Friday, December 19, 2008

Internet Marketing book recommendations

A good friend of mine, and IT compliance consultant, John Avellanet is managing director for Cerulean, LLC. John has been working on improvements to how he connects with his customers via his website.

He sent me a couple reviews of books on website marketing, and his comments were so clear - and trenchant - that I asked him to allow me to print them here for our readers. With his permission...

" Okay, from what I’ve seen so far here are the best two out there:

Susan Daffon and James Byrd’s "Web Business Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Web Sites that Work"

What I like:  Excellent “base” resource with clear diagrams, very succinct and blunt advice on when to look for a web designer and when not to (plus what to look for and what the red flags are to make you run the other way), straightforward explanations of why to do one thing (e.g., use a white background for your site) and why not to – ALL explained in terms of presenting a professional image, making it easy on visitors and encouraging them to be comfortable with you…and thus buying your services or product.  Also, very focused on service / knowledge-based companies (not on small businesses selling widgets on-line).  Well worth at least 2-3 times its price.

What gave me pause:  There are about 3 areas where they slyly draw the reference to their own business – but frankly, if I weren’t actively hunting for that, I’m not sure I would’ve even noticed.  Also, they seem to have some slight biases toward different technologies and vendors NOT to use, but don’t really go into why.  However, not really a big deal and in comparison to other books that are just shameless self-promos, this book couldn’t rate any higher than a 1 on a 10-point self-promo scale (and is probably about a 0.5).

Tom Antion’s "The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Marketing for Small Business"

What I like:  This book is so full of good ideas and tips that – only halfway through the book – I can already tell you it will take me a good six months to put all the ones that I like (not all of them) into play.  Unbelievable resource, full of examples – both figures in the book and websites to go check out that exemplify what he’s discussing (good and bad).  Also a lot of comments throughout reminding the small business owner to not waste time thinking his/her site will be like the sites of the big boys – so here’s where you’ll get your biggest ROI instead.  I hate putting this book down knowing there are still more good ideas in it; and I hate picking it up knowing that my brain is already about to explode from the ideas I’ve read so far….  Probably worth at least 3-5 times its price.

What gave me pause:  Okay, some of the points he makes are seriously cheesy and I would never adopt, but that’s a personal thing.  Also, because it was written 3 ½ years ago, bits and pieces of it are out of date (frankly, if he wrote a 2nd edition, I’d pay $100 for it).  Just like the book above, some bits of self-promotion are in it, and definitely a bit higher on the self-promo scale (maybe a 1.5 or 2 out of 10) – but part of that is he only has so many clear examples to illustrate what he’s discussing that he has no choice but to point you to his sites or sites of his clients or his colleagues."

-----Thanks John for the great comments!--------

About Cerulean: "Cerulean specializes in helping executives simplify and streamline quality systems and regulatory compliance, minimize their risks and liability, lower costs and put in place intellectual property and trade secret theft protection.

We have particular expertise in GLP, GMP, ICH and GHTF biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device product development, laboratory compliance, startups, FDA Quality by Design, records management and IT compliance (including FDA Part 11, EU Annex 11 and HIPAA)."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas time of year


It is the Christmas season, and this is the time to be extra vigilant you do not fall into one of two traps for entrepreneurs:

1. Business is great: holiday shopping or end-of-year orders, either way, you are busy as can be. That means your regular customers and customer service might slip...if you are spending most of your time filling orders, who is paying attention to whether all these customers (new or existing) are getting the right level of service? This is a great time to impress them! Get a college student or temp to help fill orders - you watch the service and maybe deliver some product to a customer directly.

2. Business is lousy: whether because of the economy, or because your product or service is not in demand during the holidays. This means you might decide to enjoy the slow time with family, or check the internet - or read blogs! :) Even if this is off-season for your business, it is a great time to get organized. Clear out some clutter, or update some marketing to better position yourself as we go into the new year. And if it is slow, and you are scrambling, it is going to be harder to get into accounts, since they will be readying for the holidays as well.

Season's Greetings to you. Keep at it!