Category Archives: Productivity

Marketing Focus

Thank you for the positive response from last month’s Newsletter.  To follow up, we thought we’d provide you with a Marketing Plan Template to help get you started on the path to great marketing and keep you focused.

Click here for your free Marketing Plan Template, and make sure to frequently check our blog and Facebook pages for more tips and resources.

Your day-to-day business marketing activities are likely to be focused on communicating with potential and existing customers.     A Marketing Plan sets out how you will put your strategy into place and will help you stay focused.  Be sure that your Business Plan and your Marketing Plan are in sync.

Set Objectives, Budgets and Deadlines
An effective Marketing Plan must set clear objectives that will help you toward your long-term strategic goals.

Start by building a schedule by identifying key times of the year when customers plan the next year’s budget or seasonal purchasing peaks.  Examples would be Spring and Summer breaks if you run an auto shop, or Christmas if you run a gift basket business.  Time your marketing campaigns to fit with these dates and look for other opportunities, such as trade shows.  If there are significant gaps in your marketing schedule, fill them out with cost-effective activities to help maintain customer awareness (newsletters, email or mailing campaigns, etc.)

If you rely heavily on a small number of crucial customers, consider developing individual account management plans for them.   Key accounts merit regular personal contact (phone calls, meetings, business entertainment, etc.).

Marketing Mix
In addition to marketing communications, your Plan should span the full mix of marketing activities.  An example might be developing new products and/or building your distribution network.   You will also need to plan for any price increases or tactical moves, such as an end-of-season sale.

Be sure to note in your Plan whether you intend to give your staff sales training or introduce new CRM (customer relationship management) technology.  Maybe you need to find more efficient systems or measure customer satisfaction.  Including activities like these in your Plan helps ensure that they are identified as priorities, and that you dedicate time and money to them.

Branding Considerations
Branding is more than your choice of corporate color, logo and catch-phrase.   Branding is best defined as your customers’ experience when they engage with your business, so it extends to such things as how you and your employees dress, how you greet your customers and email communication – the entire experience!

Think of branding in terms of a restaurant that you frequent. You go there because you know what’s on the menu, what it will taste like, what type of service you will receive, and how much it will cost you.   It’s the same for your customers.

Before you can develop your brand identity, you need to be sure that what you want to tell your customers about your business and your offer matches what your target customer segment wants, and what you can actually deliver. Successful businesses realize the importance of having a world-class brand and making full use of its potential.

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Excel – VLookUp Formulas

Happy Saturday!   I thought I’d follow up to the Excel Pivot Table lesson, with a lesson on how to use VLookUp formulas.

VLookUps help you find specific information that has been stored in a table of data in a spreadsheet.   I think it might be harder to explain what it is than to just show you!   These formulas are very useful and, as you’ll see, very easy to use.

Please be sure to let me know if there are other Excel lessons that you’d like to see.  I am a self-professed Excel nerd; I love it.  I even have all of my recipes in Excel with hyperlinks, so that I can pull up the scanned document containing the recipe (usually torn from a magazine).  I have them sorted by type (American, Chinese, etc.), then by main ingredient, if it’s for a party or comfort food or the slow cooker, and if I’ve tried it and liked it!   I have over 800 recipes, so if you’re looking for something in particular, let me know! (-:

Best wishes,

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Are You Ready For Cloud Computing

The following repost is by the courtesy of Bill Abroms, CEO of ABC U.S., Inc.


The typical business executive needs to make sure that every one of their employees has a computer and the correct software on that computer to do their job proficiently. When new employees are hired, you have to make sure that each of the new employees has a computer to use with the correct software on it. Sometimes this means purchasing new software, and other times it means checking current software to make sure you can add more employees to it.

However, with recent technological changes there is a better way of doing this. Cloud computing has the capability of changing the computer industry as we know it. With cloud computing your computer or mobile device will no longer carry the primary workload of running applications. Much of the workload is shifted to a network of computers, which make up the cloud computing system.

The Benefits of using a Cloud Computing System

1.  Cloud comcloud pcputing reduces costs – When you purchase a cloud computing system you are allowed to pay in increments. This makes it more affordable and easier than paying for expensive software in one lump sum.

2.  Provides more storage – Businesses and organizations can transfer much of their computer and mobile data storage onto their cloud computing system. This helps reduce the amount of computer and mobile data storage, which is actually stored on your computer or mobile device itself. Having less computer and mobile data storage taking up space on your computers, phones, or tablets means that they will run faster and have less technical glitches.
3.  Extremely Automated – Cloud computing systems work almost completely on their own. This means that you IT department will not have to worry about updating software on a regular basis.
4.  Can be accessed anywhere – The information stored on a cloud computing system can be accessed anywhere. Just like your employees can access their personal emails from anywhere, that has an internet connection; any information that is stored on the cloud computing system can be easily accessed from anywhere with internet service. You and your employees will be able to access information from laptops, smart phones, personal computers etc.
5.  Shifts the focus of the company – One of the great benefits of using a cloud computing system is that your company and employees will have less server problems, server updates, and other technical issues. This allows employees to focus their attention on innovative new ideas, and ways to improve the company. Less time spent on technical issues and problems, also means employees can focus on doing their jobs.

Why Implement a Cloud Computing System?

The overall cost of a cloud computing system is far less expensive than the cost of computers and software. Government and healthcare organizations will see even more savings in the IT department, because there will no longer be a need for constant system updates.

With a cloud computing system, you can securely store important and confidential information in a way that is easy to access when it is needed. The system will free up much of your computer and mobile data storage space, because it data won’t be stored directly onto your computer or mobile devices. This is similar to how Gmail or Yahoo emails work. The information is not stored directly on your computer or phone, but rather it is stored online for you to access anytime you need it. While using a cloud computing system government and healthcare organizations can focus on the issues they are supposed to be working on, since you won’t have the technical issues such as server updates and errors that may have previously postponed work.

Another benefit of using a cloud computing system rather than traditional software, is that it frees up room on the hard drives of computers and mobile devices. When computer and mobile data storage space is reduced, they run better and have less technical issues.

Technology is taking a huge step forward and there is no doubt that government, medical organizations, and companies will benefit greatly from cloud computing systems.


ABC-US is an independent reseller of custom-configurable and portable data security solutions, and was founded in 1987.

ABC-US, Inc.:   4989 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 200, Norcross, Georgia 30092

Voice: 800-275-1359 or  770.448.5667

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When’s your most productive time, early morning or after dinner? Do you listen to music while working? Does working out in the morning increase your mindset for the day?

Here are some online applications to get you more productive and working more efficiently for the New Year. Note that not all are free.


Social Media and Web Tools:

Kippt – using lots of services and apps? No problem. Sync your favorite bookmarked links from other services to Kippt and make them searchable. You simply share them as public streams and engage in an amazing feed of content in return.

Zootool –another bookmarking tool. Organize and share your favorite images, videos, documents and links from all over the web. Super easy and visual.

Slice – if you make a lot of online purchases (business and personal), this will be a handy way keep track of your receipts. You can also receive notifications so you know when a package is set to hit your door, receive price alerts to save you money, plus more.

IFTTT (If This, Then That)– really cool program that automates all sorts of tasks across the web and even offline. An example would be if someone posts to your Facebook account, you receive a text message; or Post a Picture Tweet every time I add a photo to Instagram.

Gabi – makes Facebook easier to read. Instead of displaying everything, it only shows you the best (pictures with the most likes, statuses with the most engagement, etc.)

RebelMouse – All your social media activity can be viewed on a single URL which will allow your followers to see everything on a single page – wow!


Personal/Business Organization and Timesavers:

Trello – lets you organize anything easily, from life goals and to-do lists to group projects. Add images, checklists, due dates, attachments, etc.

Pipedrive – an amazing tool to keep track of sales, moving you along a pipeline to close those deals.

TextExpander – Save text snippets and have them expand as you type certain words (similar to using macros). Very simple and will save you a lot of time if you type the same content or frequently.

Clear – if your life is one big mess of Post-Its and scraps of paper, this super simple list app might be just what you need.

Astrid – available for iphone and android, this provides a really easy way to keep on top of all you have to do, and share it with your family and co-workers if you want.

WorkFlowy – another great “to-do” list app that is taking on steam. Everything is part of a single giant list and then each item can have sub-lists under it, and each of those sub-items can have their own nested lists, and so on. You don’t have to open a page for each new category, and it’s great for collaborating with others.

Prismatic – use it on your computer or iPhone. This tool learns the subjects you like, and then gathers articles from your social streams all in one place.

Instapaper – don’t have time to read an article right now? This tool will allow you to easily save it so you can read it later. This way, you won’t just forget about, misfile it, or skim through.


Record those Lightbulb moments:

MindMeister – a really amazing solution to help you to brainstorm your most important tasks and capture them as mind maps.

Dragon Dictation – do you think better while speaking things out, but can’t write them down fast enough? Here’s an awesome app that does it for you. Simply record your voice and receive it back as transcribed text.


Small Business Customer Support:

HelpScout – do you have more than one person handling CS? HelpScout provides a shared inbox, where you can reply to emails easily as a team.

SupportBee – similar to HelpScout, this simple email support tool comes with custom snippets and lots of options to add data about your customers.

Skitch – is a screenshot tool from Evernote that is very and lets you make annotated screen captures on the spot and send to your users. It definitely helps explain solutions better visually. Now how to send this file to your customer?

Cloudapp – use this with Skitch. Drag any “skitch’d” page onto Cloudapp to have screenshots with links available in seconds. But what if your customer still doesn’t get it?

UserSnap –combining Cloudapp and Skitch, this tool lets your users send you screenshots (and vice versa) without having to install any tools.

Olark – provides live chat availability on your site and ranges from $15-$250/month depending upon the # of operators. – This is an amazing all in one customer support app. It helps you connect with your customers wherever you might be.


Fitness and Health: A healthy body will definitely increase your efficiency and productivity. Plus, you’ll look hot!

RunKeeper – with GPS tracking for route and pace measurement, you can easily tracking your workouts, measure your progress and improve the quality of your fitness.

Nike+ FuelBand – set personal goals, access coaching tips, find and share routes, challenge friends and tell the world how you’re doing – track all your activity and compare results over time. It’s a bit pricey for the fuel band, but if you’re seriously motivated, this may push you further.

Couch to 5k – a simple running plan to get new runners off the couch and running 3 miles in just two months. Each session takes about 30 minutes, three times a week, which is recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness!

Nexercise – an iPhone app that uses games and social media to make fitness more fun and rewarding. Measure your workouts to earn virtual medals and rewards as you go. The more you work out, the more likely you are to earn a Nexercise grand prize.

Habit List – Habits are powerful because you just do them. For some people it might only take 15 days to become a habit, for others it might take 6 months. If you want to hit the gym three times a week, this app can keep you motivated.

Sound Sleeping – definitely not for working hours, but a good night’s sleep will make you more productive. If you like to fall asleep to music, this will help you relax and fall asleep faster.


More Articles on Productivity:

The 10 Laws of Productivity

7 Things Highly Productive People Do

Ask The Entrepreneurs: 16 Ways to Master Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

10 Bad Habits You Need to Break to Be More Productive

10 Weekly Ten Minute Practices to Boost Work Productivity

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