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Inspiration, anyone? July 2, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Clear Tracks, Mouse Clicks, New Squeaks.
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I stumbled across a great blog a while ago called Brandopia.  I quietly added it to my blogroll and I stop by to read up on the lastest.  Today I would like to highlight some of their work as they are definitely worthy of mention.  I love their sense humor as illustrated below!

Visit Brandopia for more!

What’s in a Name? June 25, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Mouse Clicks.
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A lot goes into deciding on a company name… most of the time.  Toby over at Diva Marketing recently highlighted some interesting trivia about well known company names.

Did you know Google was a misspelling, HP was named by a coin toss  and Yahoo! was from a classic novel? A look at how some of the most successful technology firms – from Apple to Yahoo! – got their groove er .. name!


Here’s a few additions to the list, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Adobe Systems LogoAdobe Systems was named for the Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of co-founder John Warnock.

 


Amazon.com was also named after a river. Founder Jeff Bezos renamed the company Amazon (from the earlier name of Cadabra.com) after the world’s most voluminous river. He saw the potential for a larger volume of sales in an online (as opposed to a bricks and mortar) bookstore.


Coca-Cola was derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the ‘K’ of kola to ‘C’ to make the name look better.


Häagen-Dazs is a name that was invented in 1961 by ice-cream makers Reuben and Rose Mattus of the Bronx “to convey an aura of the old-world traditions and craftsmanship”. The name has no meaning!


Eastman Kodak Company logoBoth the Kodak camera and the name were the invention of founder George Eastman. The letter “K” was a favorite with Eastman; he felt it a strong and incisive letter. He tried out various combinations of words starting and ending with “K”. He saw three advantages in the name. It had the merits of a trademark word, would not be mis-pronounced and the name did not resemble anything in the art. There is a misconception that the name was chosen because of its similarity to the sound produced by the shutter of the camera.


Nestlé is named after its founder, Henri Nestlé, who was born in Germany under the name “Nestle”, which is German (actually, Swabian diminutive) for “bird’s nest”. That is why the company logo is a bird’s nest with a mother bird and two chicks.


See Toby’s article, with more unique company names, here.

Cubicle Creations June 20, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Cheesy Whiskers, Mouse Clicks.
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Cubicle Pranks Magazine

Design^3 is THE place to find chic and stylish cubicle designs!  This week we will highlight three wonderful designs by local cyberweb designers.  First up is a wonderful modern design done in the newage material of Aluminum!    My favorite parts of this design are the personally accessories included!  Check it out for yourself:

 

 

Next we look at a more rustic work abode.  Make from recyclable materials, this design is completely biodegradeable. My favorite piece in this design would be the telephone.  It is obviously a custom design made just to fit into this room.  You can’t find something like that in the stores these days.  This room is also very child friendly, perfect for take your kids to work day!

 

 

Our third and final design is all about craftsmanship.  The attention to detail in this design is what really sets it apart.  No expense was spared in this design and it is guaranteed to make even the most disgruntled worker feel right at home.

 

 

Thank you for viewing this week’s issue of Design^3!

What’s the Difference? Pt. 2 June 19, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Business Tails, Mouse Clicks.
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BizMouse Sporting GoodsOn Monday I wrote about differentiation strategies to help your small business stand out from the crowd. 

(Read Part 1 Here

The strategies I mentioned focus on the big picture.   But what if there is more than one business in your area.  For example, two sporting goods stores that are both focused on having the best service possible.  How do you make your customer service be a homerun?  Well, you need to look at your business at every step of the customer relationship.

Peter Griffin over at Flyingsolo wrote a great article about how to break down your busines process in what he called the “Seven Step Customer Care System”. His focus is on high service businesses such as Finance and Banking, but we can break it down for our Sporting Goods store.

1. How is the service delivered?

Do your customer service representatives smile when they are talking with the customer?  Is it easy to find a customer rep?  If they have to go into the storeroom to look for a product, do they return quickly?  This is the most visible part of customer service and an absolute must if you want to compete in service.  Your customers should enjoy visiting the store. 

2. Does your service enhance the experience?

Are your employees knowledable about the products?  Can they inform the customer about the products features and usage?  Now, this won’t be needed for every baseball, but if a customer is buying an automatic baseball pitcher, they might have a few questions about it that can’t be answered by the box.  Encourage your employees to use your products at home, or even have field days where you show them how to use more complicated products.

3. How do you communicate throughout the buying process?

Even if you have great floor representatives, make sure your Point of Sale staff is up to speed as well.  They should be knowledgeable about the current promotions and able to answer any questions the customer may have (or know who to ask to quickly get the answer).  They should be able to explain to the customer how discounts are applied and what their final total will be.

4. How do you complete and mark a transaction as completed?

What types of payment does your store accept?  Is it what the customer wants to use to pay for his/her large purchase?  Are they given all warranty information and is it explained?  Does a customer rep help them load the product into their vehicle if it is large (and please, don’t make them stand there for an hour waiting for someone to come help)?

5. How do you thank the customer for their business?

Do you reward customers for shopping with your Sporting Goods store?  Coupons for steady customers?  Or maybe just a thank you  and followup letter if they have made a large purchase.

6. How do you treat the customer after their product or service is delivered?

If a customer has a problem, can they bring the product back with minimal hassle?  If they have a question, can they call and ask?  What are you doing to make sure they are happy with their purchase.

7. How do you stay in touch with the customer?

The whole point of good customer service is to keep the customer returning to shop with you.  How are you encouraging them to come back?  Do you call and follow up to see if their automatic baseball launcher is working great?  Do you ask for feedback from them on their experience?

 

 

The Next-Generation Robust Buzz Words June 18, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Business Tails, Mouse Clicks.
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In the next generation of marketing you can be sure there will be plenty of robust yet flexible buzz words.  This world class vocabulary will be easy to use and scalable to every industry standard.  Guaranteed to be userfriendly and cutting edge.  They are mission critical if you wish to be well positioned for your next breakthrough.

In other words, David Merman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, has released his latest list of popular gobbledygook marketing phrases.  Check out the list and see how many you are guilty of!

Shame on you Mickey!If you are guilty of some of the phrases, don’t be too upset.  Even Disney is a victim of the buzzword bingo.  Just take a look at the Disney corporate overview.  Mickey should be ashamed of himself!

 

Some of you may have seen this IBM commercial on the same topic.  Enjoy!

 

You Can Take this Job and… June 13, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Business Tails, Mouse Clicks.
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For the past three weeks a video has been going around of an office worker who goes bezerk with seemingly little provocation. I’m not going to comment on whether or not the video is real, because I don’t know. What I will comment on is the reactions I have seen to the video. So many people are empathizing with this cubicle worker.

Some of the comments on YouTube:
“Mankind was not ment to work in a crowded cage (todays Cubicle). I am supprised this does not happen more offten… [sic]”

“This guy obviously loved the Movie Office Space. He definitely had the —– to do what so many people would LOVE to do. ”

“Fact or fiction, with gas prices, taxes, home foreclosures, etc. this guy is justified in letting out whatever frustrations he needs to obviously release. I thought it was wonderful! ”

Here is the video, from two different angles (One is from a cell phone). Please note that the original “security camera” video does not have sound, but I have chosen the one with a music track added.

Granted, there are plenty of comments condemning this man’s actions (fake or not), but this video highlights the fact that so many people are unhappy with their jobs. We all have good and bad days, but so many people spend 40 or more hours a week doing something they do not enjoy. I truly believe that happy employees are the most productive employees. What does this say about our current work culture?

Find Your Niche June 12, 2008

Posted by Amanda in A Better Mouse Trap, Mouse Clicks.
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It’s has been proved time and time again that not every product is for every person.  You have to find the niche that you can fill.  As I mentioned in an earlier post about Gary Halbert, Building the product your customer needs is more efficient than building a product and then convincing your customer that they need it.  One company that I am working with is M&D Innovations.  This is a small startup company that has essentially found a niche that they can fill. 

M&D Innovations

These two brothers, Mike and David (hence the M&D), have developed software that turns any computer into a scoreboard.  These scoreboards are used for churches, and schools as well as small rinks and stadiums that are not able to shell out the huge dollars for the large hardware displays.  As scoreboards can run thousands of dollars and all of the scoreboards designed by M&D are currently under $500, they have essentially found their niche in providing affordable scoreboard technology.

If your company is struggling, talk to your customers.  They can tell you which of their needs you are filling and which you are not.  It may be that you are marketing to the wrong niche, or you may find a niche that you never considered before. 

WiFi Security June 6, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Business Tails, Mouse Clicks.
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WiFi Security is a hot topic issues these days. It’s important to protect your proprietory information from falling into the wrong hands, and packet sniffing is all too common these days. From g-Wh!z

SCENARIO

Employee from Division X is on the road at a conference then is going to make a business call afterwards.

While at the in between sessions at the conference they plop down in one of the wifi hotspots and start corresponding with the home office in prep for tomorrow’s meeting. The team back home has prep’d a presentation and plenty of attachments and are sending those across by email attachment but first need to do some IM to make sure it’s all good.

Turns out it’s not so good. Some things need revision. So, the agreement is to make it all available via ftp and the address and credentials are passed along.

Employee finishes out the conference, goes back to the hotel room, cleans up, has dinner and goes back to the room to pull down the zip files for tomorrow. Logs into the ftp server only to find there are no files. Frantic phone calls find the team leader back home. Who then raises IT. Who then checks the ftp logs and determines the right account was used from the convention center ip.

[WRONG] Conclusion back at base: the remote employee borked the files… log files say so.

The truth is that the majority of internet connections are NOT secure.  This could happen to you.  If you are dealing with sensitive information (passwords, customer data, creditcard numbers, all fall in this category) the wireless hotspots provided by coffee-houses, hotels, even McDonalds can be easy targets for identity theft.

Several cases of Identity theft made a big splash in the headlines recent.  Unfortunately Identity theft is relatively easy to pull off and hard to track.  It is a PR nightmare to any company whose customer data is compromised.  Protect yourself!

Read the full article here:  http://gwhiz.wordpress.com/2006/08/31/public-wifi-security/

Video SEO June 5, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Mouse Clicks.
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I tend to post a lot of videos on my blogs.  I’m a very visually orientated person and implementations like Youtube and VodPod and other video based technologies make it more and more accessible for small business owners to use videos to their advantage.  But how does this affect your website?  Search Engine Optimization is mainly based on the text of your site, not the videos.  If your site is entirely videos, you could have the most relevant information, but your rank would be low.

ABS-SEO had some interesting information on how to optimize your videos for Search Engines.  Check out article here.  Some are good tips for everypage, not just videos.

Secret Ingredients or Common Sense? January 28, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Mouse Clicks.
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I was surfing the cyber waves recently and stumbled across this post on the Mind Cafe blog… It struck me as good advice for anyone looking to make their life riches, or just make their business better.  The problem with some of the suggestions, is that they are easier said than done.   Everyone is struggling to find the next greatest item, but very few will succeed.   A decent article to read anyways.

The first suggestion is….

1. Give something of value to the world. You want more of the material treasures of life, but are you willing to give something of value in return for them? In checking the lives of over ten thousand famous and rich men and women, I found that the value they received in money, recognition, fame, or power, was directly in proportion to what they gave the world.

More…