November 2006
November 29, 2006

Security, Social Networking, and Business Technology at MESDA's 14th Annual Conference

It's hard to believe that MESDA is about to have their 14th annual technology conference, but next Wednesday, December 6th, it's happening again.

If you have questions on security, privacy, usability, or technology, you should strongly consider making the conference. This year's theme is Maine 2.0 - We Can Get There From Here.

There will be discussions on social networking, innovation and how your business can use technology to succeed.

Registration starts at 7:45am, so get to bed early next Tuesday.

Date: December 6, 2006
Place: Sheraton South Portland Hotel
Time: 7:45am - 4:45pm
Cost: $99/member, $129/non-members

For more information and registration visit MESDA's site.

Hope to see you there!

Posted by at 02:19 PM
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November 28, 2006

Web Marketing for Socially Responsible Businesses

Are you looking to market your business on the Internet, but your concerned about being labeled as a spammer? Or you're not sure how you can compete against companies that may hire "black hat" search engine optimizers to rank artificially higher at Google?

Are you interested in finding ways in reaching out to like-minded consumers who value social-responsibility in a company?

This Friday (December 1st, 2006) I'll be putting on a workshop called Internet Marketing for Values-Based Businesses. It's part of the all-day Fall Leadership Conference put on by MEBSR (Maine Businesses for Social Responsibility).

The theme for this year is "Practical Tools for Business Success." Now that's something everyone can get behind, no matter how socially responsible you may be...or how far you have to go.

Besides my workshop, there will be two keynote speakers, Kevin Hancock of Hancock Lumber and John Warner, the Director of the Center for Green Chemistry at UMass Lowell.

Date: 12/1/06
Time: 8am - 5pm
Place: University of Maine, Hutchinson Center, Belfast (Directions)
Cost: $150 members, $175 non-members, $35 students, $0 if you sneak in the back.

Just kidding about that sneak in the back part. That wouldn't be very socially responsible of you now.

You can call 207.338.8908 or download the conference PDF.

Hope to see you there!

Posted by at 07:37 AM
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November 21, 2006

Online Shopping Tips for the Holiday Season

If buying gifts this time of year gives you the hives then I might have the answer for you.

Wednesday night I'll be appearing on channel 6's evening news program, 207, to talk about tips for finding the perfect gift.

Whether you can't decide what to buy that special person in your life or you fell in love with the earrings that Lindsay Lohan wore stumbling back from the clubs, we've got what you need to get you through this gift-giving season.

Not sure when my segment will air, but sometime between 7pm and 7:30pm seems most likely.

Posted by at 03:27 PM
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November 20, 2006

Choosing a Web Host

Google "Web Host" and you'll pull up about 57 million results. If you're looking for an appropriate Web host, that's a lot of sifting ahead of you.

One of the decisions every Web site owner needs to make is where to host their Web site.
In the same way you (probably) have to rent out office or retail space, your Web site needs space on a server so that your prospects and customers can access it.

In my experience, there are no great hosting companies. The few that I have known have decided to grow and put customer acquisition above customer support. In fact, ironically, my own hosting company, who I often recommend, is currently down right now. I have no access to my email or my Web site.

I'm feeling very professional right now, thank you very much.

When you are deciding where to host there are several items you may want to consider:

What are my hosting needs?

  • Will your site offer e-commerce? If so, you may want to choose a host that focuses on e-commerce hosting, and perhaps even provides a free/included license to a shopping cart software like Miva Merchant. You may also require secure server space and the ability to install a security certificate.
  • Will I include a lot of multi-media? With broadband becoming more common, more site owners are looking to add audio and video to enhance the visitor's experience at their site (often to the detriment of their visitor's experience, but that's another story.) If you plan on audio or video, or hosting podcast content at your site, make sure you have plenty of hosting space at your server.
  • What programming does the host support? If your programmer/Web developer is programming the site using PHP or ASP or needs to access a MySQL database, can your host support that? Plenty of times we've needed to find new hosting for our clients because their current host didn't have the infrastructure to host specific types of programming. This is often a time to ask your programmer or Web development team to make a recommendation.
  • Is there hosting that specializes in a specific need I may have? If you plan on building a Web site using a Content Management System (CMS) like Joomla or Mambo, or if you want to use your hosting to support a WordPress blog, there are many hosting companies that focus on these products. They often have "one-click" installation saving you hours of installation time and handfuls of hair. Check the discussion forums for these products to see if they recommend some specific hosts.

One thing that I always require out of a hosting company is 24/7 toll-free tech support. Sure, I like to figure things out and get my hands dirty...however, if a client needs their site live to take advantage of the Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa rush, I want to know there's a knowledgeable person that can be reached by phone who can get a site up and running.

One thing that's not on my list is price. Not that price isn't important, but value trumps price every time. One bad customer service experience or one overlong call in voice mail hell can blow any savings you may have thought you were going to get from a cut-rate hosting company. Choosing a hosting company based solely on price is the most costly mistake you can make.

There are several Web host ranking Web sites out there, but buyer beware: it's easy to put up a bogus Web host ranking site and make your own company come up first. Double-check any results you find with other ranking sites and also do some Googling on these companies as well as checking out different discussion forums to see what people are saying about the hosting companies.

Posted by at 12:51 PM
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November 15, 2006

Should You Purchase an Email Mailing List?

In the "real world" buying lists of prospects is an age old tactic to reach new customers and make more sales. But does it work in our brave new world of email and electronic communication?

Do a Google search on "buy email lists" (as I just did) and you'll pull up about 141 million results. Many of them make claims of "fresh opt-in email lists" or your ability to "buy targeted email lists" either for B2B or B2C.

However, I would have real concerns about how they acquire these opt-in lists. How did these people opt-in? How can they opt-in to receive email messages from you when they've never heard of you?

Maybe they signed up for some service on a Web site and forgot to uncheck the "receive targeted emails from our partners" box. Maybe they agreed to receive emails from businesses in return for getting free movie tickets or being entered in a drawing for a free iPod nano.

Is this your best prospect?

The up side of a purchased list is that it can quickly drive a lot of traffic to your Web site or online offering...assuming it's a compelling offer and the list you bought is high-quality.

The down side of a purchased list is the ill-will and spam reports you might generate from the hundreds or thousands of people you've angered. As you might know, people get a bit crazy when it comes to spam. Is this how you want people to think about your company?

At flyte we've made a decision not to work with purchased lists. If clients want to buy a list we wish them well, but we won't help them. The Email Service Providers we recommend for email marketing, such as Constant Contact, won't allow bought lists on their service...they know these lists create too many spam reports to be worthwhile.

The best mailing list you can have is the one you create yourself. There are lots of legitimate, sustainable tactics that will drive traffic to your site where you can create a compelling argument for people to subscribe to a newsletter or mailing list.

Better to develop a high-quality list of 10 people who buy than to buy a list of 10,000 who just hit the "Spam Report" button.

Posted by at 08:01 AM
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November 10, 2006

I've Got a Blog and I'm Not Afraid to Use It!

That was the name of a recent post on my own blog. I was unhappy about the customer service I received from a company and I wanted to vent. If the Internet helped customer complaints go public then the blogosphere has made them go viral.

Even if your company doesn't have a blog, it should be aware of the blogosphere and what consumers are saying about it.

You can quickly do a search at Technorati on your company's name and see if anyone is talking about you and what they're saying. And trust me, if you can find it, so can your prospects. I've often done research at Google into companies and found negative reviews of the company right on the first page...sometimes above the link to the company itself!

If you do find yourself the target of some angry consumer, don't take the tack of suing the offender. It'll only escalate the situation and make you look stupid. Plus, it will give the person something else to blog about.

Instead, realize that you may have done something wrong to offend your customer and respond to them on their blog in the comments section. So often people just want to feel like they're being heard. You may not be able to get them to retract their post, but you may be able to apologize and salvage the situation.

If you have your own blog, you also can tell your side of the story. However, do it in a calm manner without trying to make the angry consumer look bad. Remember, everyone cheers for the underdog.

Posted by at 12:49 PM
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November 06, 2006

Internet Marketing for Values-Based Businesses

I'll be running "Internet Marketing for Values-Based Businesses," a workshop at the MEBSR Annual Fall Sustainable Business Conference.

MEBSR--Maine Businesses for Social Responsibility--hosts this event every year...which is why they call it their Annual Fall Conference. The theme of this year's fall conference is "Practical Tools for Business Success."

How does an ethical business succeed on the Internet where email spam, click-fraud and search engine schemes seem to rule the day?

By enabling a long-term solution that engages the Four Pillars of Internet Marketing. Learn how to use search engine optimization, permission-based email marketing, blogs, podcasts and non-malevolent viral marketing to engage like-minded customers and prospects, drive more qualified traffic to your site and convert that traffic into business.

Besides my workshop, there will be two keynote speakers, Kevin Hancock of Hancock Lumber and John Warner, the Director of the Center for Green Chemistry at UMass Lowell.

Date: Friday, December 1st, 2006
Time: 8am - 5pm
Place: University of Maine Hutchinson Center, Belfast, ME (Map & Directions)

  • $100 MEBSR members ($150 after Nov. 10th)
  • $150 non-members ($175 after Nov. 10th)
  • $15 students ($35 after November 10th)

I know the 10th is coming up soon, so please register now! You can call 207.338.8908 or download the conference PDF.

Posted by at 08:57 AM
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November 03, 2006

Using Chopsticks to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

Google "chopstick instructions" and the flyte blog comes up third. Until a few days ago, we were number one, and still are if you include the quote marks.

What does this mean for you? It shows how you can drive traffic to your blog (or Web site). And, if you were a Chinese restaurant or sold Asian cooking implements, the power of driving qualified traffic to your blog.

It was a few Friday afternoons ago and I was a little fried. I read the miserable translation of the chopstick instructions on the chopstick wrapper ("Chinese glonous history?") and found it funny. So I scanned in the wrapper and blogged about it.

I purposefully wrote a post title--which would become my page title--that should capture the interest of anyone wanting to learn how to use chopsticks, "Chopstick Instructions: How to Use Chopsticks."

Within about two days I was number one for "chopstick instructions" and I find that I get a few people every day who come to my blog looking for chopstick instructions.

Now of course, I can't take advantage of this audience. If any of them are interested in Web design and Internet marketing it would be a random occurance; certainly not worth the time of scanning in the wrapper and blogging about it.

However, it shows that there are people out there looking for help in certain areas of their life or business. What instruction manual or how-to can you post to your own blog to drive qualified traffic?

You need to get inside the head of your best customer or prospect, determine what she wants, and help her achieve it.

And, unlike your Web site that may have a certain structure, you can
easily throw in how-to articles on your blog on anything you like, just to test the
reaction. You can also write articles that might take advantage of
current events, such as "How to Vote Twice on Election Day" or "What to Wear to Get Arrested While Protesting TABOR."

What are your best prospects looking to achieve? Now you have your writing assignment.

Posted by at 08:57 AM
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November 01, 2006

Can Search Engines Keep Politicians Honest?

Will Google and other search engines keep politicians honest?

While some might argue that this is beyond the scope of technology, a recent article in the Financial Times quotes Google's Eric Schmidt as saying:

He forecast that, within five years, “truth predictor” software would “hold politicians to account”. Voters would be able to check the probability that apparently factual statements by politicians were
actually correct, using programs that automatically compared claims with historic data.

Chris Boggs from SE Roundtable says:

Pretty cool, and it’s highly likely that people with advanced search
skills are already performing this type of research, if they care to.

For the rest of us, there's always Jon Stewart.

Posted by at 10:30 AM
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