Books wanted, books aplenty = book swap

6a00d8341c660f53ef017c34726adc970b-piThis year May my partner and I moved house, not one of our favourite tasks. In the spare bedroom we found boxes from the last move, their content still in there: books, books and books. I'm a fervent reader and over the years bought plenty of books, from novels to business and advice books. Too many for the Oak bookcase (bought new three years ago to hold the most appreciated ones close by) to handle.

The boxes got moved again - under much grumbling of my partner - and the content still isn't unpacked, 'cos where are spare bedrooms good for anyway? 

It did got me thinking though, after a (again) discussion with my partner about the multitude of books I've seemed to have gathered. When we moved from the Netherlands to the UK in 2000, many of my book possessions were given away, how could I have increased the numbers of books to the level of before our big move? Easy, I love reading! (Nowadays the number of books bought is drastically reduced, due to becoming a library member - I still read 2 - 3 books weekly though.)

Idea - I can't be the only one

This thinking process started by my "excuse" to my partner: I can't be the only one in this situation! How many of you have the same "problem" of overflowing bookcases, boxes filled with books you haven't found a reason to get rid of (yet)? Becoming a library member has indeed helped with buying new books, but that still leaves the problem of all the existing books - will they be simply moved again when the next home move comes around without having been out of the box at all? And the number of boxes has grown since the last move.

So, deciding I'm definitely not the only one I decided to create a kind of membership site, where like minded people can swap books. Going one on one with swapping books would be asking too much: what would be the chance of you having the book I want and me having the book you want? Strength in numbers is called for here. Hence the membership site.


Setting up the site has been quite easy, using Joomla, finding the needed components and add-ons took a bit more time (in between the normal daily working tasks), but it is here: the Book-Swap-Place

It contains a forum - accessible for members only - with three categories:

  1. I'm looking for...
  2. I've got....
  3. Try out area

where members can swap/sell/purchase any books they have aplenty or that they are looking for or find fervent readers willing to give comments on stories (fact or fiction) people are writing/have written.

Plus, since more and more people are publishing their own content (through PoD - Publishing on Demand - or as E-book), a dedicated listing for "Publications by Members"

Subscription to access and interact on the forum is a measly £ 1.00 (or £10.00 = 12 months for the price of 10), having your own publication added to the listings is £ 15.00 (and includes the membership's fee).

The more, the merrier

As with all membership's sites: the more people involved, the better the site will work, therefore all pages contain social media links/likes to get all your friends along and join in the fun. Because, lets be honest: reading (and writing) is fun!

And it is not just limited to UK readers, online can - and will - reach global readers (and I've got plenty of books in Dutch that need a different home than the boxes they've been in for years!). so, no matter where you live, join the Book-Swap-Place and get swapping

Connecting with your clients via conference calls

sponsored article - PowWowNow


Image courtesy of Randy Kashka

Meetings with clients in the conference room are difficult enough to manage, but meetings in a virtual conference room are another matter entirely. Too many conferences go to waste through miscommunication and timewasting, so it is extremely important for every business of every size to make the most of the time it has in a conference call with a client.

Time is money in today’s frantic business world, so connecting with your clients as early and for as long as possible is vital. You should have a focused plan in place before the call to ensure that not a second is wasted. Set your own goals but understand what you think they will want out of it and tailor your approach to that. Understanding your clients’ needs is obviously a standard business practice, but it is especially important in conference calls when you are not sat face to face. The last thing you want to do is waste their time.

Sticking to your own goals during the conference is paramount, since it’s your business you want to give precedence to first and foremost. In this respect, it’s good to adopt an assertive tone on the phone, but not so much so that it undermines the client you might risk losing them. Remember, assertively portraying a message over the phone is not the same as doing it in person because they can’t see your facial expressions.

Teleconferencing presents slightly different challenges to face-to-face meetings, so it is a potential minefield for anybody who overlooks them. We like to think that people are always courteous on the phone but the unfortunate truth is that being in a separate room altogether means that participants can easily find distractions. If a client is distracted, it would suggest that either your approach is wrong or that they’re not worth the business effort. If things start going awry, though, consider your own approach first. Are you being too assertive or too demanding? Are you giving them a reason to stay in business with you or is it becoming one-sided?

It is obviously good practice not to eat, shuffle papers or type on a keyboard during a conference call. Any unnecessary and annoying background noise will irritate clients and potentially drive them away. In the long run, conference calls could be beneficial to your relationship because it minimises the need for excessive travel, but this all depends on your etiquette and overall approach in the actual calls themselves.

From lead-page to delivery (and Ecommerce in between) - combining expertise

Stacking solutions for an Ecommerce ventureIf you are a frequent visitor to this blog of mine, you know I love combining things. Over the years I've discovered that by "stacking" solutions the sum of the stack is 9 times out of 10 much larger than the individual items on their own ever can be.

Although everyone seems to be talking about Social Media and how businesses should embrace all the various "buzz" out there, a good old static website combined with conversational (medium to long) sequence of informative email messages to potential and existing clients is still hard to beat. Then, once your client has purchased your product (or service) the delivery should not just be an afterthought, but an integrated part of the "customer experience".

Like a good diner, slowly cooked and eaten to enhance the flavour/experience

Tweets and updates (with or without links, photo's or videos) on Facebook/Google+ are like quick bites, but will they ever satisfy your potential client/existing client with all the information they need before deciding to purchase from you?

No matter how many statistics are out there, sometimes forcefully forcing you to believe that ONLY Social Media involvement is going to safe your business, my own experience - by listening to our own clients/friends etc - is differently. More often than not, a well balanced diner will be enjoyed better and longer remembered. And this you can only establish by cooking slowly, taking your time with the preparations, the presentation and the "after-diner" treats and relaxation.

So, how do you translate a well-balanced diner (with all the trimmings) into a web marketing strategy? As with diner, you combine the expertise of others - often only featuring in the back ground of your clients experience - to create, present and deliver the goods. Would your diner guests be interested in the name of the farmer who grew the vegetables or reared the animal you serve? But still, your farmer's expertise does add the necessary "flavour" to the dish you make. But your diner guests only see you - the host - giving them a great and enjoyable time

Same applies for "cooking" your customers' experience online.

This week I found various experts that can help you "cook" your diner and give your guests a great experience. Combined, they become an army of little helpers in the background, where you can shine and take the "glory" (respect and long-time commitment from your clients).

Lead pages

Ed Rivis new program: leadsite Launcher

Having a website is not enough, you need to have that extra special you can offer your potential guests. As an invitation to come to diner.

Ed Rivis (author of Massive Traffic and Email marketing Dynamite) is on the verge of launching a new program: Lead Site Launcher.

It will be a great and simple software tool to create (almost instantly) those invites that'll wet the appetite of your future diner guests. Watch the video on his blog post to get a first taste yourself.

Tasteful invites

Is your web copy inviting enough

Lead pages on their own are not enough to entice your guest to accept your invite. It has to leave them with the impression they just can't miss out on what you are offering.

Carol Bentley is your "little helper" here, working in the background giving you the most simple but effective copy-writing tips to establish just that. Subscribe to her blog or purchase one of her books (my favourite is still "I want to buy your prioduct.... Have you sent me a letter yet?")

The menu card and table setting

Now your guests are jumping impatiently to come to diner, you have to make sure the menu card is easy to understand and the table setting is so obvious no one's going to feel left out or placed at the wrong end of things.

Your webshop and order processing should be the same. Do all the items have a detailed description and is the pricing clear, are the delivery costs easy to understand. What payment options do you offer etc.

My own E-guide "Selling Online Bascis" is just the ticket for this part of the diner experience.
You don't have to take my word for it, this week Carol very kindly wrote a review on this guide here. (Couldn't have wished for a better review to be honest, so thanks once again Carol)

The delivery

Don't spoil the last part of your customer's experience

Now your guests have arrived, you "only" have to deliver the goods. And this is often an afterthought. How often have you received an order late, damaged or incomplete? Or even not at all?

Sam(antha) Anderson of Post and Packing Warehouse (P&P for short) has just written a very helpful guide on the very subject: "How To Make Your E-commerc Business Work For You". It highlights the pitfalls of order picking, packaging and tips/advice when to consider outsourcing this part of the experience to a trusted third party - just the way you would employ a catering company when your diner plans are growing and growing and your own time is spread too thin to take care of everything yourself.

You don't want to disappoint your diner guests now, do you?

Make it one complete experience

All the above expertise can be combined by you to create one streamlined and uninterrupted experience for your potential and existing clients.
It's not the quick bite of a tweet, or of a nudge on Facebook. It's is a carefully build diner your guests will remember for a long time - in the best possible way.

And here's the clinger: they all want to come back for more.

Grow your business by renting


(guest post)

If you’re either about to start a business or already have an existing venture that is just ready to blossom into some altogether bigger then it may be time to consider renting a desk or office. Chances are, you may have started out in a spare bedroom, study or even the garage, as is the case with around sixty per cent of start-ups.

Move on up

Working from home is all well and good, and it’s well suited to people who want to be close to the family and get rid of the need for a tedious daily commute. It can be a cheap way of working too, but it’s not going to be for everyone. Working from home can be a solitary business, and if you’re the type that likes to network then the spare bedroom is hardly the place to do it.

So, with a recession rumbling on and lots of lovely office space up for grabs across the country, there has never been a better time to move on out and into rented space. If you’re a one-man band or a freelancer then the first concept worth checking out is that of the desk rental scheme. There are lots of these ‘desks’ available and they can be found using a simple online comparison site.

Office rental websites work in much the same way as comparison outlets for broadband or mobile phones, and quickly allow you to search for and find any desk or office rentals that are in your vicinity. The great thing about this is that you can get an instant idea of the going rate being charged for space, and due to the recession, prices are currently better than ever.

All the trimmings

If you’re a bigger business, or are thinking of expanding, then try looking for shared offices in the same sort of websites. These take the concept of the desk rental idea and add on lots of extras, which in many cases will include receptionists, post and IT support.

In either case, the added benefit of these rental deals is that they’re invariably highly flexible, contracts are short-term and on a rolling basis and the building remains the property of the landlord. This can, of course, mean a lot less hassle for you, and leave you to get on with the business of growing your venture. And, what’s more, the additional bonus is that you can pick a location that suits your needs down to the ground.

If you carry out a search using one of the comparison sites, you’ll soon see that many desk and office rental deals are available either in prime inner city locations, as well as on purpose built business parks. This means that your business will get an instant boost from having a respectable postcode, and as we said earlier, there’s also the chance to network with others as well as drumming up new clients and extra business thanks to your more easily seen location.

If you’ve never entertained the prospect of renting desk or office space then it may well be time to think again. The overheads can be cheap, it can be a lot less stressful than you might think and, ultimately, you may well boost your business as a result.  

About the author: Rob Clymo writes on behalf of Office Genie, the UK's first proper online marketplace for desk space and shared office space.


Interested in starting your own Ecommerce Venture using rented office space? Check out the brand new E-guide "Selling Online Basics", a publication by 1 Plus 1 Makes 3

IVA Advice

Guest Post

IVA Advice

With more and more people entering financial difficulties, IVA advice can help those unfortunate who are borrowing more and more and whose finances are spiralling out of control.

Website have a fantastic debt analyser service, which is quick and easier to use and will guide you towards a better financial future.

Cleardebt can help reduce debts by over 70% in some instances, so are more than likely able to assist you or a business in difficult circumstances.

Exhibiting? Stand out

Guest Post

Why Nimlok are First-Rate in Exhibition Stand Design.

‘Finding a quality exhibition stand design service on the internet is nowhere near as difficult as you would imagine. Like anything else in life, it is all to do with how you go about looking. True, there are plenty of exhibition stand suppliers out there, but they will not all be able to deliver you with the same high quality of product and many will be lacking when it comes to customer service...

However, when you are dealing with a supplier such as Nimlok, you can be sure of getting the very best in all areas. Not only do they offer you a great range of products, but their service really is second to none! A quality exhibition stand design team will work with their clients to ensure that they get exactly what they are after; and this is exactly how Nimlok work. If only all companies had the same intuitive attitude towards their customers!

Even in this fast-paced and technological age, word of mouth is still the best type of advertising. And if you are to discuss exhibition stands with anyone, then it will not be long before they mention Nimlok. This is simply because they have such a good reputation when it comes to providing a quality exhibition stand design service.’

(Guest post)

When we exhibited a few years ago, it was the design of our own stand that made our company stand out. You can read about our experience in these related articles:

To Boldly go... Learned to think bolder

How to have fun during a B-2-B exhibition

Web Strategy Live Seminar


What would someone who's business is featured in "Email Marketing Dynamite" be doing at the first ever Web Strategy Live Seminar held by the author of aforementioned book?

Eternal students

It only took a short discussion with Richard C (accountant, business adviser, mentor) after receiving the invite for Ed's first seminar to decide we would both take him up on his heavily discounted offer and attend (and finally see "the man" himself as it were). Main reason: we both seem to be "eternal students" and never eager to miss a chance to learn more - or different ways.

Richard C is a bottomless well of effective marketing ideas, I've written plenty about our own (web) marketing strategies and the successes with it for our business but there is always more to discover.

Repetition never fails to expose the gaps


Yes, most of the Strategies discussed (at a speed that really made me think we also discovered Warp Speed) are in place in our businesses, but hearing/seeing them once again in great detail did bring out some gaps in our tactics.

Multi-variation testing of landing pages is one of them. Most special "project" webpages I do test already with a simple A/B test (through Google Website Optimizer, definitely with a Z Ed) but I'd not made the next essential step to take this testing up a notch. I will now and have already a project in mind.
I also took away a little extra tip on Google Adwords from Ed, reducing the p-p-c costs on further testing a control ad.

Meeting people - possible strategic alliance prospects


Another reason for traveling down (up?) to London (with the High Speed Rail Link, only 38 minutes!) was of course the chance to meet other businesses with - rather essential IMHO - the same or like-wise ideas on web marketing. If you ever tried to work together (alliance, joint-venture) with a business that did not know or even see the advantage of web strategies (list building, lead pages etc) you know where I'm coming from with this - hard work with limited success. Estate Agents come to mind - but that's a completely different story.

I came away with two firm strategic alliance prospects: one carpet cleaning company and one marble fire-place business. (Email) Talks are already on their way to see where our own lists of contacts/clients can help the other (in the most ethical ways of course, that's one of the first essential and profitable "rules" Ed and others give you). Looking forward to this project - I think it could even be a joint strategic alliance between the three of us - one way or the other.


And a surprise twitter-contact-became-supplier first face to face meeting too. During the "Golden Carrot" brainstorming one lady in the back of the room mentioned an idea about the secrets of proper packaging, being in the transport trade. After one of the breaks I saw her name-badge: Fiona McLellan, which rang a bell. We got talking and it turns out she's the owner of Pharos Parcel, the transport company we now use for parcels instead of ParcelForce. Reasons for switching? Pharos' online booking system is simple, straight forward and covers all that you need, no whistles or bells attached. That, the excellent experience we (and our clients) have with Pharoh Parcel and the regular collection van driver plus the more than competitive prices for parcels, leaves me with absolutely no second thoughts to recommend Fiona and her company to anyone who needs to send out parcels (and/or large items) on a regular or irregular basis.

Sizzling brains, future plans

On the train journey back (so short, we arrived in Ashford before we'd finished brainstorming!) we'd discussed various topics covered during the fast-paced Seminar and added more ideas/plans to the "to-do-list". We always learn or see new angles to grow our businesses - and this is how it should be IMHO.
Plus we have the CD-rom from the Web Strategy Live to keep us going and on our toes! This CD-rom is filled with short videos, templates, worksheets and much more.

More Seminars planned

Ed has more Web Strategy Live seminars planned, you can register your interest here and if you go, give him our regards! Thanks for a very interesting, learnfull and enjoyable day Ed.

E-Book on Simplifying Social Media Marketing Based on Collective Wisdom

In March this year Christine B Whittemore (known to many as CB the Chief Simplifier) "interviewed" me on how we as small retailer in the floorcovering business use (and profit) from the new modern web marketing tools and strategies. If you have been reading/following my blog you know how much we have integrated web marketing into our business and how - sometimes amazingly - successful that has been.

CB interviewed many more (retail) bloggers about their experiences and what tips/advice they have for others. This has now cumulated into the following.....(straight from CB's own blog "Flooring the Consumer")

CB-Ebook1 "Back in early December 2008, I decided - with inspiration from Mack Collier - to launch a weekly social media series about Bridging New & Old. I've been so impressed with the wisdom that these prominent and talented social media practitioners share that I decided - with inspiration from CK - to feature their responses to one question in an e-Book. Hence "Social Media's Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media - Book I."

The e-Book focuses on the question: "what suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?"

It takes the responses from the first 26 participants in the series. Since, as of this week, 34 interviews have taken place, there will be a Book II. I promise!

Social Media's Collective Wisdom Book I is available for free download from Simple Marketing Now.

I invite you to read it. I encourage you to share it with others. I think you will find the wisdom within compelling and thought-provoking.

And, then, will you let me know how you applied what's within?

The following very wonderful and wise friends participated in Book I. If you haven't yet explored what they do, definitely do so.


Pass it on: 25 Words of Wisdom x 37

Last week I joined in to the 25 Words group writing project Liz Strauss had launched.

Liz has now - as she always does after a project like this - compiled a wonderful painting of words presentation (see below).

25 Words Of Social Media Wisdom Project
View more presentations from Liz Strauss.
Pass it on: click embed on the presentation

Courtney Chowning
Liz Strauss
Claire Druga
Karin H
Christa Miller
Suzanna Stinnett
MaryS (one of my favourite 25 Words)
Liz Hover
Tim Tracey
Regina Lark
Summer Huggins
Karen Putz (another of my favourite 25 Words)
that damn redhead
Tim Bursch
Tracy Fox
Joseph Crockett
Lorraine Ball
Dave Haber
Jim Storer
Rebecca E. Parsons
Sheila Scarborough
Jim McGee
Julie (can relate to these 25 Words too)
Avil Beckford

Pass it on.

Liz Strauss' The 25 Words of Social Media Wisdom Project

On the Successful & Outstanding Blog(gers) blog Liz has started a new 25 words writing project: share your thoughts and wisdom in 25 words with the world.

(follow the link to the invitation)

My contribution:

Questionmarkspeople Questionmarksfonts

In this brave new world
of follow and followers,

follow the question

and provide the needed answer

That truly puts the "Social" in the "Medium".