Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rave: Microsoft - Part 1

Really? Yes, really!

The whole reason I'm writing this post is because of my genuine surprise at how wonderful my last few experiences with Microsoft have actually been - which is totally unexpected when dealing with a global technology giant.

Now - don't get me wrong - I'm a huge open-source fan (Google Docs, Calendar, and Groups are some of the best inventions EVER for sharing work or info among co-workers, affiliates, franchises, friends or family) who encourages fair competition but I now believe that one of the reasons Microsoft does so well for itself is becuase of this type of support. (I'm still really irritated over the whole Outlook 2007/HTML email issues, though.)

Microsoft Customer Support Rave - Part #1

I recently destroyed a Microsoft wireless mouse (not on purpose), but as everyone knows, it's impossible to do a lot of work on a laptop with a track pad.

So off I went to pick up some printing from Office Depot and grabbed another Microsoft wireless mouse to replace my old one (it worked well, I liked the brand, I went with it) and how nice... snagged a $10 mail-in rebate, too.

In my rush to clean-up, I threw away the original packaging which included the proof of purchase from the box. DANG IT!

Being convinced that I could possibly still save $10, I called the 1-800 number on the mail-in rebate receipt and was quickly answered by a human who I could understand perfectly who informed me that I could include a copy of the first page of the manual (which luckily, I tossed in the software/CD drawer of my desk) or copy of the installation CD cover as proof.

How simple was that? And I still saved those lovely ten dollars.
I was really impressed and satisfied. Guess who'll be replacing this one (should it ever fail me) with another Microsoft wireless mouse? This girl right here!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Microsoft Rave to come in a few days.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Go Green

I keep finding more and more that the real estate industry isn't very green... but it's very slacking of effort if you ask me. The simple utilization of Adobe Professional (for completing forms and applying signatures) could cut down on well... how many trees we're cutting down.

Here are some simple, but easily forgettable if we don't remind ourselves, tips of how to go even just a little green on a limited small business budget from Expert Business Source - check 'em out!

As I noted in the comments on the EBS article, here are a few more simple additions that I've implemented myself: a great scanner and Adobe Pro (so you can complete forms, sign them, and email them right back) to cut down on the paper trail, ink, printer power, etc.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are Your Emails Outlook 2007-Proof?

Quick Tip: Be sure that any email communication you're sending render as expected in Outlook 2007.

I recently upgraded to Office 2007 (which definitely slowed me down by at least a week with all the freakin' changes to the appearance) with the purchase of a new laptop and in the last month have unsubscribed from at least 30 email subscriptions that I use to at least skim if nothing else.

Luckily (as I see it), they were all random big corporation ones, so I'm not really missing out, but for any of you small business folks out there... be sure you're getting what you expect (or pay for, if you're using Constant Contact, etc.). Many of the online services have taken action to try and make their templates compatible... but one I used today happened to not be... so always just double check - especially if you're paying for a service.

If you want to test yours before sending them out, I'll be glad to review it for you - just email me: Lisa.Jeffries@gmail.com.

I won't even try to be a definitive source on what makes an email Outlook 2007-proof... but here's a good place to start: CampaignMonitor.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Traveling Abroad?

Save some money on your pre-trip preparations with these new options in passport photos:Businesses compete on passport programs... travelers win!Definitely sign up for RSS updates/feeds from Sue Stock's retailing blog - not only can you save money as a traditional consumer with her tips, but you can also save money as a business consumer, too.

Here is a link to the US Department of State's information on passports while I'm at it.

Don't forget - always know your source! A official website, such as one maintained by the official government department regarding the topic (if available), is your best source of any clear and complete information for important things such as being able to travel out (and more important - get back in to) your home country.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

120th Annual Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting

Man I'd love to go to this... not sure about the $85 ticket price though :-(
Ben Stein to Headline Chamber MeetingThanks for the tip, Dana!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blogworthy Update

A while back, I wrote a post about "business as usual" and what a shame it was that such glaringly awful mishaps are taking place in the business world on a regular basis.

I've just updated the above referenced post with a link to another clever business blog written by a fellow female entrepreneur... with just as many ridiculous business world stories to share. Be sure to subscribe to her feed so we can all enjoy a little laugh and learn from the downfalls of others... so that we can hopefully keep ourselves from every making any of our own blogs on "how not to do business".

Why Banks are SO Bad at Marketing

Why Banks are SO Bad at Marketing
And what you can learn from their mistakes

This is the type of information that I probably shouldn't be giving away for free - but hey... it's my blog and I get to call the shots right?

I won't highlight my particular bank(s) by name who has(have) made the terrible mistakes I'm about to highlight, but really, they all do it. So it's not really important to name names anyway.

So why is it that I feel (strike that) know banks are so bad at marketing? Because I have to discard 99% of the marketing messages I receive from them because they just don't apply to me. SAD - what a waste of a marketing department.

Take my email inbox for my family business this morning for example: our bank was offering me a business card offer too good to pass up! A VISA for business with a starting credit line of $25,000, no fees, etc., etc. Cool right? Yep - and it was cool 10 years ago, too when our company acquired one for each of our owners.

I can hear you asking now: "so what's the big deal?"

The big deal is that I receive this offer probably every month from my bank via email and about the same frequency via postal mail, too. Since our company already has three, there's really no "introduction" going on here. We're set in that department and if we weren't, I'd know where to go. Add all of those impressions up over and time and that's potentially a lot of money being spent on trying to acquire a customer who has already been acquired.

The same goes for their constant attempts to have be go paperless, engage in online bill pay, etc., etc. - all of which are things I am already enrolled in and have been since their inception.

The sad part of this story is that not only SHOULD my bank(s) know these things, but that they DO know them and just aren't using their CRM (customer relationship management) data effectively.

Take note, this is where your light bulb should be brightest: It really only takes a little more time (which I know, equates to a little more money) to properly segment and target your marketing messages so that you are offering the correct services and benefits to the correct customers - those who need it. That extra investment in the quality and appropriateness of marketing messages can really show a significantly higher return on investment than not using it at all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not Totally Business Related...

...but newsworthy (pun totally intended) nonetheless!

Thanks for the tip, Ashton!

From the N&O: CNN plans small bureau in Triangle

Thursday, August 7, 2008