SoLoMo Success (eBook) launches!

We’re excited to announce that Ray Sidney-Smith has published his first book, SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Mobile Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained! Available now on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, along with paperback and audiobook versions

SoLoMo SuccessWe’re excited to announce that Ray Sidney-Smith has published his first book, SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Mobile Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained! Available now on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, along with paperback and audiobook versions due out in late summer 2014! Ray will be using this first ebook to test some approaches to digital publishing, by providing updates to the book for the next year so stay tuned to our Google+ page as we announce new versions that you should be able to update in your eBook readers! *Also, for today only, the Amazon Kindle book is available for $8.99 (USD)! Download a copy today!

For the Small Business owner trying to succeed in the world of Social Media (So), Local Web (Lo) and Mobile (Mo) marketing, Web & Mobile Strategist Ray Sidney-Smith provides a practical strategy guide to pave the path to SoLoMo Success!

Social Media is on the tips of everyone’s tongues these days when it comes to discussions about marketing. But, Social Media is not just about marketing, and how do you convert social engagement to sales? For many veteran and newly-minted businesses, Social Media is a mystery even after they have mastered the technical components of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, among many others. Ray thinks people have the wrong paradigm when it comes to Social Media. Small Business owners are attacking their target audience from only one angle. This is where Social Media community engagement, local search optimization and mobile marketing come into play!

Through concise chapters, SoLoMo Success takes Small Business entrepreneurs from no Web marketing experience to launching a locally-optimized website, interacting successfully on Social Media, and developing a “think mobile first” strategy for profitably impacting the bottom line. Ray even takes you on a little futuristic journey of what’s to come in the world of Small Business marketing technology.

If you want to target your customers where and when they want or need your product or service, look no further than SoLoMo Success.

Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

#KaizenBiz Chat – Deep Dive Into What Social Media Trends Mean

I had the liberty of being able to finally join the #KaizenBiz Twitter chat (“tweetchat”) that happens on Fridays at noon Eastern. I have been wanting to join the tweetchat for quite some time (at the behest of Lois Martin

I had the liberty of being able to finally join the #KaizenBiz Twitter chat (“tweetchat”) that happens on Fridays at noon Eastern. I have been wanting to join the tweetchat for quite some time (at the behest of Lois Martin (@loismarketing), but work meetings, projects and other events have kept me away until now. So, it was apropos that today’s topic was entitled “Deeper Dive Into What Social Media Trends Mean.” It was a great group and the host, Elli St. George-Godfrey (@3keyscoach), handed the torch over to Cathy Larkin (@cathywebsavvypr) to guest-host for this week’s chat. She, along with the group, were warm and welcoming, and the conversation wasn’t too stuffy but got into some good, deep discussion on Social Media trends. I saw some familiar faces from the defunct #HBRchat, which was really great to see. Below is the transcript in slideshow and feed formats. Enjoy!

Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Managing Email Overload! [webinar]

Managing Email Overload

Are you overwhelmed by the amount of email messages you receive? Do you have an overflowing email inbox? Are you losing potential business because it takes too long for you to respond to email messages? You are not alone!

In our next Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series, Virginia SBDC brought Ray Sidney-Smith, President and Web Strategist at W3 Consulting (and productivity geek!), to show you how to manage email overload! Watch and learn how to quickly and effectively triage your email inbox, maintain a responsive strategy for business email and build an email culture that fosters productivity…so you can get back to your business and not just “busy-ness!”

You will learn:

  • how to get your inbox to empty on a regular basis;
  • how to manage email responses that are important/urgent and important/not-urgent; and,
  • how to develop an email culture around your business that respects good email culture.
Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Launch Your Small Business Website in Under 24 Hours! [webinar]

Launch Your Small Business Website in Under 24 Hours!

Are you thinking about launching your business website, or perhaps you are ready to build your blog? Do you believe that you do not have the time to get it done? Fear not! In Virginia SBDC’s next Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series, we have Ray Sidney-Smith, President and Web Strategist at W3 Consulting (http://w3cinc.com), will show you how to launch your website or blog in 24 hours! Join us and learn how to quickly and effective get your Web, Mobile and Social presence up and running for your Small Business!

You will learn:

  • to choose a great domain name (website address or “URL”) for your business (2 hours);
  • to select and set up a Web hosting account/service for your website (2 hours);
  • to create and prepare your content for the website/blog (8 hours);
  • to develop an Editorial Calendar for your website/blog (4 hours);
  • to test and create a Tweak-Maintenance Plan (TMP) for your website/blog (2 hours);
  • to plan out Analytics, Social Media & Mobile components and syndication (2 hours); and,
  • to set up analytics and security tools (4 hours).

= 24 hours!

Who should watch?

  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, solopreneurs
  • Office managers, Human Resources professionals
  • Nonprofit executive directors and board members
Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Small Business Webinar: Small Business Telecommuting

With all the technology available to businesses today, it’s easy to overlook the opportunities that bring efficiency and effectiveness to our day-to-day lives for ourselves but also our employees and contractors. One of those opportunities is telecommuting, the ability to remotely work from anywhere in the world. Many people associate telecommuting as working in your pajamas in bed or from a beach in San Juan! Remote working is so much more and we, as business owners, need to understand the positives and negatives that come from giving this great benefit and responsibility to our employees and contractors. In this Web seminar, Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting takes a Small Business through an overview of planning, implementation, review and maintenance of a telecommuting program for your organization.

What we will discuss in this Webinar:

  • Why telecommuting works? And, when it doesn’t? And, why Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! pulled the plug on their telecommuting program?
  • What does your telecommuting / remote working program need for it be effective?
  • What tools can help you make telecommuting manageable and, perhaps even, fun?
Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

My big secret…

my big productivity secret small businessMy Big Secret is…

Whenever I go away from my office for an extended time (such as vacation or illness), I come back two to several days earlier than when I let everyone know I’m back to work.

Okay, there; I said it. What a relief?! Now, why would I tell you that? Because there’s something about being productivity as a Small Business owner that evades many and being productive makes my heart sing. And, I want you to have that feeling too. If you get back a few days earlier than everyone thinks you’re back, you have time to stabilize your home life and then triage your work projects before the onslaught of communication and so forth swings into action when you are publicly back to work.

One the many great benefits of doing this over the years is that my time away from the office is purposeful no matter if it’s vacation or illness. If it’s vacation, I can spend it with the people I care about that I’m with, knowing that I will return to work with the time needed to get caught up and back on track. No need to do those things while I’m on vacation. Further, if I am on vacation and the urge compels me to do something, it’s usually in a creative capacity and I can capture the ideas and know that I will have a time and place to map out a realistic, strategic goal when I get back from my time away.

Why not just tell everyone that you’re back a few days early?

If I did that, the staff (including my colleagues and clients) would start to anticipate and that’s the death knell of the strategy. Keeping employees and independent contractors on their toes–not to be sneaking up on them, mind you, as I trust the people I work with and so should you–is about not allowing you nor them to settle into well-worn business paths that start disable passionate effort. There are many other ways to “keep honest people honest”; financial fail-safes and team-building activities. I do not return to work usually by going into the office so it’s not a matter of looking over anyone’s shoulder. I’m trying to get my work life in order, not theirs! We can all argue over the finer points of this, but you don’t have that kind of time. You’re an active (as I don’t like the word “busy”) entrepreneur! However, I believe that when people become too used to norm, they become complacent and you are their leader; they need you to keep the passion burning and your ability to prepare, triage and excite them are all inherent in this strategy.

Why not prepare before for your departure?

Actually, I do in a way. I am always preparing for the inevitable time when I may be from the office expectedly or otherwise. And, I recommend that you do so as well. There is a rate of diminishing productivity return on investment when you cram. Hopefully you learned the lack of value of this tactic in secondary or undergraduate education. Also, my staff and colleagues and clients are already well-poised to deal with my absence. Why? Because I have trained them to stand in my stead in different capacities along the way. You can do the same thing and watch the stress melt away. It’s usually your “feeling” that I might be letting them down that would makes you want to do more than is reasonable before you leave. Resist the urge, plan and implement everyday continuity plans for your business operations.

Sometimes I don’t know I’m going to be away for an extended period and so I treat everything as my esteemed colleague, Lou Kastelic of Jordan Crandus, would say about business. “Run your business as though you were going to leave it tomorrow,” he once told an audience of young entrepreneurs (with myself in the crowd). Be it by sale, by dissolution, or death. You’ll quickly see that your business leaps to great heights of both efficiency and effectiveness when you run your business day as though it were your last…every day. This seems to stand true for my personal and work projects as well. If I work from the perspective that I only have now I will achieve more, notwithstanding the great hope and good certainty that I will live to work another day!

A couple of guidelines.

Yes, some people in your organization may need to know about your big secret. For example, my assistant knows when I’ll be back…for real. And, usually one family member knows my real travel itinerary in case of medical emergency and/or safety concerns. At the very least, someone who can take action to save your life in such an unfortunate circumstance needs to know. Additionally, prepare for what you are going to tackle when you get back. Is it your email that always has you crazed? Plan to come back and tackle your email by sifting through it for however long you determine you need to read, reply (in draft without hitting “Send” until people know you have returned) and digesting and planning the action steps from the email messages that require your movement on projects or tasks. Or, perhaps you need to catch up on your blogging while you have been away from the office or store? Well, plan chunks of your time when you get back to focus on writing, editing and scheduling to publish those forthcoming nuggets of insight and wisdom for your target audience. Finally, make the amount of time match the amount of time you need to get your personal and work life back in order. If you need three days, then don’t come back to the office for three days. If you need only one day, make it one day. If you standardize it to always two days, then your mind will start to tolerate the buffer and it will become ineffective.

If we are living life to the fullest, and living our dreams as entrepreneurs, we must face a few realities with poise and excitement. By buffering days to catch up without typical interruptions, you can come back with ease and stability. Have you tried this technique? Has it worked? Do you have unique challenges you would like clarification on to carry out this strategy in your business? Comment and I’ll be happy to discuss!

Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Small Business Webinar: Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series

Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market
Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market (Photo credit: joe.ross)

Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM EDT

The Internet has created so many benefits for Small Business…from leveling the Web marketing playing field to offering countless free software for business productivity. But one of the strongest tools to be developed yet was the idea of “Cloud” storage and its collaborative abilities.

What is the Cloud? In practical terms to Small Business, the Cloud allows you to create, co-edit, share and store almost anything on the Web, so that you and your team can access it from anywhere you have Internet access. In this Webinar, Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist and President of W3 Consulting, will take us through the in’s and out’s of using Cloud storage and their major features. We will cover the basics, but also discuss some of the more intermediate concepts in Cloud solutions.

What we will discuss in this Webinar:

  • What is the “Cloud?”
  • How is the Cloud beneficial to Small Business?
  • Overview of some tools to create, collaborate, share and store documents with your team from anywhere in the world connected to the Internet.
  • Guidelines for effectively using Cloud storage and collaboration tools.

Who should attend:

  • Small business owners, professionals, solopreneurs, micropreneurs and entrepreneurs
  • Office managers
  • Marketing Directors and Sales Executives
  • Executive assistants, administrative assistants and secretaries

Register

For more information please contact Tracy Nayar at [email protected]

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Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Roundtable Recap – Identifying Your Target Market

Identifying Your Target MarketOn April 16th, Alexandria Small Business Development Center hosted the monthly Business Development Roundtable here in Alexandria, Virginia. We discussed the all-too-important marketing topic of identifying your target market. First, we defined a target market to start the discussion of identifying your target market. Some of the definitions we heard were really insightful and ranged from “finding ideal customers” and Patra Frame of Strategies for Human Resources really honed in on “who will I call” not just the broader concept of “small to medium-sized businesses.” Eliza Dolin of Ivy Quill Communications echoed Patra’s sentiment on the point and added that you’re actually “targeting individuals” because “companies are not hiring you” people are. Looking back at who has been your customer is equally important. We also discussed demographics, psychographics and understanding the individual profile of your buyer.

Director Bill Reagan noted the caveat that “we’ll serve anybody” is counterproductive; you should “narrow that down” to “help you plan, strategize and emphasize where you’re going to market and align your resources.” There is a lot of research you can do for identifying your target market before you start your business. Alexandria SBDC Business Analyst Jack Parker posited the important question: what does your client profile look like? He stated that you need to look at your core market area, as geographical data matters for most local businesses. Peter Baldwin of MarketForce Strategies looks at target markets a little different in that he looks at the “want’s and need’s” of his clients’ buyers. He noted that target markets change over time; different generations have different want’s and need’s.

Next, we tackled the challenge of actually identifying your target market. I asked the seasoned entrepreneurs in the room, “did you know that you needed to target your market? And, where did you start in identifying your target market?” Patra Frame indicated that she started off at her local library (since she started her business before Alexandria SBDC had started here in Alexandria, Virginia!) to research her audience and made a point that it’s a continual process. Director Reagan mentioned that it isn’t quite as scientific since you will likely have to adjust your target market after you start your business, honing in on the right people over time. But, as he indicated, you need to start somewhere. Assistant Director Gloria Flanagan pointed out that knowing who your buyer is can sometimes be tricky, as in the case of children who may be making the buying decision and the parents are merely providing the capital for a purchase.

Finally, we discussed tracking your customers over time so that you can create a historical record to refer back to you, and then making action upon this data for your target market. Most of the business owners found difficulty in naturally finding ways to meet hands with their direct target market so they had to get creative both in referral networking and advertising strategies. There was a consistent theme that you needed to engage with your target market where they congregated, whether online or offline, with a strong strategy. So much great conversation was additionally had in the roundtable, but you had to be there to absorb it all!

If you’d like to join the Biz Dev Roundtable, just come any third Tuesday at noon at the Alexandria SBDC; our next one is tomorrow, May 21, 2013, and the topic is “Referrals & Leads: How to Use, Get and Give Them.” Bring your lunch, or coffee, network and have a conversation with 30+ Small Business owners and professionals about a pertinent business marketing or management topic.

Ray Sidney-Smith

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.