One less free online web meeting tool

For all of the small business owners out there who rely on online webinar or web meeting tools, your choices just got smaller. DimDim, which was arguably the leader in online web meeting tools, was just purchased by Purchased for an estimated $31 million (US), the DimDim team has a lot to be happy about, but this does leave a lot of small business users in the lurch.
One of the great things about DimDim, was the availability of a free plan which allowed users to host limited web meetings and webinars. Unfortunately, with the purchase by, this option is no longer available. The announcement was sent out today to all registered users and contains very little hope for fans of DimDim.
Essentially, DimDim will end all service on March 15th of this year. No extensions, no excuses, no exceptions. I for one am currently searching for a replacement for the free DimDim webinar service, and will update this post when and if I find one.

5 reasons why I got rid of Adsense

If you’re a frequent (or even repeat) visitor then you may have noticed a slight change. That’s right, no more advertising on the site. In the past, I thought it would be a good idea to run Google Adsense, in addition to a couple of affiliate programs. The thinking went something like this: “I get lots of traffic to my site. Most people don’t mind seeing some advertising, and it might make me a bit of extra money.” Well, frankly I’ve always been uncomfortable with it, and I recently decided to get rid of the advertising completely. The reason that I decided to stop advertising on my blog is trust. That’s right, trust. My blog is my social currency; I use this forum to help demonstrate my skill to potential clients and to establish myself as an “expert” in the field of technology. Running cheap ads on the same site just cheapens it, and gives potential clients that little bit of creepiness that comes from knowing I’m trying to make money off them. I make money by selling my skills, expertise & experience in the field of web development. I don’t need to run advertising alongside that. If anything it justs waters down my message, and causes my main form of advertisement (my website) to lose focus. In the end, I want potential clients (and everyone else) to feel good about visiting my website. I want them to get my message, and understand what Hibbitts Consulting is all about. I certainly don’t want to give them the impression that I’m trying to use them for advertising revenue.

Now, I still own other websites where advertising is more appropriate. I haven’t sworn off advertising, and I may still review & recommend services & product that I really believe in, but I will not add confusion to MY marketing message by advertising on my own website.

Of course, I lied. There aren’t really five reasons why I stopped running ads. I figure the one big reason counts for as much as five small reasons.

Sparkfun Free Day

Today at 11:00 am Eastern Time begins Sparkfun’s Free Day. Sparkfun is an electronics hobby website that sells some really cool electronics tools & stuff, and today they’re giving away $100 worth of stuff per order (per household). Needless to say this is an exciting day for geeks all over the world. Unfortunately, we’re 5 minutes into it as I write this, and Sparkfun’s server is hosed. This is an excellent lesson in internet marketing, both what to do & what not to do. Of course, the promotion is an excellent idea, however if they can’t execute it, then they may wind up generating more resentment than customer loyalty.

We’ll just have to see what happens over the next hour or so. I’ll post a follow up, if I ever get through.

Family Guy sells out to Microsoft

For the upcoming Family Guy special, you won’t see any commercials. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be bombarded with advertisements. It just means that the advertisements will be woven into the show itself. This is not a new concept, in fact this is a retrograde step to the early days of television, when Lucy and Ricky would break the fourth wall to tell their viewers about Ovaltine or Lucky Strike cigarrettes. However, given Family Guy’s brand of irreverent humor, I’m afraid that this is not going to work. As you can see from this preview, it’s just not funny.

Microsoft seems to have forgotten a fairly basic rule of advertising: Tailor the message to your viewers. Of course, I may be wrong and the special may make comedy history, but if it doesn’t, then it will serve as a reminder to all businesses. Make sure your advertisements reach your target market.

Your Customers Don’t Trust You!

A recent study by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading, the British counterpart to the US’s Federal Trade Commission, found that over 30% of online shoppers were afraid to make purchases online. Far and away the biggest reason for this fear was the fear of “identity theft” or of credit card fraud. That’s a pretty frightening statistic, but it does shed some light on two major points about your small business website. The first point is that your website has to gain and keep the trust of your potential customers. Secondly, your pool of potential customers just increased by 30%. That’s right, if you can implement a few specific measures to ensure that potential customers see your website as being trustworthy, then that 30% of the population is available to you.
There are a few specific things that you or your web developer can do to ensure that your website is trustworthy. The very first thing is to make sure that your website clearly displays several contact methods. If you have a business phone, make sure that it’s clearly displayed somewhere on your site, along with multiple email addresses and your physical address. Just knowing that a real person is just a phone call away, can have a huge impact on how much users will trust your website. Second, take the time to create and publish a privacy policy. Granted it’s generally a dry, boring document, but your customers will feel better knowing that you have an official policy for dealing with their personal information. And while we’re on that subject, always hold your customer’s information in the highest confidence. One slip can destroy your online business, so be careful. And finally, publicize your commitment to security. If you’re a member of the Better Business Bureau, then place their badge on your website, if your website uses antivirus or other security software to protect your customer’s information, then make sure that your customers know that. The perception of security is almost as important as the security measures themselves, at least from a marketing perspective. Once your customers know about the security measures that you have taken, they will feel better about giving you their credit card information, or their email address, or their phone number, and you will see more visitors turning into customers.

There’s no such thing as a Social Media Expert!

Linkbait, inflammatory titles notwithstanding, I’ve seen a lot of web designers, developers & PR firms advertising themselves as “Social Media experts”. One of my main goals, both in business and personally, is to help the average person understand and use technology more effectively, and Social Media is a part of that, however, Social Media is just too new and evolving too rapidly for there to be any real “experts” out there. So before you go and spend any of your hard earned revenue on a “Twitter consultant”, a “Facebook Integrator” or a “MySpace enabler”, there are some things that you should understand. Continue Reading…