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Monday, September 10, 2018
Update by Reagan Reeve,
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Content Marketing Agency, Express Writers, Announces Launch of SEO Writing Course

Express Writers SEO Content Creation

Julia McCoy, founder of Express Writers and content marketing leader, is opening beta enrollments today for her all-new course, The Expert SEO Content Writer Course, for freelancers, copywriters and marketers who are ready to learn how to write SEO web and blog copy – a huge facet and skillset involved in modern content marketing. The course provides step-by-step instructions on how to write powerful SEO content. Beta enrollment for the writing course will be open for a 10-day period, and class begins for beta students on October 1, 2018.

"I'm incredibly excited to launch my SEO writing course, because I see a firsthand need for it in the market daily," said McCoy, creator of The Expert SEO Content Writer Course and CEO of Express Writers. "To build the training and curriculum, I drew from my past seven years of creating more than 900 blogs that have earned more than 16,000 organic rankings in Google, and from interviewing more than 10,000 writers to date. There is a serious need for an actionable, practical SEO writing course. I've even interviewed a few expert guests and had them contribute to some of the curriculum as well."

The Expert SEO Content Writer Course is broken into three modules, which teach how to create high ROI SEO content from start to finish. The course contains 4-5 hours of video content, including a real demo of McCoy coaching her team of expert writers, and on-demand training. Students have access to printable workbooks, knowledge sheets, and exclusive content templates. Upon passing a short quiz, the student will earn certification as a qualified SEO content writer.

Beta students can use code BETALAUNCH2018 to save 35% on the course today. Sign up to be one of the first students of McCoy's all-new SEO writing course at https://writingcourse.expresswriters.com/.


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Tuesday, September 04, 2018
Update by Adam Lewis, Publisher
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IT matters to SMB success, and security matters to IT success

A tour of any modern small & medium-sized business (SMB) highlights how IT solutions are critical to business success. From email and communication systems to productivity applications, these tools do everything from reporting on financial data to organizing supply chain logistics. And yet despite this reliance, IT security is viewed as an unnecessary cost.

The problem with this is that the SMB is under attack. From the 2017 Ponemon Institute Study, statistically speaking - it is happening! More than 61% of SMBs have been breached in the last 12 months vs 55% in 2016.

As well as the obvious cost in penalties, business disruption, loss of customers and damage to brand, there is another cost for any SMB who treat security as an unwelcome requirement.

Today any SMB can quickly adopt a new technology to gain new capabilities, improve efficiency and/or reduce costs. However each new application creates a need to secure users, data and the environment that the solution integrates into.

Those that treat security as an onerous requirement that is invoked each time a new technology is contemplated will be slow to adopt – and slow to profit from – new efficiencies.

SMBs that build effective IT security frameworks are able to move more quickly and surely than their competitors. Environments without effective IT security solutions will have difficulty innovating and are likely to fall behind more nimble competitors.

Striving for Enterprise caliber solutions with SMB sensitivity

So how does an SMB – and the Managed Service Providers servicing them - build the best security to safeguard their organization, users and data?

Well the most important point to remember is that security solutions for an SMB should not be any less effective than it is for an enterprise client. The data is no less sensitive, the disruption no less serious. They need enterprise caliber defense in terms of focus and effectiveness, but with SMB sensibilities in terms of implementation and use.

To help, we’ve worked with our SMB clients and put together this infographic to show 8 SMB-friendly criteria to remember when choosing cybersecurity solutions.


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Friday, August 24, 2018
Update by Reagan Reeve,
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Tips to Maximize Your Business's Information Flows

SMB Information Flow

Businesses currently operate in an information age in which piles of data grow larger by the minute. 90 percent of the world’s data has been created over the last two years alone, and content publishers, users, firms, sensors, and an increasing number of other sources combine to create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily. That magnitude of data equates to 90 years of HD video! In order to take advantage of these circumstances, workers must navigate the data landscape by capturing useful pieces of information and effectively utilizing them within their company. After sourcing new information for the firm, the maximization of internal data distribution can help make the most of it. Let’s dive into a few tips on how to achieve an effective dissemination of information.

 

Communicating in a Network

 

Cultivating the belief that every employee is responsible for sending and receiving certain information is a simple but important first step in making sure your company successfully distributes its internal information.

 

Thus, it’s useful to view each person as a node in the network through which data flows. How can you create alignment between the different nodal connections? Effective communication helps to achieve this.

 

To successfully transmit information, employees should first listen before shooting information around, balancing the speed of transfer with the situational relevance. Doing so increases the chances of a given piece of information flowing to where it’s useful, when it’s useful.  

 

“The key always is who’s got the best information to make the best possible decision at that discrete moment in time when that decision can make a difference for your enterprise,”according to Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle. Great internal information distribution, through solid employee exchange mechanisms, helps to ensure the right person has the right data at the right time.

 

To motivate communication, it helps to express its importance to employees, both in terms of its value to the SMB and to them as individuals. Opening channels of communication allows employees to share insights, sources, and materials that can impact the organization, empowering those who take advantage of it. It’s also worth mentioning that effectively listening and sending info along to those who find it useful increases an employee's capability and usefulness, which increases their value. Good things happen to valuable employees.

 

Utilizing Corporate Messengers

 

Providing certain tools to employees can also lower communication barriers and play an important part in maximizing the distribution of information. Setting employees up with business-focused messaging apps helps to increase rapidity of intra-organizational exchanges by offering a simple way to transmit information to one another.

 

It is not desirable to overpopulate the email inbox with tons of daily correspondence between various group and individual threads because information may become disorganized or get lost. Messengers such as Google Hangouts, Slack, Facebook Workplace, and others can lower the burden of email overload by handling the quicker and less formal daily chats regarding sources found, ideas to share, or question and answers. Most, if not all, of these services have versions for both PCs and mobile devices, allowing workers to send and receive information at their desk or on the go, creating an easy and quick avenue for active dialogue between employees.

 

These corporate messengers provide some additional benefits as well. They help to separate other types of correspondence, like email and personal messages, which is useful for holding distractions in check and organizing categories of information. These services also often auto-populate recipient fields with co-worker information, which is helpful for newcomers on the job who might not yet know or remember the contact info of others. Since they include features for voice and video calling, these messengers also reduce, or even eliminate, the need for company phones.

 

 

Note-Taking Mediums

SMB Note Taking Mediums

In addition to maintaining solid communication mindsets and techniques, your organization will benefit from recording information in note form. Maintaining a running a log of ideas, questions, concerns, sources, or potential realizations in Apple Notes or Google Docs is never a bad idea. These services let you create folder directories to organize different thoughts. They also provide search features that seek individual words or phrases across all directories and notes in case you need to quickly find a piece of information.

 

A key benefit to digital note-taking is the ability to share the workspace with others and collaborate in real time. Take note that, compared to Google Docs and Word, Apple Notes demonstrates lackluster performance in this department, because it doesn’t yet let you see who added what information and when. The only way to identify contributions involves manually selecting different fonts or colors in order to differentiate users, and the ability to do that is only a feature on the desktop version of Apple Notes. The app also doesn’t offer annotation features, which are helpful for including metacognition while forming ideas. For these reasons, shared Google Docs or Word documents generally provide a better workspace for collaborative note-taking and brainstorming. With the ability to annotate specific sections, track authorship, and share access, these spaces effectively serve as canvasses for organizing information.

 

ERP Software

 

To further facilitate information distribution beyond collaborative note-taking applications, your SMB might consider utilizing enterprise resource planning software. Such programs visualize workflows to help keep everyone on the same page. They also serve as central data repositories to store information from which your company can derive insights to make better decisions. Finding the correct enterprise resource planning service for your company often requires an assessment of individual pain points and needs. There are online resources available to help you navigate this decision.

 

 

Bringing it All Together

 

Divvying up communication and data transfer between messengers, notes, and planning software helps to open up email, phone calls, and in-person discussions for other essential information exchanges. This separation helps to coordinate the large flow of correspondence firms typically deal with nowadays. Such stratification can also provide clues to recipients as to what type of information was sent. This may save time when operating on a strict timeline with a need to quickly classify and filter incoming information based on priority.

 

It is desirable and lucrative to provide employees with the ability to effectively transmit info through the appropriate medium for the information at hand. Fulfilling this desire helps maximize the distribution of information in an organization, which increases the value of the new info it takes in. A given amount of intake will go farther with better distribution. 


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Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Update by Reagan Reeve,
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SMB Owner Ingenuity Overcomes Limitations to Business Growth

Ruggs Benedict Workers

 

Necessity is the mother of invention, as small and medium-sized business owners know all too well. They are used to finding creative ways to solve problems without having a large cash reserve to draw from. That’s how Roger Benedict overcame his workflow and technology issues to grow his flooring company, Ruggs Benedict, to an $8 million business.

 

Humble Beginnings

 

Benedict had worked at the family business as a flooring installer before taking over the running of the company in 1988. At that time, he was using spreadsheets to keep track of the various aspects of the business. Spreadsheets worked fine for one person for one thing at a time – but this was a difficult way to manage a team. He needed to be able to see sales activity, project status and installation schedules in real time.

 

Benedict had a friend who worked for Apple as a support technician. This friend recommended using the FileMaker Platform to develop a custom app to streamline his business processes. Benedict had no developer or coding experience, but in true bootstrapper style, he taught himself what he needed to know.

 

Customizing Technology

 

He set to work creating a custom app to meet his initial need and, based on that success, kept going. The app now extends across the entire project lifecycle, from initial customer contact all the way through to the finished job. For example, Benedict designed a button on each salesperson’s page that lights up when a job is marked off by the installation department. The salesperson then knows that it is time to make a “happy call” to ensure the customer is satisfied with their new flooring.

 

SMB Owner

Once that call has been made, another button pops up that says “Send review request.” The salesperson clicks that button to request a customer review. As businesses live on positive word of mouth, this easy and proactive feature helps spread the word and generate new business.

 

Benedict also created email integration features to streamline communication and customer interaction. Each time a new project comes in, a salesperson creates a project card, and a communication log is attached to it. This way, they can easily generate anytype of email they may need.

 

Whether it’s answering a question or sending a product picture or an estimate for a project, they can do so with the click of a button, and the email ends up in the communication log. The salesperson can check the log to see what emails have been sent and where they’re at in the project. And if that salesperson is out, anyone can look at the log and know exactly where the salesperson left off so that customer interactions flow smoothly.

 

Financial Impact

 

The app also helps Ruggs Benedict address its unique billing process. It’s the nature of the flooring business that orders tend to change along the way. A customer may decide to add a room or change a color up until the last minute. The custom app holds the bill in a queue until the project is complete. Then the bill can be moved into QuickBooks, which integrates with the custom app. This creates a smooth workflow that increases billing accuracy and, therefore, improves customer experience.

 

SMB Utilizing Technology

An unexpected side effect and huge benefit of the app is its ability to control product pricing. In many businesses, salespeople can quote low prices because they want to get the deal – and the commission. In their zeal, the sales staff often fail to recognize that these artificially low quotes are cutting into their own profits.

 

So, with the custom app, sales staff select a product and the app automatically fills in the appropriate price. They can offer some discounts, but they also watch their commission shrinking on the screen. This makes them much less willing to slash product prices, and that significantly improves the bottom line.

 

Different tactics for different jobs

 

Benedict determined it made the most sense to have salespeople access the custom app at their workstations on Mac minis with 27-inch screens, where they can sit with customers once samples have been chosen. He found that iPad devices are the perfect fit for warehouse employees. It’s their job to check in all the material that comes in each day and check it as it goes out. This enables them to keep track of what installation supplies need to be restocked, such as adhesives and carpet cushions. They need to monitor the installation schedule as well, and a hand-held app makes all of this easy.

 

Positioned for Growth

 

From tracking the customer lifecycle to streamlining email communications to improving profit margins, Benedict has found ways to handle the logistics of running an SMB so employees can focus on their core competencies instead. He started out as a carpet installer and now runs a dozen installation crews each day as Ruggs Benedict positions itself for big growth.

 

Whereas a normal floor-covering store in a good market grosses about $2 million, Ruggs Benedict made $8 million last year and is on track to gross $10 million this year. Roger Benedict started with a solid understanding of his company and his market and then applied his ingenuity to streamline and grow his company. That’s a solid strategy for business success.

About Ann Monroe

As vice president of worldwide marketing and customer success at FileMaker, Inc., Ann Monroe drives programs and strategies to advance the customer experience. Monroe leads three teams: the customer support and success team, which provides support, learning and community programs; the web team; and the marketing team.

 

Monroe, who joined FileMaker in 2002, holds a Master of Business Administration from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Loyola Marymount University.


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