Multipoint video conferencing allows participants at more than two sites to
engage in real-time communication by means of a Multipoint Control Unit
(MCU) to which all the participants connect. In multipoint communications
this video bridge device interconnects signals from several sources in the
same fashion that multiple audio lines are intermingled in a telephone
conference call. The key difference in multipoint versus “normal” video
conferencing is the fact that there are multiple participants at multiple
locations rather than a single interaction between two webcams or two
digital video cameras communicating directly through conferencing software.

Is There a Demand for Multipoint Conferencing?

There is an increasing demand for multipoint video teleconferencing for a
number of reasons. Not only does it overcome the expense and delays caused
by travel, but these meetings tend to be briefer and more focused than
face-to-face encounters and thus more productive. Busy executives can budget
their time more effectively when meeting with clients or employees and,
compared to the cost of travel, establishing facilities for a multipoint
video conference is much more cost effective.

How Does Multipoint Video Conferencing Work?

Essentially a conferencing system uses a CODEC, a device which converts and
compresses the video signal into digital data for transmission to a decoder
which reverses the process on the other end. Working in full-duplex mode,
the system encodes and decodes data in both directions simultaneously. The
network over which the data travels may be any kind of broadband or
satellite connection. Speeds as lows as 128 Kbps will produce a decent
quality conference, but for television quality video the minimum data rate
should be around 384 Kbps. There are two modes or formats for multipoint
video conferencing, continuous presence (CP) and voice activated (VA).
Participants in the conference should always be told which method is being
used. Generally a moderator is used in both scenarios to control the
interaction and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Continuous Presence

In a multipoint video conference conducted in continuous presence mode, all
sites can be seen at the same time. Usually at one site participants will
see themselves on one monitor and the remote participants on a second
monitor in smaller windows. This is not an optimal method for displaying any
kind of data other than voice communication because the data will not occupy
the full screen. Microphones can be simultaneously active at all sites
involved and as a result, things can get a bit noisy. Intervention on the
part of the moderator may be required to keep things in order.

Voice Activated

In this method of multipoint video conferencing only the remote site that
produced the most recent audio will appear on the monitors. Again, at a
single site participants will see themselves on one monitor and the source
of the most recent audio will appear on a second monitor. Microphone
settings are critical in voice activated mode. When a site is not speaking,
their microphone should be muted to avoid random noise that will suddenly
place them on screen. Moderation is especially recommended in this mode.

Could Multipoint Conferencing be made Affordable?

Many systems now offer a built-in video conferencing bridge, which has made
multipoint conferencing increasingly affordable. Still, a system capable of
supporting a four-way conference will cost in the $8,000 range. As
multipoint video conferencing continues to grow in popularity, however, and
systems with build-in bridges become more refined, prices will undoubtedly
drop. Multipoint video conferencing allows participants at more than two
sites to engage in real-time communication by means of a Multipoint Control
Unit (MCU) to which all the participants connect. In multipoint
communications this video bridge device interconnects signals from several
sources in the same fashion that multiple audio lines are intermingled in a
telephone conference call. The key difference in multipoint versus “normal”
video conferencing is the fact that there are multiple participants at
multiple locations rather than a single interaction between two webcams or
two digital video cameras communicating directly through conferencing
software.

Is There a Demand for Multipoint Conferencing?

There is an increasing demand for multipoint video teleconferencing for a
number of reasons. Not only does it overcome the expense and delays caused
by travel, but these meetings tend to be briefer and more focused than
face-to-face encounters and thus more productive. Busy executives can budget
their time more effectively when meeting with clients or employees and,
compared to the cost of travel, establishing facilities for a multipoint
video conference is much more cost effective.

How Does Multipoint Video Conferencing Work?

Essentially a conferencing system uses a CODEC, a device which converts and
compresses the video signal into digital data for transmission to a decoder
which reverses the process on the other end. Working in full-duplex mode,
the system encodes and decodes data in both directions simultaneously. The
network over which the data travels may be any kind of broadband or
satellite connection. Speeds as lows as 128 Kbps will produce a decent
quality conference, but for television quality video the minimum data rate
should be around 384 Kbps. There are two modes or formats for multipoint
video conferencing, continuous presence (CP) and voice activated (VA).
Participants in the conference should always be told which method is being
used. Generally a moderator is used in both scenarios to control the
interaction and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Continuous Presence

In a multipoint video conference conducted in continuous presence mode, all
sites can be seen at the same time. Usually at one site participants will
see themselves on one monitor and the remote participants on a second
monitor in smaller windows. This is not an optimal method for displaying any
kind of data other than voice communication because the data will not occupy
the full screen. Microphones can be simultaneously active at all sites
involved and as a result, things can get a bit noisy. Intervention on the
part of the moderator may be required to keep things in order.

Voice Activated

In this method of multipoint video conferencing only the remote site that
produced the most recent audio will appear on the monitors. Again, at a
single site participants will see themselves on one monitor and the source
of the most recent audio will appear on a second monitor. Microphone
settings are critical in voice activated mode. When a site is not speaking,
their microphone should be muted to avoid random noise that will suddenly
place them on screen. Moderation is especially recommended in this mode.

Could Multipoint Conferencing be made Affordable?

Many systems now offer a built-in video conferencing bridge, which has made
multipoint conferencing increasingly affordable. Still, a system capable of
supporting a four-way conference will cost in the $8,000 range. As
multipoint video conferencing continues to grow in popularity, however, and
systems with build-in bridges become more refined, prices will undoubtedly
drop.

Empty office space litters skylines, freeways and office parks. Once-busy
hives of cubicles have become empty steel and concrete caverns. Their
previous occupants met with a variety of fates: Some were victims of a deep
recession; others were washed away by tsunamis of cheap labor in foreign
lands; still others were unleashed by virtual technologies. Only the last
group of former office dwellers have freed themselves willingly. They did so
by exchanging their physical presence for a virtual existence.

“My partner and I have run the business from a lakeside dock in Canada and a
hotel in Barcelona, for around US$200 per month for all the necessary
tools,” Stephanie Pakrul, cofounder of TopNotchThemes, told the E-Commerce Times.

Virtual Gets Real

“Our virtual assistant wakes up on the East Coast, checks the mail, checks
for voicemail, answers support emails, and I get a report of anything
pressing by the time I’m awake in Pacific time,” explained Pakrul.

The TopNotchThemes team uses the following tools to make their virtual
existence concrete:

* Earth Class Mail for digital mail
* RingCentral for phone/virtual PBX
* Quickbooks Online for
portable bookkeeping
* Bank of America’s (NYSE: BAC) online
banking and bill pay to send direct deposit, wire, or checks to anyone
* RescueTime for tracking tasks and
project work
* Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Docs for online
document creation and storage

“There are some huge benefits to Earth Class Mail in particular, in that you
can get an actual street address, not just a P.O. box,” said Pakrul. “Plus,
with your mail scanned quickly online, you don’t need to re-ship everything,
and often can just have the paper copies shredded and keep the scans, which
keeps down the cost and paper.”

A Place to Be or Not to Be

If, however, your business is the type that needs the occasional meeting
room and all snail mail as original hard copies, then opt to be a virtual
tenant in any number of actual offices.

“We have a virtual tenant who is actually in China,” Jeremy Wolf, owner of
Wolf Commercial
,
told the E-Commerce Times. “We box his mail and ship it to him once a week.”

Many of Wolf’s virtual tenants, however, are attracted to the common areas
— namely, boardrooms and fancy lobbies with highly skilled receptionists.
Still others like the faux caller ID.

“You can either plug one of our phones into your computer or install some
simple softphone software. Either way, the receptionist can transfer calls
to you anywhere without the caller knowing you’re outside the premises,” he
added.

“You can also call anyone and the caller ID will show your ‘office’ number,
not the number where you actually are,” he said.

The result: A small business can appear much larger, and workers never have
to set foot in an actual office again. On the downside, it’s much easier to
set up a scam operation these days!

The costs for a virtual tenant is “roughly 25 percent or less than a regular
tenant,” said Wolf. The lowest rent Wolf offers regular tenants is $1,000 a
month. By comparison, virtual tenants pay $250 a month, on average.

Joomla, WordPress or Drupal CMS? Confuse to determine what you’ll choose?
There are many applications to make website. Some of them are Joomla,
Wordpress, and Drupal. They are three major CMS (Content Management System).
Many bloggers have made comparisons of these three major CMS. From that
comparison, we can see the best one. However, all of them have superiorities
and weakness. They are fit people purposes in different ways. Let’s us make
some comparisons of these three CMS, that may help you to choose the best
one for your purposes.

Here we will discuss Joomla versus WordPress versus Drupal. Firstly, we see
the Joomla. Joomla is CMS that is more powerful for full-blown CMS. Joomla
CMS is a piece of cake or very easy to install. It is also fairly easy and
straightforward in using it. About the administration, Joomla has very
graphical and intuitive administration and the selections of themes also
good. Joomla requires openSEF or SEO (Search Engine Optimizations) extension
and it may offer security risks due to SEO changes. However, you can create
blog easily with Joomla. Web 2.0 of Joomla still has the older content
driven aspects and less community focus. It is lack of permissions control,
decent scalability, and has no multisite. The categorization is limited and
its SSL requires some programming. The speed of Joomla is very fast with
rendering pages but also can slow down when features are added. The download
size is 878 kb.

Secondly, we talk about WordPress. WordPress CMS is an application to build
blog with various selections of themes. Like Joomla, WordPress is easy to
install and to use. Everybody can do it. Moreover, it is very easy to
administer the site. Comparing with Joomla, WordPress has excellent and
large theme selections. The SEO is very fantastic. All contents have unique
page with an SEO friendly and title and URL. WordPress is the best blogging
software. It is very web. 2.0 and has permissions control. It has limited
scalability, no multisite and SSL. The download size is 802 kb. The last is
Drupal which is great for blogs. It is easy to install. The theme is lacking
when we compare with those two. The SEO is fantastic. It has pure web. 2,
built in SSL, very granural permissions, and great scalability. The speed is
very efficient and the size of download is 728 kb.

They are some comparisons of the three CMS that may help you in choosing the
best one for you. You can also choose them based on your purposes. However,
if you are challenged to try the difficult one, you can choose Drupal.

You might be familiar with social media, but hopefully you’ll give me a pass
as some of this stuff bears repeating. However I think this A-Z is going to
be more useful if you’re somebody who is trying to convince your boss that
adopting a social media strategy is a good idea (it is). Good luck with
that!

Note that I’ve avoided writing D is for Digg, F is for Facebook, T is for
Twitter. Instead I’ve looked at the more strategic areas that you’ll need to
consider before giving the likes of Facebook and Twitter a green light.

Let me know what I missed. Especially for ‘X’!

The A-Z of social media for brands

A stands for AUTHENTIC. Most people, apart from some notable PR execs, have
a finely-tuned bullshit radar. They can smell it coming and many are
allergic to it. You must be authentic. No funny business, no hidden clauses,
nothing untoward.

B stands for BENCHMARK. You need to take a snapshop of where you’re at,
before fully launching yourself into social media. Otherwise you’ll have no
clue about ROI. A benchmarking exercise can help you define a social media
strategy. Find the gaps, and figure out what you need to do. Use our social
media templates to help you.

C stands for CUSTOMER SERVICE. You’d better believe it. The problem most
wayward greedheads make with social media is that they think it’s all about
free marketing. It isn’t. It is about service. I’ll come onto Zappos later
but I love their mantra: “We are a customer service company that happens to
be in the business of selling shoes.” Smart. Zappos generates three quarters
of its $1bn annual sales from existing customers. Go figure, as they say…

D stands for DISTRIBUTE. Why? Because social media should not be ‘owned’ by
one person, but spread throughout an organisation. Your people are your best
asset, truly. They’re closer to your products, brands, customers and issues.
Encourage them to get involved, and share the workload.

E stands for ENGAGE. We know that an engaged customer is a far more valuable
one. They’ll tell you what you need to know. They’ll tend to buy from you
again, and more frequently. And they’ll be more likely to refer your brand
to their friends. Customer engagement and social media go hand in hand.

F stands for FEEDS. You can use feeds to power your social media presence,
as we do on Twitter (which sucks in headlines from our blog via
Twitterfeed). You should also use them to monitor your key brand terms
online.

G stands for GOOGLEJUICE. Some people aren’t sure about the effects of
social media on search. They doubt social media can have any tangible effect
on search results. Take it from me: they’re wrong. Why? Because articles
featured prominently on social media sites are likely to be picked up
elsewhere (good for traffic, great for inbound links). Consider what happens
when one of your stories hits the Digg frontpage: sure, you pull in big
traffic from Digg itself, but you also tend to accumulate links from dozens
of other sites.

H stands for HONESTY. This follows on from A. No pulling the wool please.
The days of old school PR spin are coming to a close, and if you’re active
on these networks then it’s best to hold up your hands and admit errors or
lapse of judgement, as and when they arise. It happens. We’re HUMAN, after
all.

I stands for INTERACT. Well what else was it going to be? If you try firing
out one-way messages on the social media sites then you’ll soon know about
it. You must get involved with your audience, your community, your user
base, your fans. Make sure they know they’re being listened to, and they’ll
participate more often. The flipside is that if you IGNORE them they will
pay little interest / take it personally / move on.

J stands for JOIN. There’s no point standing on the sidelines, and hey, you
need those social media profiles, even if you’re not immediately planning on
using them. Take the lead. Sign up. And make sure you do plenty of reading
and research before you jump in. Line up your ducks, then start shooting.
There are tools than can help you check whether your brand names are
available on the social sites.

K stands for KILLER CONTENT. If there’s one thing that works, it is quality
content. Cream rises to the top. Five years ago it was all about Google, but
now it’s about recommendations, referrals and retweets (all of which can
underpin your Google rankings). Make the most of it. Content remains king.

L stands for LISTEN. As mentioned in F you need some feeds set up to track
what’s being said about your brands online. There are various free tools to
let you monitor your reputation, the needs of your customers, and what’s
being said about your competitors. You also need to listen to people at an
individual level, and to respond to them. Social sites help people to cosy
up to your brand, and if you’re actively encouraging that (by being there)
then it’s best not to kick them out of bed when they want some attention.

M stands for MEASURE. Because how else are you going to know if this whole
social media malarkey works. I wrote a post called ’10 ways to measure
social media success’, which will help you see the bigger picture. Measuring
the detail is one thing, but it is worth considering how a social media
strategy can improve your overall business at a macro level.

N stands for NETWORK. Let’s step back for a moment and remember that sites
like Twitter and Digg are essentially networking sites. People are
connected. This means that you can wade into the fray and seek out followers
by participating in a wider conversation. Or by being retweeted. Or by
actively following interesting people who say interesting things. It also
means that if you get it wrong, the network effect can massively multiply
your embarrassment, regardless of whether or not you’re active on these
sites. Keep this in mind before you do a Ryanair.

O stands for ORGANISE. This is about defining a strategy, and then figuring
out who is going to execute it. And if you look again at D and then at R
you’ll see that I don’t really believe in a single social media stakeholder.
It’s a team game. At Econsultancy we encourage people to get involved if
they want to. There is no social media dictator at this end.

P stands for POLICY. It could have been PARTICIPATION but that’s kind of
covered under the letter E and I. So look, if you’re going to do this in a
smart way then it’s best to set a few guidelines. Not rules, as such, but
helpful pointers. And look at Z if you want to see the best, most concise
social media / Twitter policy you’ll ever need to see.

Q stands for QUESTIONS. You can expect a bunch of them, and the bigger the
brand the more questions people are going to throw at you. If they want to
choose Twitter as a makeshift customer service channel then doesn’t that
tell you something? Twitter might not be the best way of responding, but
make sure you are LISTENING and react quickly. Questions need answers!

R stands for RETENTION. Here’s a tip for you: forget about customer
acquisition, and start concentrating on your existing customers. They’re
cheaper to keep hold of, and if you get it right they’ll do your marketing
for you (see E). Seriously, FORGET ACQUISITION. Times are changing, and the
smarter operators will be focused on keeping customers happy. And that
brings us neatly onto.

S stands for SATISFACTION. Mick Jagger once sang about this and was
obviously referring to customer satisfaction. It’s so important. If you
don’t already measure customer satisfaction then you’d better start soon,
because it’s one of the most important metrics and you should be on a
constant quest to improve it. Social media can really help you keep on top
of things, and can help you connect. I refer once again to the letter C, and
the value of happy customers to your business.

T stands for TRAFFIC. Social media sites now account for a large chunk of
our traffic. The Telegraph pulls in 75,000 unique users from these sites
every day. If traffic is your thing, then a solid social media strategy will
help you attract in the big numbers. T could also stand for TWITTER, since
Twitter is obviously a big deal these days. If you’re new to Twitter start
here, and if you’re doing it on behalf of a brand / company then aim here.

U stands for USER PROFILE. The last time I looked the world’s biggest FMCG
brand was Coca Cola. And you’d imagine that such a heavyweight would have
claimed user profiles on various social media sites for its key brands.
Well, you’d be wrong. Make sure somebody claims these for your brand. Don’t
say I didn’t warn you.

V stands for VIP. By getting nearer to your customers / prospects / audience
you’re going to make them feel special. Most organisations are still light
years away from treating customers as individual people, but social media –
and a distributed social media / customer service team – can help you to do
this. Remember also to add VALUE, whether that’s sharing tips / insight as
we try to do, or providing a 15% discount voucher, as a retailer might do.

W stands for WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. Because look, if you don’t, then what on
earth do you expect to get from all of this? I believe that pretty much
every company / brand should have a blog, with frequent updates (about their
products, services, company, market, etc). These articles can provide you
with lots of excellent social media fodder. Spread the word.

X stands for X RATED. To be honest X is a difficult one. But then I
remembered that not everybody likes to read the word ‘fuckface’ on Twitter,
much less your straight-up 68-year old CEO with churchgoing tendencies. I
swear like a trooper but tend to keep the language on these sites to a
minimum, especially when representing the brand. Ok, maybe you can suggest
something better for the letter X.

Y stands for YOU. The minute you start freaking out about brand language and
tone of voice and what the PR department might think is the minute you fail
at social media. Sure, that stuff IS important, but the main thing to
remember about social media is that it is a highly personal medium. As such
you need to communicate, as much as possible, as a PERSON rather than as a
BRAND. People form relationships with other people, as opposed to brands,
which they have opinions of, and an affinity with (or otherwise). There’s a
real distinction.

Z stands for ZAPPOS. The online shoe retailer is a Twitter posterboy, no two
ways about it. It encourages staff to get involved with Twitter (it also
uses Facebook and YouTube) and has the best Twitter policy I have yet seen:
“Be real and use your best judgement.

Local SEO is very confusing to many but if understood, the principles that
apply are so simple. There is no magic bullet for local SEO and it is pure
hard work and more of an art than a magic formula. To get your website to
top rankings locally in search engines, there are certain principles to
adhere to in order to accomplish that. This local search engine
optimization can affect your website’s search ranking factors in local
search pages, depending on how it was done.

For the past few years, SEO become a buzz word for all the webmasters out
there and everyone is talking how to get and guarantee top page rankings.
Google and search engines have caught up with that since there has been a
proliferation of black hat methods. Black hat methods are unethical ways to
rank a website but everything has changed now. Gone are the days where
people can just put spam keywords all over their web content. Google, Yahoo,
and Bing can now detect such malpractices.

Nowadays, the hottest buzz word is SEO. Search engines want to deliver more
relevant content to the searches so it doesn’t stop with SEO. The word to
look out for now is “Local SEO”. Local SEO gives more relevant information
to searchers and it also brings more targeted visitors to small business
owners. This confused many because they treated global SEO and local SEO
interchangeably-which is a big mistake.

Many SEO gurus entered the scene to take advantage of the new buzz. They
offered SEO and search resources like “Secret Local SEO Guide and Advice
Books” which, if one would thoroughly examine the content, most of the
things written down were rehashed and copied from an obscure website.
However, there are also excellent local SEO books that are available in the
market but they don’t come cheap. These books show the tested and ethical
ways to push a website to the top local search results.

Here is a basic local SEO checklist to guide everyone, particularly you, the
aggressive business owner:

1. Optimize your site for a certain keyword, product, prospective customers,
and geography. It is important that these four factors are balanced, just
like a chair would be very unstable if one leg is missing.

2. Design your website in such a way that it coincides with your product,
your customer’s profile, and the culture of the local place where you
operate your business.

3. Get your website indexed in local search engines as well as in the big
three: Google local, Yahoo local, and Bing. Getting indexed is different
from being ranked. You get your site indexed first and your site would be
ranked later.

4. Rank you site locally for specify keywords targeted to your local
community. How to do this? You can do keyword permutations or combinations
with the places that you are targeting. If you are operating your business
in Sydney, insert the name of the place in the keyword, like this: “real
state property Sydney”.

5. Get your site listed in local directories. Drop your links to as many
local directories you could find but make it sure that the website directory
is relevant to your product and services.

6. Build links to get your site ranked well for a certain keyword. Don’t do
too much at first because search engines would treat you as a spammer. Do it
naturally while you participate in WEB 2.0 sites.

7. Take advantage of the social networking sites. There are local SEO for
social media optimization. Build contacts and friends and be an authority in
your niche product or services.

8. List your site to Google maps or MapQuest. Put your target main keywords
and a good description of your business. This is very important to local SEO
since you want to increase your business visibility.

9. Install analytics to your website. It is a mortal sin for local SEO not
to install analytics to your site. It helps you in your online marketing
decisions. Analytics lets you know the fundamental information of what works
and what doesn’t for you so you could adjust your strategy if needed.

10. Be innovative in your online marketing strategies to get more traffic
and level up your conversions and sales leads. Think of ways how to have a
continuity system for long-term cash inflow.

This is not an extensive list but, at least, you can start to apply these
steps and see results. However, there two choices a business owner like you
can choose from, either you do it yourself or let a local SEO expert do it.
Take action now!

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t love free stuff? This feature of human nature is inherent in every individual: everybody wants to get more by doing less. Why not use this knowledge to your benefit?

People naturally love freebies, whether they are products, services, or consultations. When a visitor comes to your site, and finds something free that she can use or download (downloading is especially important, because the file will get to her own PC visitor’s private territory), it definitely makes her happy.

As a result, the visitor gets tied to a powerful psychological anchor this site is good, it makes me feel better. In most cases, this visitor will come back either to get a new freebie, or to find out what else is there on your website. Being grateful, she may decide to StumbleUpon (or whatever bookmarking service she uses) the site or tell friends about it. Both are good for you since this way you get new visitors.

Before you offer something free, you should be sure your visitors really need it. How can you be sure? Research your audience. Make a poll: ask your visitors what they are interested in most of all, what they would like to see at your website. Next, create a freebie. What can it be?

  1. Useful how-to instructions that are close to the site theme: guides, books, articles (printable PDFs are handy in such cases), videos, etc.Visitors should be interested in downloading your files. Include some additional information about products you offer at your site into the guides, describe their usage in real life – add showcases – to make it interesting.
  2. Entertaining freebies: coloring pictures (for children), games, puzzles, featured music files in mp3, magazines, clipart, icon sets, whatever fits your site’s theme and goal. Depending on your site, choose something that may be interesting to your visitors. If your blog is about web-design, offer free icon sets and clipart. If you sell icons, make some of them available for free.
  3. Valuable information: web sources lists, newsletters. By offering site lists, you save your visitor’s time – they do not need to search for important information through the entire web. Make it easy for them to subscribe to the list with their favorite feed-reader or save the list to their bookmarks or desktop.
  4. Corporate attributes: cups, t-shirts, caps, pens, hand-mirrors (anything people might need for their daily use) If you sell products under your own brand, offer a free t-shirt or cup containing the corporate logo along with the order. This way the buyer will feel her proximity to something successful (such as your brand’s).
  5. A perfect way to make your visitors feel they save money is to offer free shipping for their order. In this case you are not giving them something, but you will make them feel satisfied because they are saving on the delivery costs.
  6. Run a contest and give a small present to each participant every bit counts.
  7. If you sell software, its always good to offer a free version or a full-featured trial let people understand what it is and what she can get by paying money. Some thoughts on free software by Mac Slocum toc.oreilly.com/2008/06/using-the-psychology-of-free.html. Right after your visitors get what they want, you, in your turn, may ask for some small favor in return. Most site owners ask for a subscription to their newsletter or account registration (of course, this should be also free). This is a good way of getting targeted and interested subscribers. Make your visitors happy with your care, and they will make you happy too!

1. Collectors: You must prominently display the signup for your noozles if
you want people to sign up. This should be automated using email service
providers like Aweber, Feedblitz, Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.

2. Content: To attract subscribers you must offer valuable content (not just
promote your own products).

3. Curate: You don’t have to write all your email content yourself.
Instead you can find and select the best stuff in your field from around the
web for sharing. (This also draws attention to your list from bigger
players and potential promotional partners (two fer!).

4. Coupons & Contests: To convince people to sign up for your email list,
bribery is definitely an option. Incentives like discounts, ebooks, and
access to exclusive information can help a lot.

5. Customer Case Studies: Talking about your customers both demonstrates
how to actually use your products/services successfully, plus it makes your
best customers feel important. (another two-fer!)

6. Concise: Everybody is in a hurry these days. Keep your content short to
increase its appeal.

7. Controversy to Attract Comments: Getting people talking – whether its by
forwarding your emails, Tweeting, “liking” it on Facebook, or commenting on
your blog – is good publicity.

The recession is starting to push hard against the retail industry and is having a big impact on sales. This usually has a trickle down affect for the credit card processing business. Many retailers are getting their chips in-line to be able to market itself efficiently during the new, tougher economy. This past holiday season was a good test for the retail industry on the new less is more buying mentality. Former JCP CEO made a statement that described this perfectly and I quote “I never saw anyone go out of business because they didn’t have enough of something.” So what are retailers suppose to do? You can only cut prices so low. Retailers should create themselves a niche or leg up over the competition. Such as JCP has created over 20 different private label brands that you will not find anywhere else. Having an exclusive brand keeps your customers coming back time and time again. Being green is another business concept that is on the rise as well. How retailers operate and the products they sell are becoming more green than ever before. Organic goods is one popular item that is increasing in demand. Many retailers like Wal-mart and Target are also incorporating as many green products as possible in their building’s designs when creating or renovating a store.

When times are not great, every business should reevaluate their overhead and cut any unnecessary expenses that do not have a big impact on the bottom line or day to day operations. One of the most common areas business owners cut is advertising & marketing. Granted, this may be a very big expense, but it probably should never be cut. Instead, you may want to consider increasing this particular expense. Without new customers, your business will not be able to thrive and make it through the tough times. Customer service is another common area that usually finds itself cuts but probably should not. Customer service and advertising are some of the most important areas to any business. You must continue bringing in new customers while taking care of the ones you have.

Some possible areas you can cut could be: Technology – Most of us can live without all the latest gadgets & cool toys. Start focusing on all the new technology purchases and eliminate anything that is not really necessary. Telephone – because VOIP has been rapidly growing these last few years, traditional (analog) phone service companies are becoming more competitive. Call your phone company and see if they will cut you a deal or give you a discount. Energy – many areas have a choice in electricity companies. If you are in one of those areas, do some shopping around. Switching electric providers can be a very easy task. Supplies & Inventory – consider keeping smaller quanities of your office supplies and try to keep a tighter control on inventory. Just like what many retail merchants are doing today, keep as little quantity of a product as possible. You want enough inventory on the shelf to sustain sales, but not anything excessive that will be collecting dust. Lastly, credit card processing fees. We are receiving numerous calls lately on merchants wanting to switch to reduce their processing costs. Last week, we received a pricing proposal from one of the Trump International hotels, so merchants of types & sizes are looking at their processing costs.

The recession is starting to push hard against the retail industry and is having a big impact on sales. This usually has a trickle down affect for the credit card processing business. Many retailers are getting their chips in-line to be able to market itself efficiently during the new, tougher economy. This past holiday season was a good test for the retail industry on the new less is more buying mentality. Former JCP CEO made a statement that described this perfectly and I quote “I never saw anyone go out of business because they didn’t have enough of something.” So what are retailers suppose to do? You can only cut prices so low. Retailers should create themselves a niche or leg up over the competition. Such as JCP has created over 20 different private label brands that you will not find anywhere else. Having an exclusive brand keeps your customers coming back time and time again. Being green is another business concept that is on the rise as well. How retailers operate and the products they sell are becoming more green than ever before. Organic goods is one popular item that is increasing in demand. Many retailers like Wal-mart and Target are also incorporating as many green products as possible in their building’s designs when creating or renovating a store.

About GordonGus
"Whether selling products, services or information I have helped others succeed online by clarifying goals, simplifying technologies, motivating players and executing tasks. My energy and perseverance has helped others reach their goals. Of course, some wanted to shoot me in the process."
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