Most of us believe our companies have adequate “web presence”, considering the time and money we spend. We have a web site — maybe it’s not on a level with the big consumer companies, but it tells visitors all they need to know about our company and our products/services, and it’s user-friendly. We regularly send out e-mails, to continually keep our name in front of potential (and existing) customers. We also have LinkedInTM and FacebookTM pages where we invite not just commentary, but participation and engagement.
Why does that 5-step plan look familiar? It’s the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” (PDCA) cycle! It’s how companies ensure product quality, continual improvement, and customers who are more than satisfied — they’re actually advocates!
Ask yourself, “Are we doing that?” Do we have a plan, or did we just throw something out there so we could say, “We have a web presence”?
Without a clear, comprehensive plan, your web presence can do you more harm than good. If you’re lucky, prospects and customers contact you about broken links, inconsistencies, and the occasional link to a product you discontinued months or years ago. In reality, most of your target market just “walks away” and never comes back.
The best advice I can give you is to establish a process of developing, implementing, and maintaining your company’s web presence before you build a single page online or send out a single e-mail. To do that, you need to understand:
If you haven’t had a program for managing your web presence up to now — not a problem! There’s no reason to believe that because you’ve been working without one, you can’t implement one at any time. It may seem difficult at first, but the reward is unquestionably well worth the effort.
Take a few steps back and reevaluate your situation from a user’s perspective. If you have a particularly trustworthy customer, one you can count on to give you an unvarnished (but not a brutal) opinion, ask for their input. Find out whether they’re getting what they want from your web page and your social media. Find out if their objectives align with yours, and vice versa.
Refresh – reinvigorate – your web presence a little bit at a time. You don’t need to get everything done in a day or even a month or two. Work on the “low-hanging fruit” first, then move on to areas where your weaknesses aren’t so problematic.
Also keep in mind that lot of what you can do to help is free. Depending on your goals and requirements, some of these tools may require some knowledge of HTML but, for the most part, they do their jobs quite well.
Google Docs is Google’s free web-based office application suite. It lets you create, use, and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms (for surveys and data collections).
AVG offers a range of anti-virus and internet security software tools and compares favorably with other highly regarded players, like McAfee and Symantec. AVG’s free version is for individual users, which means you can’t technically use it for your business; see AVG’s web site for terms and other details.
You’ve identified potential customers for your business. You also have a number of organizations that you’re doing – or have done – business with. If you need to get in touch with your customers and prospects and track how well your emails are performing, you’ll need email blasting software. Mailchimp does that – and more. An account with up to 500 email addresses is free.
Social media — in particular, blogging — is the rage not only for individuals, but also for businesses. If you want to blog without going through the hassles of installing software on your own website, go to http://www.wordpress.com. However, if you want to take full charge of the blogging process and make it part of your own website, WordPress, the open source and free blogging tool, is your best friend.
Online email that you can access anywhere, at any time — that’s Gmail. You can’t go wrong with Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail, either, but I like Gmail, primarily because I have a Google account and I’m using it all day, every day. And, as long as I’m logged into Google, it just makes sense for me to use Gmail. Another Gmail plus, in my estimation — the filter setting and labeling features of Gmail are very intuitive and easy to use.
For those of you drowning in the flood of emails in your inbox, Xobni works wonders. It not only indexes your emails for really quick searching — it also shows the “conversations” you’ve had with the sender of any email, let’s you view their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles (based on their email addresses), and shows interesting and potentially useful tidbits, like who you respond fastest to, or who sends you the most emails.
Need something that pretty much does everyting that Microsoft Office does, only for free? Well, then check out OpenOffice – your new best friend (but don’t tell WordPress). This Open Source office productivity suite has robust word processing, spreadsheet, database, and presentation tools, without the enormous overhead of MS-Office. It has built-in Adobe PDF file export capability, too.
FeedBurner is another Google offering — one that makes managing and distributing RSS feeds a breeze! FeedBurner is invaluable for promoting your blogs and podcasts. It lets you see how many people subscribe to your feeds and it has a feature that updates readers via email each time you update your company blog.
A very powerful Open Source content management system (CMS), Joomla! lets you build websites and web applications. It’s designed to help organizations of all sizes, whether they’re building a website, a news portal, or an e-commerce site.
Bizmanualz provides some of the best written — and most complete — policies and procedures manuals, handbooks, and documents. And, we provide free sample procedures from every one of our 12 manuals! If you’re looking to write new – or enhance your existing – policies and procedures, you’ll love what we have to offer.