Categories: Thoughts

I will not follow you if all your posts are quotes.

Previously, we talked about not being a pushy salesman and how to authentically connect with people on social media platforms.

Today lets talk about the art of balancing original content with referencing others’ materials.

Not the message you want to send.

Quotes can be inspirational, reflect our mood and even be informational. What is uninspiring is when someone’s profile has noting but quotes posted. It loses it’s meaning; it’s most likely auto-posted by a software program spewing out a fake presence for someone.

I take that to be a cheap trick at trying to “beat the social media system,” not committing to the work it takes, and not being interested in others.

I’m a people person and my business serves people. I want to connect directly and genuinely with others, preferably with that same mindset.

Truth: There is information on the internet that you will want to share, frequently.

Nothing wrong with that. As my mentor says, you have a moral obligation to share information that can have a positive effect on people. The key is to keep it in balance with your own original content. This can include direct interactions with others, personal statements or articles you have written.

If you want to position yourself as an expert in your field, you have to create your own material. Remember, in all your social media efforts the goal is to genuinely connect with people and offer them information about what you do and then insight to what makes you different from others in your field.

Simply copy and pasting won’t make the cut.

Pop over to our Pop over to our Facebook Page to share your social media experiences!” target=”_blank”>Facebook Page to share your social media experiences!

Categories: Thoughts

In our last newsletter we mentioned the launch of our newest service, Custom Facebook Applications and Pages and to celebrate we are discussing social media marketing.

Previously, we talked about having the right expectations, etiquette and being resilient to see your social media efforts through.

I’d like to pick up with social media etiquette and elaborate on the idea that your social media messages should not all be product “pushes.” By that, I mean that you shouldn’t be posting links to your products page or sales pages on a daily bases.

Remember the networking event example? Upon introduction, you aren’t going to ask someone to buy from you. Most of your connections online have yet to have the pleasure of even meeting you in person. They have no sense of your personality or anything at this point.

Frequent promotion of your products or services gives off a very unattractive sales-y persona, and in my opinion, looks rather selfish and self-centered. How can you truly help people you know nothing about?

Truth: You become more interesting the more interested you are in others.

Social Media is just that, social. The best way to make strong connections is to spend time cultivating them. Start by connecting with people in your field. Ask questions. Reply to others’ posts that you have genuine feedback on.

Not to say you should never promote your products or services. Rather, people are more inclined to “listen” if you’ve established a relationship with them. It’s by authentic conversations and content that you will position yourself as an expert.

We’ll talk more about content soon.

Meanwhile, pop over to our Facebook Page to share your social media experiences!

Categories: Thoughts

In celebration of the launch of our newest service, Custom Facebook Applications and Pages, I’ll be talking about Social Media Marketing Do’s and Don’ts.

While many of these may seem to overlap, they are important to cover if I want you to have a clear understanding and expectation of what results social media can bring you.

And what better place to begin than expectations, because ultimately this is how you’ll decide if you are going to read on through this series.

Truth: You will not make money on Day 1. Or Day 2. Or Day 3… You get the idea.

Etiquette

Your social media messages are targeted to more people you don’t know, than people you already do. You are largely trying to talk to people you don’t have a relationship with yet.

Would you walk into a networking event and ask a new acquaintance to buy from you? I hope not. It’s more likely that you would spend time talking to better know each other, establish rapport and then ask them to continue the conversation over lunch.

Resilience

Social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are not willing to buckle down and commit to investing your time and content for relationship building, move on now.

But if you see the potential ROI if you commit to a long term strategy, then I look forward to talking again in a few days.

Meanwhile, jump over to our Facebook Page and share your experiences with social media.

Categories: Thoughts

Once upon a time (just over a decade in internet time), the internet invented the pop-up window. JavaScript allowed web developers the ability to open browser windows. This ingenious bit of code brought small content, say a sign-up form, to the visitor without having to go to a new page.

But advertisers and marketeers got ahold of this technology and discovered that pop-ups actually forced visitors to act. To either clickthrough, or close the window.

I say this again, FORCE visitors to remove it, lest they end their day with 1,000 windows open. Pure genius for ad agencies and dating websites. Pure evil for the rest of us. Within a very short time of this epidemic, pop-up blockers were developed to save us all from the greatest scourge of web development since the “blink tag”.  All web browsers now block JavaScript popups by default.

So we thought the war against disruption was over.

Enter DHTML. Web pages are no longer a single layer. Enter AJAX. You can make calls to a webserver without having to go to a new page. Fantastic for entering forms, creating carousels of photo galleries. Drop-down menus make the web just like the programs that run on our operating systems. Websites are more like applications than they are like pieces of paper.

Now we can pop-up a signup form or a larger photo without having to reload the page. Wait…. did i just say ‘pop-up’?

Recently this scenerio happened to me:

I visit what looks like a great blog with some good development tips. I see an interesting video and start to watch. I settle in…… and then i am STARTLED. The screen goes dark. There’s a micro pause… and then a LARGE FORM appears begging me to sign up for their FREE stuff.

AHHHHH! What just happened? HEY! I was in the middle of watching a video!

This is the days of the wild wild west of pop-ups all over again. There are no pop-up blockers for this new form, because it’s not a new browser window.

A savvy marketer will tell you it’s brilliant because the user has no choice but to look and act.  They’ll even give you guidelines to reduce your visitor’s likelihood of being scared away.

1. Readers need some time to trust you with their contact info. Do not blast them with your popup before you’ve gained their trust. Set your popup to delay for 60 seconds.

2. If you’re going to force your readers to stop what they’re doing and look at your popup, at least put some effort in making the popup interesting and presentable. Don’t force your readers to stare at plain rectangular box with bright red, yellow, and blue dotted borders. This might induce a seizure in some cases.

VISITOR EXPERIENCE RULE #1

NEVER provide an experience that they do not have control of. Visitors do not want the unexpected. Don’t interrupt them. We tell our children not to interrupt conversation at the dinner table; your visitors expect the same kind of respect.

So if you have a form you really want acted on, simply draw attention to it. Use a pleasing contrasting color or font. The most effective way to draw attention is to create a splash page, like the one we have for the first time you visit us. Do make sure your splash page is properly enabled so repeat visitors don’t have to go through that extra step again.

Happy Web Making!

— Rick

 

Categories: Thoughts

I’ve been on a documentary kick on Netflix for a couple of weeks now. Tuesday night I watched a film called I.O.U.S.A., a documentary made in 2008 about the national deficit. As you may have noticed, this topic has been all over the headlines for weeks now too.

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to delve into politics. But the film really got me thinking. They covered four different deficits currently affecting the USA and I couldn’t help but see a connection to business.

Financial Deficit

It’s a hard time for individuals and for businesses, especially small private owned ones. Many business are in the red and I for one, felt some urgency to keep my business from being one of them.

Keeping sales up and costs within control is a critical step to staying in the game. Don’t stop selling and push through the “no”s.

 

Savings Deficit

Following the US Government’s example, people have stopped saving which makes me wonder if businesses aren’t saving either.

A savings account is just as important to your business as your personal life. Aside from being able to earn interest, putting money aside helps ensure your business’ health during recessions and times of lower revenue.

Trade Deficit

Don’t be struck by “shiny object syndrome.” You do not need every training course, new software or nifty gadget that hits the market.

Make sure you are selling more than you are buying.

Leadership Deficit

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, we are the leaders of our company and ourselves, often with no internal “checks and balances.”

It’s important to have mentors who can give you an objective second opinion. We hold our businesses close to our hearts and as the saying goes, “the heart is blind…,” so be sure to have a close group of advisors to act as your sounding board.

Pop over to our Facebook Page to share your thoughts!

Categories: Thoughts

So today I received from sad news; we lost a client. I specifically say “sad” over “bad” because for that client,
someone else was able to better meet their needs, and that’s good for my previous client.
And because every experience is a learning one, it isn’t 100% bad news for me either
because I walked away with some serious thinking points.

While it’s easy (maybe this isn’t your specific struggle, but for me it’s a toughie) to hang our heads in defeat and mope over it;
It’s more important to look at the situation and with that wonderful 20/20 hindsight, see where we went wrong.

Communication

So this is normally where I pride myself on a strength. Most of my clients enjoy regular communication with me about
their project. Somewhere, I dropped the ball. Actually, I specifically dropped it where I thought the project was over.
I failed to follow up and confirm all was smooth sailing like I thought.

There were some other additional contributors which in some way can be linked to a break in communication
whether literal or through misunderstanding. The biggest take away is communication is key to lasting relationships with clients.
Never let the communication completely stop and be sure to reach out and confirm all is well instead of finding out too late that it isn’t.

Have a client learning experience to share? Comment here or email me.

Categories: Thoughts

When designing your website there are several key things to consider. Generally speaking, you want your website to reflect your business.  This means that when possible, use the colors and theme represented in your logo, product, or physical place of business. If your business is an established brand, keep your website consistent with that image. If not, here’s your chance to really hone down on your branding.

If you are like me and work from a home office, your website is the showcase of both your business and yourself as an entrepreneur. If you are business formal and you want to convey that image, then go in that direction. However, if you take a more personal approach, then go ahead and express that. Your website will set the tone and expectations for your clients, so you want to ensure that it reflects you and your style of business.

Most people tell me they like my website. Only one person however, bluntly said that the “home page” seemed like it belonged as the “about” page. And she was absolutely right. Her concern was that we weren’t saying loudly and clearly enough what craftwerks does. Well, I did some thinking and edited the page. But it was important to both Rick and I that we keep the personal element. We want people to know “about us” and that we are not your typical web development company.  We are a two person start-up and craftwerks is who we are. It is our knowledge, our passion for what we do, and our genuine interest in each client that makes craftwerks  what it is. And we want you to know that from the beginning.

White flashy templates and big company feel don’t reflect us or how we operate our business. Our business is personal and we appreciate each client who brings us their business needs because we know it’s personal for them too. Regardless of your individual business style, your website should speak to that. Don’t be afraid to be out of the box; you want the attention!  And personalizing your website does not mean compromising integrity, design or professional appearance.  In the end, your website should make you smile and say with pride, “This is my business.”

–Erica

Categories: Thoughts

More and more businesses are trying to sell you on this idea of “the cloud”. what is the cloud?

Before “the internets“, our computers used to be loners. they didn’t really want to talk to anything but printers and mice and keyboards. Programs and files were directly installed to the computer hard drive. if you wanted to share a file you’d put it on a disk and hand it to your friend in person (an idea called the “sneakernet”)

Fast forward 15 years: we are multi-computer families with home networks and hi-speed connections. the actual location of our files, websites and programs can be anywhere. “the google” offers google docs, a series of applications that you can use online instead of word, excel or notepad. for web developers, there are websites for image cropping, html validating and programs to build full websites. this year h&r block is offering a free simple 1040 online. upload your entire music collection online to grab it from your pc, phone and workplace.

Not to mention all the online applications for custom printing, travel routes (anyone remember the cd’s of microsoft maps you used to get with your speedy 750mhz pc? ) and even online gaming. Nothing to install, just head to their websites.

So what does this mean? Will the future of computing revolve around a tiny personal device that has very little memory and storage space? Notebook pcs and mac airbooks are leading the trend and very well become the norm in 20 years.

Services offer to store your digital everything “somewhere else”.

My advice: use these services wisely, but always make sure you have access offline. Keep a copy of your files and programs close. Storage is cheap, so save away. Do you want to trust your files somewhere in the cloud? What if the internet goes down? What if that great startup that offers you 1 terrabyte of storage for $1 a month flops? Then what do you do?

You may think that the cloud is a place for storage and a place to live, when in reality you should treat it as backup, not your primary source.

Just think of how many times you’ve been disconnected from the internet. Power outages, net congestion or failures. How do you retrieve your forgotten password to get back online if your can’t get back online.

food for thought.

— Rick