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Tech Skills for the Next 5 Years

by Admin 6. July 2009 09:07

Global Knowledge gives 10 technology skills you should acquire over the next 5 years. Some of them may be long gone before that so I will discuss a few that are relevant and will more than likely remain so for awhile at least.

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Companies Turn to Web Software in Recession

by Admin 20. May 2009 15:05

As the recession continues on, many companies are looking for more beneficial ways to manage projects, employees and customers while saving some money at the same time. One way of doing this is through collaboration tools such as web based software. A new Forrester Research survery states that 70% of firms may adopt some form of collaboration tool in the next 12 months. Forrester analyst T.J Kiett says:

The tough economy is forcing companies to restrict travel while keeping distributed teams in touch. In addition, changes in the composition of the workforce mean enterprises must find ways to capture the knowledge of retiring Baby Boomers and provide Gen Yers with their favored tools to work efficiently.

Web management software, like OfficeClip, is a great solution to the current reductions in travel that businesses are doing, as it allows users to have access from anywhere and supports contractors and partners as well. Once businesses begin using collaborative web software, it will more than likely remain an integral part of their customer and employee management strategy even after the recession ends.

Online project management software such as timesheets, contact manager  and issue tracking can also be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis for hosted versions. According to Meridith Levinson of CIO.com, these tools will not require companies to make a large inital investment so the risk and the cost are less than if they were installing the web software on their own servers. Both types, hosted and installed, are still much more cost effective than traditional software, as they are online and collaborative, providing great flexibility and ease of use.

We all hope the recession ends soon, but there are ways to improve your business without spending a fortune and collaborative web software is one of those ways!

It Continues to Look Bleak for Newspapers

by Admin 16. April 2009 10:04

This post will be a follow up to my previous post, Would you Pay for Your Online News?, which examined what will happen to newspapers as advertisers leave in drives due to the recession and more people switch to reading online for free.

There was a very interesting post in the NYTimes about "hyperlocal" web sites and blogs that are bringing community news to the community as the major papers are cutting back on this news. These "hyperlocal" online sites are filled with links to news articles and posts from local bloggers, data feeds from city government, crime reports, restaurant openings and specials, locations for road construction and traffic, etc.

The biggest question is how these sites will make money and the answer appears to be advertising, although in a different form, and this is where the innovation of this idea could become a huge business. “When you slice further and further down, you get smaller and smaller audiences,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst who has followed the hyperlocal market for a decade. “Advertisers want that kind of targeting, but they also want to reach more people, so there’s a paradox.” 

However, he means large advertisers. But what about small ones? Numerous small businesses have never put ads online before and their estimated worth by 2013, according to Peter Krasilovsky, is $32 billion. Let's have an example.

We at OfficeClip are a small company located in Atlanta (Norcross, specifically). At present, we advertise online but not too much locally besides listings. Now let's say there is some very local news on this "hyperlocal" website about the police department nearby or a local chain restaurant adopting a new software or technological device to make their business run better, etc. That would be a great place for us to put an ad for our web timesheet software or web contact manager software. We might not reach as many people as we do with Google, but it probably would not be as expensive either. Also, there is a dedication that small businesses have to other local small businesses. This would enable them to know about one another more easily.

In all, this is probably bad for the newspapers, since they did not come up with it, but these "hyperlocal" sites still get information from them so they need to get advertisers quick in case their main artery newspaper fails. I still think this is a great idea and could really benefit local companies willing to participate!

SEM is still bigger than Social Networking

by Admin 2. April 2009 12:04

...But for how long?

CRM Magazine concedes that social networking is becoming bigger and bigger by the day but holds firm to the idea that SEO and SEM are still holding their ground. Social networks, according the article, have yet to lead to a true revolution but consumers are changing how they are searching, so marketers need to be involved and ready to adapt quickly.

5 Strategies

The article then goes on to give 5 strategies to improve your SEO and SEM by including, not excluding or ignoring, your social networking efforts.

The first one is to start preparing for mobile search. Jon Diorio of Google Adwords pointed out that people have a different mindset when they are using their mobile device for search than when they are sitting at a computer and searching. Bottom line: get ahead of the game and start devoting some of your marketing budget to this because by 2009, almost 90% of mobile internet users will be searching, compared to 13% in 2007.

The second point mentioned was to make sure that your social content is searchable. Optimize it because if you don't, there could be unintended consequences, such as searchers being attracted to your competitors whose social content is optimized.

Strategy #3 advises marketers to use brand awareness as a selling point and only 25% of marketers currently track brand awareness. 98% of ads aren't clicked, so their only real purpose then is is to create and extend brand awareness. People can be encourged to perform searches after viewing some kind of online or offline marketing. Your paid ad may not get the click, but that person may search for you later, which is even better since you won't have to pay for the click! Online and Offline campaigns can be used in combination.

This 4th strategy suggests that a TV, newspaper or radio ad could be used to drive traffic to your website by getting people to search for you.

The final idea was for companies who have ideas and budgets, but not enough personnel to manage the intiatives, to use technology.

Things like CRM software, which OfficeClip offers, can help you do this by managing campaigns and contacts. Other marketing technologies are constantly evolving and can really help you manage your programs.

So are you implementing any of these strategies? How are they working for you? What would you add to this list? Please leave comments for us!

A Discussion on Geo-Targeting

by Admin 26. March 2009 10:03

Some conversations have come up here at OfficeClip regarding reaching local businesses. Since we are located in Atlanta, GA, we are keenly aware of how many great opportunities there could be to reach out to other companies to offer our product or simply share ideas.The web is massive and sometimes  leads and sales can come from companies that want to or are willing to support other small businesses in their community.

Geo-targeting is what it's called when you do this with ad campaigns. I am not sure what it's called when it's a focus for social networking, like Twitter and Facebook...but I will lump it together for now.

My last post kind of hinted that Google has its faults (gasp!) and in this post, I am planning to return to that idea with this article, by Brian Carter of Fuel Interactive-a marketing agency in Myrtle Beach, SC and also offer some of my own thoughts on geo-targeting.

Mr. Carter's article focuses on experiences he has had with Google Adwords and his geo-targeted campaigns. He gives the following example:

"Say I want to serve ads about Myrtle Beach Hotels only to people in North Carolina – I’m creating a campaign specifically for North Carolinians with ads about a gas credit to save money on the drive down to Myrtle Beach. With AdWords’ current set-up and the query parsing exception, if someone in California searches for one of my keywords, like “myrtle beach hotels”, AdWords may still show them that ad. This happens despite the fact that the ad is for a gas credit that no one in California would ever use. Ridiculous. "

And I will have to agree with him here. Ridiculous. He goes on to further express some things I occasionally think when using Google:

"If I’m smart enough (or have good data from my analytics) to geotarget more specifically for better results or for specific campaign goals, I should be able to do so. Google either thinks their algorithm is smarter – and clearly it’s not - or they care more about making money than about helping me reach my advertising goals, or this is an antiquated approach they need to update. "

Things are tough out there right now and from what I've been hearing on Twitter and in some LinkedIn groups, people seem very committed to helping out their local businesses. Geo-targeting lets us try to get in touch with one another. If I want everyone to see my ads, I will create a campaign for the whole USA. But if I also want to target the Atlanta metro area, to see if any businesses here need web timesheet software or a web contact manager, I will want to create a campaign to geo-target this area for OfficeClip. Why does Google Adwords get to decide differently? Isn't it our money and our data? This is, for me, certainly an example that Google is too big and has too much control.

On another note, we have not implemented geo-targeting here at OfficeClip as of yet, but we are interested and engaged in our research. Any advice or comments...please post 'em as we would love to read 'em!

Controlling Costs in a Tight Economy: Hosted Web Software

by Admin 28. August 2008 16:08

As banks make it more difficult for small and medium sized businesses to take out loans, expenditures for improving internal business processes can rapidly shrink or disappear altogether in an economic slowdown. Customers reign in spending, businesses suffer and look for ways to streamline their business with cost-effective solutions, only to find that the bank will no longer give them the loan to make it happen...and so the cycle continues....

The New York Times notes that the witholding of credit comes as the economy tightens and joblessness grows, making it difficult for companies who would be able to grow to secure the funds to do so. By mid-June 2008, the credit that banks were giving was decreasing at the rapid rate of more than 6 percent. In dollar terms, that's about $150 billion dollars that companies at present (and very likely for awhile into the future) cannot get for their business needs. Imagine wanting to do internal restructuring to be more cost effective and needing to make a large expenditure for the softwares, etc. to accomplish it....and then not being able to get the money for the investment.

 
So one question certainly becomes..."What do in a tight economy when I want to improve my business?" The answer is to be creative. If improving customer relations, employee management and project management to reduce costs and increase flexibility are what you want to do, consider the benefits of hosted web software. Hosted web software is a way to do these things without using a large captial expenditure or taking out a loan from the bank for expanding your business and in times like the present, you may not be able to get the loans even if you want/need them.
 
According to Jeff Pyden of OmniVue Business Solutions, hosted online software has many benefits for companies who find themselves in these kinds of situations. First, hosted software is done on a pay-as-you-go basis and can be done monthly, yearly, etc. This allows you to easily add or remove users as your business changes and there are no upfront software costs, but there is always the ability to get premanent licenses later if you need them. In general, since no money has been spent on internal resources, there is less risk and more affordability and flexibility which can be ideal for the current economic situation.
 
Hosted web software, like OfficeClip, are internet based solutions, giving you the ability to access your data anywhere, anytime, anyplace with just a web browser. Data and applications such as Web Timesheet, Contact ManagerOnline Calendar and Document Sharing are managed easily and quickly, and the hosted version allows you to add or remove applications as your needs change. If you have financial concerns, are worried about the economy or simply want to try something new to improve important aspects of your business, hosted web software may be perfect for you.

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