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Friday, July 6, 2012

Basic Business Communications is Fundamental #smallbiz #tips

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I have encountered several situations recently in which business failed to do the most basic of communications which is to tell customers important followup information.

I recently registered to attend an industry conference and I was able to use the same form for my hotel reservation. I received an email confirmation that included info about my conference registration, the cancellation policy and the hotel cancellation policy. There is was ZERO information in the email that confirmed my hotel reservation. A colleague had also registered and reserved the room at the same time and had the same concern.  I called the registration center and asked them to verify that my room had been secured. The agent check my registration and confirmed that my room was reserved and said that I would receive a confirmation for the room with in 7 business days.

My issue with this is that there would have been no need for me to call anyone if the email confirmation simply stated that the hotel reservation confirmation would be sent separately within 7 business days.

This is an example of what I call "basic communications." It is not groundbreaking to tell your customers what to expect and it typically doesn't take much effort to include an extra line or two in your  communications. When communicating to customers and clients you should do everything you can to cover your bases - period.

Another example of poor basic communications I recently received and email that I had not submitted an online application that I was sure that I had completed. I spent 35 minutes one evening trying to submit my information. I even used the "help" button which showed me a screen shot of a submit button on the very same page I had open without a submit button. The next day I called the office for help and they directed to send an email to the person in charge of the application. I sent the email requesting assistance in submitting my application or for support in finding the missing submit button.

I received a response back with in 20 minutes that stated that the individual was aware of that the submit button was not available on the application and that my application was fine and I didn't need to do anything else.

1. Why on earth did they send me an email stating they didn't have my application?
2. Why didn't think to send a follow-up basic email communication to let me and other users know that the "submit" capability was actually not available?

I wasted approximately an hour of my time for an issue that could have be settled with a basic email communication updating me to the circumstances.

Tip: Always communicate information necessary for customers/clients to know. If your system is glitchy let customers know immediately. If you plan to send them follow-up information - let them know when to expect. Do leave your audience guessing or confused - ever.

 Small Business Resources

Making Sense of Health Care Reform: Seven Basics for Small-Business Owners
While it may take some time to become familiar with the new regulations, it is important now for small-business owners to understand the effect of health care reform on their companies and their employees. This white paper explains seven primary components of the Affordable Care Act:
  1. Small-business tax credits
  2. The grandfather provision
  3. Non-discrimination
  4. FSA, HSA, and HRA plans and over-the-counter medicines
  5. Coverage for young adult dependents
  6. W-2 reporting
  7. The CLASS Program

The Essentials of Online Marketing in 2012, brings together the latest in information, coverage of important developments, and expert commentary to help with your Online Marketing related decisions.

The following kit contents will help you get the most out of your Online Marketing research:
  • 8 Tips for Turning Facebook 'Likes' into Customers
  • Learning LinkedIn From the Experts: How to Build a Powerful Business Presence on LinkedIn

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Six #List #Inventions that Stand the Test of Time #smallbiz #business

Some great inventions and innovations have come and gone and others have made their permanent mark on our society. There are many budding inventors around the world hoping to produce the next big thing. The most successful inventors in our history are those that have patented products that have not been replaced by better innovations. Here is my top five inventions that have stood the test of time:

Zipper - Everyone has something in their closet or home with zipper. Can you imagine no zippers on your running jacket?

Shoe Lace -  You don't always need them but nothing other than velcro and the "slip on" has replaced. Still a useful invention.
Velcro - A genius invention that hasn't needed much improvement - in fact there are more uses for it than ever.
Electric Car - Studebaker's first cars in 1902 were electric cars. The next innovation was the gas powered car. Today electric cars whether hybrid or 100% electric are the sustainable solution to reducing the carbon imprint of driving.

 Hangers - You can deny that the almighty hanger has stood the test of time. Nothing has really replaced hangers on a wide scale. Sure you can by some Velvet Touch Hangers which I must say are quite amazing, however the basic premise is the same - it is a hanger with velvet. The hanger is the invention that keeps on giving.

Clocks - You won't find too many 11 In. Natural Cuckoo Clocks in people's home but you will find at least one mechanical or digital clock in most homes and offices.

Traffic Lights - There are many types but can you imagine roads without them? Probably not that is why they are a staple at most intersections.

Add to this list. Feel free to submit your idea for inventions that have stood the test of time via comments.

Recommended Reading:

A Recipe for Survival and Growth in the New Economy: In today's post-recession economy, how do you deliver products and services customers are willing to pay for, and believe are the best solution available? This white paper offers best practices and practical insights on:
  • Five core business process changes that span all product activities, align to your company's business objectives and strategies, and are based on best practices
  • How to transition your product innovation strategy into a core business competency based on listening to the voice of your customer
  • Turning your fragmented and inwardly-focused product organizations into an integrated and outward-looking team
Download your copy of this recipe for Survival and Growth in the New Economy today!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Top 5 Reasons to Call or Visit Your #Customers #smallbiz #lists #clients

250x300 logo on bottom and orange backgroundIt is easy to maintain a good open communication with your clients via email. But with limited "voice" contact in our daily lives when should you actually call your client or even setup an in-person meeting.

Here are your top five reasons to call or have an in-person meeting with your customers:

5. Your customer or client has been concerned about what you are actually doing for them.
4. Your contract is about to expire in 60 days and you need to find out if they intend on renewing.
3. Your client recently had a bad experience interfacing with one of your employees
2.  Your replied to your client's email, but they sent you an email wondering why you haven't replied back to their first email

and the #1 reason to call or have an in-person meeting with your customers is...

1 # The person who signed your contract is no longer with your client's company 

Do these sound obvious? Well you would be surprised. Here is an example of #2: I recently sent a complaint email to a company that I hired to do work for me that I needed feedback on an email that I had sent and I was wondering why I had not gotten a response from them. Another 24 hours went by with no response to my second email and so I called my vendor. Turns out they had responded to my first and second email and didn't consider the fact that I probably was not receiving their emails (duh?). So if I didn't call them they probably wouldn't have continued to respond to my emails vs. trying to find out why I wasn't receiving their responses. The issue? A word in the subject line was blocking my servers from delivering their emails.

Bottom-line: My vendor should have picked up the phone to call me after learning I had not received their first email, even if it was only to see if I had checked my spam folder (the emails were not in spam).

Check These Out:
Receive Your Complimentary Guide NOW!

"7 Steps to Managing SEO During Site Redesign"
Considering a site redesign? If so, you're probably contemplating all of the potential benefits that a redesigned site will have on your inbound marketing program. Perhaps your goal is to achieve an easier to use or navigate website, or to migrate to a new CMS in order to scale production and publication of new content. Perhaps the intent of your redesign is to give your presence a much-needed facelift. Get it Now

The Ultimate Inbound Link Building Guide

                   "The Ultimate Inbound Link Building Guide"
If you're a professional B2B marketer responsible for driving inbound leads, this guide is a must read.
You'll discover:
  • How to drive more traffic from your core SEO, content marketing and social media efforts
  • What type of inbound links are most valued by search engines
  • How to avoid shady link-building tactics
  • Six key strategies for creating effective and safe inbound links
Get this guide to learn how to effectively build inbound links and drive more quality traffic to your site.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#ebook:New eBook: How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 Days" #facebook #marketing

Receive Your Complimentary eBook NOW!

"New eBook: How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 Days"
New eBook: How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 DaysWondering how to quickly build a faithful following on Facebook?
Whether it's Facebook's complexity or simplicity that has you stymied, if you put in just a little effort-- for 10 days--you can boost your Facebook interactions by 10, 20, even 30 percent or more.

In HubSpot's new eBook How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 Days you'll learn how to:
  1. Evaluate successful Facebook pages
  2. Understand Facebook best practices
  3. Speak Facebook-ese
  4. Create custom Welcome Pages
  5. Create a content calendar
  6. Understand Edge
  7. Rank and the art of engagement
  8. Put on a show
  9. Create a contest
  10. Run a targeted ad campaign
  11. Use Facebook's analytics package 'Insights'
Start garnering fans and customers who will spend real money as a result of your social marketing magic. Download the new eBook “How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 Days” now! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

#SMALLBIZ Deals: 20% Off Yola Silver and $20 Off Online Store

Yola Affiliate Newsletter

20% Off 1 Year Yola Silver and $20 Off 1 Year Online Store
 Two new exciting offers: 20% off 1 Year Yola Silver and $20 off 1 year Yola Online Store. 
  • 20% off 1 year of Yola Silver (originally $99.95 - now $79.95, which is just $6.66 a month!)
  • Coupon code: 20SILVER
  • Available: 2/22 - 2/29
  • As a reminder, Yola Silver includes easy-to-use site creator, domain pointing/hosting, free advertising credits worth $100, premium phone support + more!  
Get 20% Off 1 Year Yola Silver with code 20SILVER. Offer valid thru 2/29. Build your site now!

Make your business website stand out with Yola

$20 off 1 Year Yola Online Store
  • $20 off 1 year of Yola Online Store (originally $100/year - now $80, which is just $6.66 a month!)
  • Coupon code: STORE20
  • Run dates: 2/22 - 2/29
  • With advanced features like tax and shipping integration, the acceptance of over 15 payment methods, and the ability for customers save their profile into your store, Yola Online Store has all the features you need to create and run a professional store.   
New Yola Silver feature: Free stock images
Yola just added a new feature to the Yola Silver hosting package: access to over 3,000 quality stock images for FREE!  Yola and Fotolia handpicked these images specifically for small businesses, so this is a quick and easy way to add professional looking photos to give your website some extra shine.
Yola Silver customers can access this feature now through the Sitebuilder. All they have to do is add a picture widget and click on "Find Stock Images"  or "Yola Images" to browse and add a free image.

Yola Free Images

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

OfficeLive Users: The Cheap Easy Solution to Replace OfficeLive Site #smallbiz

Make your business website stand out with YolaOn January 31, 2012, Microsoft announced that it will discontinue the OfficeLive free website hosting and storage service. There are a lot of the website builders out there Word Press and Yola make it incredibly fast and easy to replace your OfficeLive website.  You can buy a domain name from and be up and running in a few days. The folks at office live have also made it way easier to transition your domains to another provider. I use and they make it pretty easy to transfer a domain to them. I personally  have two sites in OfficeLive ( and and now I have to migrate them to another content management system. I recommend all current OfficeLive users to migrate their sites to I have been a Yola Silver customer for almost three years I have over seven websites in Yola and I must tell you it is far better than OfficeLive and way easier to use!

Top Benefits of Migrating to Yola from OfficeLive:

- Easy user interface                 - Html and Text WYSIWYG widgets  - Google Adsense integration
- Preview before Publishing     - Easy Navigation editing                     -  Google Analytics Integration
- Social Media Widgets            - Use flash, javascript or query and much more!

This is the actual Yola user interface. As you can see it is easier to use and there is more options to enhance pages.
Download the PDF of the above image: Click Here 

Although Yola is free for up to 5 websites with free hosting and limited file storage you are much better off buying the Yola Silver Package if you plan to launch more than one website. With the silver package you can build 25 websites, plus receive a free custom domain, 5 GB of storage, premium phone and email support, unlimited premium templates (which are usually way more customizable headers and site backgrounds) Plus, Get FREE advertising credits worth $100 with every Yola Silver purchase. Limited offer, sign up now!

Here are some of my websites in Yola today check them out: (using premium template in Silver Package) (free template)

One more thing: There is a downside to web-based website builders with free hosting - all sites are on the same servers so you suffer the consequences when there is server outage. But if your website is not mission critical to your business, then if you lose some up time it won't make that much of a difference.  Check out the service providers to find out what type of security is used on the servers.

It helps to know something about html. Here is some recommended Do-It-Yourself Website Reading:

*FREE*Download the Build Your Own WordPress Site Guide now, and read it on your computer today! With this free guide you will also receive daily updates on new cool websites and programs in your email for free courtesy of MakeUseOf.

Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML and CSS, 2nd Edition

Creating a Web Site: The Missing Manual

Good luck folks!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hey Post Office: Shelve Rules and Make Cash #news

I walked into a U.S. Post Office (USPS) the other day with intent to pay more than the cost of postage. I wanted to send my legal size envelope filled with about 10 pages with a delivery confirmation. You would think that if a customer wanted delivery confirmation they could pay simply for it right?  WRONG!

#1 in Identity Theft ProtectionTurns out although I had a large envelope that it was not "thick" enough for a delivery confirmation. I was told I had to send my envelope priority mail to take advantage of delivery confirmation. I didn't want to spend that much - period.

But here is the bigger issue: if the post office is struggling to stay relevant in modern times when fewer people are snail mailing and more are making online payments does it make sense to turn down money people are willing to spend?

I posed that very question to the clerk at the post office and her response was "Well if we allowed delivery confirmation on any size envelope the postal carrier would be spending so much time scanning at each location it would take him a very long time."  Have I stepped back in time? Is it 1989 again?  Ok really? Isn't the issue that the postal carriers have less mail to deliver? Hasn't the USPS been cutting back on hours, closing locations and laying off employees because of the lack of volume?

It seems that rules in place from 20 years ago are based on the balance sheet from 20 years ago. It is time for the USPS to take a good long hard look at why they are still doing things today to determine if it makes since for the actual mail volume of today.

Something tells me that if the US Post Office suddenly lifted the archaic thickness rule for delivery confirmation that millions of people would NOT flock to their nearest post office leading to an overload of letter deliveries. I guarantee that people will still choose online transactions as they do today, but when they absolutely needed to snail mail and confirm a letter they would do so.  

I can't think of any reason behind maintaining a silly rule that prevents a business from making money. If people are opening their wallets to spend any extra money on their mail why on Earth would you prevent them from doing so.

So U.S. Post Office -  for crying out loud lift the ancient thickness rule for delivery confirmation and start making money off of people willing to spend it.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 3 CFO and Accounting Resources to Jump Start 2012

Bean Counter to Business Leader: The Changing Role of the CFO"
Five Steps to Becoming a CFO Wizard. 

Download this white paper to find out how to connect technology to strategies that support the evolution of a CFO to a "wizard"— someone who performs the role of trusted advisor, prophet, sorcerer, and more. Understand how taking a fresh look at current business processes and wisely choosing which ones to improve can ensure an escape from the transaction-focused bean counter role. The 5 strategies include:
  • Improving visibility and context of the data employees need to succeed
  • Identifying and resolving a business pain that is reducing profits
  • Ensuring financial goals and business goals are linked—and attained
  • Being a watchdog and vocal supporter of projects that support regulatory compliance (IFRS) and technology investment (XBRL)
  • Empowering the organization: ensuring decisions can be made at the right levels
click here to download (you may sign in or use a linkedin login)

 "Best Practices in SOX Compliance"
It is mandatory for public companies across the US to comply with the provisions of the SOX Act.
Organizations may face financial penalties as well as reputational hassles in case of failure to comply, which can, in turn, lead to inefficient processes and controls within non-complying organizations. Experts believe that investors' confidence in organizations can be shaken owing to lack of accountability, reliability, and accuracy in corporate disclosure

click to download (you may sign in or use a linkedin login) 

CFO Magazine
Each issue of CFO provides 450,000 senior financial executives with the sophisticated analysis and innovative ideas they need to add value to their organizations.
From refinancing to reengineering, from insurance to information systems, CFO takes the latest financial thinking and shows how it is being implemented in the country's most innovative organizations. In the increasingly competitive arena of corporate finance, CFO keeps its readers on the inside track.

Request Your Complimentary Magazine Subscription NOW! (you may sign in or use a linkedin login)

B2B Blogging eBook - Basics, Best Practices... and Blunders

Why are we blogging? If you're reading this eBook, you're probably working on a blog for your company, or perhaps considering one. And it's very likely that at some point in this process you've asked yourself, "Hmm… tell me again why we're doing this?!" There are lots of good reasons – and you've probably heard them all – but we contend it all gets back to one thing…Making Money.
click here to download

Friday, December 23, 2011

2012 Small Biz Jumpstart: Learn to Maximize Social Media

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Making Your Web Site Safe for Online BuyersMaking Your Web Site Safe for Online Buyers
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Deploying an effective Outbound Telemarketing service for your business can significantly increase your revenues and achieve sales efficiencies that would also result in a higher level of customer satisfaction.
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As B2B marketing continues to change, the importance of social media grows. Read this white paper to learn how to build a social marketing campaign.
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