Use Your Name When Sending Documents To A Client

If you look inside your attachments folder or repository, chances are good that you’ll see a handful of documents and spreadsheets with your company’s name.  They were sent to you by people from other companies.

I still don’t quite understand that.

Remember to put your client first.  When you send a document, it seems counterintuitive to put your name on the document, but your client already has a folder full of documents with their name.  If it makes sense, use both names, but get yours in there.   At the very least, your client can then sort or search for your name when they’re looking for something.

And isn’t the object of all of this to make things easier for your client?

Backing Up Your Online Data

The best technology executive I know used to regularly walk in my office and threaten to cut off my email, my Internet access or various appendages.   This was back in the bad old days when he had rolled out email to a startup, but he and I were two of the only folks who already had our lives in email.

[quote]

Like every good coach says, this guy read his email, responded or ignored and went about his day.  I kept my email open all day, dragged items into folders that were nested two deep and seemed hell-bent on creating the best archive system for mundane and trivial corporate news in the world.

Stop snickering.  I don’t do that anymore.

In the spirit of honesty I have to say that I don’t do this anymore because Gmail now lets me search on anything I want.   I use some filters to sort out everyday email that doesn’t need to be read every day, but other than that, my Gmail box is one big repository.  Okay, Gmail boxes.  But I don’t catalog email anymore, and I clean out my inbox every time I visit so that it’s no longer a de facto task list. No 100 plus message inboxes for me.   After all, that’s what Gmail’s “Send and Archive” labs function is for.

But what would happen if I lost access to that email?  That’s when my pack rat sensibilities are most offended.  And that’s where a relatively new service called Backupify comes in.

The service, still free with no indication on the site that there will ever be a charge, promises to backup Gmail, Flickr and even lifestreaming sites like Twitter and Facebook.   The site has the story of someone who lost 200 photos when a friend quit Facebook, as well as other horrifying tales. I have to admit I wasn’t especially moved by someone who had lost their Twitter DMs, but everyone values something.

Unlike backing up your hard drive because it might fail, you’re not typically using Backupify to protect against Google suddenly losing every bit of Google Docs.  You’re still protecting yourself against  yourself–an accidental deletion, for example.  That makes perfect sense to me, and if you can trust yet another company with your information, Backupify seems a sound option against accidentally deleting or losing access to an account where the only storage was in the cloud.

Update: Thanks to Rob at Backupify who reminded me that I blew right past the Premium and Business level plans, which seem like pretty good deals.  Premium is only $40/year and allows 5 accounts per service and a monthly backup.  Business is only $60/year with more accounts and weekly updates.  Either sounds like a good deal if you need your data in the cloud backed up.  [That's the "Are you sure you want to delete everything?" question we all sometimes race through]

Google Maps Adds Local Info To Street View

I’ve been talking about this day for years.    And although Droid wasn’t out then, one of the favorite BS topics around search conferences was how Google could leverage Business A to advertise or at least contribute data.  The answer is a mashup of Droid, Google Maps and Business B willing to advertise.

The actual news part

Google announced today that Street View will have local business annotations.   Street View is that nifty section of Google Maps when the traditional maps disappear and are replaced by photographic images of the area.   Street View now has those little boxes from Google Places overlaid on the images.  Take a look at the image below that Google is using on its blog.

The wildly speculative part

So this is a terrific upgrade to functionality.   I’ve asked more than once while looking at Maps, “Hey what building is that again?  No, not in this picture.   Even an East Coast guy like me recognizes San Francisco landmark buildings.  But look closely at the photo.    Now you can see individual businesses in those buildings.

And you know that really, really nifty feature about searching Google Maps for a business?  How about you search for George’s Pizza, but he happens not to be an advertiser.  Up on your Droid phone pops the lovely Street View with directions and reviews just like it’s shown above.  But Sara’s Pizza, just three blocks away, is an advertiser and has a coupon associated with their account.

*ding*

Up pops the coupon in a little window.  Sure, go have a slice at George’s, but you get 2 slices for the price of 1 at Sara’s.

That’s potentially how an information company leverages two small businesses against each other.   And that’s only one way.

But Google Maps’ Street View is an awesome tool.

Tynt Tools, Analytics Offer Compelling Data

Would you like to know how many times someone has copied and pasted text from your website, even to email a friend?  And would you love to add some code that appends your URL to the bottom of the code?

Sure you would.  Who wouldn’t?

Now go one step further.

What about knowing whether the information was posted on a forum or blog and how many clicks it generated?  Wouldn’t that be worth something?

Put your wallet away, though, because Tynt Analytics is a free tool.   I’ve been playing with it for the last day or two and plan to deploy it on several more sites this week.   The functionality that appends a site’s URL to copied paste is something I would monetize tomorrow.  The rest of the analytics appear to be strong and presented in a clean, easy-to-understand dashboard.

I’m not ready to move Tynt to the Tools We Use section yet, but you’ll see it up there by May if the next few weeks echo the last few days.  That’s because many of our businesses are pure-play content sites.  We create content and sell advertising space.  Some of our clients do the same and retain us to advertise their sites.   Tynt’s metrics are solid enough to be a good supplement for most sites.  But Tynt shines when it tracks engagement and its script appends the URL to copied content.

Tynt claims to be able to track some engagement metric between 2 percent and 6 percent of the count of a site’s pageviews.  Assume your small business has some articles and other content on a site that receives 10,000 pageviews each month.   Your business isn’t content, but there’s valuable knowledge you share with customers and prospects.  Using Tynt means that you’ll know about a few hundred times each month that someone copied and pasted your content elsewhere.

Maybe they sent that copy to a spouse or a friend.  Maybe it went to a purchasing office or boss.  I would sure like to know the latter.  Maybe there’s an online community that used your data and knowledge to answer a question or even solve an online disagreement.  This type of engagement is critical to know about, and there is now a free tool for you to use.

Go ahead.  Try copying and pasting some of this text in an email or on your own blog.  I don’t work for the company.  I don’t even get paid by them.  I’m just a big fan after seeing their core functionality.   Give Tynt a try.  I think you’ll be  a fan soon too.

Tynt Insight dashboard

Google Search Suggest Goes Local

Long time readers may remember how we used to track Google Suggest results.

Google Suggest is that drop-down box that appears as you start typing a search query in Google.  For some time, the results were seemingly organized by volume.  When someone typed the letter “O”, for example, the name Obama appeared at the top of the list.  If the next letter was not a “B”, the result changed to something else.

Then Google seemingly commercialized the results while also localizing them to a country.    Someone in the United States has different searching habits based on culture and dialect than a UK searcher.

Google announced today that search suggestions are localized to the city level.

And it’s working.

Here in the Redskins-obsessed DC suburbs, typing the name Jim brings up the name of former coach Jim Zorn.   Likewise, typing “Mike” brings up current coach Mike Shanahan and former radio personality Mike O’Meara. Search suggest isn’t just for first names, of course.  Typing “Sm” causes a local suggestion here of  Smithsonian and “Du” brings up Dulles Airport, Dulles Town Center and Dulles Expo Center before worrying about that basketball school in North Carolina called Duke.  (Just kidding, Blue Devils.  Love you much.  Thanks for helping me win two brackets)

Between s0cial search personalizing the results page and search suggest now creating local suggestions, Google continues its quest to anticipate the most relevant search possible based on decreasing amounts of input.   The goal, whether it is for speed as Google claims or something else entirely, is laudable.

Google search suggest display

DC eyes are on Mike Shanahan when the name Mike is typed

Tweets Are Forever

Our information consuming society has managed to swing the august Library of Congress onto its side with Twitter of all possible things.

The Library of Congress, one of my favorite places in my adopted hometown, announced that every Twitter message ever sent would be cataloged in the Library’s archives.  What a coup for the guys who took the world’s biggest chat room with a memory, called it microblogging, and pushed the world to communicate in 140 characters.

Federal recognition of new media is wonderful.  The executive branch’s on and off embrace of digital media has helped get the ball rolling, and that’s a good thing.   But I often defend social media as a communications channel while acknowledging that you have to sift through a lot of junk to find anything remotely useful.

That is the heart of my concern with the Library’s announcement.   About 50 million tweets are sent every day according to their announcement. While this may be a sociologist’s treasure trove, is there really historical, archival significance in tens of billions of short messages?  That’s an awful lot of sifting through a lot of misinformation, spam and “Good morning, Twitter. Yum, I have coffee!” messages”

The misinformation bothers me most.  Communications experts will undoubtedly love to track and detail the failed communications and what prompted different individuals to write.  Despite the mess, there are a few things you need to consider with this being the most important:

What you say in at least one (for now) social media channel will now be indexed by the government and undoubtedly parsed many different ways.  That parsed data will then likely be made available to individuals at some future time.

Don’t be naive and think that this rich social and demographic information isn’t already indexed by a number of governments, corporations and other organizations.   The intriguing and somewhat scary part is the comprehensive nature of the index and the intersections that world-class data analysts can draw from linguistics, followers, time of day and dozens of other elements.

I don’t remember another instance where a new media company has given its entire dataset to the federal government, and I’ m still not sure how I feel about some of the erroneous conclusions that people may draw from that data in the future.

How do you feel about it?  Does having the entire database create a privacy issue?  Would it be different if this were Facebook?

Google Whiteboard

We already use Google Docs for communicating with our clients because it’s a free, simple solution that just works.  Yes, we still have Office 2007, but a new version is coming and we already compatibility issues when people asked us to revert a spreadsheet one version back.  An elegant cross-platform solution like Google Docs makes us happy and hasn’t failed us yet in a variety of scenarios.

Now Google is adding even more to their online product suite with collaborative drawing.  What’s so cool about that?  It’s a Google Whiteboard!

Being the person who once asked an engineer about the viability of marketing a desk made of whiteboard material that would not smear, this is a game changing event for me.

My partner Sara is in New York.  She’s the smart designer.  I just need to lay everything out visually.  Our clients are scattered all over.  Multiple clients are on the West Coast.  I don’t think either of us is within 20 miles of any of them and even visiting a “local” client takes up at least a half day.

But now we can even invite clients into a brainstorming session.  Sara can put the designs and images in front of people and get immediate feedback.  And if I’m laying out a budget or an ad campaign, I can diagram AdWords Ad Groups.

I can mindmap with my partner.

How cool is that?  I can mindmap online, and it’s real-time and collaborative and free.  As a small business leader, what more could you ask for?

google-drawing

Google's version of one type of diagram. Read more at their blog.

Wasting Time With Lunatic Bloggers

man outside pay toilet

What's the flight attendant's cut to make change?

Remember our friends at Ryanair who made that comment last year?  We wrote in February 2009 that companies that called their customers names had little chance of succeeding in the long run.

That was in response to three different Ryanair employees criticizing Irish blogger Jason Roe.  The full quote was

It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again. Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel

Guess how they’re going to pull off decreasing air travel costs now?

According to a CNN report, the long awaited pay toilet on the plane may be coming to Europe soon.

We just wrote yesterday about Batchblue’s Batchbook program and over-servicing customers.  I can’t think of a better contrast against a company that wants to charge captive customers for using a toilet versus a company that delivers amazing service before collecting a penny.  Having modeled the ROI on service and retention for decades, I know I would bet on the smaller, startup company ahead of the one grabbing headlines by pushing its base price as low as possible.

Photo via sapphir3blu3

Servicing New Customers

You may know the concept of on-boarding.  Circulation executives, of course, know the concept of “renewal at birth” when you’re offered the chance to extend your subscription the instant you buy.   Years ago, I led a team who called new customers the instant they signed up for a technical service.  It was an expensive series of calls that could have been replaced by a single, simple set of marketing materials and instructions.

We wanted a warm voice welcoming a new client and setting the stage for future service.  More importantly, we wanted someone to know how to use our services properly and deal with any questions or perceptions that came up.

Watch this film clip from 1987′s Tin Men, starring Richard Dreyfus and Danny Devito.  Dreyfus just went for a hardsell on buying a new Cadillac in 1960s Baltimore.  Like any car buyer, he has lots of questions because the process is unfamiliar to him.  More on that a minute.  Watch what happens after he signs on the dotted line.

The man Dreyfus grabs at the end of the scene is the poor sales rep, who of course did nothing to contribute to the accident or Dreyfus’ mood.  But your key takeaway as a small business is that your client’s perception of your product is forever linked to that moment of delight when they first see or use your product or service.

Treat them right, and they may never switch.  Treat them like another notch on your belt and you’ll take your chances with competitors and substitutes.

Around the holidays, a friend suggested Batchbook to me as a substitute for bigger CRM programs.  Everyone does time management and CRM differently, but this program has appealed to me for several months, and is now the first tab open on my system every day.  This isn’t a commercial for them, nor is the link an affiliate link.  My friend liked them, recommended them and now I like them.

Here’s the part about servicing new customers that Batchblue understands about selling its Batchbook product.  There’s a free mode.  It’s not a demo. It’s  just limited in terms of storage.   The demo works just fine.  That’s a free entry point.  I picked the lowest paid entry point at $9.99 monthly.  That’s a $120 year customer.

For my purchase and before the company had collected its first penny, I had a service representative work with me on the phone and through email to configure the system to the way I wanted to work.  The service is $9 each month.   I had three contacts in this onboarding process and spent about 90 minutes total with the company.  Then I took to their community boards and complained about several features I thought were lacking.

Nine dollars.  I’m complaining to the other users.  They’re walking me through the system.

And the the magic happens.  Four days after my long phone call with the company, I receive a nice, handwritten and personalized card from the person I spoke with.

The card and postage, the ninety minutes of time, the access to their community and the company still hadn’t collected a penny.

But I think they’ll collect a lot of dollars in the future because they understand the issue about servicing a new customer.  Dreyfus’ salesperson hustled to get him a loaner in the clip you just watched.  Batchblue spent hundreds of dollars on my account that has started at $108/year but could easily go to their enterprise level pricing one day.  And they couldn’t buy coverage like this blog for a multiple of what they spent in time with me.

Delighting new customers through amazing service.  That’s the differentiator we used and how we compete with and beat agencies dozens of times our size for clients.  You sleep better at night, your retention worries are nearly zero and client calls are a pleasure.  Consider how your organization treats new customers and what might happen if you push for delighting them instead of servicing them.