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Archive for Technology’ Category

11

Jul
2016
Comments Off on Using Mobile to Dominate the B2B Category

Using Mobile to Dominate the B2B Category

Using Mobile to Dominate B2B

Did you know that nearly 70 percent of people in the U.S. have a smart phone? It’s not a huge surprise that the majority of internet access is now done through mobile devices versus desktop computers.  Updating your marketing strategy to incorporate mobile users isn’t a trend that applies solely to B2C companies. Your B2B marketing plan is underperforming if integrating and creating content for mobile users isn’t a major component.

Here are some tips on how to start or expand your reach to mobile users:

Be sure that your emails and newsletters can be easily read by mobile users.  According to Marketing Land, nearly 68 percent of emails were opened on a mobile device, with 52 percent being opened on smartphones.  Make sure that your subject lines fit comfortably across small screens, having 15 or less characters is ideal.  Always send out a test before you contact your customer via email and make sure you can clearly view it on all mobile devices.  Use responsive design templates that make for easy reading and navigation so your readers can resize, pan and scroll across a wide range of devices.

Please, please, please make sure your webpages are visible too!  This goes without saying, but bears repeating because it is so important.  Make sure that all the pages on your B2B website (not just the home page) are easily read on all mobile device screens. Click here to use the Mobile-Friendly Test developed by Google to see how your page ranks in mobile-friendliness. If your website isn’t easily viewed on mobile devices, it’s time to make some changes or even overhaul your entire site.

Become savvier with Google AdWords. Google has announced big changes for 2017 that will have a significant impact on the mobile aspect of your website.  Google AdWords users will be able to make independent bids for mobile, desktop and tablets.  Prior to this change, mobile bids could only be a multiplier based on your base bidding price. Use Google Analytics to figure out what method of access your buyers are using and adjust your Google AdWords bids accordingly.

Utilize Google Maps.  Additionally in 2017, Google Maps will play a larger role in the Google search algorithm.  According to Wordstream, nearly a third of mobile searches are being done through Google Maps and the percent of Google Maps searches have grown 50 percent faster than overall mobile searches in the past year. To stay competitive in your industry, be sure that your company’s listing is up-to-date and you are leveraging Google Maps as strategically as you can.

Consider creating a mobile app for your company. It can be a large investment but for the right company, it can be a marketing godsend. Apps give you the ability to connect with your customers on a more personal level.  When assessing whether to create an app, consider what content and engagement it will provide to its users.

Create great content.  Use amazing content to pull mobile users on to your site. Post blogs, social media posts, testimonials, infographics, case studies, video tutorials and useful information to engage your customers.

Smartphones and mobile devices are here to stay. (Heck, there is a good change you are reading this blog on your smartphone!)  A marketing strategy that addresses the needs of its mobile users will help to grow a B2B’s profits, credibility in the industry and brand.

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25

Nov
2013
Comments Off on Accessorizing a laptop computer for your desk

Accessorizing a laptop computer for your desk

laptop accesorizingHow many of us sit hunched over a laptop computer’s small screen and tiny keyboard all day long? Then we wonder where those aches in our shoulders and cramps in our hands come from at the end of the day. Laptops have become ubiquitous in businesses, but they aren’t the most comfortable to use for extended periods of time. When used on top of desks, the keyboard is too high and the display is too low for good posture. Those posture recommendations for desktop computers are in the back of our minds, but they are more challenging to implement with laptops.

That’s why if you’re going to purchase a laptop for its portability, make room on your desk and in your budget for more than just the laptop:

– A mouse and a keyboard with a numeric keypad will minimize cramped hands. If you go the wireless (Bluetooth) route, be sure to tuck some spare batteries in your desk drawer. Check Dell and Logitech for mouse and keyboard combos. (What works for laptops can also be applied to tablet computers. One of those tablet cases with a fold-up stand and a wireless keyboard makes typing easier.)

– Remember those typing stands with adjustable height? Along those same lines, we need the computer’s keyboard lower than the desktop. Consider a keyboard drawer mounted under your desk. Try one from 3M or Fellowes.

– One method to raise a laptop display is to use a cooling pad or stand. These come with fans to circulate air better than the small fans inside laptops. Remember, heat is the enemy of all electronic devices. If the fans in your laptop sound like a jet taking off, try a cooling pad from Cooler Master or Targus, among others.

– A wide-screen LCD monitor with adjustable height is essential for your viewing pleasure, perhaps something in the 21.5- to 24-inch range with 1920×1080 resolution. It can be configured to be the only active screen, or to mirror your laptop’s display or as a second screen, letting you expand your virtual desktop. For example, you can keep an email inbox displayed on the laptop and flip among windows for Word, Excel and an Internet browser on the big LCD monitor. To minimize head bobbing, elevate the laptop so the two screens are at the same level. There are many manufacturers of computer monitors. Dell, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and LG are the worldwide market leaders.

– To tie everything together, consider a laptop docking station. They are convenient in that you just snap on a laptop and the power and peripheral connections are already made, at least if you buy a docking station and compatible laptop from the same manufacturer. With third-party “universal” docking stations, you must connect some of the cables yourself. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba and other business laptop manufacturers carry docking stations. Third-party brands include Kensington and Targus.

Once you’ve accessorized a laptop for use on your desk, think about buying a smaller laptop. You won’t need a 15- to 17-inch laptop display when using an external LCD monitor. Look for laptops with displays in the 11- to 14-inch range. That will make lugging it back and forth between work and home easier on your shoulders. And avoiding aching shoulders is where we started this discussion!

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20

Nov
2013
Comments Off on Teaching Old Dogs: Keeping Your Computer Files Organized

Teaching Old Dogs: Keeping Your Computer Files Organized

old-dogs

A recent Web story about the letters assigned to computer drives made us feel like old dogs. Some of us remember that day at work when a computer was plopped on our desk and we were told to start using it. Training, what training? Everything was learn-as-you-go and a bunch of Post-it notes stuck on the desktop monitor to remember it all. With another Post-it under the keyboard for our logon password we were set, or so we thought.

We learned enough about Windows to get by and nothing more. We didn’t learn the easiest and fastest way to accomplish a task on a computer; we learned one way and stuck with it. And years later we’re still stuck with it. Some of us picked up these bad habits:

– We don’t use folders enough. Folders are for organizing computer files just like the folders in a file cabinet. Name them for projects or clients or months or whatever scheme works for you. Also, use folders to organize Web browser bookmarks (favorites) and your e-mail inbox.

– We put file icons on our desktop so we can find them quickly. But what happens when the whole desktop is covered with icons? Good luck finding that file! It’s better to use the My Documents or Documents folder with subfolders.

– We store items in the Recycle Bin or Trash. Do you only need to keep that interim file until the project is complete? Make a desktop folder called “delete later” or something along those lines. That will prevent accidental deletion of the interim file when emptying the Recycle Bin or Trash.

– We use the browser history to remember Web sites. This isn’t a good idea. For one thing, the browser history is long and organized by date. For another, bookmarks can be easily transferred to a new computer and the browser history cannot.

– We don’t back up files. That presentation you just spent all day creating is worth a lot of time. Don’t forget to put a backup somewhere, whether on a network drive, in a cloud account, on a flash drive, or as an attachment in an e-mail to yourself.

– All of us could benefit from a refresher course in computer usage or a course to learn a new program. If your company doesn’t provide what you need, check out the local library, vocational school or community college. And, there are video tutorials on the Web for just about any topic. If you have a Microsoft or Apple retail store nearby, take advantage of the training classes they offer.

We might be old dogs but we need to learn new tricks!

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8

Nov
2013
Comments Off on No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

3-01It’s safe to say that since the advent of desktop computing, business has been changing at a rapid pace. Many jobs have molded and changed to adapt to the latest and greatest technologies available, or they have vanished altogether. Graphic Artists that have been in the industry for the past 20 years know this all too well.

A typical Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer or Art Director must now have the ability to perform many additional tasks that were once additional positions held within several small companies. Such tasks may include being an Interactive/Web Designer, Illustrator, Photographer, Videographer, Video Editor, Computer Technician or even a basic Web Programmer. Modern computers, cameras and software have helped to make this a reality.

This may sound a little overwhelming for people just getting their start in advertising, public relations, design and multimedia productions. Believe me–it is! If you’re looking to get into this field of work, be sure you have vast knowledge and a great skill-set because you’re going to utilize it on a daily basis. In a small business atmosphere you need to be able to wear many hats, not just the one printed on your business cards. This holds true for just about any job at a professional small business today.

 

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16

Oct
2013
Comments Off on Vine: The Six-Second Video Challenge

Vine: The Six-Second Video Challenge

vine_logo_lrg_green

Vine is a mobile application owned by Twitter that allows its users to create and post short videos that are a maximum of six-seconds long. Vine is not even a year old and, according to theverge.com, it already has more than 40 million registered users.

Vine seems like it’s going to be the next big thing when it comes to social networks. Vine videos can be simple to create, but they can also be complex. Those making Vine videos as a means for advertising can take a whole day to create a six-second clip. All it takes is a few taps with your finger to create a Vine. When you are ready to record a video, you hold your finger on the screen for as long as you want to record a specific object or action. Then, lift your finger and move around or move objects to get ready for the next segment. In the end, you will have video that could be one object starting as a whole and turning into nothing, or a quick video showing a little of everything.

Creating six-second videos is becoming all the rage across the world! People are getting really creative with it, too. You will find people singing songs, taking videos of events, stop-motion, Claymation, art, wild collaborations and much more.

A blog was posted by Vine offering six tips on how to create the best videos with the app. These tips include using a tripod, using the ghost feature for stop motion, knowing that you don’t need to finish a Vine in one sitting, training your tap, using earphones with a mic, and reviewing your posts. To read the Vine blog, go here.

And, in case you didn’t know, Vine has some new competition. Now that the mobile app Instagram, owned by Twitter’s competitor Facebook, has launched its video creation feature, users are wondering when they should use Vine and when they should use Instagram.

For more great information about Vine and Instagram, read these articles:

–          Digiday: 15 Stats You Need to Know About Vine and Instagram Video

–          Mashable: 10 Ways Startups Can Grow With Vine and Instagram Video

–          TechCrunch: Instagram Video Vs. Vine: What’s The Difference?

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9

Oct
2013
Comments Off on Stop the Dumbing Down of Taking Pictures

Stop the Dumbing Down of Taking Pictures

Apple_Camera
It seems everywhere you look these days someone is snapping a photo. It could be at the playground with a picture of children on the swings, or in a restaurant with a photo of a just-served meal, or at the beach at the end of the day to catch the sunset. Then we post them online to share with our family and friends. Having a pocket camera or cell phone at the ready is one aspect of good photography, but that is just the beginning. Here are some next steps:

– Learn the basics – Composition, lighting, exposure, framing, focus, flash and more are all things that make for a good photo. The photo of Prince William, his wife Catherine and their new born Prince George discussed on CNN.com needs help with the basics. The grandfather of Prince George could use a few lessons.

– Know your camera – Read the manual and find out what all those symbols mean on the function dial. Experiment with different camera settings (e.g., panoramic photos with an iPhone). Also know your camera’s limitations. The pros carry big cameras and lenses for a reason.

– Use a photo-editing program – Learn how to fix the easy problems. Photoshop is probably overkill, but Photoshop Elements, Google’s Picasa, Apple’s iPhoto, and Pixelmator are good for amateurs. You can color correct, change resolution and exposure, crop and size, and more to make a good photo better.

– Self edit – Use moderation when posting photos. Don’t make us wade through a hundred photos to see a handful of good ones.

– Print the good ones – At family gatherings, do you pass around your phone or camera or show photos on a big screen TV? Don’t forget to go to the drugstore and make some prints. Grandma and grandpa want something for their refrigerator door without jumping through the hoops of online ordering.

– Lower the resolution – Now that even cell phones have high-resolution cameras, we receive multi-megabyte images in email attachments. While you’re editing the photos, lower the resolution to something more reasonable. For viewing on a computer screen, a 4×6 image at 72 ppi is fine. The Photoshop guru, Scott Kelby, says 150 ppi is plenty for printing photos up to 10×14 on an inkjet printer. Only if the photo is for print publication is 300 ppi common.

As for those food pics and sunsets, at least learn how to do them better. But don’t get us started on posting endless selfies to Facebook!

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1

Aug
2013
Comments Off on BYOD: Bring Your Own Device

BYOD: Bring Your Own Device

byod
Ah, dinner is over, the kids are in bed and you have a cold beverage handy. It’s time to check your work email! How many of us have fallen into this habit? As businesses persuade us to be available 24/7, we’ve seen various ways to make that availability easier and more enticing:

– Providing us with access to work email and servers from home PCs.

– Providing us with laptops so we can lug them back and forth every day.

– Providing us with smartphones so we can check our e-mail from anywhere.

– Letting us work from home for that true 24/7 experience.

But we’ve pushed back, insisting on having a say in what devices we use. Enough of the dictates from the I.T. department; we want devices that are easy to use, even if we have to bring them from home. Of course, we’ll tolerate security requirements from our companies to avoid a Wild West environment in that regard.

Blackberries and iPhones began the “bring your own device” movement a few years ago. Nowadays, who doesn’t have a smartphone? And if the screen isn’t big enough to get “real work” done, there’s always a tablet, with or without a cell plan.

There’s a ripple effect to this movement. When the bean counters at work figure out they can postpone capital expenditures for computer upgrades, Microsoft and Dell will start to worry. But that is exactly what is happening. Even with an April 2014 cutoff date from Microsoft for Windows XP support, over 37% of us still use XP on the Web. And the bad publicity Windows 8 is getting isn’t convincing us to upgrade either. We’ll stick with our Apple iOS and Android devices as long as they can do the job.

So, in the vernacular of street racers, “Run what ya brung” and have some fun while doing it. Just don’t spill that cold beverage on it!

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18

Jul
2013
Comments Off on YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

YouTube: A Great Source for Brand Awareness

youtube_logo_v3_400x300

Some companies, large or small, feel they don’t need a presence on YouTube. This could be because the product they sell is a necessity and not very intriguing, like insurance or accounting. Some may believe if you can’t create a video that will go viral, what’s the point? What these companies are failing to understand is that you don’t have to create a video that will get a million views in an hour to be successful on YouTube. And, there’s no set list of criteria on how to make a viral video. Sometimes, it’s just luck. There are other uses for YouTube; one of them is to increase brand awareness.

If your business is looking to spread the word about the services you offer, YouTube is a great place to make this happen. Creating a short, one to three minute corporate video will not only increase brand awareness, but also draw out potential clients and promote customer loyalty. Seeing the faces of the people behind the scenes at your company will make your current customers feel that there isn’t just a robot answering questions and collecting feedback. Your team can take the time to make a video that highlights your company’s mission and showcases your staff.

Another way to utilize YouTube is to create a video with some general tips to help your current and prospective customers. If you are an insurance company, obviously there are some pieces of information you can’t share with the public for liability reasons. However, creating a video on why you should contact an insurance company or how-to videos that demonstrate how to navigate a complex website could be useful (and harmless to your company). Also, consider creating a video that includes some helpful statistics, depending on the type of service you offer. For instance, if you offer auto insurance, provide some stats on how many accidents happen per year. This could even be a segue into how your insurance is better than others.

Remember to think outside the box when it comes to YouTube. You don’t have to be a musician or actor to make it work for your business. You don’t even need expensive equipment. If you are on a limited budget, short clips can be created with a webcam or even with a high-end smartphone camera. And, don’t forget to take your new YouTube clips and cross-share them with your other social channels such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word even further.

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24

Apr
2013
Comments Off on Windows 8: Is the New Microsoft Operating System a Hit or a Miss?

Windows 8: Is the New Microsoft Operating System a Hit or a Miss?

windows-8

If you’re in the market for a new PC, you’ve probably noticed that manufacturers have recently switched to Microsoft Windows 8 as an operating system. If you took Windows 8 for a test drive in the store, you might have been bewildered by its user interface. Where’s the Start button? What do you mean the whole screen is Start? What’s this Metro stuff?

Microsoft has attempted to combine the elements of our familiar keyboard/mouse environment with the touch screen environment found in tablets. The jury is still out on whether this combination will be successful. Heck, the jury is still out on the ribbon interface in Office!

We’ve seen this before, where Microsoft introduced a new Windows version and it bombed. Think back to Windows ME and Windows Vista. But Microsoft quickly turned out their successors, Windows XP and Windows 7, which turned out to be hits.

There are several approaches to take with Windows 8:

– Embrace it. Forget everything you know about previous Windows versions and learn how to use Windows 8.

– Ignore it. Put off your next PC purchase until Microsoft comes out with something better. The rumor mill has Windows 8.1 restoring the Start button and booting into desktop mode. If you can’t wait, search for PCs still shipping with Windows 7. Look at the business sections of the Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba websites.

– Meet it halfway. Lenovo and Samsung have released Start menu add-ons for Windows 8. Or purchase an add-on program that changes the user interface to something more familiar. Here’s an article about a $5 program that will save you headaches:

http://www.zdnet.com/how-to-make-windows-8-seem-normal-7000012206/?s_cid=e589

Of course, the most drastic approach is to dump Windows and get a Mac. If we all love our iPhones and iPads so much, why not take the plunge?

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28

Feb
2013
Comments Off on Technical Writing: The Difference Between Warnings and Cautions

Technical Writing: The Difference Between Warnings and Cautions

ansi_warning_caution

It’s that time of year when television weather forecasters wave their arms around to inform us of yet another winter storm headed our way. The impending doom and gloom are described as watches and warnings, but what do those terms really mean?

The National Weather Service issues a Winter Storm Watch to alert us to the possibility of an impending storm. They issue a Winter Storm Warning when hazardous winter weather is imminent or occurring. But, even they recognize that we might be confused about this distinction (http://nws.weather.gov/haz_simp).

Likewise, in technical writing, the subject matter often calls for warnings and cautions. We need to know the distinction between them and how to write them effectively.

– A Warning explains dangers that might result in personal injury or death.

– A Caution explains hazards that could damage a product, including data loss.

If both results are possible, a warning takes precedence.

To write a warning or caution:

– Start with a simple, clear command.

– Write to the intended audience, for example a machine operator or a maintenance technician.

– Choose your words to be specific, leaving nothing to uncertainty.

– It might be necessary to add an explanation to make the risks clear. This will make the warning or caution longer, but more effective.

– If conditions are necessary before starting a procedure, list the conditions first.

Of course, warnings and cautions should not be buried in the text. They should have headings and graphics to grab the reader’s attention. Waving your arms is optional.

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