Monthly Archives: April 2010

Useful tools for PC users

People often ask me what tools I use to make my life on a PC easier… well here is a list of some of my favs.

1. PixResizer (http://bluefive.pair.com/pixresizer.htm) easily allows you to resize one or multiple images. Please, please use this or http://profusionproducts.com/resizer/ to resize your images before you load them onto your website.

2. TweetDeck – I manage a few Twitter and FaceBook accounts and TweetDeck makes this simple from one interface

3. Pixie – (http://www.nattyware.com/pixie.php) ever wonder what the hex, RGB, or CMYK value of the color on your favorite website is? Well wonder no more, Pixie is a great little tool that will tell you the codes for any color on any website, document or image.

4. PowerPoint – I am a PowerPoint junkie. I don’t just use it for presentations, I use it to do rough schematics and rough mock-ups. I can do amazing things in PowerPoint. Many website designs have started with me and a client sitting down and mocking something up it PowerPoint. I am sure other web designers will laugh, but this works and my clients are happy.

5. I had been using GoTo Webinar for our online training sessions and have been relatively happy with them. They are somewhat pricey ($99/mo). My biggest complaint is that the recordings are not very high quality. I have posted many of them on the NSNA website and they are hard to read. I have been trying out Camtasia and Screencast.com for a couple quick responses to clients (see http://www.screencast.com/t/YTIwZDMzMTkt as an example) but I have not used it enough to make a full review. I’ll let you know.

6. We use IM (instant messenger) like crazy to communicate quickly. Call me lazy, but there are many times I will IM the CEO of our company even if he is sitting in the office right next to me. For me, I like having a written answer to my question. If gives me something to go back and read if I ever forget the answer (which I do a lot… prego brain). I still have two accounts, Yahoo and MSN, and use both messengers. I know there are tools that allow you to consolidate to one IM, but I like having both. Sue me.

7. CutePDF – again, PC users need a free way to make PDFs too. See my earlier post on how to do this.

8. Pandora.com – For me, I work much better with good tunes. Since I can’t hire DJ Maynard to spin in my office all day, I listen to Pandora.

What am I missing? What can’t you live/work without?

But I’m not technical… and other excuses that will cripple your sales.

My degree in psychology does not qualify me to sell a technical product. When I first got in this industry (almost 6 years and 2,300 websites ago) I thought, boy, do I have a lot to learn. And that was true, and I almost let it cripple me.

Now, for those of you who do not know me directly, I am not short on confidence. My parents told me I could do anything, and I believed them. So when given the opportunity to start a company selling web solutions, I said why not and jumped in with both feet. Unfortunately, the first few meetings I had with potential clients were disasters. I wasn’t prepared to answer their questions, I didn’t know what I was selling, and I couldn’t provide them with any value. I was shell shocked. I had just invested over $60,000 into a business that I didn’t know the first thing about.

My initial reaction… RETREAT, FULL RETREAT! Hide your head in the sand until this passes and then pop back up as a blond and hope no one noticed. Unfortunately that strategy didn’t work. I had to get back on the horse, I had to make my investment work. So then I took on the attitude that I had to learn everything there was about web technologies and websites. The next meeting I went into, I was going to be the biggest web nerd in the room. I started reading books and other websites that I could find. I tried to devour as much information as I could.

But what was happening to my sales and leads while I was doing all this learning? Nothing. I had no sales, I had no income, I had nothing in my pipeline. That was even scarier than being laughed out of a meeting. So I knew I had to find a healthy balance of learning and selling. I took on the attitude that I have now… I may not know everything about technology, but I know we (NSNA) can do just about anything any client wants on the web.

And more importantly, I realized that my potential clients don’t care if I know everything about the web or not. They care about what I know about their business. They care about how I can help them make more money, spend less time at work, manage their own site, learn a new skill, etc. That is the value I provided them. My clients enjoy the fact that I do not speak geek. They like that they are speaking with another business owner that understands that making payroll can be a bitch sometimes and that sometimes at the end of the month there are a lot more bills than cash.

So now the important skill that I bring to the table when meeting a client is that I listen. I listen to what they want, I balance that with what I know works and how our products work, and the result usually is a happy client with a new web solution. The point is, don’t let your fear of not knowing paralyze you into not selling. If you are a ProFusion Dealer, spend time building your website on the tools you were given when you first signed up. Show your clients what you are doing, show them how you can add pictures to your website with a few mouse clicks. Show them how you can turn a boring business website into an Italian Restaurant site in less than an hour. Show them how you can make your new product dance, and I guarantee they will want to do business with you and they will tell their friends about you.

So stop waiting, start selling!

Bringing back the hopper!

Once upon a time in a land far far away, I attended in intensive 5 day marketing training in Texas. Seems like forever and 2 company start ups ago, so I kind of dismissed the things I learned there as old knowledge. Well, I was just cleaning out my desk and I found some of the materials that I took home from that class and I came across the idea of a hopper system. A hopper is a system that captures leads and automatically sends response pieces to them so they won’t “Fall Through The Cracks”. When I learned about this system years ago, they placed big importance on doing “fax” blasts to people who had requested information from you. Well, faxes may be archaic, but the idea of regular communication with people who have reached out to you is still excellent.

I think all business owners intend to do this. Every January at NSNA we swear to write a weekly email to send out to our current customers. We intend to segment the list by industry and send them targeted messages, but somehow we never seem to get past the first mailing. I know we are not alone in our failure to launch a well intended, good idea.

So what do we do about it now? Start small. With the form tool on the ProFusion Ultra Internet Solution, you can send auto-responders. An auto-responder is an automated email that is sent to someone once they have filled out a form on your website. The autoresponder can be unique for each form on your site. I just went through the NSNA site and only one of our forms was using an active auto-responder. Shame on us! So this weekend, I am partially implementing the hopper with a small step. I will be writing unique auto-responders for each one of our forms. My next step will be to put together a series of responses and send them out on an automated schedule via the mailer… but that may be too much for one weekend. I’ll let you know how step 1 goes.

Tips for a successful trade show

The very words Trade Show make some small business owners shudder. A Trade Show can take a lot of time and most of the time that’s something a small business owner just doesn’t have. With some careful planning however, a trade show can not only be fun they can be profitable as well.

Here are 10 tips we’ve picked up from attending a lot of shows, not only as vendors but participants as well. They may be basic but the best tips usually are pretty basic.

1. Set clear goals of what you want to achieve at the show. Do you expect to sell products, launch a new product or promotion, or possibly meet suppliers? You can set more than one goal but be clear and focused on what your participation will involve. In our business (selling web solutions) we don’t expect to sell a site on the spot. What we do look for is hot leads. At each trade show we attempt to identify 3 – 5 hot leads. We do this by gathering business cards from participants. When someone hands me their card, I quickly look for a web address. I then ask them one of two simple questions. If they don’t have a site listed on their card, I ask why? If they do have a site listed on their card, I ask them how happy they are with the performance of their website. Based on their response, I quickly note on the back of their card how “hot” they are. If they expressed some sort of displeasure or unsatisfaction with their website, I mark them as “hot” and follow up with them right after the show is over.

2. Find out everything you can about your space in advance. There’s nothing more frustrating than showing up to a show only to find that your booth is too big or too small to fit the space. Finding out the location of your booth in advance prevents you lugging around boxes and products in search of the right spot. Finding out everything that is included (table, table cloth, electricity, etc) in advance is a big time and headache saver.

3. Have everything you need, like extension cords; tape etc with you when you arrive to set up your booth. It prevents last minute searching for items needed to set up your booth which, if you’re in a strange town can quickly turn into a nightmare. We have a trade show box that stays with our booth that contains a hammer, thumb tacks, pens, rubber bands, notepads, band aids, extension cords, replacement light bulbs, tape, breath mints and much more in it. It has been used at every trade show we’ve been to and always comes in handy.

4. Make sure your display is appropriate for the group you are targeting. Who is your target market with your trade show display? Different audiences go to trade shows differently and have different needs.

5. Advertise in advance of the show. Let the public know that you are participating in a particular trade show. Invite your clients, customers, suppliers and be sure and give them your booth number. Advertise your attendance to the trade show on your website as well.

6. Stand out! Don’t just be another booth and vendor at the show – find something different and unique and use that to draw visitors to your booth. Arrange your booth strategically so that everything can be seen quickly by visitors. Put larger items in the rear and shorter items up front. A table runner on top of the table cloth is an effective way of making your table stand out. Be creative with your booth, include pictures if possible and be sure your company name and logo are more than obvious.

7. Should you give something away? Most people who attend trade shows are expecting some giveaways and food is always popular. Make sure you package your food in a way that allows you to have your company information on it. Gift Certificates for some of your services are another great Trade Show giveaway – there’s nothing better than getting a deal on your services. And when they redeem their certificate, they will learn how great your services are and come back for more. Offer a drawing for a prize that complements your business and appeals to everyone. Have visitors and guests sign a guestbook, fill out a form or drop their business card in a bowl. You can then use this information later to make a follow up contact. We gave away a Wii last year at a trade show and we were one of the most popular booths at the event! We collected over 300 business cards and have closed 7 deals from that show alone.

8. Arrive early enough to the trade show and make sure everything is set up correctly and that everything works. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes – you’re going to be on your feet!

9. During the show, never turn your back to the crowd and don’t sit down unless you’re having a conversation with a guest and you both are sitting. Stand in front of your booth, if possible, saying “Hi” to those that turn and look toward your or your booth. Have your elevator speech ready. More importantly, is being ready to listen to what your guests have to say, you may learn a lot about them and be able to fill a need that they have.

10. A portfolio or display of your work should be on hand for visitors to see. A digital photo frame is an excellent way of showing your work or placing a Power Point® presentation on a laptop – your visitors will find this visually appealing and it will draw their attention. Offering a brochure with your best work for them to take with them will serve as a reminder once the show is over.

These 10 basic steps to Trade Show exhibiting will make your booth stand out, draw visitors so you can gather their contact information, save you time, money and stress. The most important thing about a trade show is to have fun!

How to convert any document to a PDF

For us PC users, there is no pre-loaded software application that allows us to turn any document into a PDF. I’ve heard that this is easy to do on a Mac, but have not verified it (any Mac users out there who wish to post the instructions here would be thanked profusely). The easiest application I have found to turn any document (Word Docs, Publisher files, PowerPoint Files, Images, etc.) into a PDF is a Free download call CutePDF. Once you have downloaded and installed CutePDF creating the document is pretty easy. Follow these steps:

1. Open the document that you want to turn into a PDF

2. Go to File > Print

3. From the printer drop down, instead of printing to your default printer, you will want to print to CutePDF instead.

4. Select where you want to save the PDF, name it and you are all done!

Adding a Favicon to your ProFusion Ultra IS

We frequently get asked how to add a Favicon (favorites icon) to the Ultra IS. Unfortunately, adding a Favicon is not somethng you can do directly from the application as it requires FTP access to the Root directory. If you send us your .ICO file via the support center we will place it for you. Your Favicon should be no larger than 16 x 16 pixels. You may want to check out the following link if you are unsure about how to create .ICO files: http://www.photoshopsupport.com/tutorials/jennifer/favicon.html

The Favicon appears as a mini-icon next to your web address in most browsers. It also appears next to the website name in your favorites list.

Un-Googleable?

Social Media Self Test

Sure there are more tests than you can shake a stick at, but give this one a shot.

    Un-googleable Person

  • Is your facebook status updated?
  • Have you tweeted today?
  • Can you “Google” yourself?
  • Can Ya “Digg” it?
  • Viral means disease or success?

Chances are you if can answer one or more of those questions, you know a little something about social media. Which leads to the question, is their really such a thing as an un-googleable person? Furthermore, if and when there is…would you trust them?

Most business people today meet a new client, investor, partner, provider, etc. and as soon as they get back to their office they Google that person to see what more they can learn about that person. Often times they can find pieces of your history online, and learn more about you. Depending on your online profile, people can gather a positive or negative impression, but one thing they know for sure is that you are who you say you are.

How did you feel the last time you Googled someone and did not find anything about them? Did you trust them? Did you wonder what rock they just crawled out from under? I personally have more trust for a business that has a website, and a person who has an online profile. Both show me they are at least valid and not a fly by night company.

Welcome to 2010! The time is right for Social Media

So what if you are a business, and you do not have an online profile? What if you failed the Social Media test? Well there is still hope for you, but the time to act is now! The first thing I would suggest is getting a website, which will help validate your business. Many web development companies have low cost, entry level websites that can get you started. Typically by putting up a website, doing some basic search engine optimization, and populating your site with relevant, unique, high quality content, you can put your business on the map. Now when people search for your business name, or your online profile, your website will come up first, validating your business.

Once the website is up and running, you can evaluate if you need to branch even further by using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Each of those tools should be considered only once you have a successful website.

The time to act is now, make sure you are not the un-googleable man, women or business.

Social Media Self Test #2

How many of the Social Media Icons below can you identify? Furthermore, how many of them is your business listed on?
Social Media Icons (Orange)

Don’t forget to LISTEN

Do Not Forget to ListenOne of the most important things to do when you’re speaking with a client is to really listen to them. Thinking about what you’re going to say when they are done speaking is a common problem and one that can get you into trouble and can also lose the client and ruin a relationship.

Don’t assume anything, you don’t know their bank account balance or their budget, so don’t assume they can’t afford much because they have holes in their jeans or old cowboy boots on. (I’m speaking from experience!)

When it comes to web design assuming that the client has your taste in design and only sending them designs that YOU like will more than likely bite you in the butt if you haven’t taken the time to listen to what they want or learn their story. Think about what you learn as well when you listen to a client’s story – you may walk away with a golden nugget.

Thinking that a person has nothing important to say and not listening to them is not also only a huge mistake but rude and it’s easy for the person speaking to tell that you’re not paying attention.

Focus on the person speaking and listen to what they are saying – you can show the person you’re paying attention by keeping your eyes on them and keeping open body language. Lean forward a bit and don’t cross your arms or legs. Let them finish their speaking before you begin to speak.

I’m not saying anything new here – it’s just common sense and sometimes we forget that we aren’t the most important person in our client’s lives and we need to give them space and time and respect. They will return the favor!