Archive for Internet

Can You Beat Your Competition? What’s Your Marketing Strategy?

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Competition

Today’s economy is tough, and businesses are working harder than ever to stay afloat. Do you know what it will take to beat your competition for that next customer? If you don’t, you could lose them to the competition. Having a marketing strategy is critical to any business’ success. A marketing strategy will help identify the customers that you serve and how you can meet their needs. Let’s talk about how you can create a marketing strategy to outfox your competition big time!

Identify your competition. Who is your competition? Off the top of your head, you should know who your top 3 or 5 biggest competitors are. If you don’t, this is probably a good place to start. Where would a customer shop if they didn’t come to you? You may have to think a little creatively depending on what type of industry or niche you are in, and if you are brick and mortar or online business. An online business can use keywords to help identify their competition. A brick and mortar store may use things like location and word of mouth to help know who their competition is.

What are your top selling products? This is an important part of your marketing strategy. It is so helpful to know what your customers know you are the go-to company, store or business to come to for. Look at your sales records for the past three to six months and see what your top 10 products are. If they are different than what you thought they would be, make a note of this for your own record keeping and business plan.

Do your homework. Once you know who your competition is, it is time to research them. Visit their online websites or brick and mortar locations. Read news stories that have been written about them. If they are a publicly traded company, read their stock reports. Try buying a few products and/or calling Customer Service and make a note of your experiences.

Ask your customers for their two cents. Your customers are a valuable resource when it comes to marketing because they are doing business with you. Send out a short survey with a Thank You gift and ask their opinion. Keep in confidential so they can feel free to give their unedited opinions.

Look at your business plan. Once you have done additional research for your marketing strategy, it is time to look at your business plan. It may be time to make changes to your business plan due to your new and updated marketing strategy. You may consider adding new products or reducing the products you sell. You can look at your business plan before doing this research, but it will be hard to make any changes until you have completed this work.

Small business owners are busy, and no one likes to think about having an additional task. But taking the time to analyze your competition can save you time and money. If you understand why your competition is successful, it can help you decide to make changes. Whether you decide to carry new products, reduce the products you sell or to change your marketing strategy, you are on your way to successful results.

Source: http://www.sba.gov/content/marketing-101

January 9, 2013 |  by  |  Business, Internet, Marketing  |  Comments Off

Optimizing Computer Performance: 6 Tips

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A lot of us complain about our computers being slow. For the most part, it is our fault because we neglect to maintain them properly; there are lots of easy ways to keep it up to snuff and we simply do not do them. One of the biggest culprits is loading up the hard drive with loads of information you do not need. Here are some tips for keeping your PC from getting bogged down.

Run a Disk Clean Up

Regularly running a disk clean up is a great way to get rid of unnecessary files taking up space on your hard drive, such as memory dumps. You can access this program by clicking on Start: All Programs: Accessories: System Tools: Disk Clean Up. Ideally, you should run this program at least once a week.

Run Disk Defrag

Disk defragmentation does not delete any files but it helps organize them in a way that takes up less space on your hard drive. You can access this tool by clicking Start: All Programs: Accessories: System Tools: Disk Defragmentation. Like Disk Clean Up, aim to run defrag at least once a week.

Delete Unnecessary Files the Proper Way

Simply moving files to the recycling bin is not enough to free up space on your computer. To permanently delete files, go to Start: Control Panel: Programs and Features. Here you will see options to uninstall programs. Simply select programs you no longer need and click Uninstall/Change. This is a great way to free up space since you will have a complete list of all installed programs on your computer. You can get rid of the programs that came with your computer that you never use and all applications that you installed long ago and no longer have a need for. For optimal results, reboot your computer after each uninstall.

Zip Your Files

Using a zip program to store your files is a great way to save space. Zipping your files compresses them so they take up less space. This may be particularly good for files that are older and you do not use as much but that you still may need to keep. You can find lots of free programs online if you do not want to buy the software.

Store Music Somewhere Else

The internet has changed the way we listen to and buy music. Most of us have a ton of it saved to our computer. Music files are large and take up a ton of space. If you are a music junkie, consider storing it somewhere else, like an external hard drive.

Run Malware Regularly

Nothing will slow down computer performance more quickly than viruses and spyware. Regularly running system checks is probably the best way to optimize computer performance. The best part it, there are lots of high quality free programs available so you do not have to buy software if you do not want to. Anti-virus software should be set to check your system continuously. Spyware should be run at least weekly, but optimally, every day.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers a wide range of topics. If you like to watch video on your computer and want a program that runs smoothly and does not take up a lot of space, check out media player classic.

Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ph0rk/

August 20, 2012 |  by  |  Internet  |  Comments Off

How To Protect Your Computer From Online Viruses

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How To Protect Your Computer From Online Viruses

Enjoying an online connection at home comes with a host of potential dangers. Viruses, spyware, and Trojans lurk in the deep recesses of the internet and wait for unwary passersby. If they gain access to your PC, they can cause an assortment of problems. These programs can duplicate themselves and hijack the functions of your hard drive. Fortunately, protecting your computer from these online threats is simple. Below, we’ll explain the dangers and describe the steps you should take in order to safeguard your PC.

The Dangers Explained

Viruses are particularly nasty programs. While some are relatively benign, others can trigger processes that damage your machine. For example, they might begin to arbitrarily delete files, hamper your RAM, or wipe your entire hard drive clean. These bugs usually need a host file to trigger them.

Worms are a bit different. They can do most of what a virus does, but do not need to travel with another program in order to spread. Instead, worms can duplicate themselves and distribute copies across an entire network.

Trojans masquerade as helpful programs that perform a requested function. However, underneath the surface, they’re programmed to trigger processes that are unauthorized. They don’t replicate themselves like the other bugs, nor do they infect other files. But, they can still wreak havoc on your machine. Hackers will often use them to gain remote access to a person’s computer and retrieve private information.

Easy Steps To Protecting Your Computer

If you’re using a Windows computer, make sure you’re downloading all Windows updates as they’re released. Newer machines should be programmed to do this automatically. The updates often have small patches that help prevent viruses, worms, and Trojans from getting through to your PC.

You should also invest in a good antivirus software. Check with your internet service provider; they might offer a free option. Whether you use your ISP’s antivirus software or a package that you download elsewhere, be sure to keep it updated. There are new bugs that are created each week.

Next, install a firewall to close off unnecessary ports and keep hackers from accessing your PC. Windows XP comes with a free firewall; most wireless routers do, too. That said, you can also find robust, practically bulletproof alternatives online.

Finally, be wary about downloading software from websites that are unfamiliar to you. Many of the bugs that circulate online find a way onto surfers’ computers through these downloads. If an application is offered by Microsoft or another well-known site, it’s fine to download it. If it comes from a foreign site that you have never visited before, take caution.

Residential high-speed internet access has changed the way we live our lives. But, keep in mind that viruses, worms, and Trojans lurk online. By taking the steps described above, you can enjoy your connection to the internet while making sure your computer is protected.

September 23, 2010 |  by  |  Internet  |  Comments Off

Leveraging RSS Feeds Through Your Internet Connection

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Leveraging RSS Feeds Through Your Internet Connection

Enjoying affordable online access at home has completely changed the way in which we live. More than ever, we use the internet to keep up with current events, communicate with our friends and family, and purchase products. We also consume far more information than our parents did (or their parents before them). Indeed, there are billions of websites that offer a continuous stream of news, entertainment, personal meanderings, and other forms of content. The challenge is figuring out how to manage it. Enter RSS.

RSS (also known as Really Simple Syndication) feeds allow you to receive customized streams of content that you choose. For many people, these feeds represent the only way they can find the time to enjoy news, articles, and their favorite blogs. In this article, we’ll explore some of the content you’ll find online and explain how you can read it.

Types Of Content You Can Enjoy Online

Consider the types of information that you normally enjoy and the websites you visit regularly throughout the week. That might include popular news-related sites (i.e. CNN.com, NYTimes.com, etc.), blogs, videos on YouTube, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Each of these websites can deliver their content to you through RSS. In the case of sites that offer stories and articles on a variety of topics, you can customize the feeds to include only what you prefer.

To better manage the streams you’ll receive, it’s important to identify each source you intend to follow and its publishing frequency. Many of them will allow you to customize the stream in order to suit your appetite. For example, a popular blog with multiple writers might update over 100 times each day. In that case, having the option to receive a daily synopsis might be preferable to receiving a continuous trickle of items.

Offline Versus Online Readers

You’ll need a reader in order to read your RSS feeds. Some readers are designed to download content and store it offline for you. Others collect your subscribed content streams while you’re browsing and allow you to peruse them online. The most significant difference between online and offline readers is that the former lets you check your feeds from any computer. The latter requires you to use the computer to which you’ve downloaded the reader.

The online RSS readers offer a few additional features, which may be valuable to you based upon how you prefer to enjoy your feeds. For example, Google Reader allows you to mark up web pages included in the streams and share them with other people. Whether or not that is useful to you depends partly upon your browsing habits and the manner in which you network with others.

RSS feeds are an ideal solution for managing the information you want to read while not becoming overwhelmed in the process. When it first debuted, it was mostly used by people who were technically savvy. However, with today’s easy-to-use tools, RSS has become a simple information-gathering platform that anyone can leverage.

April 14, 2010 |  by  |  Internet  |  Comments Off

Using The Internet: Should Cookies Concern You?

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Using The Internet: Should Cookies Concern You?

When home internet access reached the tipping point years ago, it became increasingly important for websites to personalize the visitor’s experience. One of the ways in which sites made it easier for people to enjoy their experience was to remember key information about them. For example, if a site required a password in order to log into a protected area, the visitor would be remembered, eliminating the need for them to log in each time. Or, if they had purchased items in the past, their buying history would be remembered.

Cookies are used to perform this function. Today’s article will explain how they work and what they imply about your online privacy.

How Websites Remember You

When you visit a website, a text file may be placed onto your hard drive. This file contains various pieces of data about the time you spend on that site. It remains on your hard drive until your next visit at which point your browser will access it and pass along the data to the website that created it. This is how you (or specifically, your PC) are remembered.

There are many benefits to having these small files (called cookies) placed onto your computer. For example, they can preclude your needing to enter a password before accessing your account at frequent Online shopping cart websites, online banking, forums or other favorite websites. They can also trigger configuration parameters that are specific to your past browsing experience. Cookies can also be used to allow better targeting of advertisements while you browse.

Protecting Your Privacy

Over the past few years, many people have become increasingly concerned about whether cookies represent a privacy breach. This issue is not clear cut. In some cases, the text files are placed onto a computer’s hard drive by the website that a user is browsing. In other cases, the files may be downloaded by an advertising network that displays ads across a variety of online properties. The latter case is far more difficult to control.

Normally, your browser will only deliver the file back to the originating site. For example, if cnn.com placed the data onto your hard drive, your browser will only deliver it back to cnn.com. How much of a privacy concern this truly is will depend mostly on your personal perspective. Some people enjoy the convenience; others do not.

Managing The Files

Your internet browser provides a few ways to easily manage cookies. You can configure it to delete them after a set amount of time or allow them to collect until you delete them manually. You can even set your browser to block those which come from ad networks while allowing others that are placed by websites.

Cookies can help improve your internet browsing experience. However, like most technologies, some parties will attempt to misuse them. The majority of web surfers are content to let them collect on their computers, and review them periodically to delete those that add little to no value.

April 14, 2010 |  by  |  Internet  |  Comments Off