Category Archives: Business Information

iOS 6 and the Apple Maps Mess

In his letter to Apple customers, Tim Cook apologized for the new challenges that face iOS6 users who are trying to locate local businesses with the new, sans-Google Apple Maps app. To his credit, since the initial launch, Apple has covered a lot of ground adding and correcting business listings in the new app. Still, there is a lot of inaccurate and missing information, and with millions of early adopters users now using iOS6, your business could be at risk of obscurity if some precautions aren’t made. Here’s how you can get found:

Not only are your potential customers looking to find your businesses via Apple maps, but they are also critically reading each corresponding customer review. What that means to you – you may only get one chance to make your e-first impression, so make sure it’s a good one.

Market volatility feeds fear and greed

Domestic and international financial markets are are in uproar, causing selloffs and deep concern among investors. The US lost its top-level credit rating, equating its creditworthiness with Belgium and New Zealand, but below 13 other countries: the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Canada, Britain, Denmark, Austria, and Australia.

Many Americans are wondering, “What should I do?”

Two reactions are common:

  • Fear
  • Greed

These two reactions can be powerfully motivating and are prompting some very irrational behavior. First, let’s look at an extreme example of fear: In 2008 when the market dropped significantly after the real estate crisis, many fearful Americans called their broker, liquidated everything, then went to the bank and withdrew all their money. Those strongly held beliefs about the end of America & fear of losing everything caused many others to stop investing and simply hang on to cash. It seems silly now, in retrospect, given the continuity of our American way of life that anyone would have acted so irrationally. Still, from a behavioral perspective, people are terrified of losing their security. One this is clear: when facing economic uncertainty, acting from a basis of fear is risky.

Greed is the other common reaction to the fiscal calamity. Some investors are using the volatility to profit from the downturn. Short-sell strategies and derivitives can enrich a portfolio as the market goes down. Without insider information, betting on the downturn is risky.

A conservative approach

Speaking with local financial advisor, Greg Melia, I learned about the “rule of 100.” The rule of 100 is simple:

100 – Your Age = Maximum % of Your Portfolio in Stocks

The basic idea behind the rule of 100 is that the closer you are to retirement, the less risk your portfolio assumes. What are other investment alternatives to stocks? Consider more conservative alternatives like bonds, annuities, CDs, even Gold.

7 Steps to unlimited free questionnaires

Gathering primary research about your organization is priceless. Good organizations conduct research. Great companies do it often.

How closely are you listening?

Every business owner has three goals for research:
1. Get the maximum number of responses
2. Get real-time feedback
3. Do it all for free

Right now Google is the only service to meet these criteria (to the best of my knowledge). One of my professors asked me how to do this, so in response:

Step-by-step instructions for conducting unlimited free research:

Step 0:

Get a Google account.

Step 1:

Go to docs.google.com

Step 2:

Create a new form.

Step 3:

Create your questionnaire.
Put a lot of consideration into this step. Consider getting help if you have never done this before.

Step 4:

Save & view.

Final questionnaire will be some variation of this:

If you are satisfied with the final product, email the link (your browser’s URL when viewing the survey) to your customer database.

Tip: Use an HTML email to send the link. Here are some sample HTML templates from Mailchimp for a professional look.

Step 6:

Go back to docs.google.com. Select your new survey. Sit back and count the responses.

Get early feedback if you like.

It will look like this:

Step 7:

When you are satisfied, close the questionnaire by unchecking “accepting responses” in the form tab.
Now export to excel. Analyze. (Or send to a geek who can analyze for you.)

Bonus:
If you want to make the survey even easier to access, embed it in your website. This will make an easier destination for traffic to find & complete your questionnaire: Ex. www.yourdomain.com/survey

Betting on the rising dollar

The Federal Reserve is arguably the most powerful entity in the world. Chiefly, it has the power to control interest rates, as well as discount rates, margin requirements, and more. When the Fed moves, the ripple effect is like an earthquake, shifting markets – often violently. The global market raises and falls on the US economy. That’s just the way it is.

Today the Federal reserve started selling TIPS with a negative yield.

Wait now, what does that mean? Treasury Inflation Protected Securities are bonds that have a principal adjustment feature that matches the inflation rate. Simply put, it is a tool designed to keep investments from losing value in the case of high inflation.

Hyperinflation has devastated economies. I have travelled to the “breadbasket” of Southern Africa in 2006, to the nation of Zimbabwe. Among other features (like Victoria Falls – one of the seven wonders of the world), Zimbabwe has all the components of a rich agricultural climate. Sunny skies. Dark soil. Raging rivers.

But Zimbabwe isn’t the breadbasket any longer. It’s more like a financial wastebasket. The economy was doomed by inflation. Currency gone amuck. The value of a Zim dollar is almost nothing, a derivative of the exponentially increased rate of inflation. Along the walls of the national parks you will find portraits of President Mugabe – long time dictator responsible for the financial ruin of the nation. You will find his bust in the once bustling city centers, now brimming with secret police – police making sure no back room deals of other currencies for stacks of Zim dollars take place.

During my trip I went to the back room of a sewing shop. I traded two one hundred US dollar bills for rubber banded stacks of Zim bills – far too many bills to count. Not just bills- bills marked in denominations like $100,000,000.

Fast forward to the present. The Federal Reserve is battling deflation. Oil and other prices are at depressed levels. What financial analysts assert is that deflation can have a powerfully negative effect on the economy. Consequently the Fed continues the entertain tactics to slowly raise the inflation rate and fight deflation.

When the Fed starts selling TIPS with a negative yield it’s a statement to investors. The statement goes something like this: “Inflation is coming.”

Tread lightly, Mr. Bernanke. Consider the effect of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe.

Be a knowledge leader – RSS in 3 Steps

The internet is like a pipeline. It’s an enormous pipeline filled with all kinds of information. Information that you want, information that you don’t want- more information than you’ll ever need (or care) to know is in the pipe. Search engines do a pretty good job at helping you pluck info from the pipeline as you request it.

But is there a better way to get the info you want, when you want it? How can you tap the pipeline and filter out unwanted info? RSS feeds. And these feeds aren’t just for the techno-savvy.

In 3 steps you can have salient, customizable information delivered to your computer, iPhone, iPad, or wherever you are connected to the web.

Step 1: Download a reader to your internet device.
Computer- reader.google.com
iPhone/iPad- Free RSS in the app store

Step 2: Find some great sources of information online.
Wherever a feed is available, you’ll see this symbol:

Step 3:
Copy and paste RSS links to your reader.

Far too often businesses rely on imperfect or outdated information. In order to get current and accurate information for your small business, consider RSS.

P.S. Make this blog your first subscription!

Analytics alone are meaningless

Google Analytics is a free meter for web traffic. Not simply a traffic counter, it also tracks sources of visitors, as well as time spent on each page. All the info is gleaned & graphed into report format. You can even create custom alerts to tell you when your site is being overloaded.

Installing it will require some cutting and pasting HTML into the header of each webpage you wish to track. No big deal. You can watch any number of YouTube videos showing how to install Google analytics.

All this information at your disposal is a good thing, right? Well…. No not really. It’s quite meaningless.

Having a report telling you about your web traffic is kind of like having that dusty old thesaurus. Most people don’t REALLY USE it for all it’s worth. Even many sharp companies don’t leverage their use of analytics. They maybe use it as a lagging indicator of how their marketing is doing, noting spikes in web traffic, uncertain about how or why the spikes occur.

What can you DO with all the information you get in a google report? How can it be used proactively instead of reactively?

I want to suggest to you a 3-step strategy for better using analytics by measuring the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Step 1
Buy a domain- any domain related to your business. Registering a domain costs $10-12 for a year. No need to buy hosting. You want a site that is more unique and easy to remember. (I bought “researchbygeeks.com” to promote my marketing research company.)

Step 2
Forward the site to your company domain.

Step 3
Run an advertisement with mass media, using the new website in your call to action. For example, in a radio ad, the copy includes: “Check out researchbygeeks.com for a free evaluation of your company’s market research.” Plug: If you are trying to write this ad without help from a seasoned copywriter, you aren’t going to have the optimal result.

Now you have a SYSTEM to count the number of leads you get from your marketing campaign. Your google analytics report will indicate the traffic you get from the campaign. If you aren’t getting the response that you hoped for from your campaign, it’s time to change your copy platform.

Why settle for making assumptions about the effectiveness of your ad campaign? Hard data is superior.