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Tech Buzz at its best

The Problem With DIY Small Business Websites

A lot of us can remember having a relative – maybe a father, grandfather, or uncle – who liked to tinker around the house and fix broken faucets, mend light sockets, and otherwise keep things in shape. And reality television is full of men and women who have saved money and had a blast by doing their own renovations. Maybe that's why we run across so many business owners who decide to forgo the time and expense of hiring a professional web design firm and build their own websites, either from scratch or from a template.

That should be a great way to lower your bills and get more involved, shouldn’t it?

It certainly can be, but the sad fact is that most business owners – even the ones who are already fairly web savvy – don't have the expertise to give their site a professional feel. And of those that do, few have the time required to get the job done right.

These days, web design is less like home renovation and more like auto maintenance. Whereas just a couple of decades ago, just about anyone who had some free time and a little understanding could slide under a car, diagnose a problem, and make a quick repair, autos have gotten more complicated. Most have processors and self-monitoring systems that are as expensive as the basic components themselves, and messing with one could easily throw other systems out of whack.

Your company's website is similar. Set things up the wrong way, and you risk having site that doesn't load well on different types of browsers, can crash when you make content updates, can't be found (or is poorly rated) by search engines, and so on. Any of these problems is likely to end up costing you more – in terms of lost business, if not web development expenses – then they could ever hope to save you.

There's nothing wrong with popping the hood and getting your hands dirty a little once in a while; in fact, when it comes to online marketing, a business owner who was closely involved has an enormous advantage over someone who isn't. Think twice before deciding to build your own site, however – what seems like a fun and simple project could end up stalling your business before you can even turn the key.

Is Your Internet Marketing Campaign Like a Shotgun… or a Scalpel?

Going online, building a new small business website, or even just putting together an ambitious online marketing plan for the first time can all feel like opening a giant door to the world's customers. No matter what your limitations were before, you can now reach new buyers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, virtually anywhere on the globe.

In most cases, that's a really great thing.

And how could it not? Actually, opening the marketing floodgates can actually be a big hindrance to some smaller businesses because it can pull them away from their core focus. Here's the problem: no matter what you sell, there are probably dozens of other companies in the world that sell the same thing, or something similar… and the vast majority of them are online. So the people who buy from you now usually don't do so because they don't have any other choice, but because you offer something distinctly unique.

If you can find that unique quality, then you can take it and make it the core theme of your online marketing campaign. You can use it to explain why people are better off buying from you than they are for many of your competitors, and you can say clearly with conviction. But without any of those things, you're "just another vendor" trying to make a buck online. In that case, why should anyone choose you, when there might be someone closer, cheaper, or that they're more familiar with?

When it comes to marketing, online or off, you should think of your campaigns as scalpels, rather than shotguns. In other words, you shouldn't just be looking for "anyone with a few dollars to spend," as much as you should your perfect customer. If you can stick to that approach, and find these people gradually, then they'll reward you by buying again and again, not to mention sharing information about your business with their friends.

It's a very big world out there, filled with lots and lots of customers for what you sell. Just be sure to keep perspective and look for the ones that make the most sense – we can promise it will end up being better business for you, and a lot more fulfilling for them.

Is the Link Between Social Media Marketing and Higher Profits Real?

Social media is everywhere, and studies show the average American likes to visit sites like Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis. So, that means social media marketing must be incredibly important to your online marketing plan, doesn't it? 

Or, to get closer to the point, does being successful on social media necessarily indicate that you are well on your way to Internet marketing profits?

A lot of companies are asking themselves that very question, as they pour lots of time and money into things like sponsored tweets, viral campaigns, and other distinctly social tools. On the one hand, they're putting their faith into the power of social networks; but on the other, they are very aware of the fact that few companies have been able to show a definite link between successful social marketing and real bottom-line improvement.

So, how do you answer this question for your business, and determine whether you should be pouring resources into social media marketing? Here are a few guidelines to help you:

  1. First, it's important to note that most businesses should be taking advantage of some form of social media, even if it isn't advertising or extensive campaigns. It's a great way to communicate with customers and meet buyers one-on-one, so you don't want to miss out on that opportunity.

  2. Next, consider treating your social profiles as you would any other Internet marketing tool (such as a banner ad or pay-per-click campaign). You wouldn't spend money on those without tracking the results and seeing what you're getting in return, so don't do that with social media, either.

  3. And finally, you shouldn't put an inordinate amount of time and energy into anything that you aren't sure is going to pay off. Feel free to experiment and work at your social profiles, but don't do it at the expense of email marketing, search engine optimization, and other proven means.

If you're looking for the right online marketing mix for your business, why not let the Kinetik team of experts help? Call us today to arrange for a free consultation and see what we've been able to do for other companies just like yours.

4 Reasons You Might Need (and Want) to Upgrade Your Company’s Server

Companies call us for IT help all the time. When they do, however, they hardly ever ask for a new or upgraded server – instead, they talk about slow networks, missing emails, and even persistent error messages.

That’s probably to be expected. Not a lot of people from outside of the IT profession know the details of their company’s server configuration. And, most of the men and women we work with don’t think or care much about servers until they stop working the way they are supposed to.

Still, outdated servers can lead to big problems within your business. To show you why, here are four reasons you might need (and even want) to upgrade your company’s server:

#1 Your Company’s Server Has Important Work to do

If you aren’t familiar with your server, it’s essentially a computer within your office that has a very specialized set of tasks. Instead of having a keyboard, a monitor, and graphics cards (like other computers and workstations), it typically features a heavy-duty CPU and lots of storage space. That’s because your server has a lot of jobs, which may include managing printers, keeping databases, and coordinating email and other network functions.

#2 There are Lots of Reasons to Upgrade Your Server

Naturally, the older your server is, the more likely you are to have performance issues or component failures. But, it’s rarely a good idea to wait until your server is on its last legs. That’s because newer servers bring faster performance, better security, and the ability to manage more users at once. Conversely, older servers may be dependent on out-of-date software that can’t be replaced.

#3 A Growing Company Often Needs a Growing Server

Imagine for a moment that your company is growing. As part of that process, you might expand to a bigger location, invest in new phone lines, and even put up a new website. Doesn’t it make sense that your server should be upgraded at the same time? It’s an easy detail to overlook, but remember that your existing server was probably designed for a much smaller team. It can easily become a performance bottleneck without improvements or replacement.

#4 Server Upgrades are Best Handled by IT Professionals

Because servers are so critical to the day-to-day operation of your business – and because upgrading servers requires backups, file validations, and much more – it’s the kind of job you shouldn’t try to handle on your own. A qualified IT professional can help you choose and install your new server quickly. Bypass their help, and you might find yourself wondering what happened to your data, or your in office network.

Upgrading servers is often an easy decision once you understand why the change is needed, and what kinds of performance and security gains you can get in the process. Have you been putting off replacing one of the most important pieces of computer hardware that your company depends on?

Did you know that you can have the Kinetik IT team assess your server, and other technology, to look for security risks and cost-saving opportunities? Contact us today and see what we can do to help.