Why I Love the Mac (and You May Not)

Hi everybody. I’m Len Massiglia, Creative Director here at Radar Media. Paul was talking to me about our new blog and you’ll be reading a bit from me here and there. Something I wanted to talk about today is cross platform compatibility, and how this impacts businesses (Radar included!).

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit partial to…okay, exclusively loyal to the Mac.

You know those Mac vs. PC commercials? Couldn’t be more accurate for me. As a designer, it’s always been the platform that I find the most intuitive and the most useful. Even with programs that are available on both Mac and PC platforms, I find that Macs provide you with a much cleaner interface, better usability and they make excellent use of keyboard commands. I’ve gotten so used to as little mouse use as possible, if you sat me in front of a PC to use Photoshop it would definitely be frustrating. I have to admit PCs are getting more Mac like with each generation, maybe in another 15 years they’ll catch-up to the simple elegance of a Mac.

Now before you PC buffs out there get too heated with me, rest assured I understand that some people are PC people, and this is why I’m writing this very post today. Much of the business world is PC-driven. Even Radar is a mix. I have my Mac. Paul, Andy and Lesley have their PCs. And both Don and John have one of each (at least).

You might think that this would cause a lot of problems when it comes time to send files back and forth or collaborate on projects, but it’s actually been an advantage to us in our business.

When you work with a diverse group of clients, you never know what platform(s) your clients are running on, or just how computer savvy they are when they seek your services. I use programs like Photoshop, Quark, Dreamweaver and InDesign for my projects, but sometimes clients want to be able to implement something themselves or make a change and need an easy way to do it. I often find myself putting some projects in Word or PowerPoint format, so that it can be accessible to everyone. It may not be the original format I’ve created something in, but it gives me a learning experience and helps me better serve the customer.

There used to be a lot more debate about cross platform compatibility, and cross-browser compatibility as well. While there remain some incompatibilities in terms of file readability or browser webpage display, these problems are becoming fewer and farther between, and I think they’re definitely going to continue to be less and less of a concern.

If you’re a business that only functions on one platform, it can actually put you at a disadvantage. It’s sort of like learning a second language. You don’t have to be fluent, but if you can get around well enough, it can open previously impossible opportunities for you. I’m not saying every computer user needs to purchase a computer opposite to what they’re used to using, but it can’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the options out there. Meanwhile, I’m going to stick with my Mac, and I’m going to keep working on PC Paul…

Until next time,

Three More Reasons to Pay Per Click

Most search engine mavens like to point that pay per click (PPC) advertising does nothing in and of itself to increase the organic search engine results on your site. True enough. You could easily blow through $500 in pay per click advertising over the course of a month by creating all kinds of simple keyword combinations to drive boatloads your way. If you do nothing else but sit back and watch the traffic — and then shut down the PPC ads in month two — you’ll no doubt watch traffic levels return to their previous sub-optimal levels.

By the way, unless you get lucky, all those new visitors that you paid Google for probably won’t result in much new busines.

So is PPC advertising a waste of time? Not at all. Here are three reasons why your company should be running a PPC campaign no matter what your budget.

Reason #1 — It forces you to enhance your content. While Google will not elevate your organic search standings as a result of visitor traffic generated by PPC, you now have a strong financial motive to enhance the quality and relevancy of your content. And that certainly will increase your organic search engine results. If you take the time to improve your content for whatever reason, readers and Google will both be sure to notice. Site pages that serve double duty as landing pages from your PPC campaigns are a natural first place to start. Focus your energies here and you’ll be rewarded with better business results on both the organic and paid sides of the house.

Reason #2 — Some visitors will bookmark and return. Remember that $500 you spent so ineffectively on PPC advertising? Maybe it wasn’t a complete waste of money after all. It’s likely that at least a few people found your site through PPC, liked what they saw, and bookmarked you for later return. Those visitors may someday convert into buyers, and they might not have ever found you without PPC.

Reason #3 — You learned your $500 lesson well, young Padawan. Those new to PPC often use simple and obvious word combinations to attract large numbers of visitors. Trouble is, PPC ads cost money, and large numbers of visitors (as you found out) don’t always translate into large numbers of buyers. Too many business folks get discouraged at this point, never to return to PPC again.

Don’t let that happen to you. SEO experts like to talk about the valuable “long tail” of search engine marketing. Basically what they’re saying is this: The most obvious keyword combinations using the search terms most likely already sprinkled on your site rarely make the most effective PPC ads. While they may serve to increase traffic, sometimes in great numbers, they rarely convert tire kickers into real buyers.

Rather, rely on good old-fashioned organic search for the easy and obvious stuff. Take the time to craft keyword ads that are less obvious and more “out there” but still highly relevant to your business. Fewer people will find those ads. But those that do will be more likely stay longer, come back later, and eventually buy. What’s more, your monthly payments to Google will be a whole lot less.

‘Til next time. . .

January, 2009

January 2009—It’s shaping up to be another busy year for the Radar Media team. As the New Year begins, several significant web projects are in development; more clients are leveraging our marketing copywriting services in addition to design for print and electronic materials; and Radar’s own website continues to draw more traffic (thanks to superb tracking by Google Analytics) with more hits than anticipated going to our blog.

On the website development front, two websites in particular are now well underway: NewRiver, Inc., a financial services company based in Andover, MA with a powerful electronic prospectus delivery service; and Osage Partners, a Delaware venture capital company that also happens to be an early investor in SevOne, another Radar client with a new website we launched for them last year.

Meanwhile, we’ve noted an uptick in the number of HTML e-mails and Flash banner ads we are designing and building for clients. With the economy in questionable condition to say the least, the potential ROI of Internet advertising is too strong to ignore.

As for the Radar blog, we attribute to the increasing traffic to several factors. Chief among them is our new staff writer, Lesley Anderson, who brings to the Radar team a fresh perspective on the power of good Internet writing. Second, readers seem to sense, correctly, that a company’s blog often houses its most up-to-date content. And third — blogs offer readers the opportunity to provide feedback directly and to begin to create a community that’s more than just a company’s publishing platform.

New Year’s Resolution for CEOs: “Go More Virtual”

The New Year gives opportunity for a fresh start or a burst of motivation to change something for the better in the coming year. One resolution that you might not think of is the aspect of “going virtual” in your workplace. We all want to make resolutions that will bring a positive change in our lives — saving more money, being healthier, helping the environment, being happier, etc. and believe it or not, incorporating a virtual element to your workplace can help accomplish all of those things.

So what exactly does going virtual mean? It’s different for different companies. Some companies are run solely in a virtual environment, with every employee telecommuting at his or her remote location. Other companies have a main “headquarters” location with satellite offices peppered throughout an area, even the world. Other companies utilize a combination of in-house and virtual employees, or have a flexible environment where employees are in the office some of the time and at home at others.

Regardless of the way that it’s implemented, a virtual working environment can provide a host of benefits to your business, and hiring companies who support virtual environments can also save you money due to lower overhead costs. Here are just some of the benefits that a partially or completely virtual workplace can provide:

Top talent. You are able to find an ideal employee match for each role since you are not restricted geographically.

Lower overhead costs. With many or all employees working out of their home base, you don?t need to pay the ongoing expenses of a physical office and are able to offer more competitive prices to clients as a result.

Happy, loyal employees. Providing flexibility so employees feel in control of their schedules allows for a healthy work-life balance, making them more likely to stay with your company long-term.

A healthier environment. Work-from-home or telework employees require little to no commute, thereby reducing pollution, traffic, and stress.

While a virtual working environment may not work for everyone, and is certainly not possible for everyone (restaurants, for example), if your company is able to offer this flexibility, it just may be worth a try! Managers may feel concerned with forfeiting the control and supervision that physical presence in an office provides, but there are many ways to ensure employees are on task and productive.

Paying per project versus per hour can be a great solution for both employer and employee. You can also videoconference, schedule regular phone meetings with everyone, or adjust other company policies as necessary.

We support virtual teams at Radar and we’ve enjoyed success with it. Having flexible, happy employees lets us do our best for our clients while being able to charge competitively for big results. Marketing and design are industries where virtual environments can work wonderfully when prepared for well and carefully implemented.

So which direction will you be taking this year? Will you be moving toward the future of online business or staying behind? Face to face is certainly effective, but you never know who or what you might miss out on for the sake of face time. Happy New Year!