How is your relationship with your agency?

I just read a short but interesting post over at Marketing Agency Talk titled: “Does The Agency Model Still Work?“.

This has gotten me thinking about how our business has evolved over the years. It is quite true that while we used to have regular clients who work with us no matter what, such instances are rare today. Most clients know what they want and they also know that there are plenty of choices out there.

Worse, with the technologies evolving so quickly and the possibilities expanding everyday, it is almost impossible for any agency to be “excellent” in every aspect. This then results in clients working with multiple agencies across a wide spectrum of marketing needs.

As a small agency, this is particularly telling, as we will not be able to hire all the specialist talents needed. There are, of course, workarounds that we can employ. But the fact remains that a whole plethora of skills are needed and that no single agency will be able to have a monopoly on them.

But what is the core to your success with clients? I would hazard a guess and say that most likely, it is the relationship of trust and goodwill that keeps the business going. If you are able to maintain that, you will have a chance to be the main go-to agency, the cog in the wheel, so to speak.

Do you agree that it is essentially the good relationships you have that keeps your agency going? Or your skills, or both?

Go Get Business, Go GREEN – Part 1

Let’s face it, we are living in a world that is more than just competitive, competition today is so intense that it is no longer enough just to be “good enough”.

Most of us must have heard that in order to be noticed, we must have a USP, a strong Unique Selling Proposition. Much easier said than done. But there is an alternative. Rather than try to aim for a single big-bang, hot potato type of advantage, you can build your value by incorporating smaller values.

We would like to share with you a simple, mini-series on how to “Go Get Business”. In this first part, we want to incorporate a very simple, low cost, and yet high impact approach – Go Green.

Many people are becoming more and more conscious of the importance of preserving the delicate balance of our environment. Going green is becoming one of the checklist items for many people. Most people understand that for small business owners, it is going to be hard to be “green certified”. But people appreciate every effort that is put into this.

Take for example the business card. Today, with email, websites and even Facebook, many people don’t really exchange business cards any more. But no matter what, a business card remains a staple for businesses. It is just a fact of life, for now. Imagine, if your staff carry eco-friendly business cards, how will that affect the way your clients and business partners see you?

Immediately, there will be a positive attitude towards you. They see you making an effort to make the world better. Yes, it is a small gesture. But it is through such small actions that great things can be achieved. People understand that, and your contribution in this way means much to concerned people. Even those who are not personally concerned by green issues will give you the thumbs up.

This is one nice way to put a little distance between yourself and all your competitors. After all, if you are able to take time to bother about something as trivial as using a green business card, your clients will feel that you will put even more care in handling their needs.

While it is true that we can never eliminate all business cards today, we can do a small part in at least making sure we don’t add to the ecological burden.

In our next installment, we will be talking about how you should go mobile. Meanwhile, go green!

What is the best webhosting for me?

Recently, we talked about Managed Hosting and we had a few interesting comments. But we get this question over and over again – “what is the best webhosting for me?”.

Frankly, the only person who can answer that question is yourself. There is something to be said about going to review sites and rating sites. We do have to be careful though, because sometimes, the criteria that they use to rate the services might not be the same as the criteria you would use.

For example, this company explains their rating criteria, and that gives you an idea of how they select their top choice and how they decide whether a company is not good enough.

Hopefully, you will be able to come up with your own list of selection criteria. Usually, this can be done by asking around, learning from the pains of others.

For most of us, it will be a case of “live and learn” as we make choices and learn from our mistakes.

Video Marketing The Next Wave?

Here is an interesting discussion that seems to be floating around some circles. Have you heard talk that “video marketing is the next wave” for advertising and promotions?

If that is true, then there must be evidence. Newspapers will die. Magazines will die. Direct mail will die. Billboards will die. True?

So, why is it that these other media continue to thrive? Yes, for sure, video marketing is carving out a nice niche. But that’s all it is – a niche. Just like each media has its own place.

So, let us not neglect to hone our copywriting skills, our script writing skills, layout skills and so on. There is a place for all. Small business owners tend to hunt for that silver bullet. There is no short cut. Do not jump at “the next big thing” and hope your business will fly.

Marketing is as marketing has always been. In all its various forms and through all its various media; long live marketing.

Have you heard of managed hosting?

For those who have experienced it before, you know that when you site gets into trouble, it is a painful experience.

We recently got our site taken down because someone hacked through some WordPress loophole. Anyway, it’s all good now. But since then, we always pay attention whenever we see any information on web hosting appearing before us.

So, it was only natural and rather tempting to take on a managed hosting package, if nothing else, simply because we could stop worrying about a lot of stuff related to managing the servers.

But that is an over-kill for a small time business like us. But when we do have larger web needs, that is definitely a direction to consider seriously. After all, what is the point of having a nice thriving business if you have to spend all your spare time looking after the little stuff?

At this time, we are still happy with our simple hosted site. But if ever we do grow, its good to know that there are lots of options out there!

Yet Another Web Hosting Review Site!

Well, I had nothing to do over the weekend and decided to see if I could find a better bargain for my webhosting needs. So, I found this webhosting review site and decided to take a look.

Frankly, the “guy” that pops up and starts speaking when you first hit the website sort of scared me. I guess that is one of those new-fangled interactive touches that so many websites today have. Didn’t work for me though I am sure some people dig this kind of stuff.

But after I managed to stop that avatar from speaking, the rest of the site looked good. The information was organised well and I went straight to look at Linux webhosting because that is likely the cheapest option.

What I realized immediately was that there were a lot of webhosts that I have never heard of before. In the end, I more or less made up my mind what I wanted. The information I found on the site helped. But I also wished that the star ratings were a little more relevant. Most of the webhosts seem to be rated 4 or 5 stars and I had to go through the Compare Plans step over and over again to gain more insights.

Maybe I was just lazy, but an expert guide might have helped me better. Sometimes, expert advise is better than us amateurs trying to sort through all the information ourselves. I will likely stick with my current webhost, but this site should be a good reference when I am shopping for a new host.

Green Web Hosting Please!

As the internet continues to grow both in size and importance, we need to become more aware of the impact that it will have on the overall environment. Here is where we just want to sound out our call for everyone to consider green web hosting providers.

And of course, you can guess how glad we are to see that our web host is on that list. To be honest, green hosting was not one of the criteria when we first selected our web hosting. But the fact that as we gain more awareness, it is an area that we are beginning to take note of. So, seeing that we are hosted on a 100% wind powered web host sure makes us glad.

Of course, you can check out any web hosting directory to find a web host that you like. But while going through your selection, do try to see if any of those on your short list are also green hosts.

Sure, your web site will likely not generate enough heat to melt the polar caps, but then again, every little bit helps!

Small Business Web Sites

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a “distress email” with regards to her website. Apparently, she bought a webhosting package about 6 months ago, then suddenly, she got an email that informed her about the service closing down!

Can you imagine that?

You spend days, maybe weeks looking for a “good” web host and then spend more days and weeks getting your website designed, tested and finally launched. Months later, you are informed that you need to go through that whole process again. Now, coming from a recent failure in your ability to pick a “good” web host, what should you do?

Sometimes, it is better to leave such decisions to experts. But if you are not able to afford a good web consultant, maybe you can check out some sites that give our web hosting awards?

Again, this is not a 100% fool-proof method as there might be exceptions. However, your chances would be significantly higher, since these sites rely on their professional reputations and will quickly rescind any awards given to companies that have bad reputations or display signs of instability.

Another way is to do an online search for “good web hosting”. Again, this is not very reliable as many web hosting companies will “seed” the internet with good comments about themselves. So, maybe an independent website rating service might be a better bet.

All the best to your search for the best web host.