GENERAL HELP ITEMS

Index

+ Aims of this Course
+ Market Strategies
+ A Business Plan **
+ B2B Info **
+ Threats to Business **
+ RSS **
+ Customer Service Life Cycle**
+ Human Resource Management **
+ The Business Cycle
+ SEO **
+ Designing a Website **
+ Site Mapper
+ Some Great Links 
+ XML
+ An HTML Skeleton or Template
+ Infrastructure **
+ The Business Model
+ Strategic Business Challenges
+ Business Strategy
+ Supplier Auction **
+ Customer Service **
+ Security (https://)
+ Domain Name System (DNS) **
+ DHCP
+ Internet **
+ Internet Health Testing
+ Internet Marketing Models
+ The World Wide Web
+ NAPs
+ Easy Color Chart
+ VOIP

Intent of Course

Student Learning Outcomes

DTD is the grammar of an XML page. It is an acronym that stands for Document Type Definition. It contains the elements, attributes, entities, and notations used in the XML document.

Valid XML

XML is really a markup language to create other markup languages, and the DTD is the tool you use to create and describe your language. Once a DTD is created and a document written based on that DTD, the document is then compared to the DTD. This is called validation. If your XML document follows the rules listed in the DTD, then the document is said to be valid. XML documents that don't follow the rules in their DTDs are called invalid.

XHTML is a family of current and future document types and modules that reproduce, subset, and extend HTML 4 [HTML4]. XHTML family document types are XML based, and ultimately are designed to work in conjunction with XML-based user agents. The details of this family and its evolution are discussed in more detail in [XHTMLMOD].

XHTML 1.0 (this specification) is the first document type in the XHTML family. It is a reformulation of the three HTML 4 document types as applications of XML 1.0 [XML]. It is intended to be used as a language for content that is both XML-conforming and, if some simple guidelines are followed, operates in HTML 4 conforming user agents. Developers who migrate their content to XHTML 1.0 will realize the following benefits:

The XHTML family is the next step in the evolution of the Internet. By migrating to XHTML today, content developers can enter the XML world with all of its attendant benefits, while still remaining confident in their content's backward and future compatibility.

What Is RSS?

Depending on who you ask, RSS stands for either "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication." But no matter what it's called, RSS is a new way to publish information online.

At the heart of the technology is special Web coding, called XML, that has been widely developed by the global online community over the past few years.

The XML code for RSS describes a new type of Web information called a "news feed." Essentially, the feeds can contain a summary and links of the new content on a Web site or anything else a creator desires to share. A company may publish an RSS feed that contains news of its latest products, for example.

Anyone — an online surfer or another Web site — can pick up the RSS codes and with the appropriate Web software display the information automatically.

The concept is similar to how a newswire service operates: Information published by one news organization can be "syndicated" — picked up and displayed — by any other news organization.back to top

What Does RSS Mean for Site Publishers?

Through syndication, online content creators have a much easier way to get their information published and seen. For instance, a Web surfer who sees an RSS feed — say a ticker of top news stories — on one site might click on the content, which in turn drives more traffic back to the original Web site.

RSS can also be a way for Web sites to retain "loyalty" among visitors. By supplying the RSS code on the Web site, visitors can "subscribe" to the feed and automatically receive updates on their personal computers of new content on the site.

Such an RSS feed will free content creators from creating and sending e-mail reminders — many of which may be stopped by anti-spam filters.back to top

Why Would Ordinary Web Users Like RSS?

For Web surfers, the advantages of RSS are quite simple: They save time and bandwidth.

Instead of remembering to visit a favorite Web site, the news comes directly into your computer daily or at whatever interval you want.

What's more, most RSS feeds contain just links, headlines, or brief synopsis of new information only. That means the small amount of Web data can be sent to any XML-compatible device — a cell phone, pager, or handheld computer — without a lengthy download process.

More importantly, RSS gives you control over receiving information you want without revealing information about yourself. Unlike subscribing to an e-mail newsletter, you never have to give out your e-mail address with an RSS feed. That avoids the possibility of receiving spam or unwanted junk e-mail from the Web site.

Which Online Sites Use RSS?

Almost all technology-oriented Web sites offer RSS feeds to satisfy the crowds of computer savvy users online.

You'll also find some Weblogs — or online diaries — also offer RSS feeds.

You can view ABCNews.com's RSS headlines by clicking the appropriate links at the top of this page.

What Do I Need to Receive RSS Feeds?

First, you need a feed reader. Performing a search for "RSS Feed Readers" in any major online search engine such as Google or Yahoo! will produce a bundle of software options — many of which are free or at little cost.

Once you've obtained a feed reader, subscribing to an RSS feed is as simple as looking for the appropriate feed link. Most Web sites that publish an RSS feed will display a tiny orange box or button labeled "RSS" or "XML."

Click the feed link you are interested in and your Web browser typically goes to a page of cryptic XML code. No worries, just copy the Web "address" or URL of that page and plug it into your feed reader. The software will then automatically retrieve and display that site's latest information.

What is RSS?


Why use RSS?

RSS was designed to show selected data.

Without RSS, users will have to check your site daily for new updates. This may be too time-consuming for many users. With an RSS feed (RSS is often called a News feed or RSS feed) they can check your site faster using an RSS aggregator (a site or program that gathers and sorts out RSS feeds).

Since RSS data is small and fast-loading, it can easily be used with services like cell phones or PDA's.

Web-rings with similar information can easily share data on their web sites to make them better and more useful.


Who Should use RSS?

Webmasters who seldom update their web sites do not need RSS!

RSS is useful for web sites that are updated frequently, like:


The Future of RSS

Thousands of sites use RSS, and more people understand its usefulness every day.

With RSS, information on the internet becomes easier to find, and web developers can spread their information more easily.



The cycle of economic growth and decline. There are four stages in the business cycle: expansion, growth, contraction and recession.

Some Great Links and Tutorials

http://www.aresearchguide.com/1steps.html

http://www.wikipedia.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet

http://www.newfangled.com/impact_of_y2k_on_website_development

http://www.tizag.com/ Free Tutorials

http://www.w3schools.com/ Free Tutorials

http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/Internet_Search_Engines.asp

http://www.zeald.com/Resources/Promoting+&+Tuning+a+Successful+Web+Site/Types+of+Search+Engines.html

http://www.howstuffworks.com/internet-infrastructure.htm/printable

http://www.lyris.com/solutions/lyris-hq/

http://www.learnthenet.com/english/html/02anatmy.htm

http://www.learnthenet.com/english/publish/000pub.htm

http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet-infrastructure.htm

http://www.businessplanpro.com/?gclid=CIzTr6qNzZ8CFUVn5Qodq3kMzg

http://www.myownbusiness.org/s2/

http://www.fla-keys.com/rss/eventsrsskl.xml

http://fla-keys.com/rss/rssfeeds.cfm

http://www.seowizz.net/2009/09/3-ways-to-ensure-seo-failure.html

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291

http://alt-web.com/DEMOS/CSS2-Horiz-Drop-Menu.shtml

http://www.projectseven.com/tutorials/navigation/auto_hide/

http://www.projectseven.com/products/menusystems/pmm2/index.htm

http://www.layersmagazine.com/edit-an-ajax-drop-down-menu-in-dreamweaver.html

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/spry/docs.html

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/spry/articles/menu_bar/index.html

http://www.surrattfarms.com/

http://www.auntaggiede.com/

http://www.vtc.com/

http://www.searchenginehistory.com/

http://www.google.com/librariancenter/articles/0512_01.html

http://www.uwtv.org/programs/displayevent.aspx?rID=3898&fID=497

http://www.uwtv.org/index.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_graphics_file_formats

http://www.scribd.com/doc/270368/Sample-Marketing-Strategy-Document

http://alt-web.com/DEMOS/CSS2-Horiz-Drop-Menu.shtml a great navigational menu builder

http://www.garysimon.net/webdesign_tutorial/1 A great tutorial.

http://www.cyberindian.com/web-designing/8-tips-for-great-website.php tips on designing a great website

http://www.w3schools.com/html/tryit.asp?filename=tryhtml_layout how to layout a table

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise,[1] or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function.[2] The term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, power grids, telecommunications, and so forth. Viewed functionally, infrastructure facilitates the production of goods and services; for example, roads enable the transport of raw materials to a factory, and also for the distribution of finished products to markets. In some contexts, the term may also include basic social services such as schools and hospitals.[3] In military parlance, the term refers to the buildings and permanent installations necessary for the support, redeployment, and operation of military forces.[4]

Every computer that is connected to the Internet is part of a network, even the one in your home. For example, you may use a modem and dial a local number to connect to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). At work, you may be part of a local area network (LAN), but you most likely still connect to the Internet using an ISP that your company has contracted with. When you connect to your ISP, you become part of their network. The ISP may then connect to a larger network and become part of their network. The Internet is simply a network of networks.

Most large communications companies have their own dedicated backbones connecting various regions. In each region, the company has a Point of Presence (POP). The POP is a place for local users to access the company's network, often through a local phone number or dedicated line. The amazing thing here is that there is no overall controlling network. Instead, there are several high-level networks connecting to each other through Network Access Points or NAPs.

Here's an example. Imagine that Company A is a large ISP. In each major city, Company A has a POP. The POP in each city is a rack full of modems that the ISP's customers dial into. Company A leases fiber optic lines from the phone company to connect the POPs together (see, for example, this UUNET Data Center Connectivity Map).

Imagine that Company B is a corporate ISP. Company B builds large buildings in major cities and corporations locate their Internet server machines in these buildings. Company B is such a large company that it runs its own fiber optic lines between its buildings so that they are all interconnected.

In this arrangement, all of Company A's customers can talk to each other, and all of Company B's customers can talk to each other, but there is no way for Company A's customers and Company B's customers to intercommunicate. Therefore, Company A and Company B both agree to connect to NAPs in various cities, and traffic between the two companies flows between the networks at the NAPs.

In the real Internet, dozens of large Internet providers interconnect at NAPs in various cities, and trillions of bytes of data flow between the individual networks at these points. The Internet is a collection of huge corporate networks that agree to all intercommunicate with each other at the NAPs. In this way, every computer on the Internet connects to every other.

All of these networks rely on NAPs, backbones and routers to talk to each other. What is incredible about this process is that a message can leave one computer and travel halfway across the world through several different networks and arrive at another computer in a fraction of a second!

The routers determine where to send information from one computer to another. Routers are specialized computers that send your messages and those of every other Internet user speeding to their destinations along thousands of pathways. A router has two separate, but related, jobs:

It ensures that information doesn't go where it's not needed. This is crucial for keeping large volumes of data from clogging the connections of "innocent bystanders." It makes sure that information does make it to the intended destination.

In performing these two jobs, a router is extremely useful in dealing with two separate computer networks. It joins the two networks, passing information from one to the other. It also protects the networks from one another, preventing the traffic on one from unnecessarily spilling over to the other. Regardless of how many networks are attached, the basic operation and function of the router remains the same. Since the Internet is one huge network made up of tens of thousands of smaller networks, its use of routers is an absolute necessity. For more information, read How Routers Work.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the first high-speed backbone in 1987. Called NSFNET, it was a T1 line that connected 170 smaller networks together and operated at 1.544 Mbps (million bits per second). IBM, MCI and Merit worked with NSF to create the backbone and developed a T3 (45 Mbps) backbone the following year.

Backbones are typically fiber optic trunk lines. The trunk line has multiple fiber optic cables combined together to increase the capacity. Fiber optic cables are designated OC for optical carrier, such as OC-3, OC-12 or OC-48. An OC-3 line is capable of transmitting 155 Mbps while an OC-48 can transmit 2,488 Mbps (2.488 Gbps). Compare that to a typical 56K modem transmitting 56,000 bps and you see just how fast a modern backbone is.

Today there are many companies that operate their own high-capacity backbones, and all of them interconnect at various NAPs around the world. In this way, everyone on the Internet, no matter where they are and what company they use, is able to talk to everyone else on the planet. The entire Internet is a gigantic, sprawling agreement between companies to intercommunicate freely.

Continue with

·         IP

·         URL

·         DNS

·         Internet Servers and Clients

·         Etc....

 

Most journal-style scientific papers are subdivided into the following sections: Title, Authors and Affiliation, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Acknowledgments,

 

The business model is simply a working description that includes the general details about the operations of a business. The components that are contained within a business model will address all functions of a business, including such factors as the expenses, revenues, operating strategies, corporate structure, and sales and marketing procedures. Generally speaking, anything that has to do with the day to day functionality of the corporation can be said to be part of the business model.

As part of the business model, there is a need to address internal factors that relate to the ongoing operation of the company. This will involve defining the departments and divisions within the company, along with the procedures that govern the creation of positions and job responsibilities within each department. Management of all the departments is also an important component of the business model, as is the definitions of the responsibilities of the executives within the organization. Business operations such as manufacturing facilities, defining the production process, and allowing for the labor needs to produce the products are also part of the business model

External factors also are part of a comprehensive business model. Chief among these elements is defining the target consumer audience for the goods and services produced by the corporation. This one single element of identifying the target audience will influence the form and function of both the marketing and sales efforts of the company, which in turn will impact the overall cost to produce each unit of a product. The business model will take this information into consideration and set retail pricing that will allow the company to operate at a profit, assuming a certain level of sales is realized consistently.

Public-key cryptography is a cryptographic approach which involves the use of asymmetric key algorithms instead of or in addition to symmetric key algorithms. Unlike symmetric key algorithms, it does not require a secure initial exchange of one or more secret keys to both sender and receiver. The asymmetric key algorithms are used to create a mathematically related key pair: a secret private key and a published public key. Use of these keys allows protection of the authenticity of a message by creating a digital signature of a message using the private key, which can be verified using the public key. It also allows protection of the confidentiality and integrity of a message, by public key encryption, encrypting the message using the public key, which can only be decrypted using the private key.

Public key cryptography is a fundamental and widely used technology around the world. It is the approach which is employed by many cryptographic algorithms and cryptosystems. It underlies such Internet standards as Transport Layer Security (TLS) (successor to SSL), PGP, and GPG.

The distinguishing technique used in public key cryptography is the use of asymmetric key algorithms, where the key used to encrypt a message is not the same as the key used to decrypt it. Each user has a pair of cryptographic keys — a public key and a private key. The private key is kept secret, whilst the public key may be widely distributed. Messages are encrypted with the recipient's public key and can only be decrypted with the corresponding private key. The keys are related mathematically, but the private key cannot be feasibly (ie, in actual or projected practice) derived from the public key. It was the discovery of such algorithms which revolutionized the practice of cryptography beginning in the middle 1970s.

In contrast, Symmetric-key algorithms, variations of which have been used for some thousands of years, use a single secret key shared by sender and receiver (which must also be kept private, thus accounting for the ambiguity of the common terminology) for both encryption and decryption. To use a symmetric encryption scheme, the sender and receiver must securely share a key in advance.

Because symmetric key algorithms are nearly always much less computationally intensive, it is common to exchange a key using a key-exchange algorithm and transmit data using that key and a symmetric key algorithm. PGP, and the SSL/TLS family of schemes do this, for instance, and are called hybrid cryptosystems in consequence.

 

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participants. Most importantly, it translates domain names meaningful to humans into the numerical (binary) identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices worldwide. An often used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the "phone book" for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses. For example, www.example.com translates to 208.77.188.166.

DHCP, short for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, a protocol for assigning dynamic IP addresses to devices on a network. With dynamic addressing, a device can have a different IP address every time it connects to the network. In some systems, the device's IP address can even change while it is still connected. DHCP also supports a mix of static and dynamic IP addresses.

Dynamic addressing simplifies network administration because the software keeps track of IP addresses rather than requiring an administrator to manage the task. This means that a new computer can be added to a network without the hassle of manually assigning it a unique IP address. Many ISPs use dynamic IP addressing for dial-up users.

http://www.dsdwebworks.com/internet_marketing.html

Good link for marketing.

Strategic Challenges Facing Business Today

Issues like steady top-line growth, speed, innovation and customer loyalty shared the hot seat with a growing number of workforce challenges in The Conference Board’s most recent survey of CEOs. What is most compelling, however, is that eight of the top 10 U.S. CEO challenges pertained to attracting, retaining and managing talent.

Some Marketing factors to consider when planning a business.

Business Strategy

Things to ask

Things that need to be done for the business and the website:

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise,[1] or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function.[2] The term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, power grids, telecommunications, and so forth. Viewed functionally, infrastructure facilitates the production of goods and services; for example, roads enable the transport of raw materials to a factory, and also for the distribution of finished products to markets. In some contexts, the term may also include basic social services such as schools and hospitals.[3] In military parlance, the term refers to the buildings and permanent installations necessary for the support, redeployment, and operation of military forces.[4]

In this article, infrastructure will be used in the sense of technical structures or physical networks that support society, unless specified otherwise.

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private and public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by a broad array of electronic and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast array of information resources and services, most notably the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support electronic mail.

Most traditional communications media, such as telephone and television services, are reshaped or redefined using the technologies of the Internet, giving rise to services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and IPTV. Newspaper publishing has been reshaped into Web sites, blogging, and web feeds. The Internet has enabled or accelerated the creation of new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking sites.

The origins of the Internet reach back to the 1960s when the United States funded research projects of its military agencies to build robust, fault-tolerant and distributed computer networks. This research and a period of civilian funding of a new U.S. backbone by the National Science Foundation spawned worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies and led to the commercialization of an international network in the mid 1990s, and resulted in the following popularization of countless applications in virtually every aspect of modern human life. As of 2009, an estimated quarter of Earth's population uses the services of the Internet.

The Internet has no centralized governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own standards. Only the overreaching definitions of the two principal name spaces in the Internet, the Internet Protocol address space and the Domain Name System, are directed by a maintainer organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols (IPv4 and IPv6) is an activity of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely-affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise.

The terms Internet and World Wide Web are often used in everyday speech without much distinction. However, the Internet and the World Wide Web are not one and the same. The Internet is a global data communications system. It is a hardware and software infrastructure that provides connectivity between computers. In contrast, the Web is one of the services communicated via the Internet. It is a collection of interconnected documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs.[1] The term the Internet, when referring to the Internet, has traditionally been treated as a proper noun and written with an initial capital letter. There is a trend to regard it as a generic term or common noun and thus write it as "the internet", without the capital

An Introduction to SEO Best Practices

History

Webmasters and content providers began optimizing sites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging the early Web. Initially, all a webmaster needed to do was submit the address of a page, or URL, to the various engines which would send a spider to "crawl" that page, extract links to other pages from it, and return information found on the page to be indexed.[1] The process involves a search engine spider downloading a page and storing it on the search engine's own server, where a second program, known as an indexer, extracts various information about the page, such as the words it contains and where these are located, as well as any weight for specific words, and all links the page contains, which are then placed into a scheduler for crawling at a later date.

Site owners started to recognize the value of having their sites highly ranked and visible in search engine results, creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase search engine optimization probably came into use in 1997.[2]

Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag, or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page's content. But using meta data to index pages was found to be less than reliable because the webmaster's choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site's actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[3] Web content providers also manipulated a number of attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[4]

By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster's control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, allowing those results to be false would turn users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate.

Graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "backrub," a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[5] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random surfer.

Page and Brin founded Google in 1998. Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design.[6] Off-page factors (such as PageRank and hyperlink analysis) were considered as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) to enable Google to avoid the kind of manipulation seen in search engines that only considered on-page factors for their rankings. Although PageRank was more difficult to game, webmasters had already developed link building tools and schemes to influence the Inktomi search engine, and these methods proved similarly applicable to gaming PageRank. Many sites focused on exchanging, buying, and selling links, often on a massive scale. Some of these schemes, or link farms, involved the creation of thousands of sites for the sole purpose of link spamming.[7]

By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. Google says it ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[8] The leading search engines, Google and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Notable SEOs, such as Rand Fishkin, Barry Schwartz, Aaron Wall and Jill Whalen, have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have published their opinions in online forums and blogs.[9][10] SEO practitioners may also study patents held by various search engines to gain insight into the algorithms.[11]

In 2005 Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[12] In 2008, Bruce Clay said that "ranking is dead" because of personalized search. It would become meaningless to discuss how a website ranked, because its rank would potentially be different for each user and each search.[13]

In 2007 Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.[14] On June 15 2009, Google disclosed that they had taken measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting by use of the nofollow attribute on links. Matt Cutts, a well known software engineer at Google, announced that Google Bot would no longer treat nofollowed links in the same way, in order to prevent SEOs from using nofollow for PageRank sculpting[15]. As a result of this change the usage of nofollow leads to evaporation of pagerank. In order to avoid the above, SEOs developed alternative techniques that replace nofollowed tags with obfuscated Javascript and thus permit PageRank sculpting. Additionally several solutions have been suggested that include the usage of iframes, flash and javascript. [16]

In December 2009 Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results [17].

Real-time-search was introduced in late 2009 in an attempt to make search results more timely and relevant. Historically site administrators have spent months or even years optimizing a website to increase search rankings. With the growth in popularity of social media sites and blogs the leading engines made changes to their algorithms to allow fresh content to rank quickly within the search results. [18] This new approach to search places importance on current, fresh and unique content.

SEARCH ENGINE WATCH

By Eric Enge, Search Engine Watch,

SEO best practices have been constantly evolving since the advent of the search engines themselves. As we enter 2007, this evolution continues, inexorably pushing the Web site owner toward practices that begin to sound much like conventional business plans.

Following SEO best practices should provide you with a secure strategy for building organic traffic to your site for the long term. They can be broken into 4 major categories of activity:

1.    Subject-Matter Expertise: If you are not an expert on the topic of your Web site, then invest the time to become one, (or employ one).

2.    Information Architecture: Design a site that enables users to find the great content you have in a fast and effective manner.

3.    Technical Implementation: Learn how to deal with the idiosyncrasies of search engines to get the best results.

4.    Marketing: Formerly known as "link building," in 2007 we will begin to think of this as marketing and promotion

.

Subject-Matter Expertise

You need to have great content. Building a large organic traffic stream will not happen unless you have great content. You need to offer something on your site that people want to read about, and link to. In addition, you just won't close business well unless your content is seen as high quality by prospects.

There are many ways to show expertise on a Web site. Here are a few basic ideas:

1.    Write great articles about your area of expertise (but don't burden these articles with sales pitches for your products or services)

2.    Offer great tools that people will want to use

3.    Create a unique and valuable community on your site

4.    Be a major source of news and information in your area of expertise

The key thing here is to think about high quality content for users, instead of "link bait." Where link bait seeks to get quick and easy links from any source, a better plan is to build trust with your audience. Trust building is not a gimmick or a trick. Trust is something that you earn and will keep your business growing for years to come.

Information Architecture

Wikipedia defines information architecture as the "practice of structuring information (knowledge or data) for a purpose". In broad strokes, think of this as user-centered design. (By the way, bots will eat this stuff up too.) The basic elements of an effective information architecture include:

1.    Understanding how your users think about the topic area of your site.
This is where keyword mapping exercises come into play. Keyword tools such as Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker are useful. Tools such as these can help you find out how users search for things related to the content you have, or plan to have, on your Web site. Map your navigation and pages to the things you learn during this exercise.

2.    A well defined and clear global navigation scheme.
Make it easy for users to navigate your content. The menus on your site need to be consistent in structure and location. It's helpful to implement a "bread crumb" bar (like the "Search Engine Watch Forums > Search Engine Marketing Strategies > Search Engine Optimization" links at the top of this SEW forum page), showing the structure of a site, to help the users remember where they are and how they got there.

3.    Leverage common UI practices.
This is no time to implement a new paradigm. Users have been conditioned by other Web sites to look for things in certain places on a site. Take advantage of this and make life easier for them.

Technical Implementation

While the search engines urge us to "design for users," not search engines, the reality is that the search engines have certain basic requirements. Failure to meet these requirements can spell certain doom for your site's prospects. Here is our list of 5 things that you need to do to put together a solid technical implementation for the search engines:

1.    Implement a clear navigation scheme that can be fully crawled using text links

2.    Minimize the number of clicks to your key content.
Search engines look to site owners for clues as to what is important on a given site. If a piece of content is 4 clicks from the home page, what are you saying about its importance?

3.    Implement pages that are rich in search engine visible content.
This means text based articles and descriptions, and text based links. Give the spider something to chew on.

4.    Effectively link related content within your own site.
This is a great tool for reinforcing the relevance of pages on your site.

5.    Write effective meta description tags.
This will not help your ranking at all. However, these descriptions often get used by search engines as the description they show for your site in their results. So write something here that is likely to get a user to click through to your site.

Marketing

Getting people to link to you remains an important component of the marketing effort. We're not suggesting that you buy links, or swap them by the bushel. We mean getting people to give you links without giving them anything in return.

Since people won't generally link to you for the express purpose of making you money, why would they do it? Because they care about their visitors, and they think your site has something of value for them, such as great content. This also happens to be the profile of the sites whose links to your site are likely to have the highest value in the eyes of the search engines.

For years, our industry has thought of this process as "link building". It's time to change our thinking. Not that there is anything wrong with link building, or its close cousin that we all talk about, "link baiting." Links still drive higher search term rankings. But a few things have changed:

1.    Since we need to think about search phrase-specific Page Rank, we must get highly relevant sites to link to our sites.

2.    Since swapping is now heavily discounted, this type of activity has become virtually a waste of time. The exception is swapping links with highly relevant sites. The best guideline to use here is: Would you link to the other site even if they didn't link back to you? If the answer to this is yes, then go ahead and do a swap.

3.    Link purchasing is a practice that works really well for lots of people. However, it comes with significant risks, so get over it. Why would you want to do this with any business that you are building for the long term?

So what does this mean? It means you have to get your links by different means (in Smith Barney terms you have to "earn it"). Great content. A reputation as an open business that builds relationships with its customers and partners. In short build trust. This is what will get people to link to your site.

Summary

No doubt that there are many opportunities to drive up search engine traffic using techniques that are not in keeping with their terms of service. You need to view these techniques as both a risk and a distraction. It's a risk because the traffic you get from these techniques will go away when the search engines catch up to them, or you can get banned in the worst case.

It's a distraction because it keeps you from focusing on building the trust in your business. The trust is the enduring asset that you are trying to build. When you spend time working on other things, you are building a weak foundation for your business. If you are thinking about building your Web site as an asset for your business, there is no time for distractions.

But you can't ignore the technical requirements of the search engines. Getting these right is critical. Don't think of it as designing your site for search engines. Think of it as designing your site for users, but being search engine smart at the same time.

Eric Enge is the president of Stone Temple Consulting, an SEO consultancy outside of Boston. Eric is also co-founder of Moving Traffic Inc., the publisher of City Town Info and Custom Search Guide.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

·                     Yahoo's Acquisition Pattern: Smart and Cheap, Read/Write Web

·                     SEO Benefits from Blogs, Online Marketing Blog

·                     Wikiseek: Leveraging Wikipedia For Web Search, Poorly, Search Engine Land

·                     SEO Gets Its Own Rock Song, Marketing Pilgrim

·                     SEO isn’t hacking - and data security tips, SEOmoz

·                     @ NATPE: Jon Miller Makes His First Post-AOL Outing, Paid Content

·                     SEO: Rocket Science or Colonoscopy?, Online Marketing Blog

·                     Online Advertisers Should Consider Smaller Sites, WebProNews

·                     Taking a side on Net Neutrality, DMNews

 

As President and CEO of a search engine marketing company, Janet Driscoll Miller has front-line info on how Bing SEO is a completely different animal from Google SEO and why even well-optimized companies need to rethink their SEO strategies. During this week's online seminar, she'll coach you on how to score big with Bing.  

 

Search Engine Strategy - TYPES OF SEARCH ENGINES

Most people find what they're looking for on the World Wide Web by using search engines like Yahoo!, Alta Vista, or Google. According to InformationWeek, aside from checking e-mail, searching for information with search engines was the second most popular Internet activity in the early 2000s. Because of this, companies develop and implement strategies to make sure people are able to consistently find their sites during a search. These strategies oftentimes are included in a much broader Web site or Internet marketing plan. Different companies have different objectives, but the main goal is to obtain good placement in search results.

TYPES OF SEARCH ENGINES

In the early 2000s, more than 1,000 different search engines were in existence, although most Web masters focused their efforts on getting good placement in the leading 10. This, however, was easier said than done. InfoWorld explained that the process was more art than science, requiring continuous adjustments and tweaking, along with regularly submitting pages to different engines for good or excellent results. The reason for this is that every search engine works differently. Not only are there different types of search engines—those that use spiders to obtain results, directory-based engines, and link-based engines—but engines within each category are unique. They each have different rules and procedures companies need to follow in order to register their site with the engine.

SPIDER-BASED SEARCH ENGINES.

Many leading search engines use a form of software program called spiders or crawlers to find information on the Internet and store it for search results in giant databases or indexes. Some spiders record every word on a Web site for their respective indexes, while others only report certain keywords listed in title tags or meta tags.

Although they usually aren't visible to someone using a Web browser, meta tags are special codes that provide keywords or Web site descriptions to spiders. Keywords and how they are placed, either within actual Web site content or in meta tags, are very important to online marketers. The majority of consumers reach e-commerce sites through search engines, and the right keywords increase the odds a company's site will be included in search results.

Companies need to choose the keywords that describe their sites to spider-based search engines carefully, and continually monitor their effectiveness. Search engines often change their criteria for listing different sites, and keywords that cause a site to be listed first in a search one day may not work at all the next. Companies often monitor search engine results to see what keywords cause top listings in categories that are important to them.

In addition to carefully choosing keywords, companies also monitor keyword density, or the number of times a keyword is used on a particular page. Keyword spamming, in which keywords are overused in an attempt to guarantee top placement, can be dangerous. Some search engines will not list pages that overuse keywords. Marketing News explained that a keyword density of three to seven percent was normally acceptable to search engines in the early 2000s. Corporate Web masters often try to figure out the techniques used by different search engines to elude spammers, creating a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse.

Sometimes, information listed in meta tags is incorrect or misleading, which causes spiders to deliver inaccurate descriptions of Web sites to indexes. Companies have been known to deliberately misuse keywords in a tactic called cyber-stuffing. In this approach, a company includes trademarks or brand names from its competitors within the keywords used to describe its site to search engines. This is a sneaky way for one company to direct traffic away from a competitor's site and to its own. In the early 2000s, this was a hot legal topic involving the infringement of trademark laws.

Because spiders are unable to index pictures or read text that is contained within graphics, relying too heavily on such elements was a consideration for online marketers. Home pages containing only a large graphic risked being passed by. An emerging content description language called extensible markup language (XML), similar in some respects to hypertext markup language (HTML), was emerging in the early 2000s. An XML standard known as synchronized multimedia integration language will allow spiders to recognize multimedia elements on Web sites, like pictures and streaming video.

DIRECTORY-BASED SEARCH ENGINES.

While some sites use spiders to provide results to searchers, others—like Yahoo!—use human editors. This means that a company cannot rely on technology and keywords to obtain excellent placement, but must provide content the editors will find appealing and valuable to searchers. Some directory-based engines charge a fee for a site to be reviewed for potential listing. In the early 2000s, more leading search engines were relying on human editors in combination with findings obtained with spiders. LookSmart, Lycos, AltaVista, MSN, Excite and AOL Search relied on providers of directory data to make their search results more meaningful.

LINK-BASED SEARCH ENGINES.

One other kind of search engine provides results based on hypertext links between sites. Rather than basing results on keywords or the preferences of human editors, sites are ranked based on the quality and quantity of other Web sites linked to them. In this case, links serve as referrals. The emergence of this kind of search engine called for companies to develop link-building strategies. By finding out which sites are listed in results for a certain product category in a link-based engine, a company could then contact the sites' owners—assuming they aren't competitors—and ask them for a link. This often involves reciprocal linking, where each company agrees to include links to the other's site.

Browsers


The World Wide Web, abbreviated as WWW and W3 and commonly known as The Web, is a system of interlinked hypertext documents contained on the Internet. With a web browser, one can view web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and navigate between them using hyperlinks. Using concepts from earlier hypertext systems, British engineer and computer scientist Sir Tim Berners Lee, now the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, wrote a proposal in March 1989 for what would eventually become the World Wide Web.[1] He was later joined by Belgian computer scientist Robert Cailliau while both were working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1990, they proposed using "HyperText [...] to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will",[2] and released that web in December.[3]

"The World-Wide Web (W3) was developed to be a pool of human knowledge, which would allow collaborators in remote sites to share their ideas and all aspects of a common project." [4] If two projects are independently created, rather than have a central figure make the changes, the two bodies of information could form into one cohesive piece of work.

The four Network Access Points (NAPs) were defined under the U.S. National Information Infrastructure (NII) document as transitional data communications facilities at which Network Service Providers (NSPs) would exchange traffic, in replacement of the publicly-financed NSFNet Internet backbone. The National Science Foundation let contracts supporting the four NAPs, one to MFS Datanet for the preexisting MAE in Washington, D.C., and three others to Sprint, Ameritech, and Pacific Bell, for new facilities of various designs and technologies, in Pennsauken, Chicago, and California, respectively. As a transitional strategy, they were effective, giving commercial network operators a bridge from the Internet's beginnings as a government-funded academic experiment, to the modern Internet of many private-sector competitors collaborating to form a network-of-networks, anchored around the Internet Exchange Points we know today.

This was particularly timely, coming hard on the heels of the ANS CO+RE scandal, which had shocked the nascent industry and caused commercial operators to realize that they needed to be able to communicate with each other independent of any third parties.

Today, the phrase "Network Access Point" is of historical interest only, since the four transitional NAPs disappeared long ago, replaced by modern IXPs, though in Spanish-speaking Latin America, the phrase lives on to a small degree, among those who conflate the NAPs with IXPs.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)

This protocol is used to assign IP addresses to hosts or workstations on the network. Usually a DHCP server on the network performs this function. Basically it "leases" out address for specific times to the various hosts. If a host does not use a given address for some period of time, that IP address can then be assigned to another machine by the DHCP server. When assignments are made or changed, the DHCP server must update the information in the DNS server.

Skeleton or Template for Web Pages

<?xml version "1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http:..www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head>
<title>A Basic Skeleton or Template</title>
</head>
<body bgcolor ="yellow">
<b>
<table border=1 bordercolor="blue">
<caption>Example of a simple data table created using HTML</caption>
<tr>
<td></td>
<th>Column 1 header</th>
<th>Column 2 header</th>
</tr>
<tr>
<th>Row 1 header</th>
<td>Column1 Row1</td>
<td>Column2 Row2</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<th>Row 2 header</th>
<td>Column2 Row1</td>
<td>Column2 Row2</td>
</tr>
</table>
</b>
</font>
</body>
</html>
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A site map (or sitemap) is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users. It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for web design, or a web page that lists the pages on a web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion. This helps visitors and search engine bots find pages on the site.

While some developers argue that site index is a more appropriately used term to relay page function, web visitors are used to seeing each term and generally associate both as one and the same. However, a site index is often used to mean an A-Z index that provides access to particular content, while a site map provides a general top-down view of the overall site contents.

Site maps can improve search engine optimization of a site by making sure that all the pages can be found. This is especially important if a site uses a dynamic access to content such as Adobe Flash or JavaScript menus that do not include HTML links.

They also act as a navigation aid [1] by providing an overview of a site's content at a single glance.

Most search engines will only follow a finite number of links from a page, so if the number of links is very large, the site map may be required so that search engines and visitors can access all content on the site.

Google introduced Google Sitemaps so web developers can publish lists of links from across their sites. The basic premise is that some sites have a large number of dynamic pages that are only available through the use of forms and user entries. The Sitemap files can then be used to indicate to a web crawler how such pages can be found. Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask now jointly support the Sitemaps protocol.

Since Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and Google use the same protocol[2], having a Sitemap lets the four biggest search engines have the updated page information. Sitemaps do not guarantee all links will be crawled, and being crawled does not guarantee indexing. However, a Sitemap is still the best insurance for getting a search engine to learn about your entire site.[3]

XML Sitemaps have replaced the older method of "submitting to search engines" by filling out a form on the search engine's submission page. Now web developers submit a Sitemap directly, or wait for search engines to find it.

XML (extensible markup language) is much more precise than HTML coding. Errors are not tolerated, and so syntax must be exact. It is advised to use an XML syntax validator such as the free one found at: http://validator.w3.org

 

Now that companies are running at full throttle in the brand-new year, it's a good time to do a quick maintenance check of customer-service standards—and size up staff performance in terms of the customer experience. Can't hurt, right? Here are some guidelines that might help the process: A recent post at the Thriving Small Business blog offers a checklist that details customer-service standards to be applied to a number of customer touch-points. Among their goals you might consider replicating:

A business plan is a document that summarizes the operational and financial objectives of a business and contains the detailed plans and budgets showing how the objectives are to be realized.

Because the business plan contains detailed financial projections, forecasts about your business's performance, and a marketing plan, it's an incredibly useful tool for business planning.

For anyone starting a business, it's a vital first step.

The business plan is the blueprint for your business. You wouldn't walk over to an empty lot and just start nailing boards together if you wanted to build a house. Starting a business without a business plan is just as foolish.

Yet unlike a house, a business isn't static. We often make the mistake of thinking of a business plan as a single, static document that you just put together when you're first starting out and then set aside.

In actuality, the business plan for any business will change over time as the business develops, and any particular business may have multiple business plans as its objectives change.

Here are five good reasons why you should write a business plan:

1) To test the feasibility of your business idea.

Writing a business plan is the best way to test whether or not an idea for starting a business is feasible, other than going out and doing it.  In this sense, the business plan is your safety net; writing a business plan can save you a great deal of time and money if working through the business plan reveals that your business idea is untenable. Often, an idea for starting a business is discarded at the marketing analysis or competitive analysis stage, freeing you to move on to a new (and better) idea.


2) To give your new business the best possible chance of success

Writing a business plan will ensure that you pay attention to both the broad operational and financial objectives of your new business and the details, such as budgeting and market planning. Taking the time to work through the process of writing a business plan will make for a smoother startup period and fewer unforeseen problems as your business becomes established.


3) To secure funding, such as bank loans.

You're going to need both operating and startup capital to start a new business and you have no hope of getting any money from established financial institutions such as banks without a well developed business plan. And established businesses often need money, too, to do things such as buy new equipment or property, or because of market downturns. Having a business plan gives you a much better chance of getting the money you need to keep operating or to expand.


4) To make business planning manageable and effective.

A business plan is essential if you're thinking of starting a business, but it's also an important tool for established businesses. Viable businesses are dynamic; they change and grow. The company's original business plan needs to be revised as new goals are set. Reviewing the business plan can also help you see what goals have been accomplished, what changes need to be made, or what new directions your company's growth should take.


5) To attract investors.

Whether you want to shop your business to venture capitalists, or attract angel investors, you need to have a solid business plan. A presentation may pique their interest, but they'll need a well-written document they can take away and study before they'll be prepared to make any investment commitment.

Be prepared for your business plan to be scrutinized; both venture capitalists and angel investors will want to conduct extensive background checks and competitive analysis to be certain that what's written in your business plan is indeed the case.

Writing a business plan is time-consuming, but it's essential if you want to have a successful business that's going to survive the startup phase. If your business doesn't have one, maybe it's time to start working on one. The process of writing a business plan can do wonders to clarify where you've been and where you're going.

Writing a business plan? Here is a business plan outline, listing the sections of the business plan in the order in which they will appear in your completed business plan with a brief explanation of each section to help you get organized and guide you through the writing a business plan process.

The Executive Summary

While appearing first, this section of the business plan is written last. It summarizes the key elements of the entire business plan. (Executive Summary Example)

The Industry

An overview of the industry sector that your business will be a part of, including industry trends, major players in the industry, and estimated industry sales. This section of the business plan will also include a summary of your business's place within the industry. (Business Plan Example: Industry Section)

Market Analysis

An examination of the primary target market for your product or service, including geographic location, demographics, your target market's needs and how these needs are being met currently.

Competitive Analysis

An investigation of your direct and indirect competitors, with an assessment of their competitive advantage and an analysis of how you will overcome any entry barriers to your chosen market.

Marketing Plan

A detailed explanation of your sales strategy, pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, and product or service's benefits.

Management Plan

An outline of your business's legal structure and management resources, including your internal management team, external management resources, and human resources needs.

Operating Plan

A description of your business's physical location, facilities and equipment, kinds of employees needed, inventory requirements and suppliers, and any other applicable operating details, such as a description of the manufacturing process.

Financial Plan

A description of your funding requirements, your detailed financial statements, and a financial statement analysis.

Appendices And Exhibits

Any additional information that will help establish the credibility of your business idea, such as marketing studies, photographs of your product, and/or contracts or other legal agreements pertinent to your business.

Each article linked above is part of this Writing A Business Plan series and explains how to research and write a particular section of the business plan in detail. The sidebar also lists more business plan resources you may find useful.

Key Threats Faced by Business:

Security
Getting Known
Expanding the customer set
IT Failure (Networking, Hardware, Software, etc...)
Business Software
Growing too fast
Trying to go it alone
Lack of Strategic Planning
Failure to innovate
Failure to recognize your own
Poor interpersonal relationships
Lack of cash (cash flow)
Not knowing how to manage
Poor Communications
Failure to seek and respond to criticism

Marketing strategy is a method of focusing an organization's energies and resources on a course of action which can lead to increased sales and dominance of a targeted market niche. A marketing strategy combines product development, promotion, distribution, pricing, relationship management and other elements; identifies the firm's marketing goals, and explains how they will be achieved, ideally within a stated timeframe. Marketing strategy determines the choice of target market segments, positioning, marketing mix, and allocation of resources. It is most effective when it is an integral component of overall firm strategy, defining how the organization will successfully engage customers, prospects, and competitors in the market arena. Corporate strategies, corporate missions, and corporate goals. As the customer constitutes the source of a company's revenue, marketing strategy is closely linked with sales. A key component of marketing strategy is often to keep marketing in line with a company's overarching mission statement

Basic theory:

  1. Target Audience
  2. Proposition/Key Element
  3. Implementation

Tactics and actions

A marketing strategy can serve as the foundation of a marketing plan. A marketing plan contains a set of specific actions required to successfully implement a marketing strategy. For example: "Use a low cost product to attract consumers. Once our organization, via our low cost product, has established a relationship with consumers, our organization will sell additional, higher-margin products and services that enhance the consumer's interaction with the low-cost product or service."

A strategy consists of a well thought out series of tactics to make a marketing plan more effective. Marketing strategies serve as the fundamental underpinning of marketing plans designed to fill market needs and reach marketing objectives[5]. Plans and objectives are generally tested for measurable results.

A marketing strategy often integrates an organization's marketing goals, policies, and action sequences (tactics) into a cohesive whole. Similarly, the various strands of the strategy , which might include advertising, channel marketing, internet marketing, promotion and public relations can be orchestrated. Many companies cascade a strategy throughout an organization, by creating strategy tactics that then become strategy goals for the next level or group. Each one group is expected to take that strategy goal and develop a set of tactics to achieve that goal. This is why it is important to make each strategy goal measurable.

Marketing strategies are dynamic and interactive. They are partially planned and partially unplanned. See strategy dynamics.

Types of strategies

Marketing strategies may differ depending on the unique situation of the individual business. However there are a number of ways of categorizing some generic strategies. A brief description of the most common categorizing schemes is presented below:

A more detailed scheme uses the categories [6]:

Strategic models

Marketing participants often employ strategic models and tools to analyze marketing decisions. When beginning a strategic analysis, the 3Cs can be employed to get a broad understanding of the strategic environment. An Ansoff Matrix is also often used to convey an organization's strategic positioning of their marketing mix. The 4Ps can then be utilized to form a marketing plan to pursue a defined strategy.

There are a many companies especially those in the Consumer Package Goods (CPG) market that adopt the theory of running their business centered around Consumer, Shopper & Retailer needs. Their Marketing departments spend quality time looking for "Growth Opportunities" in their categories by identifying relevant insights (both mindsets and behaviors) on their target Consumers, Shoppers and retail partners. These Growth Opportunities emerge from changes in market trends, segment dynamics changing and also internal brand or operational business challenges.The Marketing team can then prioritize these Growth Opportunities and begin to develop strategies to exploit the opportunities that could include new or adapted products, services as well as changes to the 7Ps.

Real-life marketing primarily revolves around the application of a great deal of common-sense; dealing with a limited number of factors, in an environment of imperfect information and limited resources complicated by uncertainty and tight timescales. Use of classical marketing techniques, in these circumstances, is inevitably partial and uneven.

Thus, for example, many new products will emerge from irrational processes and the rational development process may be used (if at all) to screen out the worst non-runners. The design of the advertising, and the packaging, will be the output of the creative minds employed; which management will then screen, often by 'gut-reaction', to ensure that it is reasonable.

For most of their time, marketing managers use intuition and experience to analyze and handle the complex, and unique, situations being faced; without easy reference to theory. This will often be 'flying by the seat of the pants', or 'gut-reaction'; where the overall strategy, coupled with the knowledge of the customer which has been absorbed almost by a process of osmosis, will determine the quality of the marketing employed. This, almost instinctive management, is what is sometimes called 'coarse marketing'; to distinguish it from the refined, aesthetically pleasing, form favored by the theorists.

Small business owners who are concerned about their sales and marketing capabilities could begin to see improvement by breaking down the term "sales and marketing" into discrete, manageable elements. You end up with a checklist that can be reviewed in order to prioritize areas needing improvement - a checklist that will serve as the groundwork for an effective marketing strategy.

In the suggested list below, I will use examples from a retail florist business to make some points clear.

1) MARKETS. How much do you really know about your current markets or future market? Why do your customers buy from you? What could you offer that would attract more non-customers? How can you sell to more of the profitable customers? If you add features or services, will people pay more for them or will they attract more customers? Are there bulk, institutional, industrial, or corporate markets beyond normal retail that you are ignoring?

Florist: Have you thought about selling regular weekly arrangements to area businesses, especially car dealers, law firms, real estate firms, etc. at a reduced rate, but with a one year contract for 50 arrangements?

2) COMPETITION. Who are they and why are they after you? What is the overall market trend and how are you holding up in terms of market share and profit position? How do you really rank against competitors? What substitutes are there to your products and how much of a threat are they?

Florist: If your funeral business is dwindling, what cultural trends ("no flowers" announcements for example) are important here and how can you counter them (such as sending flowers or a fruit basket to the home of survivors, for example)?

3) DISTRIBUTION. How can you get your products/services out to new outlets profitably? Are there unbranded opportunities? Can you bundle in your products with someone else's?

Florist: Can you partner with service providers for high school proms in the area (photographers, limo services) and offer a one-stop package for young people? This could become a good new sales channel for you.

4) SUPPLY CHAIN: Are you at the mercy of wholesalers for your raw materials or product components? How can you manage suppliers and gain more buying power over them? Can you simplify your products and reduce your supply needs? Can you buy in bulk and store them somewhere in a cost effective manner? Can you buy some things pre-fabricated cheaper than doing it yourself (or vice versa)?

Florist: Use the Internet to locate California-based rose growers who will air freight roses in volume for you and a loose consortium of other florists in your area. They'll give you greater variety at the standard market rate, versus reduced availability and price gouging during holidays from local wholesalers. Be prepared for friction from them, however.

5) POSITIONING. Where do your products/services fall in relation to the total market? Is this truly the position you want? Are you "all things to all people," or should you move more toward a high-end position (charging a premium for a differentiated service), or a low-cost position (undercutting others' prices but at a profit, due to high efficiency)? If you are truly "in the middle," you should examine how well you're doing regularly (with the help of a good accounting system).

Florist: Should you consider exiting no-growth "traditional lines" such as church flowers and move toward faster-growth lines such as silk flowers for weddings? Does your shop portray the position you want to be in?

 

Above, this article looked at the sales and marketing elements of markets, competition, distribution, supply chain, and positioning. Breaking sales and marketing into discrete elements lets you examine the sales and marketing elements separately and decide which areas you want to concentrate on to create an effective marketing strategy. Here are more elements of sales and marketing to consider as you're working through your checklist.

6) PROMOTION. Feel invisible? How can you change this? What promotion tools make the most sense to promote your products yet are consistent with the marketing image you want to project? How do you know if they pay off? Are you promoting on the Internet effectively?

Florist: You have run Yellow Pages ads for years. Maybe it's time to register in search engines so that people who search "POSTAL CODE, FLORIST" bring the name of your shop up. That's part of reaching your future market.

7) PRICING. What is your pricing strategy? Does variable pricing make sense for different markets, perishable products, or time-based sales processes, or various customer types? Are you charging for everything you do?

Florist: You have Poinsettia prices at Christmas that vary based on the size of the plant. Should you consider lowering prices pre-December 5 (to promote early sales), and raising prices slowly after December 20 (to maximize revenues from last-minute buyers)? Have you ever considered 2-for-1 sales for holiday plants, or a coupon for a spring bouquet for people who buy fresh arrangements in January and February?

8) SERVICE DELIVERY. How well and how consistently are you delivering/producing your products/services? What people problems must be addressed? Do you really train people in their overall role and mission, not just the mechanics of their job? How do you know your customer service is satisfactory? How can you use disservice situations to build customer loyalty?

Florist: Have you ever followed up with customers who stopped buying (or slowed down buying) to see if there are quality/service issues involved?

9) FINANCING. What is your capital structure? That is, what are the proportions of cash, bank borrowing, other borrowing, invested funds, and net income to your operation? Do you produce an annual financial report and a monthly cash report? Are there other sources of capital you should look at? Are there cheaper sources for say, bank loans?

Florist: As a member of an industry trade group (FTD for example), are there financial services or even loans they can provide that would be helpful? Are you big enough now for a CPA to really review your books and interpret your position?

10) STRATEGY. How can you build customer loyalty? How can you increase sales to existing customers (more frequent use or buys, selling a broader product line to them) or new customers (existing and new products)? How can you penetrate into new areas profitably? What new substitute products are successful at Wal-Mart or other outlets that you have sniffed at as not being part of your traditional business? What costs can be removed without affecting the value equation?

Florist: Summer sales are lackluster; have you considered holding gardening workshops in spring? Maybe bring in lawn and gardening experts to your shop to sell their lawn and garden materials, for a commission to you. This will help you meet your customers who are in lawn and garden shops at this time of year.

11) MANAGEMENT. What risks exist today and which are on the horizon? What is the likelihood and impact of each? How can you reduce both? Are there alliances that make sense? Are there trade groups you should be in? Are there natural ties that no one is exploiting-- like a video store letting people order a video with a choice of pizza from the next-door pizza shop for a specific time? Or letting customers return their videos to a local Starbucks they stop at in the morning?

Florist: Your shop is located in a major city. Identify and contact the more successful caterers and see if there is room for an alliance here, on the premise that you can bring each other in on larger events you provide services for.

12) INFORMATION. What information is your accounting system giving you about profitable lines, costs, and margins? If "none," why not fix it and start making better decisions? What advice can you get from a trade group or local retail association?

Florist: You have wedding, funeral, church, personal, plant, and supplies lines. Last year on sales of $500,000, you had a net profit of $40,000 (8%). Ever wonder which lines were profitable? Which were loss-makers?

Obviously this is just a start for developing an effective marketing strategy, but suggestive. It feels good to be able to check "OK" next to some of these, but it should also be empowering to prioritize those few that need your attention.

Here's How to Develop a Marketing Strategy:
  1. Describe your company's unique selling proposition (USP).
  2. Define your target market.
  3. Write down the benefits of your products or services.
  4. Describe how you will position your products or services.
  5. Define your marketing methods. Will you advertise, use Internet marketing, direct marketing, or public relations?
Tips:
  1. Your Unique Selling Proposition sets you out from the rest, don't try to develop a marketing plan without one.
  2. It's important that you have a budget developed for your marketing plan. Marketing is an investment.
  3. Revisit your marketing plan at least once every quarter. Are you on target? Do you need to revise it?
What You Need:

Internet Marketing Models

So you are convinced on the market potential of internet marketing business - one that has no inventory and high startup investments, and one that markets to 1.2 billion people out there who goes online and still growing.

I will presume here you are new to internet marketing. And you are wondering how to go about starting your own internet marketing venture.

First understand there are 4 common business models on the internet :

1. Affiliate Marketing

Touted as the easiest way to start an internet business. In affiliate marketing, you do not need to develop a product. You simply refer your customers to buy from the plethora of affiliate products out there. These are other internet marketing businesses (or what we call merchants) with ready and proven products.

You get paid a commission from the merchant for each successful sale converted. It may seem small money but successful affiliate marketers sell many different affiliate products at the same time which help them to achieve a decent income stream after a while.

To be successful in affiliate marketing, you need to identify winners to market. Do not sell inferior products for quick cash. You are doing yourself a disservice in the long run. The key is to build trust with your own customer base even though you may be selling other people's products.

2. Google Adsense

This is another popular way to jumpstart an internet marketing business and get some income rolling in. You simply put up very good information on your site or even a blog. Sign up for Google to have one of their advertising panel on the side of your page. You get paid whenever anyone of your readers clickthrough any of the ads.

A simple idea. Drawbacks are the income is usually not spectacular unless you have high traffic sites. It is usually used as a supplement rather than the only source of income for internet marketing venture. Another big problem with this model is that you are at the mercy of Google and should be banned by them for whatever reasons your business will be disrupted overnight.

3. Multi-level Marketing

The very pervasive nature of internet is a natural breeding ground for MLM programs we are all so familiar with. Health products, consumables, even educational products are all the rage now.

I do not claim to expert in MLM. All that I can say is that I have seen many MLM marketers fail over the years and the reasons are very apparent to me - product peddling with no focus on building long-term trust as everyone is getting into it for greed rather than product benefit. It is not a sustainable business model in my opinion and very often the early birds are the ones making all the money ... and you guess it from all down below.

Having said that, there are many successful MLM marketers on the internet and they are still making big bucks with the immensely huge global internet market.

4. Information Product

This is probably the best business model to pursue for the long run as you are actually building a proper business not unlike in the offline world. Only difference is that you sell knowledge or information products which means there is no inventory costs.

Here you create your own information product in a particular niche say golf which you are passionate and have expert knowledge on. You could also outsource this to ghostwriters out there who would happily write an ebook for you for a small fee.

Conclusion

Whichever models you pick, to make money you will need to be able to generate traffic to your site. Learn all the techniques involved in traffic generation, pick the right model you are most comfortable with, and you will be on your way to internet marketing success.

Integrated Internet Marketing's primary ingredients include:

Achieving your operational objectives using Internet Marketing techniques has a number of significant benefits, including being:

It's Targeted-- you can delivered specific messages to your target market, or any segment of your target market-by virtually any demographic dimension.

It's Measurable-- you can track all aspects of your marketing spend and campaigns, whether monthly, weekly, daily, or in real time. There is no more wondering whether your marketing spend is achieving the ROI and benefits you anticipated.

It's Flexible-- you can plan and execute campaigns more quickly, with shorter durations, with far less up-front costs than with traditional marketing

It's Adaptable-- with web analytics tools, you can identify trends as they are occurring and react quickly to modify your campaign, thereby saving significant marketing dollars and taking advantage of a new opportunities.

It's Cost Effective-- typical Internet Marketing campaign costs are 20-25% of those of a traditional marketing campaign.

With these benefits firmly in mind, let's take a look at the major elements of an integrated Internet Marketing strategy.

An Optimized Website- this is the foundation of your Internet Marketing efforts. I firmly believe that your website should be the center of the universe as it relates to your business. By combining relevant and frequently changing content with targeted messages and offers, you will build a community of prospects and customers that will return frequently. Add an architecture based on maximizing conversions, and you have a solid platform to build your Internet Marketing strategy around.

Drive Targeted Traffic to Your Website- A website alone is not an integrated strategy. It is a place where content resides, where people come to when they are searching for something, and where they will hopefully take the desired action. Your website may be a fantastic testament to your company, but if no one knows it exists, it's value is limited.

One of the most important aspects of your Internet Marketing effort is to drive targeted traffic to your website. There are a number of different techniques to accomplish this, including paid search marketing or PPC, organic search marketing or SEO, and a variety of Social Media opportunities.

These and other Internet Marketing techniques can be deployed simultaneously, but it is essential to understand how and where your target market looks for your product or service, so that you can create a plan that combines the right balance of these techniques to reach your audience with a targeted message and bring them to your website.

Convert Prospects into Customers- Getting your visitors to take the action you want once they land at your site is the closing step in the online process. This could mean registering as a lead, requesting a proposal, making a phone call, downloading a white paper, making a donation, signing up for your newsletter, or purchasing a product.

An aggressive Internet Marketing program that drives qualified traffic to a poorly designed website so that prospects don't take the desired action is a waste of marketing dollars. Success is getting your prospects to land on a page specifically designed to drive a conversion and to take the action you want them to

In a later article we'll talk in depth about the elements of a website designed to promote conversions.

Create Lifetime Customers- the old adage is that it is 8 times more expensive to find a new customer than to keep an existing customer. The expensive "courtship" process is over, and you have "consummated" the relationship. A key benefit of Internet Marketing is the ability to continue to engage your existing customer base periodically with relatively little cost and effort--enabling you to retain them as a customer so you can cross sell, up sell, and even sell them new products and services as they become available.

Email Marketing can help you accomplish this, while also enabling you to stay in touch with and develop prospects who have not yet become customers. Email marketing is a fine vehicle for continuing to stay top-of-mind with your customers, and bring them new content and new offers.

Another effective tool is Re-marketing, using techniques like Display Ads to retarget your message or offer to customers who have previously expressed interest in your business by visiting your website.

Measure, Analyze, Improve- perhaps the most straightforward adage is "you can't manage what you don't measure". A strong analytics tool and a commitment to use it religiously is an essential part of your Internet Marketing strategy. You can measure every aspect of your campaigns, at any point in the process, enabling you react far more confidently and quickly to changing conditions than with traditional marketing techniques. This will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of your campaigns while far more effectively utilizing your marketing funds.

A successful INtegrated Internet Marketing strategy is made up of all of these components-an optimized website, campaigns to drive targeted traffic, the right path, message and offer to make conversions easy, a commitment to nurturing your customer relationships, and the use of analytics tools to measure and manage you progress and results. And by taking an integrated approach to marketing your products and services over the internet, not only will you achieve the benefits above, but you will also increase the likelihood of achieving your operational objectives for 2010.

 

Commands Used to Determine the Health of the Network Connection

Arp
Finger
Hostname
Ipconfig

Pathping
Ping
Nbtstat
Net
Netstat
Nslookup
Route
Tracert / Traceroute
Whois
Winipcfg

  VOIP

The transfer of voice traffic over packet networks, and especially voice over IP, is rapidly gaining acceptance. Many industry analysts estimate that the overall VoIP market will become a multi-billion dollar business within three years.

While many corporations have long been using voice over Frame Relay to save money by utilizing excess Frame Relay capacity, the dominance of IP has shifted most attention from VoFR to VoIP. Voice over packet transfer can significantly reduce the per-minute cost, resulting in reduced long-distance bills. In fact, many dial-around-calling schemes available today already rely on VoIP backbones to transfer voice, passing some of the cost savings to the customer. These high-speed backbones take advantage of the convergence of Internet and voice traffic to form a single managed network.

This network convergence also opens the door to novel applications. Interactive shopping (web pages incorporating a "click to talk" button) are just one example, while streaming audio, electronic white-boarding and CD-quality conference calls in stereo are other exciting applications.

But along with the initial excitement, customers are worried over possible degradation in voice quality when voice is carried over these packet networks. Whether these concerns are based on experience with the early Internet telephony applications, or whether they are based on understanding the nature of packet networks, voice quality is a critical parameter in acceptance of VoIP services. As such, it is crucial to understand the factors affecting voice over packet transmission, as well as obtain the tools to measure and optimize them.

This covers the basic elements of voice over packet networks, the factors affecting voice quality and discusses techniques of optimizing voice quality as well as solving common problems in VoIP networks.

  CUSTOMER SERVICE LIFE CYCLE

 Introduction
Customers go through a life cycle of activities in the acquisition of a product - sensing a need, evaluating the market, acquiring, using, and disposing the product. For example, a customer has to identify his/her needs, search to find a product that will meet those needs, shop and acquire the product at the right price, get assistance in using the product, use the product, and finally dispose the product. Any attempt to make the activities easier or use less resource is bound to help the customer. Organizations can use this life cycle concept to identify potential opportunities in the different activities of the lifecycle to improve its customer service and thereby differentiate itself from its customers. There may be many hidden niche markets catering to certain activities that could be exploited by new businesses.
With the growth in use of W orid Wide Web (WWW), internet, and on-line services for business, there are many interesting opportunities created to exploit the potential of information technology to better serve the customers or find niche markets. Given below is a brief introduction to the Customer Service Life Cycle (CSLC) (Ives, 1987) that will provide a framework to organize your thoughts and explore the web for business opportunities.
Menu:
οRequirements
ο Acquisition
ο Ownership
ο Retirement

Requirements

This is the first phase of the cycle where the customer tries to understand his/her requirements. The activities in this phase for a customer are:
- Identify a need for a product/ service
- Detelmine the requirements for the product/ service
- Find the product that will meet the requirements
- What is this thing
-Why would I want it
-Which one is right for me
- How much will I need

Strategies of companies to service these activities are:
- generate interest in product thro' advertising, product demos, product mailing etc.
- get information on customers' needs
- identify ways to meet the customers' needs
- provide info. on the product in a format that is accessible and understandable
- provide consulting and info. service to enable customers assess their requirements
- develop requirements specification for the customer

 

 

Acquisition

In this phase the activities of the customer are:
- evaluate products in the market using  certain criteria
- identify the product source
- order the product
- pay for the product
- test and accept the product
- Where do I get it
- How do I order it
- How do I take possession
- How do I pay for it
   - How do I test and install it.

Strategies of companies to service these activities are:

- create facilities to enable customers evaluate products
- provide easy access for customers to order the products
- provide some flexibility to customize the product order
- develop easy methods for payment
- deliver the product quickly and without damage

Ownership or Stewardship

In this phase the activities of the customer are:

- Learn to use the product effectively
- Monitor the use of the product
- Upgrade the product if requirements increase
- Maintain the product
- How do I train people to use it
- How do I maintain it
- Where do I take it for maintenance and service
- How do I get an upgrade
Strategies for companies to service these activities are:

- Provide training manuals, tutorials, online sessions to train customers in using the product
- provide troubleshooting or hot-line support
- Gain feedback from the customer and upgrade the product
- After sales product service - preventive & breakdown maint.
Retirement
In this phase the activities of the customer are:
- Dispose of the product
- Account for the resources
- Resell or return it
- how much have I spent on the product

Strategies for companies to service these activities are:

- Create a used product market for easy reselling
- create options for returning the old product for a new one
- Provide accounting service and discounts for usage

8 Tips for Designing a Great Website

Square buttons, round buttons, flashy buttons … will they match my shoes, my handbag or my tie? Are you stuck in a maze of buttons, headings, bullets, sub-headings and colour schemes?

STOP!!!!

Take a deep breath and read some practical tips for professional looking websites.

1. Select a colour scheme and stick to it.

If your company has a logo or preferred colours on its stationery that’s a good start. For those of you starting from scratch, choose two or three complementary colours and stick with them – don’t change colours on every page.

The most common colour schemes include:

- Red, yellow and white
- Blue and white
- Red, grey and white
- Blue, orange and white
- Yellow, grey and white.

If you’re not sure what colour scheme to choose, surf the internet and find a website that you like. You can then model your colour scheme on what already exists.

2. Use templates.

Can’t find a website you really like? Another option is to choose a template. There are many templates or pre-set designs. These come as part of your web design software (such as FrontPage) or you can check out some websites that specialise in designing templates.

Visit:

www.web4business.com.au emplates1.htm
www.newtemps.com
www.website-templates-resale-rights.com
www.123webtemplatesandmore.com

3. Provide an easy to use navigation system.

This is one of the most important issues to consider when designing a website. You need to ensure your visitors can find what they are looking for easily. Most websites either display their navigation bar on the left or at the top. And since most people are used to this type of navigation, it’s best to stick with it.

It also helps to include your navigation bar at the bottom of each page to save your visitors from having to scroll back to the top.

4. Don’t go overboard on special effects

Whilst it is ok to have one or two special effects to jazz up your website, spinning graphics and logos often distract your visitor from the content, not to mention they can take too long to download. Your visitors may click away even before your spinning logo finishes loading.


5. Backgrounds

Ensure your visitors can read the text on the background, ie. no black writing on dark blue background or yellow on white. Also be careful that your links are visible before and after being visited. The default for links in most programs is blue (before being visited) and burgundy (after being visited), so if you have a dark background, ensure your links are light.

6. External Links

It is a good idea to open links to other websites in a new window. That way your visitors can easily return to your site when they are finished browsing the external link

7. Site Map & Search Feature

If you website is more than 15 pages, it is useful to have a site map or a “Search” feature to ensure your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.

8. Content is King

While it is important that your website looks clean and professional, it is far more important that you concentrate your efforts on the content and promotion.

If you want a professional website, things to stay away from include:

1. Flash intros, revolving globes, bevelled line separators, animated mail boxes
2. Loads of pop up or pop under boxes
3. Autoplay music. Allow your customer to play music only if they choose.
4. Hit counters of the free variety, which say “you are 27th visitor”
5. Date and time stamps, unless your website is updated daily or weekly
6. Busy backgrounds.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and get yourself focussed on what to include on the website and the best way to promote it. We will cover these topics in future articles.

SUPPLIER AUCTION

 

A reverse auction or supplier auction as it is called today, is a type of auction in which the roles of buyers and sellers are reversed. In an ordinary auction (also known as a forward auction), buyers compete to obtain a good or service, and the price typically increases over time. In a reverse auction, sellers compete to obtain business, and prices typically decrease over time..
In business, the term most commonly refers for a specific type of auction process (also called procurement auction, e-auction, sourcing event, e-sourcing or eRA) used in industrial business-to-business procurement.
In consumer auctions, the term is often used to refer to sales process that share some characteristics with auctions, but are not necessarily auctions
Introduction
This article focuses on the "e-procurement" definition of the term, as this is the most commonly found application of reverse auctions and the term "Reverse Auction" has become synonymous for most people with this type of auction.
Reverse auction is a strategy used by many purchasing and supply management organizations for spend management, as part of strategic sourcing and overall supply management activities.
In a typical auction, the seller puts an item up for sale. Multiple buyers bid for the item, and one or more of the highest bidders buy the goods at a price determined at the conclusion of the bidding.
In a reverse auction, a buyer contracts with a market maker to help make the necessary preparations to conduct the reverse auction. This includes: finding new suppliers, training new and incumbent suppliers, organizing the auction, managing the auction event, and providing auction data to buyers to facilitate decision making.
The market maker, on behalf of the buyer, issues a request for quotation (RFQ) to purchase a particular item or group of items (called a "lot"). At the designated day and time, several suppliers, typically 5-20, log on to the auction site and will input several quotes over a 30-90 minute period. These quotes reflect the prices at which they are willing to supply the requested good or service.
Quoting performed in real-time via the Internet results in dynamic bidding. This helps achieve rapid downward price pressure that is not normally attainable using traditional static 3-quote paper-based bidding processes.
The prices that buyers obtain in the reverse auction reflect the narrow market which it created at the moment in time when the auction is held. Thus, it is possible that better value - i.e. lower prices, as well as better quality, delivery performance, technical capabilities, etc. - could be obtained from suppliers not engaged in the bidding or by other means such as collaborative cost management and joint process improvement.
The buyer may award contracts to the supplier who bid the lowest price. Or, a buyer could award contracts to suppliers who bid higher prices depending upon the buyer's specific needs with regards to quality, lead-time, capacity, or other value-adding capabilities. However, buyers frequently award contracts to incumbent (i.e. current) suppliers, even if prices are higher than the lowest bids, because the switching costs to move work to a new supplier are higher than the potential savings that can be realized. This outcome, while very attractive to buyers, is often strongly criticized by both new and incumbent suppliers.
The use of Optimization software has become popular since about 2002 to help buyers determine which supplier to source the work to. It includes relevant buyer and seller business data, including constraints.
Reverse auctions are used to fill both large and small value contracts for public and private commercial organizations. In addition to items traditionally thought of as commodities, reverse auctions are also used to source buyer-designed goods and services, and has even been used to source reverse auction providers. The first time this occurred was in August 2001, by America West Airlines (now US Airways) using FreeMarkets software and won by MaterialNet.
The majority of purchasing spend subject to reverse auctions over the years has been in the category of buyer-designed goods, followed by services, and then commodity items. Today, an average of 5% of total corporate spending is sourced using reverse auctions. This figure was higher in past years, indicating that the goods and services to which reverse auctions can be successfully applied is limited.[1]
History
Reverse auctions gained popularity in the late 1990s as a result of the emergence of Internet-based online auction tools. Pioneer of online reverse auctions, FreeMarkets, was founded in 1995 by former McKinsey consultant and General Electric executive Glen Meakem after he failed to find internal backing for the idea of a reverse auction division at GE. Meakem hired McKinsey colleague Sam Kinney who developed much of the intellectual property behind FreeMarkets. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, FreeMarkets built teams of "market makers" and "commodity managers" to manage the process of running the online tender process and set up market operations to manage auctions on a global basis.
The company's growth was aided greatly by the hype of the dot-com boom era. FreeMarkets customers included BP plc, United Technologies, Visteon, H.J. Heinz, Phelps Dodge, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell, to name a few. Dozens of competing start-up reverse auction service providers and established companies such as General Motors (an early FreeMarkets customer) and SAP, rushed to join the reverse auction marketspace.
Although FreeMarkets survived the winding down of the dot-com boom, by the early 2000s it was apparent that its business model was really like an old-economy consulting firm with some sophisticated proprietary software. Online reverse auctions started to become mainstream and the prices that FreeMarkets had commanded for its services dropped significantly. This led to a consolidation of the reverse auction service marketplace. In January 2004, Ariba announced that it purchased FreeMarkets for $493 million.[2] Since then, other reverse auction sites, such as DubLi have started to spring up on the online shopping portal scene.[3] DubLi.com has been in Europe since July 2006, North America since October 2008 and Australia/New Zealand since November 2009. In March 2010 DubLi.com launches its global e-commerce shopping portal with two reverse auctions and a rewards shopping mall with thousands of globally known retail and online Merchants participating in the DubLi rewards cash back program.
Fortune magazine published an article in March 2000 describing the early days of reverse auctions.[4]
In the past few years mobile reverse auction have evolved. Unlike business-to-business (B2B) reverse auctions, mobile reverse auctions are business-to-consumer (B2C) and allow consumers to bid on products for pennies. The lowest unique bid wins.
Very recently business-to-consumer (B2C) auctions with a twist have started to evolve - they are more similar to the original business-to-business (B2B) auctions than mobile reverse auctions in that they offer consumers the option of placing a specification before retailers or resellers and allowing them to publicly bid for their business.
In Congressional testimony on the 2008 proposed legislative package to use federal funds to buy toxic assets from troubled financial firms, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke proposed that a reverse auction could be used to price the assets.
 Issues and Opportunities
Buyers, sellers, and market makers should adhere to auction rules and industry codes of conduct for the use of reverse auctions, if they exist. Problems arise when one or more parties fail to conform to auction rules. This can range from simple cries of "foul" to litigation.
Buyers should not assume that reverse auctions will, in every case, deliver savings - either on a unit price or total cost basis. Reverse auction savings can range from negative (i.e. it costs the buyer money) to neutral (i.e. no savings) to positive savings (average gross of 10-20%, but net savings is typically half or less).
A true representation of savings can not be achieved if unit price-focused purchasing metrics such as "purchase price variance," "purchase order variance," or "material price variance" are used. Instead, total cost savings must be calculated, inclusive of direct and indirect losses associated with using reverse actions, implementing reverse auction results, subsequent procurement activity, and related activities such as customer returns, defective goods or services, warranty expense, litigation, etc.
Suppliers are advised to determine if a value proposition exists for them that would warrant their participation.
Some have characterized reverse auctions as a technologically-assisted form of zero-sum power-based bargaining, or as "going in reverse" with respect to developing buyer-seller relationships, collaboration, and purchasing process improvement. Reverse auctions have also been criticized as "bid shopping" - when a buyer uses a supplier's bid to obtain lower prices from other suppliers.
Suppliers seeking to avoid reverse auctions can create unique intellectual property, expand the value propositions for its customers by creating new products and services, or seek to extend or improve collaborative activities with their customers.
Reverse auctions used in industrial business-to-business procurement and spend management activities remain controversial, both within buying organizations, among suppliers, and among the academics who study them. As such, buyers considering the use of reverse auctions should carefully evaluate all available information, both favorable and unfavorable, to ensure that informed business decisions are made
Current State
Reverse auctions (also becoming known as service auctions) are undergoing a resurgence at present (9/2008), as evidenced by a number of service auction sites for freelancers (e.g. eLance.com, guru.com, scriptLance.com) that are doing a significant volume of business both in number of projects and amount of money spent (20,000 projects in the last 30 days and over $100 million spent since 2006 according to eLance's website). There are narrow scope sites, such as those specializing in programming, technical writing and other professional, desk-based work (eLance.com, guru.com) or in home improvement and construction work, e.g. blauarbeit.de and eGenie.co.uk. Preserval Marketplace introduced reverse auction into carbon credits trading industry 10/2008[5]. A broad scope site, FlatDoor.com, covers all types of work in any part of the world, including volunteer projects for non-profit organizations.
One recent article in Inc. (May 2007; Reverse Auctions – A supplier's survival guide) by Mark Chafkin quotes Gartner Studios as having been successful with reverse auction bids. The same article quotes Sandy Jap, who studies reverse auctions at the Wharton School of Business as estimating that up to half of all corporate spending could some day be decided by reverse auction.
Gartner's keys to success as a supplier in reverse auctions are: (a) Thorough preparation – it's essential to know your costs, your suppliers, and your market to the greatest extent possible – tiny details can make the difference between winning and losing, and between being profitable or not; (b) Reverse auctions should be largely kept to the supply of commodity products rather than proprietary ones; and (c) Having a strong, competent bidder leading your effort at the time of the auction, with clear guidelines on when to bid and when to fold is essential. The results of these preparations and skills in the arena are that Gartner has been able to decrease their production and shipping costs by almost 30%; a little more than double their sales in 3 years (2003-2006); and increase their profits to an all-time high. "I know most people don't look at reverse auctions positively, but we see them as a process that makes you better," Gartner says. "If companies don't look at it that way, they'll lose to somebody who does."

 

 

 

 


You set up an auction on your website with all the details suppliers need to give you a quote, and then inform them to bid on the auction instead of faxing you. Suppliers compete against each other on-line and can make numerous bids to outbid each other in order to get your contract. This ensures the lowest possible bid** If you wish you can monitor the progress of the auction, but there is no need to do so. At the end of the auction (i.e. after several days), you get emailed with the winning supplier's details and bid amount. Of course, you are not legally bound to accept the winning supplier.

 

Let your suppliers compete relentlessly for your business.
• Use the revolutionary purchasing technology many huge companies use to save up to 50% on their supply costs!
• The newest technology in purchasing is now affordable!*
• The cost effective, very easy to use on-line 'reverse auction' where you ask suppliers to offer the lowest quotes for specific products or services.
• Save money: get the lowest possible quote, saving up to 50% !
• Save time: have the auction program automatically accept supplier quotes and determine the lowest one!

 

Supplier Auction has two modes:
·  Owner: which applies to the owner and his/her employees.
·  Supplier: for the potential suppliers who visit the website to bid for a supply contract.


In Supplier and Owner mode the website has the following buttons:
·  Categories: Displays the default page, a list of categories of the supplies being auctioned. For example for a furniture factory they would be: Connectivity, Mechanisms, Metallic parts, Packaging, Paints, Plastic parts, Wooden parts. When one clicks on a category, providing that that category has items, a list of items auctioned under this category is displayed.
·  New user: For anyone either employee of the owner or supplier to use the Supplier Auction site, he/she has to register as a new user first. After entering their details and selected a user name, they are sent an automated email (in order to verify that they entered a legitimate email address) containing their password. With their user name and password they are able to use the Supplier Auction site.
·  Change User Details: This allows users to change their password (to a more convenient one), their name, telephone and address.
·  Closed Auctions: This allows users to view auctions for items that have expired, in other words closed, in order to see the bidders or the final bid. Users can only see auctions that they have created or bid on.


Additionally the Owner has these exclusive buttons:
·  New item: This allows the owner's users to create new items to be auctioned.
·  Cancel auction: This allows for cancellation of an item for whatever reason (e.g. contains erroneous information or is withdrawn).
·  View user details: Shows any user's stored details (email, name, address, telephone).

Bidding procedure
A supplier is informed about the new way to get a contract with the owner (i.e. the owners auction site). The supplier visits the owner’s SupplierAuction site and registers as a user.
Then he views the available categories and selects one that he can supply for (e.g. a wood supplier would go to the wooden parts category of the furniture factory example).
Then he views the items currently listed under the selected category and he selects one.


After reading the detailed item description (containing quantity, quality, delivery terms, etc), looking at the item's photograph, seeing the current bid and his competitors bid history, he makes his calculations and makes a lower bid. The moment he bids, the previous lowest bidder automatically gets emailed that he has been outbid and is invited to bid again. In other words, he knows that for a bit less he can get the contract and goes in again and outbids the current bidder by a little less. There is a feature called stepping, that the owner defines for each auction, so that this "little less" is no less than the defined "step" in order to avoid bidders outbidding each other by very small amounts.


The essence of the SupplierAuction is that this outbidding and automatic emailing can happen many times in the duration of an auction (up to a month), with suppliers constantly bidding a bit lower to get the desired contract. The best part is that all this happens completely automatically with the owner not needing to do absolutely anything. When an auction finishes, both the winner and the owner are automatically emailed with each other’s contact details and the winning bid amount (i.e. the lowest possible quote for that supply contract).
Another optional feature is the "reserve price" that allows the owner to specify a price above which he considers a quote to be unacceptable. In other words, when the owner creates an auction he puts a starting price (which is usually a bit high, to lure suppliers to start competing) and optionally a reserve price to indicate to the bidders when a bid they just made is acceptable or not (bidders don’t actually see the reserve price, just whether their bid is over or under it).


Another feature is the "sniper protection": There is a typical trick bidders use at auctions, they wait for the last possible seconds before an auction closes and then they bid in order for the current bidder not to have time to counter-bid them. In that case our SupplierAuction automatically extends the opening time of an auction for a further 5 minutes.

Five hundred years before the coming of Christ, Babylonian men procured wives during an annual auction of women of marriageable age. 2 Would-be husbands bought the attractive women in traditional auctions with the lucky suitor being the highest bidder, but the less desirable females had to pay someone to marry them. The not-so-pretty women auctioned themselves off in what is probably the earliest precursor of a reverse auction in recorded history. Most likely using the prices paid for the good-looking wives as a starting point, the potential suitors competed to reduce their "bids" until hitting their bottom line--the bargain-basement dowry they would accept to marry an ugly wife. The man with the cheapest requirements took home a bride. 3

More than 2500 years later, the public sector has turned to auctioning to buy millions of dollars of computers, natural gas, airplane parts, dishwashers, pharmaceuticals, and even goats. In this day and age, however, the auctions have a new twist--they are online and they are "reverse." As they gain in popularity, the virtual gavel can be heard banging across the Department of Defense (DOD) and the entire federal government.

Government agencies are turning to this procurement tool not only as a way of leveraging electronic commerce technology, but also because it has significant potential to shorten the contracting timeline and, perhaps more importantly, to result in dramatic cost savings for the government. Not everyone favors reverse auctions' bid for acceptance, however. A number of legal questions and concerns about ...
 

Blend B2B Sales with Social Media: Here's How

Hundreds of industry experts are converging for three days of problem-solving at the B2B Forum this May! Here's just one case in point:

Problem: How can you blend B2B social media outreach with B2B sales?

Expert: Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Manager, HubSpot.

Solution: The key to monetizing B2B social media is to find ways to use the Web to solve problems for prospects, Kipp recently told MarketingProfs. He suggested a few steps to take to blend B2B social with selling.

Among his suggestions:

Read the full Problem Solved article with Kipp's advice now.

Then meet Kipp and his co-presenter, Kyle Flaherty, Director of Marketing at BreakingPoint Systems, in Boston in their session, Driving and Measuring B2B Conversations, Leads and Sales with Social Media Marketing. Bring your company profile, and all your B2B social media marketing questions!

We limit attendance to ensure you have face-to-face time with our speakers. Don't miss this brainstorming experience—unequaled in the industry:

… and so much more. See all the program details here.

Join us May 3-5 to solve the B2B challenges you currently face—and make 2010 your turnaround year! Remember to use your code MEM250 to save $250 by March 26.

 

Human resource management (HRM) is the strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organization's most valued assets - the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business.[1] The terms "human resource management" and "human resources" (HR) have largely replaced the term "personnel management" as a description of the processes involved in managing people in organizations.[1] In simple words, HRM means employing people, developing their capacities, utilizing, maintaining and compensating their services in tune with the job and organizational requirement.

Its features include:

But these traditional expressions are becoming less common for the theoretical discipline. Sometimes even employee and industrial relations are confusingly listed as synonyms,[4] although these normally refer to the relationship between management and workers and the behavior of workers in companies.

The theoretical discipline is based primarily on the assumption that employees are individuals with varying goals and needs, and as such should not be thought of as basic business resources, such as trucks and filing cabinets. The field takes a positive view of workers, assuming that virtually all wish to contribute to the enterprise productively, and that the main obstacles to their endeavors are lack of knowledge, insufficient training, and failures of process.

Human Resource Management(HRM) is seen by practitioners in the field as a more innovative view of workplace management than the traditional approach. Its techniques force the managers of an enterprise to express their goals with specificity so that they can be understood and undertaken by the workforce, and to provide the resources needed for them to successfully accomplish their assignments. As such, HRM techniques, when properly practiced, are expressive of the goals and operating practices of the enterprise overall. HRM is also seen by many to have a key role in risk reduction within organizations.[5]

Synonyms such as personnel management are often used in a more restricted sense to describe activities that are necessary in the recruiting of a workforce, providing its members with payroll and benefits, and administrating their work-life needs. So if we move to actual definitions, Torrington and Hall (1987) define personnel management as being:

“a series of activities which: first enable working people and their employing organisations to agree about the objectives and nature of their working relationship and, secondly, ensures that the agreement is fulfilled" (p. 49).

While Miller (1987) suggests that HRM relates to:

".......those decisions and actions which concern the management of employees at all levels in the business and which are related to the implementation of strategies directed towards creating and sustaining competitive advantage" (p. 352).

Academic theory

The goal of human resource management is to help an organization to meet strategic goals by attracting, and maintaining employees and also to manage them effectively. The key word here perhaps is "fit", i.e. a HRM approach seeks to ensure a fit between the management of an organization's employees, and the overall strategic direction of the company (Miller, 1989).

The basic premise of the academic theory of HRM is that humans are not machines, therefore we need to have an interdisciplinary examination of people in the workplace. Fields such as psychology, industrial relations, industrial engineering, sociology, economics, and critical theories: postmodernism, post-structuralism play a major role. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor and master degrees in Human Resources Management or in Human Resources and Industrial Relations.

One widely used scheme to describe the role of HRM, developed by Dave Ulrich, defines 4 fields for the HRM function:[6]

However, many HR functions these days struggle to get beyond the roles of administration and employee champion, and are seen rather as reactive than strategically proactive partners for the top management. In addition, HR organizations also have the difficulty in proving how their activities and processes add value to the company. Only in the recent years HR scholars and HR professionals are focusing to develop models that can measure if HR adds value.[7]

Business practice

Human resources management involves several processes. Together they are supposed to achieve the above mentioned goal. These processes can be performed in an HR department, but some tasks can also be outsourced or performed by line-managers or other departments. When effectively integrated they provide significant economic benefit to the company.[8]

HRM strategy

An HRM strategy pertains to the means as to how to implement the specific functions of HRM. An organisation's HR function may possess recruitment and selection policies, disciplinary procedures, reward/recognition policies, an HR plan, or learning and development policies, however all of these functional areas of HRM need to be aligned and correlated, in order to correspond with the overall business strategy. An HRM strategy thus is an overall plan, concerning the implementation of specific HRM functional areas.

An HRM strategy typically consists of the following factors:

The implementation of an HR strategy is not always required, and may depend on a number of factors, namely the size of the firm, the organisational culture within the firm or the industry that the firm operates in and also the people in the firm.

An HRM strategy can be divided, in general, into two facets - the people strategy and the HR functional strategy. The people strategy pertains to the point listed in the first paragraph, namely the careful correlation of HRM policies/actions to attain the goals laid down in the corporate strategy. The HR functional strategy relates to the policies employed within the HR functional area itself, regarding the management of persons internal to it, to ensure its own departmental goals are met.

Careers and education

Further information: Graduate degree programs in human resources management
Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations was the world's first school for college-level study in HRM

Several universities offer programs of study pertaining to HRM and broader fields. Cornell University created the world's first school for college-level study in HRM (ILR School).[9] University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also now has a school dedicated to the study of HRM, while several business schools also house a center or department dedicated to such studies; e.g., University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, and Purdue University.

There are both generalist and specialist HRM jobs. There are careers involved with employment, recruitment and placement and these are usually conducted by interviewers, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) specialists or college recruiters. Training and development specialism is often conducted by trainers and orientation specialists. Compensation and benefits tasks are handled by compensation analysts, salary administrators, and benefits administrators.

Professional organizations

Professional organizations in HRM include the Society for Human Resource Management, the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the International Public Management Association for HR (IPMA-HR), Management Association of Nepal (MAN) and the International Personnel Management Association of Canada (IPMA-Canada), Human Capital Institute (HCI)

Functions

The Human Resources Management (HRM) function includes a variety of activities, and key among them is deciding what staffing needs you have and whether to use independent contractors or hire employees to fill these needs, recruiting and training the best employees, ensuring they are high performers, dealing with performance issues, and ensuring your personnel and management practices conform to various regulations. Activities also include managing your approach to employee benefits and compensation, employee records and personnel policies. Usually small businesses (for-profit or nonprofit) have to carry out these activities themselves because they can't yet afford part- or full-time help. However, they should always ensure that employees have—and are aware of—personnel policies which conform to current regulations. These policies are often in the form of employee manuals, which all employees have.

Note that some people distinguish a difference between HRM (a major management activity) and HRD (Human Resource Development, a profession). Those people might include HRM in HRD, explaining that HRD includes the broader range of activities to develop personnel inside of organizations, including, e.g., career development, training, organization development, etc.

There is a long-standing argument about where HR-related functions should be organized into large organizations, e.g., "should HR be in the Organization Development department or the other way around?"

The HRM function and HRD profession have undergone major changes over the past 20–30 years. Many years ago, large organizations looked to the "Personnel Department," mostly to manage the paperwork around hiring and paying people. More recently, organizations consider the "HR Department" as playing an important role in staffing, training and helping to manage people so that people and the organization are performing at maximum capability in a highly fulfilling manner.