Grow Smart BusinessUMDNetwork Solutions

Small Business Success Index 4

Index Score*   Grade
73 marginal
Capital Access 67
Marketing & Innovation 65
Workforce 76
Customer Service 88
Computer Technology 73
Compliance 92
*Index score is calculated on a 1-100 scale.

Search Articles

Posts Tagged ‘entrepeneurship’

What Sci-Fi Fans taught me about marketing…

September 22nd, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

This should really be called “What Browncoats taught me about marketing”, but I was a little worried that the niche title might not be understood. It also makes me realize that maybe Gary Vaynerchuk was right when he said, “Love the process and the results won’t matter”.

As listed on, “In the interest of full disclosure, Steve Fisher and Mike (Dougherty) are both co-founders of a non-profit film production company called Big Damn Fan Films…” and have wrapped principal production of our film “Browncoats: Redemption”. Our film is an independent film set in the universe established in Joss Whedon’s TV show Firefly, and later as a film Serenity, where proceeds will go to five charities. The fans of the show and the film are called Browncoats.

I tell you that, not to gloat on our project and tell you about it, but get that out of the way to tell you about the greatest example of Crowdsourcing and marketing that I am honored to accidentally be a part of.  For those that need to know, Crowdsourcing, as defined by Wikipedia, is “act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call.”

Over Labor Day weekend, we were at the science fiction convention Dragon*Con to promote and show the teaser trailer for our film, to be released a year later, on a panel. The panel was on Sunday morning and was the first thing of the day. We were concerned because this is notoriously the time of the weekend were panels aren’t heavily attended unless it is a major attraction. We were just a little film that, we thought, had only been heard of by a handful of people. We expected, if we were lucky, that maybe twenty-five to fifty people would attend. What we expected and what we received were two different things, but I’ll get to that soon enough.

Before the convention we promoted our panel as best we could to what we perceived was an audience of limited awareness of our project. We printed seven thousand postcards with the information about the movie and the time, date, and location of the panel.

Once we arrived at Dragon*Con and began passing out the postcards we learned people were already aware of, and excited for, the panel. Keep in mind, until we arrived at Dragon*Con, we did not heavily promote the panel. The information about it had been passed by word of mouth, from one fan of Firefly to another, and we quickly realized we had no control over the message going out. It was in the hands of our intended audience and they took leadership of getting it out.

We found that, because of love of the TV show ‘Firefly’ and an interest in our project, people were willing to pass out our postcards for us. We learned that, without being asked to, during other panels, that we didn’t attend, some people promoted our panel to a room full of people that were there to see something else. I was constantly surprised when people, who didn’t know my connection to  the film, would ask me if I had heard about my own project, ask if I knew about the panel, and tell me that they’ve seen a postcard promoting it that I should pick up.

Did I happen to mention we let go of the message? That is normally the scariest thing for any company to do, but because we loved the process of involving those who wanted to be…we couldn’t contain the message any more without doing damage to it. Thanks to the supporters of the film and those people we found knew about us without our influence, we moved 90% of our postcards by Sunday morning.

Sunday morning arrived and twenty minutes before the panel started we had, what was a 250 seated room, a standing room only panel. Additional chairs were brought in, but there wasn’t enough for everyone there. At the beginning of the panel we had to close off the doors and turn even more people away. We received 100 times more people that we ever expected…all because we let go of the message and let the crowd take over helping us get the word out.

A lot of valuable marketing messages were learned in this process.

We had created, in our postcard, a marketing piece that contained, from our mission statement to the date and time of the panel, everything the deliverer, and receiver, of that marketing piece needed to know. That postcard was sited, by several attendees, as one of the main factors, besides the enthusiasm of the person handing it to them, as their reason for attending.

We also learned that by stepping out of the way of those passing on our message, and by not overly managing them, they effectively, and passionately, spread the message of the panel for us. In that we created a greater connection to our project, and panel, than could have ever established if we held fast on to our message.

The most important thing learned from this is that you can apply this same strategy to promoting your business, your networking event, or whatever business venture you are trying to get attention for. All you need to do is be willing to trust those people that are extremely passionate about what you’re doing and give them all the information, and tools, they will need. The results will be a combination of efforts by people excited about something…which is infectious.

Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Love the process and the results won’t matter” and I agree, but I would also add “Respect the people who love, and support, your goal and the results will speak for themselves”.

Have you had equal success with a promotion or event of your own? I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Eight things to help you choose your next marketing piece

September 17th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

After some exchanges with a few readers of my previous post Eight Things to Have Figured Out Before You Meet Your Designer, I’ve been seduced by the list style blog. I know I’ve written that I don’t understand them, but, well, I’ve had a change of heart because they have said it helps them make a bit more sense of the process, something I love.

So with that in mind, I am going to start a periodical series of blogs called “Eight Things”. I am going to try to break down, either, the information you need to know or the steps you should follow to accomplish a task in your marketing goals.

I am going to assume you have your logo, business card, and a basic website, but you’re finding you need to make that next marketing choice. I am going to begin here with “Eight things to help you choose your next marketing piece”.

  1. Do you have a project in mind – Starting a project just for the sake of it is the sure fire way to end up with costly marketing piece lining your closet. Bounce ideas off of a designer, marketer, or someone who can give advice but without being bias. Take their comments as suggestions and not criticism. Sometimes what we think will be great, might only be worthwhile to us.
  2. What can your budget withstand – You’ve read me going over this before. And I’ve been victim of it early on, but make sure this project is not going to break the bank. Unless you are taking an EXTREMELY calculated risk with your finances, don’t create a piece that isn’t going to provide you a good Return On Investment.  I personally feel that you should be able to see a $2 gained for $1 spent for each marketing piece over the course of one year. For example, if your business cards cost $500 and in the course of one year they bring you $1,000 in a sale, or sales, then they are a success.
  3. Who is your intended audience – Marketing skateboarding to the elderly, or happy purple dinosaurs talking about safety to the corporate sales force, may not be the best audiences for these strategies. Know who will get the most value out of your marketing piece and tailor your piece to them. It might reduce the amount of pieces you create, but by focusing on your target you increase your chances of success.
  4. Do you have a plan to measure success –You should be able to track a sale or potential customer touch back to each piece you create. You can drive people to a specific web page, a specific phone number, or ask them to say a certain phrase. While there are some things you can’t measure, there are things you can with simple questions like “How did you hear about this [insert marketing campaign drive from your marketing piece]?” Keep this in the front of your mind as you’re creating your piece.
  5. What is the added incentive to contact you – Is it a discount code, a limited time offer, something for free if purchased, or simple…humor. Don’t forget that sometimes what you give might be a chuckle. Countless times I have been driven to learn more about a company from an entertaining advert, an emotion provoking commercial, or the incentive to get something more than what is being offered. Don’t limit yourself to needing to have more if you can give something of value for free.
  6. When do you plan on rolling this out – Timing can be everything. If you are targeting college students to do something during the school year…reaching them in the summer might not be the best time. Remember that the desire on your end to move NOW could be driven by the possible outcome you see this marketing piece giving you. A little patience could be the difference between success and a closet full of brochures.
  7. Will all of your current pieces have to be updated, even minimally – If you’re budget can’t withstand it, creating a marketing piece that completely redesigns your logo (so it also needs to be redone on your business card, website,etc.) might not be the best strategy. If your marketing piece does require a global marketing piece change, do a limited run of the effort and plan that in. It might mean you do less pieces initially or it might mean a complete re-branding of your company, but that’s up to you.
  8. How are you going to get this piece to the people – This is just as critical a step as any of the ones above and often the one most ignored. You’ve got the design, how your going to measure it, have your plan for when this will go live, but…how is it going to get in the hands of the masses? You need to come up with a plan on how each piece will get in the hands of those who need it. There are tons of ways to get it out there. Just choose one and stick with it until they are all gone.

I hope these eight small nuggets of advice give you some assistance when it comes time to start your next marketing piece. While some of these are assumed to be common knowledge, it’s been proven time and time again that sometimes common knowledge…isn’t so common.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and see if there is anything you think I missed. You never know, your comments might make it’s way to being one of the “Eight Things” in a future post. Of course credit will be given where it’s due.

You can leave a comment here, reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Customer Service Through Marketing

September 15th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

I recently came home from a convention with some of the best, and worst, examples of customer service through marketing I have ever seen.  Let me preface this with the fact that I won’t name names, but I will give examples of both. I also want to clarify what I mean by Customer Service through Marketing, but before that, so we are on the same page, let me explain what Customer Service is as defined by, the great, Wikipedia:

According to Jamier L. Scott. (2002)[1], “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.” (

When you provide a marketing piece that requires the user to follow an action, or call out, and somewhere on that marketing piece you provide clear, and helpful, instructions or tips…to me you’ve provided Customer Service through Marketing.

Personally, I believe that your marketing pieces, both physical and digital, have the ability go transcend the elevator speech type format they are traditionally used for.  When those geniuses of marketing decided to turn those pieces into a way to do more for the person holding them then just a sales pitch…they have gold. When they try too hard, and reach for the sun too soon, they end up leaving a bad taste in the potential clients’ mouth that ends up resulting in…well, you know, negative press. And unless you’re all ready a star…bad press is bad press.

So let me get the bad out of the way first. The hotel I was staying at recently touted that they had a fast internet connection in every room. They had signage at the front desk, in the room, when you turned on their TV, and on every marketing piece I got my hands on. After all this I’m seriously excited because, since it’s a hotel, I am expecting an experience greater than I get at home.

Now it doesn’t matter much to me that they didn’t offer wifi, paid or not. It also wasn’t that big of a hassle to reach in the cramped desk drawer push past their additional marketing pieces, and religious paraphernalia, to find the cable to connect my laptop to their…well…router.

Where they earned a Customer Service through Marketing FAIL was in their log in screen to sign up for the internet service. I try to log in and I’m having difficulty because the “Discount Code” they offer me for staying in the room, not that I would actually have access to their internet services outside the room, wasn’t working. Their Sign In screen offered a “Live Chat” service for help. I opened it and typed my concern. What came back was clearly automated. How do I know? After getting frustrated at the clearly pre-scripted as I began to type anything from “How did the chicken cross the road” to “Why can’t you help me” and the response back was “I don’t know the answer to your question. Please retype your inquiry”. The only thing “Live” about it was the human being sitting on my side of the laptop getting ready to rip the Ethernet cord out of the wall and run down the hall screaming to find a local Starbucks (located in their hotel lobby that does offer limited free wifi).

Clearly they assumed an automated FAQ cleverly disguised as a chat feature was more than enough Customer Service, because their front desk was even less help giving me the same responses that the automated prompt gave.

The hero of Customer Service through Marketing ironically the airline I flew home on. This airline was offering new in-flight wifi, at a cost, but they were offering the first use free. I was met at the gate by a young lady wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “Ask me about free wifi on your flight”.

I followed the first activity, in a series, that the airline hoped would enhance the experience enough that I would to engage their product. Their hope paid off, because the attendant informed me about the new service. Once I said I would give it a try, she gave me a card, the size of a business card, which had all the information of the service on one side and the complete instructions, including discount code, which would allow me to use their service on the other.

Once we were in the air, I tested out the service. I was more than impressed to know that their instructions were more than crystal clear. The wifi service even had a chat based Customer Service feature that, surprise, had a human being on the other end. I got all of my questions answered about which flights carried wifi, terms of service, and, since I am not a regular flier, a list of their payment plans which ranged from per flight to monthly basis. Needless to say, but I will be using their service again once I fly out on that airline.

The main reason, if not obvious, that I chose these two to talk about is that they are polar opposite examples, of the same service, of Customer Service through Marketing. One showed that they were only willing to go so far to increase the level of customer satisfaction that their service offers. While the other showed they valued their customer every step of the way.

The question I leave you with is this, dear reader, do each of your marketing pieces increase the level of engagement, and satisfaction, that your customers have with your product, service, or brand? Or are you simply providing just enough information to get by.

As all ways, thank you for reading and stay wicked.

Did Social Media Kill Traditional Media?

September 3rd, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

I was listening to that great song by the Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” as I realized, I love sitting in on meetings where you watch to two big factions of today’s marketing department sitting in a room together discussing the future of the marketing tools of their company.

I want you to picture a boardroom with a large rectangular table. Crowded around it are various business types for…let’s call it Company X. At the head of the table is the VP of Marketing/Communication or Marketing Manager. Now we’re not going to get into the ages of these people, because for the purpose of this post…just picture everyone at the table is your age, but just has different opinions. If you really need to picture ages of the people at the table read Jessie Newburn’s two part Generational Marketing Series. It might give you a greater scope, or help you relate more to this post, and if it would, please take a minute and read both parts one and two.

Since you have that vivid picture, now picture traditional media team on one side of the table and the “new media” team on the other both arguing why they are viable and worth the main focus of attention of the companies marketing budget. The VP or marketing manager stuck in the middle mediating the argument and seeing the good in both but fearing of wasting the all ready stretched budget.

Traditional media team is so entrenched in the way they’ve always done things and unwilling to change or flex. They passionately argue that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. They have a personal investment in wanting make sure their job isn’t swept under the rug of these new tools they haven’t fully taken the time to understand.

The “new media” team is happy to point out the poor ROI and how these new tools are the future and the other team should just accept and adapt. They passionately argue that this is the their target audience and they ignore old marketing tactics so these new tools shouldn’t be ignored. They have a personal investment in wanting to prove these new marketing tools are valid and useful so their job isn’t passed onto an intern or a secretary who may not fully understand what is needed to do the job effectively.

What I love about this is that, rather than talk about how they can effectively merge their communication, they argue sides like the marketing version of West Side Story (Don’t faint, but I’ve seen a musical or two). I really enjoy these “discussions” because it goes round and round, both sides arguing their strengths, until either the time has come and gone for the meeting to be over or someone waves the white flags and gives up the meeting to get lunch or a break from the arguing. This person is normally the one at the head of the table torn between the legacy of traditional media and the freshness of the “new media” tools.

I don’t think social media has killed traditional media, yet. I think it might be a few years away, but I think what will kill traditional media won’t be social media but a failure to adapt. I think that those staunch “new media” team members only users are so entrenched into their tools they aren’t inclined to invite the traditional media members to the party.

How can the two play nicely together?

In my opinion, we all know that most traditional media is a one way conversation, but what if that conversation was more giving directions to the tools on social media? What if an engaging blog, Twitter post, or Facebook comment referenced a clue to a discount in the companies’ print ad or news article? If advertisers can seep real world ads into video games, why can’t the two forms of media we have in existence find better ways to share the space?

There are a few really good examples of this done out there, but I would love to hear from you on what you’ve seen. What company, or organization, out there has cleverly caught your attention with the blending of traditional and “new media”?

And as all ways, thank you, if you’ve read this far, and stay wicked.

Not Everything That Can Be Counted Counts

September 1st, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

Albert Einstein was known to keep, and quote, a sign on his wall: “Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts.”

This got me thinking about the obsessive search for a Return On Investment, or ROI, in Social Media. This is mainly sought after by either people, or companies, wanting a quick fix to their marketing pains or the executives/manager who only know that you should track every marketing initiative to the Nth Degree.

I have watched as social media halted midway are abandoned and social media tools are abandoned, because there hasn’t been the immediate gratification of a high number of a return. I listen as these seekers of the magical silver bullet of marketing success cry when they only have 100 followers on Twitter, 250 Facebook Page fans, and insert a fairly conservative number of followers with a social media tool and this could go on and on. “Our competitors have [insert number far greater] followers on [insert social media tool]” is often the cry. “How are these tools effective if we can’t amass a large number of followers to do our bidding and pass on our one directional message?” Ok, that last one was overly dramatic, but it’s far more an honest question than the ones that are often asked.

Social media tools, and campaigns, take time to grow organically, because what is truly viral is lightning in a bottle. What those of us who use social media tools want is honesty in your intentions of the tools, a conversation, and to grow to trust your message if we have never heard of you before. If we have heard of you, this is your chance to shine and show us that we can/should believe in your product/services/etc. In my previous post “10 Ways To Get More Followers Using Social Media”, I gave some good tips for using social media tools effectively to get results. I invite you to take a minute and read it.

I come back to Einstein’s sign. Ok, maybe you only have a very small number of followers, but I have a question for you. If you’ve gained passionate small group of followers who believe in your message and want to help you get it out…is that less valuable than four times that many people who don’t care nearly as much about your goal/product/message/service/etc.? Using social media tools, you have the ability to grow long term connections that could reap you great rewards down the road, but may take nurturing and patience before you see the results from traditional media.

Now don’t misread what I’m saying. I am in no way saying you should track your social media tools, but I am asking you to be realistic about what you’re seeing. If you find that you are getting quality results out of a low number of followers then you are having thousands of followers who lurk around your blog, facebook, twitter feed, and etc., but never interact with your brand or share your message…why would you ignore these few, but faithful, followers?

It comes down to the age old question, is it quantity over quality?

I would love to hear which it is for you.

Thank you for reading and, as all ways, stay wicked.

Just take the black eye with a smile…

August 25th, 2009 :: Michael Dougherty

I just got out of a “social media” round table discussion with several individuals whose companies are still either new to or on the verge of starting with social media. What I found the most interesting was that they were still trying to fit the square peg of traditional marketing into the round hole of social media. Now don’t get me wrong, the two work hand in hand, but you can’t force one to be the other.

Where does getting a black eye come into all of this?

The biggest concern I heard was “If we open our organization up to these tools then we’ll see all the negative things people say about us.”


I’ve also got some other really bad news for you if that’s your primary concern for not getting involved in social media…people are going to speak negatively about your
company/organization/product/service whether you like it/want them to or not. Social media doesn’t stop that, but gives the world a more transparent environment to air their grievances. I am strictly going to focus on the social media side of things, but I believe this can translate to the real world as well.

You’ll be surprised to know that most people I have talked to who complain on social media do so in hopes that the person/company/service they are complaining about will actually hear them. Imagine what you could do when the biggest advocate of an issue with your service, becomes your biggest advocate to your solution.

How you handle/react to those negative comments, both in the real world and in the realm of social media, will separate you from the others in your industry, and earn some valued respect and appreciation from clients.

Kermit Pattison, over at, put out an article called “Managing an Online Reputation“* in which he goes over some great advice, but I would like to offer a few of my own.

1) P.T Barnum is famously quoted as saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time.” Recognize that no matter what you do you’re going to get bad comments from someone. Probably for reasons well beyond your control, maybe for something you didn’t even realize would be a cause of pain for someone, but it will happen. I believe it is what you do with that information that will set you apart from your competition.

2) Know this isn’t your time to attack back, but your time to listen. If you can source those people/complaints out, source out the reason for their unhappiness, and do your best to resolve it…I believe you are more likely to see an unhappy client/vendor/etc. become someone who looks at your company/services/etc. with a bit more understanding. Just don’t go killing yourself trying to find them. Don’t become so obsessed on trying to find that black eye that you end up giving yourself one by neglecting other areas of your business.

3) Smile. Black eyes hurt, but they aren’t the end of the world. I look at them as learning experiences and sometimes even badges of honor. Don’t live in fear of when or where the black eye is going to come from, but be prepared, when it does, to take it like a champ. Don’t fall back and whine. Get out there and take the next one with an even bigger grin. You are here to server your customers good AND bad. One should not get attention over the other, but one should make you work harder to make sure you/your company/your services are doing everything you can to make sure that misstep won’t happen again.

4) Learn from it damn it! You got the black eye for one reason or another. The worst thing you can do is ignore the reason you got it and act just as surprised the second time around when you get one for the same reason. For Pete’s sake (who says that these days anyway…well…me), take away some knowledge from the experience.

In closing, dear reader, black eyes are going to happen. I’ve had my fair share and probably have more in store in the future.  Some we deserve, some we’re unsure if we earned, and some we know should be someone else’s. In the end, black eyes fade and tomorrow is another day.

Until next time, as always, thank you for reading and stay wicked.

Social Media: 10 Tips on Jumping In Feet-First Without Drowning

August 11th, 2009 :: Michelle Riggen-Ransom

This post comes from one of our Grow Smart Business Expert Network members Michelle Riggen Ransom. She is Communications Director of BatchBlue Software.

There are a lot of resources out there explaining how to use social media for small businesses. Heck, we’ve even published an in-depth paper about it! But sometimes it’s nice to hear directly from someone who’s out there trying all this stuff to see what’s really worked for them.

How we do it

BatchBlue Software is a small company that makes BatchBook, a social CRM software for small businesses. Because we’re a growing company, we don’t have much of an advertising or marketing budget. Social media’s appeal for us has been that it is inexpensive (usually free except for time) and allows you to grow your network quickly. And once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty fun.

We’ve been in business for about three years and have enjoyed some great press, made some amazing connections and grown our business primarily by using social media.

Here’s what’s worked for us in helping our business get started with social media:

  1. Start a Twitter account. You’ll hear this from anyone and everyone talking about social media. That’s because it really is the best tool of them all for connecting with people, finding new contacts, even providing customer service. There are many, many posts out there about how to get started with Twitter for business. Here are just a few.
  2. Listen. Familiarize yourself with the main social media channels out there such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Ask your customers which ones they are using on a regular basis. For more options, check out BatchBlue’s Blue Paper or Mashable, a blog focused on Web 2.0 and social media news. Create accounts in a couple of social networks and just observe how people are interacting. You’ll learn a lot this way.
  3. See what your competitors are doing. Go to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and have a look at your competitors are doing in these spaces. If they’re not there, think about if it makes sense for you to be there (is the network you want to reach in that particular space? Maybe not.) If they are not there yet, this could be a tremendous opportunity for you and your business to be the first ones in your industry using some of these tools.
  4. Be nice. The real fun begins once you start participating. Social media is very much about helping others succeed, not just going after your own personal success. Karma goes a very long way online – if you help someone in some way (by providing a resource, a link, an answer to a question), they’ll both remember you and view you as an asset to their network.
  5. Share. Whatever your industry, you have knowledge that other people don’t. Run a fireplace supply store? Blog about when people should get their chimneys swept. Own a pet grooming business? Tweet some quick tips about clipping kitty nails (hint: there’s a lot of pet lovers on Twitter!). Social media is about communication: the more you share what you know, the more you’ll get interest in your company and the product or service you are providing.
  6. ABC (Always Be Communicating) The sales industry has the term “Always Be Closing.” Well, you should be doing that, too, but with regard to social media, the more information you put out there, the better (as long as it is relevant, interesting and not spammy!) At BatchBlue, we use our blog to talk about what’s going on behind the scenes with BatchBook, we use our Twitter account to communicate if our site has any downtime and talk about upcoming events, we share photos of staff events and conferences using Flickr. People want to do business with companies they feel they know; it was true 100 years ago and it is true today even though the rules and the tools have changed. Be open and honest about who you are as a company and that will earn you customer loyalty that no advertising dollar will ever buy.
  7. Don’t be creepy. There are a lot of great ways to use social media, but there are a lot of inappropriate ways as well. We call these people “Sleestacks”; folks who use social media to spam people, spy on people or in other nefarious ways. I wrote a post about Sleestacks here; read it so you know what to watch out for and how not to become one.
  8. Try new things. Something that has been very successful for us is starting the SBBuzz Twitter chat, where we host a weekly, two-hour chat session on Twitter for small business folks looking to connect with others. Our company president Pamela O’Hara and I started this just about a year ago at the Small Business Technology Conference in New York City and we now have over 9,000 followers on the sbbuzz Twitter account. We had never done this before, and, in fact, we’re still learning the technology ourselves, but we saw a need for this type of discussion and we’re excited to jump in and try and fill it. If new for you is simply joining Twitter or opening a YouTube account and putting up some product demos, try that. As I always tell my mom (who’s a small business owner herself) “You can’t break the Internet just by trying something out!”
  9. Manage your time. This is one I’m, admittedly, still learning. Social media can be very addictive and thus very time-consuming. The always helpful Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs and a prolific writer on the topic of social media, recently wrote a great piece as part of a recent newsletter about how he manages his daily workflow when much of it involves being active various social media channels. I’m working on adopting some of his strategies to make my work day more efficient and productive.
  10. Go to social media-related events. You’ll find that you start making real connections with certain people online due to shared interests, sense of humor, etc. If you have a chance to meet with folks “IRL” (in real life!) at conferences or meet-ups, definitely do so; it will strengthen these connections and turn virtual friends into real ones. Eventbrite is a good place to find events that you may be interested in attending. You can search by industry, topic or location or even create an event of your own.

I hope you find these tips helpful. BatchBlue will be blogging here on the topics of social media for small business and managing your contact network on a regular basis, so please let me know in the comments if there are specific things you’d like to read more about. Thanks for reading!


As overseer of all things editorial and champion of the overall user experience, Michelle works as Communications Director for BatchBlue Software and ensures that the products meet BatchBlue customers’ needs. Prior to joining BatchBlue Software, her work as a consultant for web communications helped clients connect to their employees and customers using innovative technologies such as virtual user groups, intranets, and rich media.

Michelle honed her on-line customer advocacy skills at, where she worked as a project manager in the Customer Service department. After four years at Amazon, she joined Washington Mutual’s Corporate Communications department developing and managing web-based communications projects.

Michelle holds a Master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Washington and a degree in communications from Boston University. Originally from Cape Cod, she enjoys exploring the beach with her four-year old son and collecting children’s book illustrations. Descended from a long line of birders, she’s destined to become a crazy bird lady. For now, she’s named her new daughter after a songbird that heralds the arrival of spring.

Creative Ways to Improve Your Business Operations During a Recession

March 20th, 2009 :: Steven Fisher

Recently, Asher Epstein, Executive Director of the Dingman Center, at University of Maryland, College Park’s Smith Business School provides some sage advice to businesses on how to survive the current recession.

Part 1 of 2 – Asher talks about renegotiating terms, creative financing ways like customer funding, strengthening your balance sheet:

Part 2 of 2 – Asher offers advice on attracting new customers, how to demonstrate business history and strength to build confidence: