Waypoint News

Four Options for Sharing Big Files

01.09.15

We’ve all faced the same problem: we need to send large photos, complex PDF reports or videos to friends, family members or co-workers. Unfortunately, these files are so big that they can clog even the fastest e-mail system.

There is good news: There are plenty of programs – many of which are free – that you can use to send large files with ease.

Here are four of the most popular:

YouSendIt

YouSendIt’s cloud-based online storage allows users to share everything from gigantic pictures to videos for free. The service is known for how easy it is to use.

YouSendIt also gives users control over their large files. For instance, they can set expiration dates for these files and control who can and can’t access them.

DropSend

DropSend operates in much the same way as YouSendIt. DropSend, though, offers file-sharing programs in a variety of option.

For instance, you can choose DropSend Lite, which is free. This version allows you to send five files a month. The basic version of the program costs $5 a month, and allows you to send 15 files a month. The business version — $99 a month – allows users to send an unlimited number of files each month.

SugarSync

SugarSync has grown in popularity along with the rise in smart phones and tablet computers. That’s because users can create a SugarSync account that instantly saves their files on all their devices at once – everything from their smart phones to their desktop computers to their tablets.

SugarSync also allows users to provide access to these large files to specific users. It’s an easy way to allow family members or co-workers to view movies, pictures and other big files without the use of e-mail.

Dropbox

Dropbox, too, has become a must-have program for mobile computing. Like SugarSync, it allows you to instantly store files on all of your devices at once. It also comes in both free and paid varieties.

Avoid the Most Common PowerPoint Mistakes

01.07.15

PowerPoint presentations are the vacation slide shows of the business world: we’ve all sat through boring ones that seemed to last forever.

Fortunately, there are several tips that you can follow to avoid creating a PowerPoint presentation that bores your co-workers. This is important: You create PowerPoint presentations to spread your message, promote products and achieve results.

You can’t do this if no one’s paying attention to them.

Don’t Forget the Creativity

As the writers at Microsoft’s Business Hub say, PowerPoint doesn’t give you permission to get lazy. You still have to be creative if you want to develop a winning presentation that grabs the attention of your audience.

This means that you can’t let PowerPoint’s ease of use trick you into thinking that you don’t have to come up with compelling content. Just because you can create an endless series of text-filled slides doesn’t mean that you should.

So don’t. Come to your sales pitch or company meeting armed with interesting and useful information. Don’t just slap some sales numbers on a series of slides. Instead, explain what these numbers mean.

Come with Solutions

You’ll also want to come armed with ways in which your company’s employees can improve these sales numbers.

Another fault of many PowerPoint presentations: they provide information. But they don’t provide useful strategies for how employees can use that information to better the company’s performance.

If your PowerPoint presentation shows that sales are down, make sure you follow up with your own suggestions on why sales have fallen and what the company can do to boost them. If sales are up? Provide information on how your company can maintain its momentum.

Don’t Get Too Fancy

As TrainSignal Training says, it is possible to get too creative with PowerPoint. Many managers clutter their slides with unnecessary photos and graphics. Others stuff charts that are too small to read on their slides. Still others add moving images that do little other than distract.

Don’t fall into this trap. The best way to convey a business message is to do it as directly and simply as possible.

And don’t simply fill your PowerPoint slides with the same words that you’re going to read aloud to your audience. You’re not in the first grade. Your audience doesn’t want to read along while you repeat every word that’s on your PowerPoint slides.

PowerPoint remains a powerful business tool. But it’s one that is easy to misuse. Don’t make the mistake of creating a PowerPoint presentation that turns off your audience.

Squeeze More Life Out of Your Aging Servers

01.02.15

Companies today rely heavily on the power of their servers. Unfortunately, servers have relatively short life spans. This means that businesses must frequently make the difficult, and costly, decision to junk their old servers and replace them with newer, faster versions.

However, if your company is running short on dollars, there is some good news. Even old servers often have more life in them than we suspect. By taking some fairly simple steps, companies can squeeze some extra years out of their aging fleet of servers.

The technology Web site TechRepublic listed some tips for managers hoping to prolong the lives of their servers. Following these tips won’t prevent you from ever having to replace your aging servers, but they will help you put off the replacements for as long as possible.

Turn old servers into network-attached storage devices: TechRepublic points out that businesses can purchase inexpensive software that can turn their old servers into network-attached storage devices that businesses can use as back-up servers.

The only products that your IT pros will need are that software, NASLite-2 CDD, and some large drives. This combination can transform that aging, inefficient server into a powerful back-up server.

Old servers and disk imaging: IT professionals know how important it is to have up-to-date disk clones, known as ghost images, of important machines. However, as TechRepublic points out, it can be challenging finding storage space for these large images.

This is another area in which an old server can come in handy. By adding large drives to an old server, your company’s IT professionals can easily store images in your business’ old servers.

Testing, testing: Finally, consider transforming your aging servers into test servers. As TechRepublic says, your IT professionals won’t the most current specs when they’re using a server strictly for testing purposes. With just a bit of extra RAM, IT pros can use old servers to test new applications or new server offerings.

In today’s challenging financial environment, companies are looking for a variety of ways to save money. Squeezing more life out of aging servers is one very powerful way to cut costs.

Have Access to an Unrestricted Internet Consider Yourself Lucky

12.31.14

You surf to the online home of the New York Times every morning. You scan your Twitter account for messages from friends, family members, professional athletes, and celebrities. You read the gossip and news at the Huffington Post daily. And before you turn out for the night, you check out the antics of your favorite celebrities at TMZ.com.

Consider yourself lucky. There are citizens across the globe who can’t access any of these sites. That’s because they live under authoritarian regimes that block at least some of their access to the Internet.

Restricting access to the Web

Students in China, for instance, might not be able to log onto the Web home of the New York Times during times of political unrest. Government protesters in Iran might not be able to send messages to each other through Facebook. And residents of Burma might not have access to the global Internet entirely when political protests are taking place in that country.

Unfortunately, authoritarian regimes have several ways of blocking their citizens’ access to the Internet, and these methods have evolved over time just as the Web itself has evolved.

Blocking access to Web 2.0 apps

For instance, governments might block either permanently or temporarily the access that their citizens have to such Web 2.0 applications as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Often, such blocks occur during political protests, election seasons or the violent crackdowns to protests that too often occur in such countries.

Countries can also be more subtle in squeezing off access to the Internet. Some, for instance, have restricted connection speeds. This, in essence, makes it impossible for users to download, share, or even see audio and video files.

Some authoritarian governments use what is known as technical filtering to prevent their citizens from accessing content that uses specific keywords. Others use this technology to block their citizens from logging onto specific domain names or Web addresses.

Human censors

This might sound surprising, but some governments even employ actual human censors to monitor and manually remove forum and blog posts that the government finds objectionable. Often, these censors will eliminate blog posts or forum messages that criticize government leaders or policies.

The United States, of course, has plenty of flaws. However, we can all be proud to live in a country in which the Internet remains largely unrestricted.

Collaborate on Documents without the Headaches

12.26.14

Many companies employ workers across the globe. These workers – separated in some cases by thousands of miles – must at times collaborate to create mission statements, marketing plans, and other important work documents.

This can lead to headaches. What often happens, as writer Dawn Foster with the Web site Gigaom points out, is that collaborators send their documents to each other through e-mail messages. Eventually, this leaves companies with several versions of their documents, many of them conflicting with each other as workers make changes simultaneously but without consulting with each other.

This can lead to confusion.

Fortunately, there are steps businesses can take to simplify the document-collaboration process. Foster, in fact, points to a pair of key tools that can help make collaborating on documents a drama-free task.

The power of the Wiki

Foster writes that Wikis are great tools for companies that boast large teams that are all working together on documents. With Wikis, any member of a team can edit documents whenever they want. Their changes are then saved to a master document that is stored in the cloud, where other team members can also access it and edit as they see fit.

Companies can also use Wikis to share their documents with a large audience. Again, companies can determine exactly who gains access to their Wikis, making it easy for all team members to collaborate and share ideas with one another.

Google Docs still a top choice

Foster is also a fan of Google Docs… and with good reason. This popular free program works especially well for companies that want to share a limited number of documents with a smaller team. Google Docs also happens to be one of the best ways for team members to collaborate on spreadsheets, presentations, and other documents.

Again, after team members make changes to a document, they simply have to “share” or save it to make the changes or suggestions available to all other team members.

No more headaches

Both Google Docs and a Wiki can significantly reduce the headaches associated with collaborating on documents. And in doing so, they can make everyone’s work days a little less stressful.

Manage Your Employees the High-tech Way with These Apps

12.24.14

Starting a new business is no easy task. It’s why so many businesses fail during their start-up years.

However, you can give yourself an edge in at least one area – how you manage people. Inc. magazine reviewed some of the best apps for managing employees. By using these apps, smart business owners can reduce the time they spend on making sure that their employees are as productive as possible.

If you’re not using the apps listed below, then, you’re not giving your small business its best chance to succeed.

Here is a look at three key apps for best managing your small business’s employees.

Labor Time Tracker

As Inc. says, it seems a bit old-fashioned to have your employees punch in and out using physical time sheets. A better option is Labor Time Tracker, an app that costs about $4.95 a month for every employee.

With this app, employees punch in their hours on a virtual card. This lets you see immediately who is working and who is out for the day. Labor Time Tracker also tracks overtime hours and pay. It will work, too, in multiple time zones.

Trello

As Inc. notes, Trello is one of a large number of organization apps designed to keep business owners on task, but Trello does differ in one important way: It lets business owners add employees and contractors to their various to-do lists. This way, everyone in a company can see these lists and keep track of what needs to be done throughout the day.

Trello also lets business owners assign tasks to their employees and send them messages related to the business’s various to-do lists.

TribeHR

TribeHR ranks among the best human-resources apps out there. Even more importantly, it’s inexpensive – just $2 a month for each user.

As Inc. says, the app allows business owners to track employee time off, schedule performance evaluations, manage recruiting efforts, and update employee profiles. In short, it does just about everything you’d expect a full-fledged human-resources department to do at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re trying to build a small business in today’s challenging economy, you need all the help you can get. Take a look at the people-management apps available today. You might be surprised at how powerful they are.

Don’t Drain Your Smartphone’s Battery

12.19.14

Smartphones are wonderful tools. They let you watch movies while you’re taking the train to work. They let you make reservations at that hot new French restaurant, map out the quickest route to the theater in the next city, and give you access to the hottest online games.

But there’s one weakness that almost every smartphone shares: short battery life.

This is a frustrating problem. As you’re logging onto the Web, checking your e-mail messages, and making phone calls, you’re draining your phone’s battery. With many of the top smartphones on the market, you’re fortunate to make it home after the workday with enough battery life left to squeeze in one quick call for take-out food.

As PCWorld magazine explains, the problem comes down to this: Smartphones do too much. And by doing so, they consume more than their fair share of power.

There are steps, though, that you can take to increase the life of your smartphone’s battery. And PCWorld shares them with you. By shutting off some of your phone’s extra features, you might be able to squeeze enough extra juice out of your battery to keep your smartphone humming all day long.

Dimming that smartphone screen

First, PCWorld recommends that you dim your cell phone’s screen. A bright, cluttered screen display sucks the life out of batteries. By switching your screen’s brightness level to the lowest you can stand, you’ll already be doing much to boost the lifespan of your smartphone’s battery.

Screen lighting

You can save battery power, too, by adjusting how quickly your screen stays lit after receiving an input such as a screen tap. The longer your screen stays lit, the worse it is on your battery life.

Bluetooth

PCWorld also recommends that you turn off Bluetooth when you aren’t expecting a call or when you aren’t driving in your car. Bluetooth, because it is constantly listening for outside signals, is another major drain on your battery. By shutting it off, you’ll again significantly increase the life of your smartphone’s battery.

Are You Making Some of These 5 Social Media Mistakes?

12.17.14

You probably think it’s enough to be involved with social media at all, but let me be the one to break it to you: there are some grievous errors you could be making with your social media marketing that will not only cost you followers, but hurt your brand long term.

All too often we blunder into it, and not just fail to produce any results we can point to, but can in many cases actually hurt our own brands by unintentionally making several easy to make mistakes. Let’s take a look at what these mistakes are, and how to avoid them.

5 Social media marketing mistakes to avoid

  • Not being visual – These days people are all about wanting to view, not read. So whether you have a video, cool image or unique infographic, rest assured that your visual content will be read more, engaged with more ,and ultimately be acted upon much more.
  • Constantly selling – Put yourself in their shoes: do you enjoy having sales messages in your face all the time? No. Neither does your audience. Strive to make your sales pitches no more than 20 percent of your content at most.
  • Making negative comments disappear – This is a big no-no. If people detect that you are managing your social media in this fashion, they’ll not trust you in any way. It just looks as if the complainer was right, and you’re attempting to hide it. Instead use this as a chance to show awesome customer service!
  • Don’t buy likes and fans – Even though this appears on the surface to be an easy way to pump up the volume on your social media, the truth is it will have the opposite effect. The social networks won’t like it, and any real fans or followers you have will see right through it.
  • Don’t use LikeBait – LikeBait, as its name implies, is the act of bating people to like your post or page by crafting a controversial or otherwise titillating headline to get people to click or like. The thing is, there is usually not real or relevant content behind the headline. Facebook hates this as well, and is changing their algorithm to exclude it. Don’t be that guy.

Words Matter – Effective Phrases to help You Close More Sales

12.12.14

Words matter, and nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to the words you choose to close your sales with. Frequently a single word or phrase can kill the deal, and you’re left holding the bag. (Literally!)

The words we select to create our sales messages have to create a mindset that is conducive to persuading the prospect to click the buy button. There’s a great deal of thought that has gone into the science of conversion, and the psychology behind it is really quite interesting.

But for right now, let’s just take a short look at 5 ways you can shape your words and phrases to get more conversions.

Words and phrases that sell

Using the Assumptive approach — Asking the prospect “How many of these do you want today?” assumes the prospect is buying and puts them in another mindset entirely, one in which they are on the road to delivery, and no longer making a decision. If you’ve done a good job of selling prior to this, this works well.

Asking directly for the sale — Sometimes it’s best to take the direct approach. If you’ve managed to make a good case for your product and have answered all the negatives you can think of, just be bold, (not pushy!) and just ask for the sale.

Using a fearful close — Fear works wonders sometimes, and no one likes to miss out on something they really want or need. Make it your business to make it seem as though not having your products or services will truly cost them more than the cost of the item.

Have a friendly close — Being personable and friendly in your close, such as “Would you like me to help you get going with this?” casts you and your products in a friendly, helpful light, and thus lowers defenses and resistance several notches.

Use and alternative close — If you are in the position of having several choices for them, help them decide by offering them a choice, whether or not they’re at that point yet. “So after examining both Product A and Product B to determine which fits your needs better, which one would you like to order?”

How to craft your welcome emails

12.10.14

You know the drill: you opt-in to someone’s subscriber list, and soon you receive a confirmation email from them, welcoming you to the list, newsletter or whatever you just signed up for. The fact that we are expecting these emails is a primary reason why they are usually opened. But how does the sender craft these emails for best effect?

What elements are needed to not only welcome them, but also spotlight what they can expect and what you have to offer them during their time with you?

Here are 7 ways you can optimize your welcome emails to set the stage for a long lasting, profitable relationship.

7 Ways to craft effective welcome emails

Send out immediately – Send these out immediately. Don’t wait to batch send your welcome emails. A study by Experian found that welcome emails sent out individually rather than by batch were opened 10X more! Show you care about them signing up.

Use a working email address – Using a no-reply email address will only do one thing for you: give you a no-response customer. People are going to want to email you. Don’t make it difficult.

Split-test your welcome email subject lines – This is really easy to do, and can make a huge difference in your open rates. Wouldn’t you want to do this for a possible 15-20 percent increase in opens?

Use your social media channels – Encourage your subscribers to follow you on your social media channels, and even help them by ensuring that you have links and buttons on your email template.

Personalize – It’s always best if you’re trying to develop some sort of customer relationship with your subscribers that you personalize the emails whenever possible. This of course means you’ll need to collect names.

Consider offering an incentive – A lot of companies opt to send along a coupon or other incentive as a welcome gift. Not a bad idea, and can move relationship from a subscriber to a buyer swiftly.

Make sure to optimize for mobile – Since around half of all emails are now opened on a mobile device, it would be a good idea to make sure you are using a responsive design so that your emails can be opened anywhere.