Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Being Busy Versus Being Productive

Do you ever get to the end of the day and wonder, what just happened, where did today go?

You start each day with good intentions, and resolve to accomplish everything. You are always so busy, yet at the end of the day not everything you wanted to accomplish is done.

You accept the saying ‘time flies when you're having fun’ realizing time flies even when you're not having fun. Do you ever wish you had a few more hours in a day?

The true value of time lies in how we choose to use it, average performers worry about completing a lot of tasks. Top professionals and leaders are generally the best at controlling their time. They do not have any more time than anyone else, yet they spend their time focused on (and actually accomplishing) the most important tasks.

Here are two powerful and proven steps to catapult your day from busy to productive:

1. Sit down today and decide what the most important things are that need to be accomplished tomorrow or for any given day. What is your highest value activity?
If you are in sales, you're paid to bring in business so a significant percentage of your time should be spent selling or generating sales opportunities. If you are in accounting for a small business a top priority may be cash flow so focus efforts on doing what brings in the most amount of money rather than what comes up first.

If you have any doubt what your most important activities are, ask your boss or other successful people in your same position. It is better to clarify priorities and values before you waste time focused on the wrong priority tasks.

Next, figure out how you are spending your time:

2. An excellent way to discover exactly how you use your time is to do a time study and document each thing you do (minor or important) throughout an entire week. This will show you which tasks get your attention and time. Most people are shocked by the amount of effort you exert on low priority items.

Begin your time study from the time you wake up and, for at least two days, document what you do every 30 minutes or at the change of any task. Most times you will be able to find an extra hour a day that could be better spent or saved to perform more important tasks.

It is important to invest your time to go through this basic exercise because memory is a poor substitute for reality. Often we recall what we think we should have been doing rather than what we actually did or simply cannot recall exactly where all of our time was spent.

If done properly, this will assist in viewing exactly where time is wasted or could be better spent. An example would be when I began tracking my time years ago I realized a significant portion of time was spent on technical or administrative work assigning tasks to the website teams. To obtain the hours of time each week from those areas we hired full time Project Managers for websites projects and a full time in-house technical director. Both of these positions are better served by someone dedicated to the tasks required while it provided hours of time I use for online research and search engine optimization. I also realized I missed working out several times a week using that time to ‘catch up’ on important items I was unable to accomplish during the day.

I asked our Technical Director (who often claimed there were more tasks than time) to document his time so we could judge the amount of time that could be reallocated to other staff. He was quite upset and felt it was a ‘waste of his time’ to perform this task yet when he was done a clear opportunity was evident.

After completing his time study, he realized the main task of building websites was being delayed by computer support and updates at the office. The main company focus of building websites for customers was being delayed by tech work. We hired a part time tech support professional who now handles PC updates, software installations and other such work and the Technical Director gained three hours every week.

Other examples of where this may help gain valuable time are in data entry or customer communications. Project Managers have a tremendous amount of text, photos and content to input for each website. To accomplish this most efficiently Project Assistants were brought in for data entry only tasks at nearly ½ of the cost to the company and hours of time savings for Project Managers who could focus on customer projects. As the primary product and development, search engine expert and general business leader for the company I found it was more productive to have customer service staff schedule meetings and events.

What will your time study show? If you will dedicate the time you will find extra time to be a more productive and maybe even a happier person.

Every second that passes is gone forever so make sure each second counts

Robert ‘Dot Com’ Jackson
Internet & Technology Expert
BuilderConsulting.com - Building Better Websites and Online Solutions Since 1995

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Understanding Pay Per Click (PPC) Search Engine Advertising

Search Engine Marketing through use of Pay Per Click (PPC) ads is an effective method of placing any website in front of prospective clients without having to optimize or market the website. Companies with new websites, extremely old websites or websites which offer multiple services in multiple locations are best serviced through use of pay per click marketing. Search Engine pay per click marketing (Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, Microsoft bCentral) is typically setup with a daily and/or monthly budget for the marketing campaign.

In traditional advertising marketers charge for a specific location in a magazine or newspaper in hopes that someone saw the advertisment based on a distribution number created by the company selling the advertising. This left much to be desired since the company selling the advertising was the same company providing the customers with the 'distribution numbers' estimating how many people might see the magazine or newspaper and hopefully view the advertisment inside of it. There was no true way to judge how many people saw the advertisment or what the return on investment was for the ad campaign. Online advertising, specifically pay per click (PPC) changed things with the pay for performance method of costs.

With PPC advertising a company only pays when the advertisment they show on the search engine is clicked on and a prospective customer is taken to the website to view the customer. When a customer simply views the ad on a search engine, without clicking, then there is no cost to anyone. Advertisers may setup a daily and monthly budget to spend for ads in addition to individual bids (yes bidding similar to ebay) for each search term or keyword phrase. A company or individual may bid for a particular phrase or set of keywords to have their advertisment show up when a search was done for those words on a search engine. The benefit is that advertisers pay for exactly what they receive while the detraction of bidding on keywords is that competitors can instantly outbid each other driving the costs up dramatically.

This means that ten companies may bid for the keyword phrase 'Kansas City Website Companies' all spending $1 per click to show up in the first ten advertising locations on a search engine. When ten more companies decided to bid on the same set of keywords they outbid the first companies for $1.50 per click or 50% higher cost per click. When the first set of companies see they have been outbid and their ads are no longer showing then they bid $2 a click or 100% more for the same traffic. Bidding sometimes becomes extremely competative when people or companies target a specific keyword phrase with no limit on how high the bidding goes for each click.

The benefit of Pay Per Click is that companies never pay for the branding/marketing aspects of having online users view the ad unless the online user actually clicks on the ad (thus pay per click). Online marketers sometimes neglect taking the time to search for the best 'bang for the buck' when setting up PPC accounts for clients. Builder Consulting spends several hours consulting with the customer to determine the top keywords and phrases then sets a specific budget for each term based upon the overall monthly goals and cost per click likelyhood of a return on investment. Keep in mind that any account setup with a daily and monthly budget will not show all ads all of the time.

The rate at which ads are shown is based upon budgets, likelyhood of the ad delivering a click (more effective ads are shown more often), the number of advertisers paying for each search term and the remaining balance of a budget for each advertiser. Any individual or company can setup pay per click advertising in a matter of minutes, setting it up properly to requires experiance and an understanding of the overall concepts, goals and technical aspects of the systems to provide a true return on investment.

Robert 'Dot Com' Jackson
913-814-8844 Offices

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Microsoft Bing.com Takes Over #2 Position in Search Engines

June 1st 2009 Microsoft launched the new 'Decision Search Engine' intent on improving the way search results are displayed. Commercials on national prime time TV show people speaking random words associated with what others asked them as a way to illustrate the frustration of search results on many search engines. Microsoft launched a YouTube channel with the new search engine to share advertisments www.YouTube.com/Bing An example of this includes a commercial where a wife asks about 'Hawaii' and the husband begins saying all types of words that have to do with Hawaii such as 'Hawaii 5-0', surf lingo and other items that would commonly come up on a search engine related to Hawaii.

The Bing.com search engine looks at the context of what users are searching for and then makes a decision on which search results make the most sense to display. With the launch of the new Bing.com search engine Microsoft overtook the # 2 position behind Google temporarily jumping ahead of Yahoo.com with 16.28% of the market share. Yahoo moved down to 10.22% of the market share with Google remaining at 71.47% of the search engine market share according to StatCounter reports June 4th.

Microsoft has launched several new cutting edge technologies in the past few months including Photosynth.net enabling users worldwide to combine images creating extremely detailed 'video like' 3D images online. What remains to be seen is if the Bing.com search engine will be a long term competitor with Yahoo.com or Google.com using intelligent search results and new technologies.

Robert 'Dot Com' Jackson
Internet & Technology Expert
BuilderConsulting.com - Building Better Websites & Online Solutions Since 1995
913-814-8844 Office