facebook and LinkedIn has grown more than 10 fold or over 1000% over the past two years. Dismissing this trend as pure fancy would be an unwise maneuver for any savvy business owner or marketing executive.

These professional networks can provide many benefits to every type of business. And, the benefits are not only applicable to the business owners; belonging to a social network also provides numerous benefits to all of the other members (and prospective customers) of the social network as well.

Benefits of Social Networking from the Standpoint of the Business Owner:

Building or Increasing Company or Product Awareness – Social Media Sites provide a tremendous asset that allows custom tailored delivery of timely assessments of the types of services or products that a business provides, supplies, or offers.

Additionally, press releases describing exciting new changes taking place within a business serve the business and the consumer alike. A business forum can also be a fantastic way to provide consumers with near real-time helpful information on the steps needed to be taken in the advent that someone may be experiencing some sort of a problem with a particular good or service.

Observe and Track – Because Social Media Networks are designed to allow two-way communication between its participants, as a business owner you will have the luxury of seeing what other members of the online community may be saying about your brand, product, service and competition in virtually ‘real-time’.

Engage (Current Customers) and Entice (New Customers) – Do not neglect the opportunity to involve existing customers and network subscribers in all manner of interesting and topical debates, quizzes and feedback forums and blogs. When doing so the benefit is manifold as this process has the added effect of enticing new customers and subscribers simultaneously as they get drawn into the discussions.

Assist and Support – Here is the perfect opportunity for a business to demonstrate to its valuable customers in a substantial way, the benefits and advantages of using their goods and services. A great way to accomplish this is by providing valuable support in near real-time for any difficulty, problem, confusion, or question an existing customers or prospective customer may be experiencing with regard to the company’s products or services.

Attract and Qualify – By including the appropriate keywords and tags in the social media site profile, blog posts, articles and forum discussions, the result will be many, many, new potential customers who will be directed to your content automatically by the search engines as they search the Internet for relevant information that happens to match your niche (and these prospective clients are pre-qualified as strong potential leads – they found you because you offer something they were searching for and are obviously interested in).

Increase Your Bottom Line – Marketing 101.

Creating a Call to Action: (A Perceived Sense of Urgency)

Give a deadline which is clearly defined and visible in many advantageous locations throughout your business website. One effective way to achieve this is to create a deadline by which time certain featured products or services must be purchased or agreed upon due to the fact that the price for that good or service is scheduled to and will increase beyond a specified date and time.

It is imperative that you follow through on the price increase as well. An angry customer is one who is told that a price will go up on a product, after which they rush out and purchase said product or service, and then low and behold the deadline passes and the product never changes price. No one likes being lied to. Stay true to your word. Honesty and Integrity go hand and hand with trust and loyalty. You can always discount products again at a later date.

Always precede any price increase with many highly visible notices allowing your customer to take advantage of the current rate before the increase is scheduled to go into effect.

Trial offers are also a fantastic way to allow a consumer the chance to try on a limited basis the product or service you are offering. (If you are offering truly outstanding products and services, then obviously you would want people to have a chance to learn that first hand.)

For a Trial Period to be effective it should be offered as what is called a ‘No Risk’ trial. In other words let your customer know that if for some reason they decide they are not satisfied with your product or service within the trial period they can cancel the agreement without being charged for anything (no questions asked).

Freebies are also a great way to entice people into trying a product or service. They are best used as an added feature to a package of goods or services that your potential customer may be contemplating buying.

Be Creative, think of other ways to create that sense of urgency such as ‘If you order our system within the next ten days we are going to throw in at no extra charge 5 free video tutorials that speed you through the process of learning our course (regularly $99 value!)

Remember these are merely examples; the only limit is your imagination!

Guest writer Bryan Keller:

I own a Computer Repair and Data Recovery business in San Antonio, TX, San Antonio Computer Repair. I spent 10 years in database development. I am now also providing Website Development, Hosting, and SEO services. We use the Joomla CMS. Altogether I have been involved in computer programming for over 30 years.

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Filed under Communication, FaceBook, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Networking, social networking, Social Networks

McAfee to Test Spam – Cyber Criminal Link

This morning my email inboxes in two of the five email services that I use, held a surprise for me once again, with an email from myself. As always, I simply deleted this spoofed spam email along with the other unsolicited junk mail.

The spoofed spam reminded me of an experiment being run by McAfee Inc., a world leader in antivirus, firewall, and Internet security software. McAfee began soliciting for volunteers in December 2007 and selected 50 of them to participate in a test in which the volunteers will have to respond to every unsolicited email mail they receive over a thirty day test period, beginning today.

Their laptops, supplied by McAfee, will operate without active anti-spam protection so that McAfee can test the theory that spam email is linked to cyber crime. Personally, I think that’s a no-brainer; so why bother with a test.

McAfee’s view however, as expressed by Christopher Bolin, McAfee’s chief technology officer is “Spam isn’t just a nuisance. It’s a tool used by cyber criminals to steal personal and business data. And, as scammers become more adept at writing spam in local languages it’s becoming more difficult for Internet users to detect spam. It’s vital that computer users understand the risks of leaving their computers unprotected.”

It seems to me, given the fact that spam exists in many forms including instant messaging spam, Web search engine spam, Blog spam, cell phone messaging spam, and more, that focusing on a narrow definition of what constitutes spam, has little relative value.

So I’m skeptical about the significance of this type of experiment given what we already know about spam, malware attacks in all its various forms, and the known connection to cyber criminals. However, I’m a curious fellow and I’ll follow the research, and the results obtained, with interest.

If you’re interested, you can visit McAfee/Spam Experiment to track the daily progress of the S.P.A.M. Experiment and read Blog reports from the test participants.

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Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Personal Perspective, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools