6 Steps To Create a Winning Sales Proposal – Step 2 Assembly

12 Apr

6 Steps To Create a Winning Proposal: Step 1 Prepare

6 Apr

Welcome to our first tutorial – “6 Steps To Create a Winning Proposal”.  Over the next six videos, we will walk you through the assembly of a sales proposal that shows you and your company in its best light.

The first video is all about the first best secret in the preparation of any document – PREPARATION.  You can’t write a winning sales proposal until you do your homework.

Watch this blog for installments 2 through 6 of the Winning Proposal series.  Of course, you may download the slides from http://www.slideshare.net/deinsele .

Small Business and Social Media – 7 Tips To a Winning Strategy

20 Mar

After reading that the average large company has 178 social media accounts , the average small business owner might just throw up her hands and re-up her Yellow Pages ad.  Come in off the ledge, Ms. Entrepreneur. Social media are very scalable and any small business owner can choose to wet her feet or jump in whole hog. I run a sole proprietorship and am my only marketing maven, and I can tell you from experience that the revolution that is social media marketing is a godsend if you plan it right.

1. Identify Your Target Market
The first two steps in any marketing plan are to clearly state your target market and your goal(s) for addressing that market. Do you serve dry cleaners or any small business? Do you service consumers? For whom are your products intended? Are you just getting started in business, are you expanding, are you re-connecting with your customer base? These may all be valid goals for your situation.

2. What Are Your Marketing Goals?
Everyone hopes their marketing efforts generate more dollars than it costs, but you probably also expect to do more than raise revenue. It is also important to expand your client base, improve your brand recognition or strengthen your client relationships.  Social media can help with all these, even though measuring its success for anything other than increased sales may be a challenge.

If you are having trouble specifying goals, why not listen to what the social media are already saying about you?  Google your company and follow the threads.  Search on Facebook and LinkedIn.  The results may teach you where your weak spots exist and that knowledge will help you formulate your goals.

Backbone3. Your Website Is Your Marketing Backbone
A well-written, interactive and search optimized website can form the backbone of your social media strategy. Without an all-knowing website to corral all the info about your business, social media links are merely a collection of disjointed links. Link your social media postings back to your website whenver possible.  Use your website to advertise your Facebook or LinkedIn pages.  Post LinkedIn discussion activity on your website.  Feed your blog to your website.  All these inbound links will not only improve the relevancy of your website to the search engines, but it will also maximize your company’s exposure on the Internet.

4. Choose Your Weapon(s)
Once your website is in place, put together your plan of attack. Assess the social media options out there best suited for your business and clientele. At the top of the list we have…

Facebook      Twitter      LinkedIn      YouTube      MySpace      Google+

…not necessarily in that order. Pinterest has become a rising star of late , and in its first two years may possibly be changing the Internet landscape for retailers from pure search to referral. Let’s also not forget good old fashioned blogging.
Many more niche-oriented social networks are also out there and you should check them out, once you have a handle on the social nets where most people hang out.

5. Map social media options to your target audience and goals.Map Social Media to Goals
Which social media outlet(s) makes sense for your audience and goals?  B2B companies favor LinkedIn, Facebook Pages and a growing number of B2Bs find Google+ Circles quite useful. Twitter is great for creating image trends as well as a vehicle for customer service issues. Any company with more than one video should probably set up a YouTube or Vimeo account to house all its videos. You may then embed or link to your videos from any other social network.

Facebook and LinkedIn both support surveys and polls and could be used to gauge customer satisfaction or assess product application options.

Google+’s Circles are an excellent venue for bringing company teams together and for building client relationships for the business. Share topic information or create podcasts.

If you’re in Retail, Pinterest could be a big boon for you and your vendors’ merchandise. Start a pinboard for an item on special for the week; generate some comments for that item; send viewers to your online store page with that item ready to “add to cart”.

6. Update, Monitor, and Respond – Frequently.
You’re only as viable as your last posting. Average life span of a trend on Twitter is two hours, not a long time at all. Twitter is a hungry, fickle beast so if Twitter is part of your social media marketing campaign, prepare to feed it several times a day, possibly by more than one staffer. Create specialized hash tags by product line to maximize company exposure.

LinkedIn, FaceBook and Pinterest on the other hand, have longer attention spans and updates every 1-3 days may be sufficient.

Ideally, a blog should be updated daily, but weekly will do in a pinch. YouTube probably has the longest content life cycle. Updates are not likely to occur more often than weekly or monthly.

Listen to Social MediaOnce you have fed the beast, take the time to listen to what’s being said in response. Twitter makes it easy with the hashtag search convention. Check comments on your Facebook and LinkedIn status updates, and remember to check the progress of your discussions in the LinkedIn groups.

Monitor every posting at least once per day. Twitter may require more frequent check-ins. A beta site called Tweet Stats is monitoring Twitter trends and can give you some idea how well your hashtag(s) is performing.

Read, remember and respond to every comment you can. That act alone can build or solidify relationships . Just make sure your response is professional; a less-than-professional response can do more damage to your image and relationships than a professional response can enhance them.

Updating multiple social networks is much easier with the complementary posting that many social nets offer. What you say on almost every other social net can be replicated on Facebook and Twitter. What you post to LinkedIn can be replicated to Twitter. Sharing can be done with many more social networks, but stick to your chosen few when you start out.

7. Analyze Results.
What good is a marketing campaign if you do not measure results? A wise man once said, “If it isn’t measured, then why do it?”  So, count new customers, tally additional revenue, score lost business. If revenue was your goal, measure ROI (Return On Investment). If customer satisfaction was a goal, gather ye poll and survey results. Chart results over several days or weeks. Compare them week-to-week, month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter. Compare them to last year’s results. Whatever date range you choose, be consistent every day/week/month/quarter.

Social Media make powerful and effective additions to a marketing campaign, but they are fast and fleet of foot. You need to stay on top of them if they are to be effective. Simply paying attention to your social media campaign will keep you focused on meeting your marketing goals which allows you to adjust content and strategy when results warrant it. To keep your sanity during the early days of a social media campaign, involve no more than three outlets until you get into a rhythm updating, monitoring and analyzing your participation. Expand your social media reach only when you are ready to absorb the added work load. Observe the trends and adjust your marketing campaign accordingly. Over time you will meet your goals and build real business intelligence as an added bonus.

SOURCES

The Average Large Company Has 178 Social Media Accounts [Shocking Data]

Top 15 Social Networking Websites (by Alexa traffic metrics)

Pinterest Becomes Top Traffic Driver for Retailers

Pinterest Infographic

Tweet Stats

How To Turn Off All Those Annoying Facebook Email Notifications

28 Feb

I don’t know about you, but receiving an email notice everytime something happens on my wall is pretty annoying. These emails clog my inbox, obscuring the important stuff. I was thrilled to find this helpful video, which might also brighten your day.

You’re not Really a Writer Unless…

27 Feb

Found this on one of the blots I subscribe to and found it really hit home…

You’re not Really a Writer Unless….

via You’re not Really a Writer Unless….

Has the ‘DNSchanger’ Trojan Hit You?

21 Feb
CyberCrime

Source: Enigma Software

According to an article in the Activist Post from Feburary 14, 2012,

“This March 8th, the FBI is planning to unplug DNS servers it set up to help eliminate malware from over half of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies still infected in early 2012.”

The Post tells of the FBI shutting down its corrective DNS servers that have been in place since last November, to re-direct infected computer traffic to its correct destinations instead of the trojan’s intended malicious sites (usually porn sites). Why a bigger deal was not made of this back in November is beyond me, but you can read the whole CyberCrime story about the Estonian Malware Ring here.

SYMPTOMS

  • Google, Yahoo Searches are redirected. Desktop background image and Browser homepage settings are changed.
  • DNSchanger slows down your computer considerably; it may even seem that your computer is stuck. .
  • Unwanted pop ups. DNSchanger corrupts your windows registry and uses it to deploy annoying pop up ads out of nowhere.

DIAGNOSE

There is an simple way to examine your own DNS server settings to see if you have been infected with DNSchanger.
This article from Gizmodo will explain how to check for DNSchanger infection whether you are on Windows or MAC OS.  You must first determine your DNS server settings on your PCs.  You’d better check your routers too.  Consult the router’s documentation on viewing ‘DNS Settings’.  Jot down the DNS settings you find. You then need to visit the FBI website setup for this purpose to compare your DNS settings to the rogue settings.

REPAIR

If your DNS setting(s) is among the rogue values you will need to repair the damage before March 8 or risk losing the ability to navigate the Internet.  MAC OS users can download a removal tool which can be easily run.  Removal of the trojan and resetting your DNS value(s) for Windows users is not for the inexperienced.  Several advisories are out there:

If you are uncomfortable removing this trojan on your own, contact an IT professional like MakeItWork or The Geek Squad.

PREVENTSpyWare Prevention Gremlin

To safeguard your PC from malware attacks, take some easy precautions outlined by PCWorld.  Remember, it is easier (and cheaper!) to avoid than to remove most malware infections.

7 Job Trends To Watch In Cloud Computing (Part 2 of 2)

10 Feb

Careers in the CloudIn part two of our look at “7 Job Trends To Watch In Cloud Computing”, expect a rise in Business Intelligence jobs, Cloud jobs infiltrating multiple company departments, and a surprising government foothold in the Cloud.

Let’s get out the magnifying glass once again for three more observations on how Cloud Computing is affecting the jobs market.

TREND #5: BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE JOBS GAIN TRACTION IN A CLOUD COMPUTING ENVIRONMENT
Data has always been king – storing it, protecting it, maintaining it and controlling it can nurture and grow a company. With the advent of public Cloud Computing, loss of data proximity leads to perceived loss of data control. Senior management is even more reliant on data analysis to regain control of their data, if only by proxy. This means an increase in business analysts that possess skills in mining data, analyzing trends and deriving competitive business intelligence. These skills come from experience with tools like:

Analytical and BI jobs can pop up in three places:Business Intelligence

  • Within CSPs, bundled as a service to their clients;
  • Within IT consulting firms and Value-Added Resellers (VARs), who are now advising clients on cloud computing deployments;
  • Within the enterprise as Business Intelligence units, part of Finance or part of the new face of IT.

TREND #6: CLOUD COMPUTING CREATES NEW JOBS IN MULTIPLE DEPARTMENTS
Step up to any of the big job boards like Monster.com, enter “cloud computing” as your search criterion, and you will find openings in more than just the IT department. CSPs are looking for Cloud expertise to sell Cloud services, advise an existing sales force and support clients with their Cloud deployments. VARs and consulting firms in particular are hungry for Cloud “experts”  to retain and enhance their value-add.

A search on Monster.com today yielded over 1000 job openings in Cloud Computing. Most were engineering and programming oriented, but Sales, Marketing and Support were also well represented, all with the added “cloud computing concepts” requirement. Some of these positions are within the enterprise, but we have discovered that CSPs (Cloud Service Providers) are popping up all over; getting an accurate CSP count for this article was problematic to say the least. The best I could find was an article hailing the Best CSPs To Watch and Invest In.

Cloud Service BrokerCloud Computing has spawned another new job type – “Cloud Broker”. This may be a VAR or a lone consultant. The Cloud Broker locates and assesses multiple CSPs for a client and either helps the client decide among them, or simply makes the best choice for the client, providing a complete Cloud solution. Cloud Brokers will do well among small to medium-sized businesses since they generally lack in-house expertise or sufficient resources to perform their own research.

TREND #7: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS ON THE CLOUD BANDWAGON…FOR NOWCloud First Initiative
The former Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, spearheaded the current administration’s migration to cloud computing with his “25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management” released in December 2010. Its “Cloud First” mandate added momentum to Cloud implementations already started or in place at the time. Private cloud implementations are now complete in over 47% of Federal agencies so a perference is clear. Whether the current progress will continue into the next administration comes down to budgetary constraints, the federal agencies’ ownership issues regarding servers and solving the security issues of public clouds, not to mention the direction a non-Obama administration might take.

Continued Cloud deployment in the Federal government may lead to similar adoption by state and local government, if only for the financial savings it brings. This commitment will feed the need for Cloud experts within the VARs who specialize in selling to government agencies. These VARs will need technical expertise to design, deploy and even program for cloud environments. Government agencies will also require similar expertise, especially where they plan to DIY their Cloud implementations.

TAKEAWAYS
If industry experts are correct, Cloud Computing should be giving the jobs market far more by 2014 than it eliminates today. Among Amazon, Microsoft, RackSpace and Dell, I found over 800 job openings in Cloud Computing. Monster lists over 1000 cloud computing positions today; CareerBuilder lists over 900, over 100 more than one week ago.

Amazon and Microsoft are so desperate for Cloud Computing talent they are helping train the next generation of Cloud experts. Microsoft offers numerous online training options, including Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). Amazon lends experts to University of California Santa Barbara for the school’s cloud computing curriculum.

If you want to remain valuable to your employer or seek a position within the high tech corridor, you would do well to get up close and personal with the concepts, tools and languages associated with Cloud Computing.

Get Certified

SOURCES
“Top Cloud Computing Companies List To Watch and Invest in 2012” by nanospeck, HubPages.com, February 2010

Cloud Computing To Grow At 5 Times The Rate of Traditional IT, Says IDC” by Larry Dignan, TechRepublic, June 2010

Top 12 Cloud Trends of 2012 (Part 1 of 2)” by Alistair Croll, InformationWeek Cloud, January 2012

Top 12 Cloud Trends of 2012 (Part 2 of 2)” by Alistair Croll, InformationWeek Cloud, January 2012

Puppet, Chef Ease Transition To Cloud Computing” by Olga Kharif and Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg.com, September 2011

Hyper V vs VMWare vSphere (ESXi)
Virtualization News from www.ITAdviceOnline.com, Jan 22, 2012

Microsoft Cuts Jobs As Part of Core Shift To Cloud Computing” by Ted Samson | Infoworld, July 2010

Federal Cloud Computing: The Vendor Perspective”, White Paper, GovWin by Deltek, 2011

Will a Shift To Cloud Computing Create or Cut Jobs?” by Derrick Harris, GigaOM, March 2009

How Web Services and Cloud Computing Are Changing the IT Job Market” by Meghan Peters, Mashable Business, February 2011

The Role of a Cloud Broker
Will Cloud brokers find legitimacy in enterprise computing?
By Tim Mendham, CIO.com.au, September 2011

Monster: “1000+ Jobs Matched Your Search Criteria”, February 10, 2012

CareerBuilder: “915 Jobs Matched Your Search Criteria”, February 10, 2012

AWS Case Study:  University of California Santa Barbara”, Published 2006

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA)

25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management” by Vivek Kundra, December 2010

“How To Revive the Feds’ Lifeless ‘Cloud First’ Policy” by David Linthicum, InfoWorld, October 2011

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