Friday, July 10, 2009

Google Adwords - Popping the bubble on this "mystery".

When was the last time you touched your Yellow Pages? I can remember the last time I saw mine. Lauri, my wife, brought it in from the kitchen (where it lives in a drawer) and said, "Can I throw this in recycling? We never use it." And she's right, when was the last time you opened one of these monsters? And, frankly, how do we justify allowing the phone company to drop one off every year if we have a shred of environmental consciousness (okay, I may have taken things a little too far there...).

The bottom line is that when we're looking for a service or a product these days, especially when we know what we're looking for, we go to one place - Google. I was in a meeting last week and this same statement was made and one lady in the back of the room piped up and said, "I still like dogpile." That was one person out of over a hundred and the bottom line is that we all find ourselves in the same place searching these days and that place is the internet.

Most larger businesses are familiar with the importance of Google AdWords for the marketing of their business. They plan, and they tweak, and they plan some more and (along with consistent ongoing management) they develop a means so that when people search for things a link to their company website pops up either on the top or right hand of your computer screen. This is great for the bigger guys with oodles of in-house talent with the technical acumen to accomplish these tasks.

But what happens to the "mom and pop" who are looking for customers to find them for the services they offer? Fortunately there are methods for the little guys to join in on the boon that is the most effective marketing tool that we have today. But before I go further on that let me explain more about why this tool is so important.

Let's say you're a plumbing contractor and you want "good" leads (paying customers) to find you. Typically this involves hundreds of dollars, sometimes per month depending on what you're willing to spend, on Yellow Page ads. But that's not good enough. The radio and TV guys will soon be at your door explaining how important consistency and exposure is and convincing you that another couple of THOUSANDS of dollars each month are required to "get your message out." And as a responsible business owner who wants to be competitive in his or her market you agree and follow through on the marketing plan - of sorts. The problem is that as far as a "plan" goes alot of your effort is pretty much spray-and-pray advertising and, if you're not making any effort to figure out where these leads are coming from, trying to gauge the effectiveness of each campaign is literally impossible. Enter Google AdWords.

Google AdWords is a mechanism for companies to select key search words so, when a customer searches, their company's web address can be clicked on. The great part is that instead of the traditional "just pay us - we'll run the spots" that we're all accustomed to (in radio, TV, print, etc.) you pay ONLY when traffic is driven to your site. Yes, that's right. You pay each time you're visited by a customer that comes from the AdWords mechanism and no more. And, if you have a limited budget and you only want to pay for, say, 100 "clicks" per month you can put stop-gap mechanisms in place to avert any overage charges.

The big question for most small business owners here is, "Listen, I only have so much time in a day. How am I supposed to learn about how to set this up, manage it, and so forth? I just met with a team today that helps manage an AdWords campaign for you from start to finish. These guys ARE small business owners who experimented with several larger internet consulting groups who tried to make their platform a one-size-fits-all for smaller companies like theirs (and failed). With fresh scars from the experience they developed a method so other small business owners could take advantage of these important and valuable tools. Very, very cool.

Well, that's my rant - of sorts. Catch up with me if you want to hear more on this topic and learn how to get in touch with this very forward-thinking team of entrepreneurs/problem solvers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Old article I wrote about SSL VPN and off-site work opportunies... Still very relevant.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

1,6, and 11. Likely your easiest upgrade to your home wireless network.

When you open your laptop at home and search for wireless networks do you get a pagefull? Then how is it possible that your coverage and strength can be so bad when you're so close to so many antennas?

The answer is overlap and cancellation. Just like any other frequency that can be interfered with (radio waves, sound, etc.) so can the 802.11 WiFi freqs as well.

Although it doesn't tend to be part of the "easy" out-of-the-box instructions that you get in a wireless router from your local Best Buy or Office Depot changing the wireless frequency from the factory "6" setting can be the easiest way to get the better reception you've been looking for. And, if you have multiple routers in one house to compensate for coverage (i.e. you're in a REALLY big house), you may find that staggering the settings among the 1, 6, and 11 settings with aid in giving you the unabated coverage you're looking for. you may even find you need fewer routers once you complete these changes.

How do you make the change? The articles below review some of the options (if you want to really geek it out check out the one with IEEE references - those guys really know how to party) but you'll likely need to refer to the manufacture's website for detail on changing your routers settings. Still need help? Catch up with me and I'll get you in touch with some professionals in your area - this goes for personal and larger networks too.

No more driving and texting in Virginia

As much as I'm a fan of the tool of a wireless device this seems like a good idea. It also looks like a much easier way to get pulled over and donate generously to the locale...