Small Business Poll - Top Technology to Implement in 2012?

Are you starting to think about planning for next year? Do you have any feel for the top cost-effective new technology that will boost your company sales and productivity? During the fourth quarter, we asked Small Business Executives, Managers or Owners to share  the Top 3-4 NEW Technologies that they were thinking about implementing in 2012.  Based on the survey, the following are the top 4 technologies for 2012:

  1. Upgrading the Company Website with the Latest Technology
  2. Implementing Smartphones and Tablets
  3. Testing and Implementing Social Marketing
  4. Adding Video Content for the Website including: Customer Demos, New Product Announcements, Success Stories and Best Practice Tips

[polldaddy poll=5485445]

Note: The votes were  anonymous and we do NOT collecting any personal info.  All poll results are available now.

Please share the poll results with other managers or owners... and add any comments or questions in the comment field below.

Top 10 Must-Do Tips For Creating & Updating Your Website or Blog

Your website is the most important technology needed today to grow your small business.   Yes. It is more important than Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Smartphones, Tablets and everything else you read about. We recently underwent a big project to move and update several of our company Websites and Blogs.  We learned a lot from these projects and would like to share some of experiences.

The following are the top 10 tips that helped us minimize the time, cost and hassle of this project.


1. Move to a Popular Content Management System (CMS)

If you are spending the time and money to update an existing or create a new website or blog, you want to move to using a modern "Content Management System" or CMS.  Some of the more popular Content Management Systems  include: Wordpress, Google Blogs (Blogger), Drupal or Squarespace.

We suggest Wordpress for most Small Businesses.  It may not the best solution for everyone.  However, it is very popular,  with  50+ million worldwide websites (that is not a typo).  Wordpress is also very cheap and there are lots of resources for help everywhere.  There is even a Free version available for companies that have virtual no budget or staff.  More on this later.


2.  Design Your Site for Mobile Visitors

According to Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, by 2015, the majority of users will be accessing your website from a Smartphone, Tablet or even a TV.... NOT a laptop or desktop computer of today.  If you are creating a new website or updating an existing site, you want to do this project once now and have it work for the short-term future.

You should only use a Content Management System (CMS) that will support mobile devices now... or will in the future.

Mary Meeker: Mobile Internet Will Soon Overtake Fixed Internet















3. Remember HTML 5.... NOT Flash

As I just mentioned in the  last tip, mobile is important now and will be extremely important in the near future.  Unfortunately, there is a website technology battle going on today in the industry. The older technology is Adobe Flash.  The new technology is called HTML 5.  HTML 5 is the worldwide standard. We recommend that you make sure your website is designed with HTML 5 support... not Flash.

Many website and marketing vendors  like to push Adobe Flash technology because that's what they have been using for the last 5 to 10 years.    Please DO NOT let someone talk you into creating an Adobe FLASH Website or Blog.   The whole worldwide industry is quickly moving to the HTML 5  standard. Even Adobe, the developer of Flash recently announced that it will be selling a product to create HTML 5 websites in direct competition to their Flash technology.

By 2011, there were 200 million Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch & Apple TVs) that use HTML 5... but DO NOT read FLASH technology.   If you use Flash Technology on your new website or blog, you will exclude millions of potential customers.  Many fancy restaurant and resort websites were designed using Flash... and for the last two years,  million of potential customers haven't been able to see their websites.  Now, many restaurants are rebuilding their sites using HTML 5 technology for mobile and desktop users.

Wordpress supports HTML 5.

4. Six Must-Have Websites  Pages

If you are creating your 1st website, there are a six key pages that you need to publish on a website. Below are some thoughts about the type of  information you would write for each page.

  • Home Page - You 1st page summarizes a few key points:
    • Company Name
    • Contact Info
    • Poduct and Services List
    • One Paragraph describing your business
  • About Us - Tells everyone about who you are
    • Company Name
    • Background
    • Company Founder and Management Summary
    • Partnerships
  • Services/Products/Solutions
    • List of each Product or Service with a description of key info
  • Blog - Blog Articles that are published on a regular basis and provides your readers and customers tips, key info and advice
  • Contact Us - The Page that gives your readers info on how to contact you
    • Address, Phone and eMail
    • Social Networking Info
    • Map and Directions to Your Office
  • Landing Page - A special page designed to capture Sales Leads
    • Key Sales Lead or Order Form
    • Info on a product or service

Tip: The best thing to do is to read other websites and blogs that you like and see what they have written on their key pages.


5. "Share Widgets"

It is very important to add a way to share your website and Blog content to help grow website visitors, marketing leads and provide customer service.  There are two top FREE widgets you can use for your website: or

You publish a share widget on each page of content to help increase readership.  These widgets should be placed in the website design templates or plug-ins. Here are a few of the top share links:


6.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How do you attract the most visitors to your updated website?  One of the ways is to to have great Search Engine Optimization or SEO.   The following video explains SEO in 3-minute video.



7. Key Accounts You Need to Open

In addition to publishing a website / blog, you need to also open important internet accounts to help you market your company and website. Most of these services are Free or are very inexpensive.

  • Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • gMail and YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Hotsuite or Tweetdeck
  • CRM
  • eNewsletter
  • Skype

8. Metrics & Reporting

Use Google Analytics for website reporting, management tools and metrics.  Almost all small businesses use Google Analytics service. It's Free.

9. Videos and Photos

Almost all new Small Business websites should use video as well as photos.   Adding videos is one of the top trends.  The top three video publishing services include:  YouTube, Vimeo and Brightcove.

10. Update Weekly - Website-Blog + Social

Once you have your Website / Blog up and running, you need to update them with fresh new content and let the world know about your wonderful information.





Sales and Marketing Teams Work Together to Increase Sales Productivity in 90 Days

Here is a low-cost tip for quickly Improving Sales Productivity:  Get Sales and Marketing to talk to each other! Unfortunately, Sales and Marketing Teams do not always work together very well.  Sales Productivity often suffers as a result of having different metrics and goals. When the Teams do work together to focus on improving the existing sales process... sales results quickly go up and the cost of selling goes down.  This is a "must-have" in today's business environment.

Here is a simple plan on how to get Sales and Marketing to quickly work together and focus on improving sales productivity in 90 days.

Simple Action Plan

  1. Create a small team to focus on sales productivity
  2. Summarize your current sales and marketing metrics Click here for Five Key Sales and Marketing Metrics (or Ratios)
  3. Document the existing sales process - Keep it simple
  4. Brainstorm ideas on how to improve the process and metrics
  5. Prioritize the top 3 ideas
  6. Implement the top changes
  7. Create a spreadsheet with the metrics, measure your progress and report your results
  8. Celebrate your sales productivity successes together

When you are in the middle of this project, just think about this quote:

"We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible." C. Malesherbes

Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands in 2010

Brandz recently published a list of theTop 100 Most Valuable Global Brands for 2010. The study was developed in conjunction with The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Datamonitor and Millward Brown Optimor. You can download a PDF Document with the list of the 100 companies from the Brandz website below.

Here's a peek at the Top 10 Brands:

  1. Google
  2. IBM
  3. Apple
  4. Microsoft
  5. Coca Cola
  6. McDonalds
  7. Marlboro
  8. China Mobile
  9. GE
  10. Vodafone

So... which are your favorite brands?

More Info and  Download the Top 100 List from Brandz

Small Business Marketing - Which Tactics are Moving to the Web in 2010?

There will be significant change in Small Business Marketing in 2010.  According to several recent studies, Small Businesses are planning to increase investment in Web and Social Media Marketing Tactics...and reduce investments in more traditional Print, Postcards, Catalogs, TV, Radio Ads.  There are three big reasons why executives are changing their tactics:

  1. Reduced Cost of  Lead Generation Programs
  2. Better Measurement of ROI
  3. Reduced Sales Cycles

...all resulting in faster sales.

The eMarketer chart below is a good summary of the top 2010 marketing tactics:

eMarketer Article - Small Business Marketing moves online and to Social Networking

Small Business Tips on Sending out eMail this Holiday Season & in the New Year

Are you planning to send out Marketing eMail and eNewsletters in the New Year?  If so,  are you aware of  the relatively new Federal Laws in this area? In addition to following the law, these guidelines are just good business sense and company policy.  Your new and existing customers will appreciate your attention to these details.

An easy way to comply with the law is to use an outsource company for your mass Marketing eMails and eNewsletters. We have been using Vertical Response for the last 5 years.   The service is very easy to use and the customer service is outstanding.

Below is a copy of the Federal Trade Commission Law and a link to their website.  It is very easy to comply with the 7 mandatory requirements.

Federal Trade Commission -  CAN-SPAM US Law

Do you use email in your business? The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.

Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly. But following the law isn’t complicated. Here’s a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

More Inforamation on the FTC Website on CAN-SPAM