Third-party email a must in 2017April 15th, 2017

I am recommending to all my website management clients that they are utilizing a third party for their email. We used to manage most of our clients email on our server and this worked well for the last couple of decades. However, due to the increase in worldwide hack attempts, we believe it is prudent for our clients to move to a third-party email.

Let me explain

If your email it Is hosted on the same server as your website, and it goes down, your email goes down with it more often than not. Now many times these attacks just use up your server’s memory leaving your server unresponsive and timing out. Most of the times the server can be rebooted and we can research how why this happened and block the offenders. Many times it is a malicious act, DDOS type of attack. But, sometimes processes running concurrently from different accounts cause these outages. So the server runs out of memory and it becomes unresponsive. Down goes your email.

By separating your website hosting and email functions, when one goes down the other is not affected. So in essence your email will almost always be up even if we have to reboot our server, or if there is an attack of some kind. As we have seen in recent months these attacks are more frequent. Recently Amazon’s hosting platform AWS was down for over four hours taking down some of the more well-known sites in the world, Such as Netflix, Instagram and 180,000 other accounts. We are not unaffected by these type of the attacks and they happen all the time. So by separating your email function, you will not see this downtime very often. More and more we are forced to reboot the servers. This will insure your email doesn’t go down even if servers have a brief outage. For businesses that depend on their email, it can’t go down even for a few minutes.

What kind of options are out there for third-party email?

  • For those of you who like Microsoft products, i.e. Outlook, then you can look into Office 365 .
  • For those of you more partial to Gmail, you can use Gmail Apps for you and your employees.

For more options, even free providers; contact us and we can help you find what you need.

In Closing

The choice is yours as to what type of email provider you would like. But, we implore you to make sure you are using a third party option. You will be glad you did.

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Small Business Lessons From Tom BradyMarch 3rd, 2017

I have been thinking a lot about Tom Brady leading the Patriots to victory in Superbowl LI a month ago.

Brady’s performance in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl was nothing short of remarkable. You have to be in awe of a nearly 40-year-old bringing his team back from a record deficit to win his fifth Super Bowl and MVP.

Now when you think of Tom Brady, you think of a guy who has it all. You think of Hall of Fame quarterback with a supermodel wife, everything someone could want. But if that’s all you know, you missed out on the truly miraculous part of this story. In Middle school, Tom Brady didn’t start until the starter got hurt. (and they were 0-8 at the time).  In his senior year Brady had to create a highlight tape just to get the attention of colleges.

Tom Brady went to Michigan as a backup quarterback, patiently waiting his turn to start. In fact at one point Brady was 7th on the depth chart. Finally getting his chance as a junior,  Brady had an excellent college career. However he was not highly thought of coming out of college.

Here are the notes concerning Brady at the combine:

Poor build, Skinny, Lacks great physical stature and strength, Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush, Lacks a really strong arm, Can’t drive the ball downfield, Does not throw a really tight spiral, System-type player who can get exposed if forced to ad lib, Gets knocked down easily

He ended up get drafted by the Patriots in the 6th round, the 199th pick. Check this list below, most of the quarterbacks you have never heard of, and the ones you know were marginal at best.

Players above Tom Brady in the draft

This is the lesson small businesses can learn from Brady. No, you may not have the looks and other tools that he has physically. But any one, especially small businesses can have the same drive and put it in the same effort in order to succeed. You can outwork your competition even if they are bigger and perhaps more talented.

I remember hearing about Brady as a rookie, not a cinch to make the team. They give a parking spot to the guy who spends the most time in the weight room. Brady reportedly got this space week after week as nobody worked harder. He badgered Coach Belichick asking for more reps, always asking what are you could do to improve.

But still it looked like he be relegated to a career as a backup.

Then one fateful day Drew Bledsoe the starting quarterback for the new and the patriots got drilled by Mo Lewis of the Jets. He sustained an injury that almost killed him. Brady came in the game and patriots fans groaned that the season was over. In the beginning, the coaches had a very conservative plan with Tom Brady, and they ultimately won the Super Bowl. Still people weren’t hundred percent convinced that Brady was anything more than a product of a great system that the patriots had implemented. As time gone on he got to throw the ball more, and show all the skills we now know and have come to expect from number 12.

To me, as somebody who works for small businesses, I see the same drive to succeed in my customers. No, we won’t all be as famous as Tom Brady, but if we work hard, we can make it to the top of our profession. We can be the best attorney, builder, service company or eCommerce company we can be. No matter what your profession is, it is about putting in the effort, and like the Patriots putting a good team together.

And this is what I strive to do, be a part of those teams that help my clients to succeed. We may not be hoisting Super Bowl trophies, or MVP awards, but I feel pretty sure we can present a professional interface which attracts and keeps business coming our client’s way.

Bottom line: Learn a lesson from Tom Brady: Work as hard as you can, never give up or let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. As Julian Edelman always reminds Brady … “You can prove em right or you can prove em wrong!”

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Know “WHO” you areJanuary 24th, 2017

When building a website one of the most important things is knowing “who” you are. Ok, not a great joke with the owl,  but I think it’s a very important topic that people don’t spend enough time thinking about when planning a site.

A lot of times when people come to me to build a website, I find they are spending too much time looking at competitors. Now, doing your competitive analysis is important and it is crucial that you find a look and feel that reflects you’re brand and sensibilities. But, you need to know who you are, and what your company offers in terms of your value proposition.

This is one of the most important things your website needs to convey to potential customers/clients. There are things we all do very well. We may offer many services but we have one particular skill or a few that are our specialties and we need to make sure this is readily seen on our websites.

Using myself as an example, I design develop and manage websites and have so for over 20 years. But the thing that separates me from my competitors is my website management services which are second to none. So, I make sure that everything I put out on my website or social media also mentions that particular part of my business. I need people to know who I am and what I do, so they can know I can help them and their businesses. I realize that’s a mouthful, but I feel passionately that this is one of the most important aspects to anyone’s website.

People don’t have a great deal of time to find what they are looking for on your site. So you need to make sure they can find your value proposition within milliseconds of hitting your homepage. If you are using an image slider, one of the first slides should show your top service. Using myself as an example, my first slide is the about slide which sums up what I do, followed by my website management slide. Then as you scan the page you see my headline, Design, Develop and manage world class small business website. That is us in a nutshell, people know exactly “who” I am.

As they read on they encounter this line:

Our philosophy is much different from that of most firms. We have always felt that the management of your website is every bit as important as the design and development phases. As such we have industry best support plans which our clients utilize to add content, work on their social media, SEO, email marketing, pay per click advertising, and more!!

So as this key line shows, website management is a priority, rather than an afterthought. (which is how most firms view support)

Bottom Line:  Anyone who views my homepage knows exactly “who” I am and what my company offers. This is something we work on with every client insuring that their value proposition is front and center.

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Politics – Stay Out Of It!November 8th, 2016

Blog Post: Politics – Stay Out Of It!

Blog Post: Politics – Stay Out Of It!

Today concludes the most contentious election in the history of the Republic. Safe to say most people have an opinion, whether it’s left-leaning or right. That is certainly fine in your private life, but in terms of your business pages, here is some sage advice: stay away from sharing those views! Especially today when many people will have anger at the results.

The reason is simple, in business you cannot afford to turn away business from anyone, no matter what their political views are. Your business social media pages and website should be politics neutral. You should be posting things that build you up as a subject matter expert. The problem is that in today’s election, people’s views are so strong and there’s so much hatred for the opposite side that people sometimes feel the need to weigh in on everything and unfortunately everywhere.

If you truly can’t live without commenting on the elections, then do it on your personal social media accounts. I would recommend where possible to only have your account visible to your friends. Otherwise, there is some crossover between our business and personal lives. I have several clients that I am friends with on social media as well as having them like and follow my pages. I am very mindful of this when I post even to my personal accounts. I take a long view and realize that potential clients could be turned off by my views, as neutral as I try to be, I take great care not to jump into the fray.

Exceptions: There are certainly exceptions to every single rule. Of course, if you are a political strategist, then by all means let your opinions fly. Chances are one side or the other hires you, so this blog post really doesn’t apply to you. However, I do advise to try to keep it as civil as possible, as the one thing to remember is that people can’t see your tone in your writing. Sometimes you maybe mean something as a joke or as a cute little barb. But somebody reads it differently and loses respect for your position, even if you are on their side. When you’re standing in front of someone, they can tell by your tone that you mean it mainly as a joke, not necessarily as a plank in a campaign.

Bottom line: You’re in business to make money, take care of your family and employees. To do so, you must maximize the amount of new clients you have to work with. So stay out of politics, and focus your energy on showing the value proposition you and your company adds. In the long run you’ll be far more successful then the guy with the crazy opinions leaning to one side or the other.

Change of Seasons, Time To ReviewOctober 27th, 2016

change-of-seasons-time-to-reviewMy clients often ask me how often should they be reviewing their website and social media campaigns. Well, being a web guy I look at my web properties all the time,  every day.

But I realize other people have other priorities, and running a business doesn’t allow you the free time in order to always check out your web and social media platforms.

So what I try to do is get my clients to review their sites at least a few times a year, taking a good hard look at everything they own. I look at the change of seasons as a perfect time to review everything you are doing. The leaves are falling down, schedule some time with yourself and review everything you’re doing. Make a list of what’s working, what’s not working and where you’d like to improve. Do the same at the start of each season.

Here is a handy chart to use.  Put these dates on your calendar and have a meeting with your staff.

Season's Change Calendar 2016, 2017

Next, schedule some time with your website management company. And if you don’t have a website management company, then you aren’t doing justice to your business. Contact us, we are happy to help you come up with a management plan that will work for you and your enterprise. Have a meeting to go over your findings, and also ask them what are they seeing, where do they think you can improve? They may have a different take on things, but between the two of you, you’ll be able to formulate a plan that will set you up for the next quarter or so.  This is especially good time to review any advertising you are doing. Are your Google adwords working well for you? Are you using social media ads, how are they doing? You have to review these things from time to time and change up what you’re doing. What’s working today, may not work tomorrow. For instance, I have seen more success lately from my social media ads versus my adwords expenditures. This of course may change, so I review what I’m doing all the time. Now this doesn’t mean to panic, because you have to give your ads some time to percolate.

It is really easy, to let your website & social media properties go. The sad part is they will grow stale and people who visit your website or social media pages will not do business with you. Think of yourself as if you are a brick-and-mortar store. If someone came in and your inventory never changed, what do you think would happen? I can tell you what will happen, you will close. You will fail.  So think of your website the same way, it needs to be up-to-date, it needs to have a pleasing design, it needs to be responsively designed so it looks good on mobile, and it needs to have current news & information. This will give your customers an opinion that your company is successful, that it is moving forward and they will be more likely to do business with your company.