Category Archives: Technology

5 Reasons Why Text Marketing Will Trump Email Marketing

Text marketing is poised to become the next generation of connecting with your prospects and customers.   Think about it.  When you leave home, what do you take with you?  If you’re like most people, you take your keys, your wallet and your cell phone (way more often than you take your PC).

Here are some startling statistics that will make you wake of and take notice.

1. Market size
Cell phones usage is on track to reach 5 billion over the next few years versus 1.8 billion internet users. This makes the mobile marketin three times larger. If you’re going for volume, it would silly to ignore this statistic. Even if you market to a niche industry, the chances are the buyers are mobile enabled.

2. Technology advances
51 million mobile users are on smart phones.  Costs continue to drop and technological capabilities continue to improve.

95% of mobile phones have texting capabilities.  73% of new mobile phone buyers say text messaging is the most important feature.  (Do your teenagers answer or return your calls to their cell phones as quickly as they do your texts?)

3. Usage
Every type of mobile interaction is on the rise. 50% SM interactions happen on cell phones. Online networks now send text messages to alert users of status updates.  Mobile apps are almost addictive and keep users ‘plugged in’ to their mobile phones more than ever.

4. Supply vs. demand
350 billion text messages are exchanged monthly. Only 15% of texts include a marketing/commercial message, yet 30% consumers want coupons sent to phones.  This represents a huge gap in unmet needs. Consumers are looking for deals they can access at a moments notice as they are out and about shopping and running errands.

5. Efficacy
Text open rates are 90% vs 8 – 12% for email and 2% for print. Gen Y & Zers actually consider email passé. Some universities have actually stopped distributing email accounts.

So if you’re interested in continuing to connect with your market, you must start incorporating new strategies that reach them where they are.

Using Video Marketing to Build Your Personal Brand

I learned a ton recently about creating videos.  I’ve also been studying how to use videos for marketing yourself and your business online.

Watch this video and then read the tips that follow:

1. Use an interesting (but not too distracting) background.
Having a background adds visual interest. Make sure it’s attractive, neat and adds either credibility or fun.

2. Use natural sunlight if at all possible
Natural light is the very best. It’s much cheaper than having to buy studio lights and works better than artificial light.

3. Add an opening title slide and credits or a call to action at the end.
These items will make your video look more professional.  The call to action is what will drive traffic to your website if that’s what you’re trying to get people to do.

4. Include occasional comments to highlight certain points.
It’s easy to add text in Windows Movie Maker Live and iMovie.  Again, this makes your ‘production’ seem more polished and professional.

5. Optimize your video for the key words you want to be known for.
YouTube is one of the most searched websites online. When you optimize your video by including keywords in the description and tags, people who are looking for what you’ve mentioned, will find your video more easily.

6. Use variety.  Add a few special effects.
Variety will stimulate the minds of your viewers and keep them watching through to the end.

7. Be entertaining, not just educational.
When people are having fun or being deeply moved, they’ll stay engaged.  Even if you’re training them on something, they’ll remember your message more if it engages their emotions in addition to stimulating their brains.

Video marketing is becoming the standard medium for branding and online communications.  Make sure you incorporate this strategy in marketing plan.

3 Reasons Why Social Media MUST Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Social media is all the rage these days, yet many business owners struggle to understand why they should bother to jump on the bandwagon.  They are mystified about how to monetize their social media efforts.

Here are 3 reasons you can’t afford to miss this online ‘boat’ plus 3 simple things you can do to capitalize on this ‘Brave New World’.

1.  Print media is dying and with it, print ads.
Even when it worked, advertising was primarily useful only for building brand awareness. Unless someone sees your ad at the moment they’re thinking of buying something or you have a killer sale going on, it’s likely that it won’t generate a sale for you.

2.  Email marketing is dying – fast!

People are inundated with email these days.  Many people receive over 100 per day, so the chances that yours will get read are really slim. If you don’t know the right techniques, your messages may never be seen.

3.  Networking only works if you follow up quickly and most people don’t.
Actual face time is critical for building relationships and credibility.  Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do that properly. So they smile, chit chat, shake a lot of hands, exchange a bunch of cards and that’s where the story ends.

So what’s a business owner to do?
1. Shift your print advertising budget to online media.
Facebook ads are effective, inexpensive and highly targetable toward your ideal prospect profile.

2. Connect online where your ‘peeps’ are hanging out.  Add value, build relationships.  Share enough about yourself that people can get to know (and like) you.   Make sure you have an account and profile on LinkeIn, Facebook and Twitter.  Start a blog and make short, relevant comments on it regularly.

3. Attend networking events with a plan for the kind of people (industries, professions, etc.) that you want to meet.  Ask other attendees if they will introduce you to them. Make a commitment to follow up with a few key people you meet at networking events, not to sell them right away, but to get to know them better to see if there really is a match for what you each do.

It’s simple to get started in social media. Make sure you have a strategy of who you’re trying to connect with and how you want to be known in those communities.  You’re building a new reputation in a new world. Do it thoughtfully.  Once you’re ‘in’, continually refine your efforts.  Draw people into your lair by giving then once trust is built, make them offers they can’t refuse.

Why You Need a Backup Plan for Your Backup Plan

Having a back up plan might not be enough to save you from grief.

Listed here are the 3 critical reasons you need to have a backup plan for your backup plan PLUS 7 serious tips you must keep in mind when switching to your new environment.

When my computer crashed 4 years ago, I lost everything that wasn’t stored on a floppy disk. (Am I dating my(tech)self?)  I was devastated and swore I’d never be in that position again.

I bought an external hard drive to back up my data locally and subscribed to a remote backup service for even more safekeeping.

For the last several years, I was proud of myself for my foresight.  At the same time, I was pushing my computer to it’s limits with all the files I accumulated on my hard drive and the multiple applications I always had open at any one time.

I purchased another external hard drive to hold my pictures, videos and audios and had begun to think about what my next computer would be but didn’t feel any urgency until that fateful day, March 19, The Day My Computer Crashed. I swear, I could make a full length movie out of what has transpired since then.

Here are the critical three reasons you need a backup plan for your backup plan.
1.  Because technology is moving so rapidly, your original backup plan won’t have anticipated all of the new things that could now go wrong.

2.  Things will go wrong that you hadn’t accounted for.

3.  Getting back up to speed will take WAY longer than you expected.

Here is the first of the seven serious tips.

1. Understand the data restore process and find out how long it takes to restore your data.
I had (erroneously) assumed that once I was ready, I would click some remote button and my stuff would magically and almost instantaneously appear on my new computer.  Not! So I waited to request the restoration until I figured out which computer I would buy and got it set up in my office. Bad mistake!

Because I had so much data backed up from my original computer, even after five days of waiting, by big “packet” of everything was still not available.

I was able to download individual files as I needed them and that process only took minutes so I wasn’t completely out of luck.  But I’m impatient and wanted all of it.  After waiting the five days for the ‘all of it packet’, I requested a smaller packet of the stuff I really needed.  But even that took several days to arrive!

Then, once it was available, there was another step to extract all of the compressed packets of data into the actual files that I could use.  That process took several more days! And finally, even though I downloaded entire folders of documents, all of the documents didn’t make the voyage.

LESSON: Had I known then what I know now, I would have started the restore process the moment we knew my hard drive was dead and requested my documents, files and folders in much smaller increments. Verify that everything you thought you downloaded actually makes it to your computer.

2.Check the status of your backup process regularly.
As mentioned in the video, I was rather cocky because I had built in redundant backup processes: one local on a hard drive, one remote.  I discovered that the local backup process had not successfully completed since mid-January.

To make matters worse, the software that ran the local backup wouldn’t work on my new computer (way more about that later).  Since most of the stuff I was anxious to get my hands on were my more recent creations, I abandoned the idea of upgrading to the newer version of local backup software since it wouldn’t produce the files I needed right away.  So I waited…

LESSON: Check your backup status weekly

3. Keep a printed list of the software/tools you download from the internet.

When you get a new computer, you’ll need to reinstall all of your software.  If you have the installation CDs, you’re good to go (although this process is also time-consuming.

The thing I had not anticipated was that all my cool tools I had found online would also be gone and I would not have a CD to reinstall them.  This is particularly important for software you purchase.  You might get the vendor to give you another download link, but you’ll need the exact date of purchase and/or the ‘key’ code to verify your purchase.

I was able to find one of my purchases (once Outlook was filled with all my history again), but it would have been great having a handy list.

LESSON: Save the ‘.exec’ files in a safe place (perhaps the Downloads folder on your computer). Rename them so you know what they are (Vendors often abbreviate them beyond recognition.) Maybe save the emails with download links or the download url address.  Periodically print out your list of tools and purchase dates.

4.  Before you purchase anything, identify your hardware and software/operating system needs and research your options.

Talk with some technical advisors from whom you cannot purchase anything to get an objective opinion.  Tell them how you work.  Let them make recommendations. You can go to stores to see the things in person, but the technicians in the stores will only tout the stuff they have on hand.

Here’s a compilation of what I heard from My PC Techs and My Computer Works. (Love them both; they’re lifesavers!) “Stick with HP and Dell.  Buy Intel inside.” (Windows 7 was tested on Intel.)

I went to four stores with my requirements in hand to check prices and was glad I did.  I spent a little more than I wanted but am happy with my purchase.   If you have the time or can plan ahead online purchases can be cheaper, but I was strapped for time and as you know, impatient.

LESSON: Use professionals who can guide you and help with the process.

5.  Wait 18 months before buying the newest operating systems.

Windows 7 does have some really cool features and works noticeably faster, but I’ve heard developers launch products when they’re ‘good enough’ then rely on customer feedback to work out the kinks.

LESSON:  In my research phase, I did notice that there were some computers that came loaded with Windows 7 plus a ‘rollback’ option to XP.  That would have gotten me up and running more quickly and avoided the pain of Tip 6.

6.  Figure out if your software will run on the operating system you buy.

Part of the reason for waiting is because when new operating systems are rolled out, all developers may not have revised their products to work in the new environments.  Even if they have, you may have to pay for upgrades in some cases.

Also, there is a difference between Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit.  As much of a geek that I am, I didn’t think about (nor do I totally understand) that difference.  I do know that some of my tools would have worked on the 32-bit version of Win7 but not the 64-bit that I got.

7.  Buy from a company with great support.

This was really important for me. With the specs I received from my advisors, I could have purchased a computer from local geeks who build them.  But I know that I need to be able to pick up the phone and say “XYZ isn’t working.  Help me” and then get that help.

I don’t have an in-house tech department and rely on the two companies I mentioned  above.  I have been thrilled with them and the support they provided in this transition.

I’ve also been impressed with the support from HP and Sprint (e.g. trying to get my phone to synch with my computer since the USB cable doesn’t work on Win7. ) They guide me through issues and do remote interventions for me.

They have even called me back to make sure everything is still working! I wasn’t expecting that.

Yesterday, when my phone successfully synched my new appointments and contacts using Bluetooth technology and my wireless printer didn’t go offline when it did, I finally felt like I was coming out of the dark.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you and prepare you for your next tech transition, planned or unplanned.  I encourage you to plan ahead however.  This was tedious process!

Please share your tips and stories here.