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Marketing – Google Adwords some of my initial experiences

Well, I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to start experimenting with Google Adwords.  So far, I’ve seen some good and some bad parts of it.  Quite frankly, it can be very confusing.  So, here’s some of my early experiences with Adwords, and if you happen to have some pointers, please let me know =)

Adwords is very intuitive (for the most part).  You start by making an account, then you create a campaign, then you create an ad group, and finally an ad.  All and all, it’s very straightforward.  Anyone could do this, and start spending money.  Now the trick begins to occur in finer points of adwords.

First, the keywords.  This is where the first part of confusion comes in for me.  Reading the keyword page feels like a foreign language.  It has cost per click, but I’ve come to find that it isn’t necessarily true.  You can have your ad show up in a lower place, and then you don’t pay as high of a price.  Apparently, as your ads improve, you pay less as well.  I’m far from experiencing that yet 🙂  Next up, your keywords can have quotes around them “keyword” and that means an exact match only.  If you put brackets like [keyword] then it will only return if that exact phrase is encountered (I think) and finally, if you add plus signs +keyword +more, then everything with a plus sign must show up in the search.  While it doesn’t sound like rocket science, putting together the right set of keywords seems to be an art form.

Next up, the Ads.  Now this is driving me absolutely crazy right now.  I have about a dozen ads.  all of them include the term SAP, which is a trademarked term.  I get this status about it being approved (limited).  But for some reason, every new ad I’ve done since then keeps getting rejected because of a trademark term SAP.  I’m very confused.  I keep trying different variations, but so far, no luck.  If you have any suggestions how to overcome this, I’d love to hear it.

Anyway, those are my early experiences…  more to come.  Thanks for reading.


Marketing – Using Linked-In Ads

Well, in my never ending quest to improve my marketing skills, I’ve been trying all sorts of random things.  Linked-In ads is one of the pieces that I’ve been trying.  I’ve had mixed results using Linked-In ads, so i thought I’d chat a little about them today and give you some pointers.

First off, if you haven’t used Linked-In Ads, it’s another form of pay per click (PPC) that you can use to try to connect to all the people on linked-in.  You can find it by going to:  Now for me, this is my first foray into PPC.  It’s actually pretty simple, but keep in mind that I’m still learning (right now, I’m learning about Google Adwords, so I’m sure I’ll have more pointers on that coming soon.  =)

Anyway, start simple, make yourself an account.  You connect the linked-in ad account to your linked-in account.  From there, create yourself a campaign and  list all the groups you’d like to market to.  Now, connecting to a lot of groups in Linked-in can be good, or it can be a spam attractor.  (As a side note, be sure to watch your email settings for each group you join, or your inbox might end up pretty cluttered).  Now for each campaign you can assign how much you’re willing to pay for each click, what groups are assigned to each etc.

Now, the most important part is the ad.  The ad gives you the option of a title, a little text, the ability to point to a linked-in page or a website, and even add a logo.  You can make a bunch of these ads under a single campaign.  Now the real work comes in from making different variations of the same theme over.  Make a bunch to figure out what might actually attract someone to click on it.  But remember, this is only the click…  it still doesn’t mean “interest”.  So here’s what you need to think about…  you want people to click on your ad, but only if they are really interested.  Every click means you have to pay…  if you get a lot of people clicking, but no one requesting additional information, you’ve just spent a lot of money for nothing.  If no one clicks…  well, then it was wasted effort.  You’re looking for the sweet spot.

I’ve been doing linked-in ads for around 9 months.  Initially, I got no hits for a few months.  This is likely for one of 2 reasons.  One, every ad must be viewed multiple times before it “generates” interest (got this from marketing books).  The other option…  my titles just weren’t good enough to generate interest.  So, you might need to keep tweaking your titles and text… over and over and over again…  Now if you have ads that are working well, but aren’t getting clicks…  I’d suggest adding even more detail to the ad…  Either way…  it’s a lot of trial and error.

If anyone out there has some good advice, I’d love to hear it…  I’m learning things slowly…  but if anyone can speed up my learning curve, I’d love it…

Thanks for reading,


CRM – Contact Tags

Now that we have a CRM system up and running, and we have our contacts all loaded, we’re slowly learning how to merge them into a cohesive contact list.  But it certainly didn’t just fall into place.  🙂  Once we picked our CRM system (we ended up choosing capsulecrm), the next task was to add contact tags consistently.

This sounds like a simple task, but believe me, even terminology that seems clear can easily be interpreted  in different way.  When my partner uploaded his contacts, first they had no tags.  Then when we loaded up the tags, I proceeded to update the mailchimp mailing lists.  This all seemed to be rolling along great.  Until my partner took a look at the lists and started asking where some of the contacts were.  I looked in the mailing list, and proceeded to determine that several hundred contacts were in the wrong list.  So that meant I needed to delete them from the mailchimp lists, and then go back to CRM and change the contact tags.  After a few hours of rework, I thought we were ready to try again…  So I asked Mike if all the changes were good, and he told they were.  So to be sure, I took a look at a few of the contacts and asked Mike what list they should go in…  again, we were off the mark.

So, today, after some going back and forth, I finally got a clue and documented the tags and listed what mail chimp list each list should move to.  So, the lesson learned is document early and save yourself a bunch of rework =)

thanks for reading.

Marketing – Selecting a CRM System

I know it’s been a while since I originally talked about selecting a CRM system, and we haven’t “quite” finished the job, but after 4 – 5 nights, I have it narrowed down to 2 option.  I’m just gonna have my partner give them both a try (I already have my favorite).  So when you’re making this decision, the first thing you need to do is figure out what you’re looking for out of CRM.  So to give you some ideas… here’s what i personally was looking for:

1.  Contact Management – this is the big one for me.  I wanted to be able to dump all of our contacts into the same place.  Currently, I’ve been using an Access database, which works fine, but trying to make it “useable” enough for my partner to setup/maintain as well just isn’t gonna happen.  He’s technical, but not as technical as I am.  So having it be nice and easy for him to enter his contacts just makes life easier.

2.  Tasks – this gives us a common place to find our to-do list for the business.  While we stay in communication, it’s tougher when we both travel.  If we can assign each other things to accomplish, like “email the MFG list”, or write a blog post or even enough just so he knows what I’m working on and vice versa.

3. Online – pretty straightforward.  I don’t want the hassle of hosting something else myself, so we want something online.

4.  Mass Email Functionality – This is an area I had to compromise on.  What I’ve found is that only the more expensive solutions have this functionality integrated.  If it isn’t expensive, it just uses your email account(s) to do the sending.  Not the end of the world, but if you go with a “real” solution your delivery rate will be much better.  I’m already using Mail Chimp, so it’s not the end of the world, but it is still a hassle to have to use 2 systems to handle this all.

5.  Mobile Capability – like to be able to maintain tasks and contacts from our smartphones.

6.  Price – didn’t want to pay more than $25/months (less if possible).

Now, I did a lot of online hunting, and found quite a few different packages with potential:
Podio (too much around Social Media)
FreeCRM (very ugly interface)KarmaCRM
Funnela (I liked this one, but too much wasn’t translated into English made it difficult to pay for)
MS Dynamics (too expensive) (too expensive)
Relenta – had potential, but was more expensive than Capsule or Zoho without any additional functionality.

Right now, I’ve narrowed it down to Capsule (integrates with Mailchimp) and Zoho that does include mass mailing functionality.  Personally, I like Capsule’s look and feel a little better.  I like that it automatically creates an company if I assign a company to a lead.  It also has an easy way to mass update users.  Zoho does have a added bonus of doing the mass emails/reporting in the same system.  Both of them are the same price.  So let’s see what Mike likes.

I hope my digging might make your life a little easier if you find yourself in the same dilemma.

Thanks for reading.


ASUG – Carolinas April 2013

We recently attended the regional ASUG in Greenville, SC.  This was our first round as being a sponsor and all and all, I think it turned it out pretty well.conference itself was fine.  The attendance was small, but having the ability to do a 45 minute presentation on one our products was awesome.

Mike gave a great presentation on our Proximity product, and due to that presentation, I think we might have got another lead.  There is one drawback, and that is that you cannot “overtly” solicit leads.  We’ll have to look into this further before October, to determine if we can still collect business cards in exchange for a prize.

In addition, there were also some good presentations on Data Archiving and some upgrade strategies for moving up to higher enhancement packages, as well as some other vendor presentations.  It really is worth a day of our time if you can make it to one, and plus, you could see me in person.  ha ha ha

As a fun side note, I even won a ZepplinAir at the end of the meeting.  Who can complain about that? =)

Business – Finding a CRM System for a small business

Well, one of my newest hats in the business experiment has been marketing.  If you’ve ready any of my previous posts, I’m sure you’ve figured out, it’s a work in progress.  Ha ha ha.  Short story if you’re new to my stuff, is that I’m engineer trying to run a business.  I have a partner, the problem is, he’s an engineer too.  So, I’m doing my best to learn how to market all this hard work I’ve done.  Now that there are two of us, it’s getting more and more important that we are on the same page.  We each have some email lists, and we “try” to keep eachother in the loop of what we’re doing, but it can be challenging.  So I’m thinking it might be time to start looking at a CRM system we can use.  The trick is finding a CRM system for a small business that gives us what we need, without too much fluff or too much cost.

Now, why on earth would I want another system to add to my workload?  Because marketing is the heart of our business.  If we can’t get the word out about how good our stuff is, well, then our business is doomed.  So it’s time to focusing the effort it deserves.  Now, I’ve got an access database of contacts that email on a semi-regular basis, and I have some opt-in contacts on MailChimp.  My partner, Mike, has the list from our manufacturing conference, as well his previous contacts.  So the challenge is how do we merge all this stuff together, and still maintain some segregation?

It seems like CRM is the answer.  But which one?  I’ve started doing some preliminary research, but then I realized, I first better figure out what I need to do with it.  The web based CRM programs can be free, $12/month/user (or more)…  so what is it worth…  and can the free version do what we need without limiting us.  So, what do I need it to do:

  1.  Import all of my current contacts.
    1. We need to keep them grouped by module/focus
    2. Consultant vs. prospect (customer vs. 2nd customer)
    3.  where we found them, etc.  conference/e-course/purchased list/colleague or customer.
    4. Prospect vs. partner
    5. Need to pull them in from excel, access & Mailchimp
    6. Need to keep track of our interactions with our contacts
      1. When is the last time they were emailed.

i.      What did we email them about?  E-course, specific product? Certification, etc.

  1. Have they ever responded to us
  2. Need to keep track of our customers
    1. Pretty easy right now, since we only have 1…  but that will change J
    2. What have they bought, what can we probably sell them
    3. Email Campaigns
      1. Integration with MailChimp

i.      Since I’m already using this, and have formats setup, this would be nice to have feature

  1. Built in features of its own to send professional emails to our contacts
  2. Metrics for those campaigns, including opens/clicks/responses etc.

i.      Mailchimp has this, but it would be nice to have everything in a single location.

  1. Needs to be on-line/accessable so both of us can enter in our data
  2. Reminders/tasks – options
    1. Nice to have a task list to email customers every 2 weeks

Now, those are the things I can think of off the top of my head.  My friend Jer put me on this path and originally suggested SugarCRM.  While it’s nice, it’s more expensive and probably more functionality than a 2 man show needs.  So, here’s my initial list that I’m going to inspect.  I’ll give you the pro’s and cons once I start playing with each one.  In the meantime, let me know if there’s anything else I should be factoring into my choice.  Especially, if I have any marketing guru’s out there J

  • SugarCRM
  • Xero
  • Capsule
  • FreeCRM
  • Any others you’d recommend???

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to any feedback or ideas.


Marketing – Conference Swag, Yes or No?

After spending a week in Vegas at the SAP Manufacturing Conference, I’ve found that there are clearly 2 different ways of handling the vendor booth.  Swag or no Swag.

The first is “Swag”.  Now if you’re like me, the term Swag is new.  It simply means the toys, candy, or random cups that you collect from any vendor.  Now, having swag is great for attracting people.  Everyone comes around, allows you to scan their badge, and then takes their swag.  Scanning their badge gives you their email address and all the contact information.

The alternative is no “Swag”.  Now this means that only the people that are interested in what we have to offer will stop by our booth.

Now, the debate that I’ve been having in my head is… do we go for fully qualified leads…  or do we go to build the email list, hoping that the continuing emails we will send will ultimately lead to familiarity with our company, and perhaps get forwarded to someone that might actually buy our stuff…

so, with all that said, what’s your take???


Preparing for the First Real Tradeshow

Since yesterday was our day of prep for our first real trade show, I thought I’d talk about some of the hard work that goes into getting ready for your first one.  First off, I really need to thank my parnter, Mike Golden.  He took care of so much of this, so I could keep rolling on our never ending development list.

So first lets talk about the obvious stuff, the table…  if you’ve ever been to a trade show, you know that they normally have a fancy table covering with their logo, or slogan or something like that.  Now it sounds easy, but it still requires the design and getting the logo into the correct format and getting it all ordered a few weeks in advance.

Next, to up the level of our professionalism, we wanted a couple of banners to advertise for our “heavy hitting” products.  Renovation for all our service management stuff, and proximity for all our production execution stuff.  Now, this needed all the same stuff and then some marketing content.  Let me tell you, coming up with marketing content is no walk in the park for a couple of engineers 🙂  Now, not only did I need to come up with some good descriptive stuff, but it needs to fit in a confined space.  Up till now, I’ve been working with a web page that has limitless space.  On the up side the marketing blueprint class I did helped a lot, but it still takes time.

And all this work was just to get the table and a couple of banners to sit on the table…  Next up we needed some takeaways for people who visit the conference.  The first, and probably easiest was the pens.  Mike got some pens with the JaveLLin Solutions logo made up, so we can give those away at the table.  But a pen alone is unlikely to have anyone remember us…  This leads me to the biggest chunk of work, the brochure.

Again, my hat is off to Mike.  He took the lead on this, learned MS publisher and put together a great layout.  Then came the hard part again.  Content.  Only this time we needed written text, AND a demo.  So that meant for all our products we needed to put together a decent demo highlighting enough features of our products to get people attention without overwhelming or boring them with details.  Not as easy as it sounds for me.  Simply because I designed all this stuff, and I want to show off all the bells and whistles.  For me, it came down to writing a script and giving myself a deadline.  So I aimed for a 5 minute demo, and recorded over and over again until it finally worked =)  Check them out if you get a chance.  Each of the product pages now has a full demo for it.  Mike then took the video and even gave it a QR code and slapped it on our brochure.

Last but not least, I’ve been working to have systems up and running so that we can give live demo’s to anyone “really” interested after watching the 5 min demo’s we put together.

Amazing how much work this first tradeshow has been, but I trust all this up front work will pay off and get us multiple leads, and make life MUCH easier the next show we present at.  Wish us luck, or if you happen to be in Vegas, come find us at the Mirage. =)

SAP Manufacturing Conference 2013

Well, it’s finally here.  Our first big conference.  We actually sprung for a vendor booth (545 if you happen to be in Vegas next week 🙂 ).  It’s really exciting.  I’ve wanted to be a vendor at one of these big conferences for over a year now, and it’s finally going to happen.

I’m hoping some of you might be going to conference next week, and if you are, I hope you come check out our booth and say hi.  I’d love to meet you.

Going to keep this one short, since there is still a lot of work to be done.  Can’t wait to tell you all about it in the coming weeks.

Marketing – Who is your Competition?

Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, a lot of my effort is being spent on my new business.  One of the big pieces that I’ve had to spend a lot of time learning is the marketing aspect.  While to some of you, this might seem easy…  well, I have that engineering mentality.  For those you that ever read Dilbert, you know that engineers & sales or marketing have very different mindsets.  Almost opposite 🙂  so it’s been a challenge for me to overcome that and try to play both roles.

One of the challenges I’ve always faced is that my area is very niche, and thus it’s been difficult to find any competitors or similar products to my own.  You might be scratching your head right now thinking “that’s not a problem!!!  No competition means 100% of the market”.  Well, that’s what I originally thought.  What I quickly discovered is that there are 2 far more likely possibilities.

1.  There is no market, and that’s why no one else is doing this.
2.  No one knows that anyone offers what I offer, so no one is looking.

It’s like anything, if you don’t know there’s a product out there, you might not even consider looking for it.  I’m gambling my resources on #2.  I truly believe there is a market for what I’m designing, so that means I need to try to get the word out there that the service management tools can be purchased and out of the box solutions exist.  It’s part of the reason I write to you guys most every day.  It’s my form of advertising.  I’m hoping that providing you valuable information, you in turn will remember that I sell stuff, and if you run into a client that might need it, you’ll think of me and point them my way =)