Archive for the ‘small business’ Category

Business of Software Conference 2008

April 16, 2008

Announced earlier this week, the Business of Software 2008 – A Joel On Software Conference is now open for registration. The conference will be held in the Seaport Hotel on Boston’s waterfront on September 3rd and 4th.

The confirmed speakers include:
 

  • Joel Spolsky, founder of Fog Creek software, author of several books and the man behind the joelonsoftware blog.
  • Seth Godin, Business Week’s “Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age”, is the best-selling author of 7 books (including Permission Marketing and Purple Cow) as well as the most popular eBook of all time.
  • Eric Sink, founder of SourceGear, author of “Eric Sink on the Business of Software” and the person who coined the term “Micro ISV”
  • Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing and winner of last year’s Software Idol competition
  • Richard Stallman launched the development of the GNU operating system, now used on tens of millions of computers today. Stallman has received the ACM Grace Hopper Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer award, and the the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment
  • Paul Kenny is one of the UK’s top sales trainers, consultants and speakers. He has worked with many customers in three continents, including IBM, Perot Systems, The Guardian and tens of others.
  • Dharmesh Shah is a geek, serial entrepreneur, founder of HubSpot and blogger at OnStartups.com
  • Jessica Livingston is author of Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days and a founder of Y Combinator
  • Jason Fried is founder of 37signals (developers of Basecamp and Ruby on Rails) and Signal vs Noise blogger

This looks to be an incredible conference full of insightful personalities and great ideas. I highly recommend anyone who is in the world of software startups plan on attending.

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The Importance of Coaching

April 9, 2008

We recently went live with a new promotion, and so far, the results have been wonderful. I attribute a great deal of that success to coaching that we received from people outside of Hinutech. We know our technical and business offerings very well (too well, probably), and as a result, we thought that the message on our website was very clear. Turns out, it was clear to us because we wrote the copy.

A coach can be anyone. Your spouse, a paid coach, a group of usability testers. Anyone who is willing and able to give you thoughtful advice on how you can improve yourself or your business is a coach. Seek one out, and you’ll be able to see things through a different set of eyes — your customers.

Keep In Touch

March 23, 2008

So, there is a great way to get repeat sales from customers — keeping in touch after a sale is made. Most businesses fall short in this department, and subsequently, miss out on the opportunity to truly wow their customers. Getting the first sale can be easy. The difficult part comes when you maintain a relationship with a customers, work to resolve issues with them and be an on-going resource for them. It’s hard work. The good news is that once you have a few people who know and trust you, then your sales process becomes much easier because you now have them selling you to their colleagues.

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Who’s Listening, Anyway?

March 17, 2008

From MediaPost, 75% of consumers channel surf or chat during TV commercials. As I said in an earlier post, the old ways of marketing aren’t working any more. We are bombarded with over 4000+ advertisements a day, and like any good spam filter, we continually improve our ability to filter out the rubbish from the stuff we need/want. The new model of marketing is permission-based. If my product/website/content/blog/whatever is good enough and important enough, you will seek it out and share it with others who are looking for something that is relevant to their world.

No matter how hard I yell “Look at me!”, it won’t register above the noise of 4000+ daily advertisements. As small businesses, blog owners, website owners, widgeters, you’ve got to deliver something that is unique and helps people out. The best part of all of this is that you don’t need a big advertising budget — just the ability to be creative, passionate and know a little something about something to rise above the noise.

Here’s the full post:

According to the BIGresearch latest Simultaneous Media Survey, the only way for people to keep up with the deluge of media options is to multitask with other media. Specifically, says Gary Drenik, President of BIGresearch, “TV’s influence on consumers to purchase products declined, whereas new media options such as web radio, satellite radio, instant messaging and blogging all increased. Consumers seem to be seeking information from digital platforms while TV has traditionally been viewed as a brand building medium, which isn’t providing the requisite information.”

Media that can target, be timely, and deliver value to consumers, such as coupons/direct mail, radio, yellow pages, newspapers and newspaper inserts all increased in influence to purchase as consumers are looking to stretch budgets in a slowing economy.?More key findings from the study include:?

1. Regular simultaneous media consumption for online, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and direct mail is up from 1% to 35%, depending on the medium.

2. Channel surfing remains the number one regular activity engaged in during TV commercials with 41.2% doing so followed by:

  • 33.5% talk with others in the room or by phone
  • 30.2% mentally tune out
  • 5.5% regularly fully attend to commercials

3. Eating continues to be the number one activity people engage in while using media followed by doing housework, doing laundry, cooking and talking on phone.

4. Top simultaneous media used when reading a newspaper are:

  • Watch TV
  • Listen to the radio
  • Go online

5. For people listening to radio, the top three other media simultaneously used are:

  • Engage in other activities
  • Go online
  • Read the newspaper

6. Web radio usage is up in all dayparts.

7. Cable is where most TV viewing takes place.

8. The top three In-Store Promotions for influence of purchasing a product are:

  • Product Samples
  • Shelf Coupons
  • Special Displays

9. The top three Media for triggering an online search are:

  • Magazines
  • Reading an article on the product
  • TV

“Unfortunately for marketers faced with the challenges of an uncertain economy and the need to increase marketing ROI, new media options are impacting how consumers use traditional media, ” concludes Drenik .

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It Only Takes a Few

March 17, 2008

You don’t have to be the biggest in the world. Just be the most important thing to a small number of people, and success will follow.

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A Question of Focus

February 13, 2008

I was working with a new customer the other day, and we were discussing some of the things that Hinutech could do for him technically that he didn’t have the time nor expertise to do well. During our talks about using Google’s Adwords to drive customers to his site and then Analytics to ascertain what was working with his site, he came to realization that, although all of this stuff was free, he just couldn’t do it effectively himself. So, Hinutech is going to do it for him.

After I left his office, I thought of the Old 97’s line: Half the way there just wouldn’t be fair. If you are trying to market your business effectively, you need to have someone who is an expert at this stuff do it for you. We hire accountants and attorneys because they are experts. With enough time and focus, we can do what they do with a degree of success, but why risk failure at something so important? Marketing your business on the web is the same way. You can do it yourself, but why risk something as important as your corporate image as you come up the learning curve? Odds are, your days are full running your business. Why add something else to your day when you can pay someone to do it for you at a cheaper rate and with better, more immediate results?

It really all comes down to where you should focus your time. Doing something half way because it has the appearance of being cheaper isn’t doing you or your business any favors.

My advice is to get someone to handle your web marketing for you. Get someone who is passionate about it and who is always thinking of new ways to make improvements for you. It’s something you won’t have to worry about, and you’ll get better results.

What’s Your Website Doing For You?

January 31, 2008

Is it declaring to the world that your business is for real? Is it something that you point friends, family and customers to with pride? Is it enabling your team to sell more? Is it helping your marketing? Do you even know?

Your website shouldn’t be an event that happens once. Your website should be a living, breathing branch of your business that you use to make life better for customers, prospects and employees. It needs daily feeding to make it better and more relevant.

There are no strict rules for making your site great. Try something. See if it sticks. If it doesn’t, try something else. In the words of Seth Godin, “The reason that there’s so much pressure and focus on finding an ironclad list of musts is that the big and the slow demand it. That doesn’t mean you have to listen to them.”

Ineffective Meetings

January 24, 2008

I just got out of an ineffective meeting. You know the type — one held so that everyone feels good about meeting.
Since most of the 10 people who were in this 2 hour meeting were senior level, let’s assume that the average salary in the room was in the neighborhood of $90,000. This meeting costs the company roughly $1000 a week.

Something to think about when you are pulling people together and the time is not particularly value-added.

For some great insights on how to improve your meetings and team communications, I highly recommend “Death By Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni. He actually recommends that conmpanies have more meetings — albeit they must be effective and important to all who are participating.