After writing my earlier post about branding mistakes, I was listening to a Copyblogger* podcast and I was reminded how important it is to have your own domain name. More to the point, I was reminded WHY you want to have your content show up under YOUR domain name.
How many times have you heard about someone’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media account being suspended? Just yesterday I read about a mommyblogger whose Instagram account was shut down over a minor terms of service violation regarding a photo. Right or wrong, all her content is no longer available. All her effort creating a page, getting likes, followers or whatever, and now it’s a big blank page.
The term is “digital sharecropping” and it applies when you put your content on any platform you don’t control. If someone else owns it, you’re beholden to them and subject to their whims. Without your own website – and your own domain name, you’re creating traffic for someone else. All that fuss you hear about SEO and Google page rank? You’re helping to build someone else’s reputation and traffic. Wouldn’t you rather have all of your effort benefit your own business instead of theirs?
Your Domain Name = Your Brand
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should abandon social media. Not at all.
First, sharecropping extends to free websites and blogs too. Anyone remember Geocities.com? They had tens of thousands of websites hosted for free. They all vanished when Geocities closed their doors. Today, sites like blogger.com, web.com, weebly.com offer ways to get a free website. [Read more…] about Don’t Be A Digital Sharecropper
We all know how important branding is to your business. That’s why you worked endless hours on a name, a tag line, and a logo design. And don’t forget the effort you put in to make sure you could secure a domain name that matched! But, there’s a major piece in the branding puzzle that is often overlooked, and it defeats all the work you put in to create a consistent image. Fortunately, it’s easy – and cheap – to fix this huge branding mistake. I’ll tell you what it is in a minute. [Read more…] about The One Big Branding Mistake Businesses Make
[The following information comes from Google Apps for Business setup wizard]
Google Apps works great on iPhones and other iOS products, where you can access your email, contacts, and calendar using the device’s built-in apps. This is easy to set up, using Google Sync.
Want quick access to your apps? Skip all this and access your apps in a moblie browser by visiting http://mail.google.com/a/<your domain name> on mobile Safari.
Step 1: Sync an iPhone with Google Apps
After you enable Google Sync for your domain, have each user follow these instructions on their iPhone.
- Open the Settings application on the iPhone’s home screen.
- Open Accounts & Passwords.
- Tap Add Account….
- Select Microsoft Exchange. [NOTE: screens may be different depending on your version of iOS]
- In the Email field, enter your full Google Apps email address.
- Leave the Domain field blank.
- Enter your full Google Apps email address as the Username.
- Enter your Google Apps password as the Password.
- Tap Next at the top of your screen. (Choose Cancel if the Unable to Verify Certificate dialog appears.)
- When the new Server field appears, enter m.google.com.
- Press Next at the top of your screen again.
- Select the Google Apps services (Mail, Calendar, and Contacts) you want to sync.
- Unless you want to delete all the existing Contacts and Calendars on your phone, select the Keep on my iPhone option when prompted. This will also allow you to keep syncing with your computer via iTunes. To sync only the My Contacts group, you must choose to Delete Existing Contacts during the Google Sync install when prompted. If you choose to keep existing contacts, it will sync the contents of the “All Contacts” group instead. If there are no contacts on your phone, the latter will happen — the contents of your All Contacts group will be synced.
That’s it! You can now access Google Apps from your iPhone. If you have Push enabled on the phone, synchronization starts automatically. You can also just open the Mail, Calendar or Contacts app and wait a few seconds to start a sync.
[The following information comes from Google Apps for Business setup wizard]
Using Google Apps on an Android is really easy. Just add your Google Apps account to the phone, then select the services you want to use. Each user should follow these instructions on their own phone.
- Open the Accounts & Sync Settings screen on your phone. You can do this in Contacts by pressing Menu and touching Accounts, or directly in the Settings application.
- The Accounts & Sync Settings screen displays your current sync settings and a list of your current accounts.
- Touch Add account.
- Touch Google to add your Google Apps account.
- Touch Sign in when prompted for your Google Account.
- Enter your full Google Apps email address as your username, and then enter your password.
- Select which services you’d like to sync between your phone and Google Apps.
That’s it! You can now use Google Apps from your Android.
What the heck is a virtual phone system? Well, you pick your main business phone number (or port an existing one) and then you can create extensions that forward the calls to your employee’s cell phones. There’s a lot more to it, and I’ll touch on that as you read on.
I’ve used these guys and been very impressed with both their service and with their customer service. A few months ago, I recommended them to a client who runs a decentralized, scientific consulting and engineering firm. He has an office in Tennessee and another in the Washington, D.C. area and has scientists spread around the country. I followed up with him about a month after he started using Grasshopper to make sure he was happy.
For his environment, Grasshopper works very well. Just one number to give to clients and the calls can route to any phone anywhere. He set up a local Washington, D.C. number and a toll-free number for everywhere else. He explained he used their “voice studio” to do the greeting and virtual operator recordings, and that his wife swears it’s the same voice actor used in an insurance commercial on television (unnamed because I don’t remember, and I don’t know their service so no plugs here).
So how could this help you? Well, if you’re a small business and you and your partners are working from your cellphones, this gives you one number to give to your clients. Like a conventional phone system, you can transfer calls to a coworker’s extension when needed. You also can have your “switchboard” route all calls to voicemail after 5pm if you want. There’s options to allow overrides for VIPs or emergencies if you want that flexibility. Have a sales team or a support department? Everyone can be treated fairly by having incoming calls rotate through the list so everyone gets a turn. Bringing on an intern for the semester? In just a few minutes you’ve added her to your directory and she has a voicemail box waiting for her to customize. Now if only the rest of your onboarding process could be so smooth.
Is it sneaky and deceptive to lead people to think your company is comfortably settled in one big office somewhere? No, I don’t think so. More and more, workers are becoming extremely mobile. No one blinks twice at the thought of a sales rep rarely being at his desk and using his mobile phone as his primary means of contact. Lots of huge companies have their PBX phone systems set up to forward employee calls directly to their cell phones. At the opposite end of the spectrum, small startups have been using virtual phone systems like this for years. Google Voice is a prime example. There’s a local bicycle cab company here that uses Google Voice as the sole way for customers to request a pickup. They text their address to the Google Voice number and it goes out to the drivers to let them know where to get their next fare.
Now that each end of the bell curve is using virtual phone systems, it’s finding its way into the mainstream business world. It used to be that flexibility like this needed a lot of hardware and a full-time trained technician to keep the system running. Grasshopper starts at $12 per month and all plans include unlimited extensions. Let me say that again – unlimited extensions. You’re paying for minutes used each month, not for the number of phones you forward to. They have lots of other features too – faxback document libraries so your clients can get order forms the “old fashioned” way. Voicemails that are sent to your email inbox. Smartphone apps that let your outgoing calls show your Grasshopper number. Yep, no more worrying about your family time being interrupted evenings and weekends because that “special” client got ahold of your cell number. And of course, since you can choose your Grasshopper number, you can get a ‘vanity” number – you know, like 1-800-555-TACO if you’re a Mexican restaurant. So give Grasshopper Virtual Phone System a try, you’ll like the freedom you get.