Saturday, September 28, 2013

Small Businesses #1 Need?

Like all businesses of any size Small Businesses need customers.  Big business can afford advertising and direct sales people and inside sales people to follow up on leads and web sites that are compelling, attractive and designed to get people to opt in to mailing lists.

Small Business may not have the money to spend on advertising, or their target market is not conducive to the kind of advertising they can afford.  For example your ROI on FaceBook ads will not be high if you are doing a Business To Business product focused on a particular niche of a particular industry.

As a Small Business ourselves (at least at the moment) we are acutely aware of the needs of Small Business in customer acquisition.  We have assembled a suite of tools we use ourselves and use in conjunction with our subscribers to help them get their customer acquisition costs low.  What follows is a brief list of the tools we use and offer as well as a description of what that tool or service does for us and how we integrate that into our subscriber solutions.  We have spent over a year evaluating many different tools and services both from our own viewpoint but from the viewpoint of our subscribers and our ability to integrate these into subscriber solutions as well.
  1. Liferay Portal and Liferay Web Content Management - Ths is a core part of our Software as a Service suite offered by O4SaaS.com It gives us the ability to create web sites that are interactive and easily customizable.   The sites we have created for our customers have much the same look and feel as any site on the web, and our staff can give our subscribers the same look and feel.  The Web Content Management system can also give you data driven capabilities and that includes support for A/B testing, AWeber Opt In mailing list features as well as video and just about anything you have seen elesewhere.  You can learn more about it at web-content-management 
  2. AWeber - Create profitable customer relationships for your business! AWeber's email marketing tools like professional email signup forms & autoresponder services make it easy for you to build your email list and stay in touch with prospects. You Can Have More Sales, Too? Helping over 120,000+ businesses like ours raise profits and build customer relationships using AWeber's opt-in email marketing software for over 10 years. Take a Free Test Drive today!
  3. Wealthy Affiliate - Having tools like Web Content Management, a Portal and AWeber are fine, especially if you are an IT professional, you can do very well with these alone, but those Small Businesses that are not IT professionals, need a little help.  Wealthy Affiliate - Is an online business community centered on Intenet Marketing, Social Media Marketing and Training.  Literally everything you might need to learn can be found on this site, from others in your same boat that will share ideas and help you with your problem to full training courses that teach you how to use the various tools available to you. Just one of the courses is a 10 day online course to teach you about affiliate marketing, Click here to see it. 
  4. Buffer - So how do you get the word out.  You have followed the guidance gleaned from above, you have your own web site and blog, but how do you get people to notice?  We use Buffer and with it we can post to 12(free), 25-250 (for fee) separate sites including Facebook (individual and company / product pages, LinkeIn, Twitter, and many others.  What is Buffer? Buffer makes it easy to share great pictures, videos and links with your prospects, customers, friends and followers across your social networks. Buffer lets you quickly share content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and App.net on your computer or mobile phone. The most important feature is that we can post directly from our browser and schedule the post to the target sites at the time and days we choose to get the most exposure.  Especially helpful since we are in the Philippines and many of our prospective customers are 12 hours different time zones.
  5. Social Oomph - Social Media is just about the best way to get the word out and along with Buffer we use Social Oomph to Bulk upload and schedule thousands of updates in one easy step. Click Scheduled Updates, Bulk Upload Updates in the menu. One of the best features is the management of followers, and you can target them in bulk instead of having to copy and paste your posts for each one and send them Direct Messages.
So how do these help our subscribers?  We don't just give you the links and let you sink or swim, we will be with you each step of the way and even our lowest cost package for Small Business includes 8 hours of professional services to assist you along the way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

No two businesses are the same, so why think your software can be

The big difference between big businesses and small businesses is that big businesses can afford their own IT staff to build solutions to meet their needs, while small businesses cannot afford custom or customized software, at least that's the common opinion.

I am a consultant to a large enterprise with an IT staff over 100, and they are all working to make the software they wrote or bought work to meet the needs of that organization.  Even they are looking for ways to do it better, to reduce costs and improve agility.

The big companies need to be cost effective, just like any company, but their size makes the choices broader.

Small businesses in the past pretty much had to find something that was "close" and work around the faults and shortcomings procedurally, many times with manual processes or just doing without a feature.

Times are changing.  The big companies are finding that a Service Oriented Architecture can foster reuse and agility.  The days of many point to point integrations via a proprietary API are numbered and the use of an Enterprise Service Bus is replacing them.  Small businesses that use Software as a Service (SaaS) are actually doing the same thing.  Most SaaS solutions are Service Oriented already and some are even using a Web Services API for integration, such as SalesForce.com and others.

Open Source is also adding momentum to Small Businesses customizing and integrating software to provide solutions that meet their needs. With Open Source software it costs much less to add a new feature or behavior or to integrate two solutions to provide very customized solutions.

We at O4BO are embracing that need in several ways to provide Small Businesses cost effective custom and customized solutions that are world class by themselves and even better when integrated.  Here is a short list of what we can do:

  • Software as a Service - Subscribe to the following solutions that are ALREADY integrated:
    • Portal
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
    • Accounting Systems
    • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
    • Enterprise Content Management
    • Enterprise Service Bus
    • Context Aware Rules Engine (CARE)
    • Business Intelligence and Reporting
  • Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) - Whether you subscribe to any of our SaaS solutions or not, you can avail yourself of our Integration Platform as a Service all by itself.  Here is what you get:
    • Context Aware Rules Engine - Service Oriented Rules Engine for dynamic data driven event processing.
    • Enterprise Service Bus - The leading ESB that is available as a Service.
    • WorkXpress - The Rapid Application Development platform for building custom solutions and integrate those with existing solutions.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - Even if you don't use our SaaS software or our Integration Platform, we offer Infrastructure as a Service on several Cloud platforms including IBM Smart Cloud and Profitbricks.  What you get with out IaaS:
    • Managed Services in the cloud, including your cpu, installed software, database and backups, nothing for you to do, except use what you need.
    • Your software installed on a Virtual Server in a secure data center in a managed way, not just a rack in a server room that is vulnerable.
    • You can mix and match, using our services along with your own software on your own Cloud.
These are all affordable by Small Businesses, with prices lower than the cost of buying your own hardware and hiring ONE IT person to manage it for you and do the customization and integration you need.




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What do Small businesses need? SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, or what?


Most small businesses are not in Information Technology.  Most have a product or service they offer for sale.  Most have a need to do Marketing to get the word out about their product or service.  Most have a need to manage their Customers Relationship.  Most have a need for some level of accounting.  These are pretty universal we believe.

In this day and age, marketing includes many different moving parts.  You can do advertising, and that can be effective for certain classes of products and services, but less effective for others.  For example, if you have a product or service that is very specialized  say a product for Aviation Tooling, an Ad in Facebook isn't going to be as effective as an ad in an Aviation Industry magazine or Trade Show booth.

Social Networking is another way to get the word out, and because social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have so many members, with a little effort you can reach your target market more easily than just about any other way.  The difficulty is in knowing how to use these media to be effective.

A web site that fits with your Social Media campaigns, and supports things like Mailing List Opt In and A/B testing of media campaigns is a very effective way to do marketing.  The problem is that most small businesses are NOT in Information Technology, so knowing how to setup Opt In pages, landing pages, web sites, a Portal and AutoResponders is beyond their skills sets.

O4BO is all about Small Business.  We want to be your resource for assistance in bringing you not only the tools you need to do marketing and sales, but the expertise to help you get where you want to go, and at a cost that you can afford.

We have Software as a Service to help with Web Sites, Web Content Management, Mailing List Management, AutoResponders, Landing Pages, Customer Relationship Management, Basic Accounting or full ERP accounting and assistance in setting up Social Media Campaigns, all starting at a monthly fee less than ONE day's pay for an IT staff person.

In addition to that we use Open Source software, so if you ever become unhappy with us, you can take your data and setup the same software on your own servers and it won't cost you anything, no risk whatsoever, no lock in whatsoever.

Give us a try, you won't find a better employee for any price.

MO

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Focus

It has been a while since my last post. That has partly been a combination of summer activities and time off, but most just busy. 

O4BO.com is adding focus. Instead of one site and one product line and services offerings, we are diversifying and putting focus on more specific products and services more properly grouped and we will be adding staff in each division to provide better messaging and service. 

The new divisions are:  O4SaaS; O4IaaS; O4IPaaS and O4PaaS. 

O4SaaS.com will handle all Open Source applications, integrated and Sold as Software as a Service.  

O4IaaS.com will handle Cloud brokerage and Managed Cloud Services from multiple cloud providers. 

O4IPaaS.com will handle Integration Platform as a Service, brining pur own Context Aware Rules Engine and Enterprise Service Bus to bear on integration projects both internally and as. Dedicated application integration service. 

O4PaaS.com handles Rapid application development Platform services for non programmers and business analysts to build applications that are automatically integrated with all our other division's products and services. 

This should help reduce the chaff and complexity of message and bring focus and clarity to our partners and customers. Each of these entities will have their own web site and blog as well as social media presence.