Author Archives: Patrice

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.

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)

Add a YouTube Video to ProFusion Products

Add YouTube Videos to Your ProFusion Products WebsiteInterested in adding a YouTube video to your ProFusion Products website? If so, then you have come to the right place to learn how to do it. Below are a few simple steps to add the video to your site.

Step #1 – Upload your video to YouTube. I will not bore you with the details of this task, if you do not know how to upload your video here is a simple video guide on how to upload a video to YouTube.
Step #2 – Once your video is uploaded, you need to retrieve the code for the video from YouTube. As you can see in the screen shot below, you need to click on “< Embed >” button first. Continued after screen shot…
Add YouTube to Your Website Screen 1

Step #2 (Con’t)
Once you have clicked on the “< Embed >” button, several new options become available. You can select the size, border color, and other display options. Once you have configured your options, you need to copy (CTRL + C) the code so you can add it to your website.

Add YouTube to Your Website Screen 2

Step #3 – Login to your ProFusion Products Website, and navigate to the page you want to add the video to. Once there, click on the < X > button. Continued below screen shot…

Add YouTube to Your Website Screen 3

Step #3 (Con’t) – Clicking the < X > button opens a small window, this is actually the code of your website page. In this example there is no other content on the page, but if this page had text already you would see code displayed here.

Add YouTube to Your Website Screen 4

Step #4 – Paste (CTRL + P) your code into the new window. Then click the “Apply” button and then the “OK” button. Continued below screen shot…

Add YouTube to Your Website Screen 5

Step #4 (Con’t) – Once the code is inserted into the page you will NOT see the video. You will simply be shown a dotted outline of where the video will display along with a red x. This is fine, it is simply a placeholder for the video.

Add YouTube to Your Website Screen 6

Step #5 – Save the page, and then go to the frontend of the website and view your video. That is it! You are all set to start showing the video to friends, relatives, colleges, and clients!

Add YouTube to Your Website Screen 7

Finding the right images for your website or blog

Depending on the type of person you are, it is possible, you may find updating your website exciting or just part of the job. One thing that any style of person can agree on is finding images that match your written word can often be extremely difficult. As a matter of fact, finding the right image can often take exponentially longer than writing the content itself.

Lucky for all of us, there are numerous websites that make finding images just a little bit easier. When I am writing a blog post, I am often thinking about what type of images I can use to complete my exhaustive vocabulary (sarcasm), after all a picture is worth a 1000 words. After my text is complete, and I have considered what type of images I am looking for, I visit a few stock image websites that have plenty of royalty free images to choose from.

Below is my review of the Stock Image websites I use most often.

  1. Google Image Search – Rating 2 out of 5

    Google Images LogoThis is a quick hit or miss, there are often not a lot of images to choose from that you can manipulate for your website. For those of you familiar with Google’s Image Search you will know that with every search typically 1000’s of results are returned. However, just because an image displays does not mean you can use it. What you need to find are images that artists have indicated can be used for commercial reproduction and manipulation. In order to do this, you need to change your search filters to exclude images that you cannot use. To make this change you first conduct a Google Image search, and then click on “Advanced Search.” This will bring up a new page where you can define certain search parameters. One of the last options on the page is usage rights, I change this value to “labeled for commercial reuse with modification.” This indicates to Google that you only want images that you can manipulate and reuse on your website. Results of this type typically return less than 100 images. Sometimes you get lucky, most of the time you move onto the next option.

  2. iStockphoto – Rating 4.5 out of 5

    iStockphoto Account Sign UpThis is in my opinion the most cost affective, quality image search location on the web. Their photos are high quality, relevant and there is a large selection to choose from. Most images that you would use on a website or blog cost $1, if you are trying to use them for printing, they will run $5-$20 which are all very reasonable prices considering the other options available to you. iStockphoto also has a feature called “Lightboxes” which allow you to gather a group of images together, and then you can email them to other people for review. So often, when I am trying to narrow down to the final image to use on a website, I will create a Lightbox with a few images in it, and then email it to decision makes of the website. Allowing them to view the images, and voice their opinion on which images is the best.

    To create a Lightbox on iStockphoto.com is pretty easy, simply sign-up for an account via the link in the top right corner of the iStockphoto.com website. After your account is set-up, each image you search for will have an option to “Add to Lightbox” if you have not created a lightbox, or want to create a new one you will be prompted to do so.

  3. Big Stock – Rating 3.5 out of 5

    Stock Photos, Royalty Free Stock Photography, Photo SearchWhile Big Stock is not as popular as iStock or Google images, it still packs a powerful punch. The images are roughly the same price as iStock, and there is a little less variety, but overall it is a nice tertiary option when you cannot find the type of image you are looking for on the other two sites. One thing I notice about Big Stock is when you need a high quality image for printing you can get them a little cheaper at Big Stock. You need to purchase one of their larger credit packages to get the price lower, but when starting a business, $189 which gets you 140 credits goes a long way towards building out a quality website, along with a few print brochures.

By using the resources above you should be able to find the right image for each and everyone of your blog posts or website pages. Do not forget that a picture can tell a thousand words, so what are you missing out on by not including any images or the wrong image?

Lessons Learned from Guests and Opportunities

Guests Working SignMany years ago I worked for the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain in Atlanta, Georgia (The one off Peachtree Street if you know the area). Anyway, there were several wonderful things about working for a large hotel chain, and a few not so wonderful. One of the great aspects was being able to travel the globe and stay at some of the greatest hotels in the world for next to nothing, more on that in another article.

One of the “opportunities” of working for a hotel chain was their corporate training. I believe when I started at the Ritz, the training was 5 days in the classroom before you ever learned anything specific about your job. During these days of training, you learned the Ritz Carlton way, which helped ensure every “guest” that walks through the door was treated with the same high level of service regardless of which employee, in any of their hotels, they encountered during their visit.

One of the items I remember most during the training was the auto-substitution of words into our vocabulary. Just like Microsoft Word allows you to auto-correct certain words, the Ritz ingrained into each employee the use of certain words. For example, you were never to tell anyone that there was a “problem”. You were to explain that there was an “opportunity” in X, Y, and Z. Another word they ingrained was how you refer to someone paying to stay at the hotel. You were not to use the words, client, customer, buyer, patron, idiot, moron, consumer, visitor, company etc. The only acceptable term for a paying visitor to the hotel was “guest.”

At the time, the Ritz Carlton was ahead of the game using this philosophy of altering employee’s mindset when it comes to the vocabulary they use. Automatically by using the word “opportunity”, you feel more at ease. Just think of the emotions you feel during the following statements:

Statement #1
“We have a problem, there is a lion running through the library!”

Statement #1
“We have an opportunity, there is a lion running through the library!”

The first option makes you want to run screaming into the streets, the second makes you want to call your PR company to get pictures of this awesome event.

The same holds true for guest, when thinking of the visitors to your hotel as guests, you immediately correlate with them being guests in your home. In many ways they are exactly that, guests in your home.Employee Motivation for Small Businesses As an employee you spend the majority of your waking hours at work, it might as well be your home. So anyone that comes into it is immediately your guest.

So, most of you already had probably already heard about the Ritz fancy vocabulary as it has been the study of many discussions and research over the years. However, I wanted to lay the foreground for the next portion of the discussion. Which is how we refer to or handle individuals that pay to use our service or products.

Regardless of the word we use to refer to those individuals that pay for our server, we should think how does that word make us feel when we use it?

  • Does the word give us a positive feeling? (Opportunity)
  • Does the word bring about a negative emotion? (Problem)
  • Is the word we use internally, the same word we would use in front of the paying individual? (Guest)
  • Do we have nicknames for these individuals depending on their behavior? (P.I.T.A.)
  • How does the paying individual refer to themselves in context? (Customer, Client, Guest)

By now you should have a feeling one way or the other on the words that you use to refer to people who pay for your service or product. Is your term derogatory, or is it something that provides a positive emotion for both you and your paying individual? Would you use this same term in front of your paying clients?

By setting the tone internally for how you reference paying clients, you can help guide the internal motivation of your company. It is time to make sure that internal motivation is a positive one.