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May 2008

My website has what?

All of my websites (own and the few I've made for others) and my blogs (7 and counting) have webtracking (invisible) codes in them. We all want to see the results of our hard, creative work - don't we?

But here comes the big question: My website/blog has statistics... now what?
Knowing how many visitors you manage to attract is one thing - and you might think the more the better - but do these visitors more than just 'visiting' your site? Isn't it everyones purpose of a web-presence to somehow turn these visitors into paying clients? But are you?

The answer is now available with Ed Rivis' newest product: Stat Faceslap

Ed Rivis has proven himself to be a 'genius' on everything webmarketing related, I've bought (or got for free!) many of his other products too and am sure this new and IMHO unique home-study program has the same ROI as all his other products have.

Common human reaction or common sense?

My favourite online dictionary gives 9 meanings for the word 'crunch'.
Meaning 3: "to tighten or squeeze financially" and meaning 7: "a shortage or reduction of something needed or wanted" are very appropriate when you add another word in front of it: credit - which also turns it in the most popular expression of the last months: Credit Crunch.

My favourite business consultant Richard C tells it in a nutshell: "Lots of people (and not just those on low incomes) ran up lots of debts. Then the ‘credit crunch’ happened. Now some of those people can’t pay their debts."

What happened? A credit crunch? A shortage or reduction of credit needed or wanted.

I've always been told that there is no such thing as a free lunch - credit needs to be paid back. Even cheap credit as we apparently have been offered over the last two years. It has to be paid back. One day.

But cheap credit sounded like that free lunch: you want to buy a bigger house, we'll give you the money very cheaply so you can have what everybody else has now; you want to go on that expensive holiday, we'll give you the money very cheaply so you can have what everybody else has now. Credit, credit, credit on every corner. Just so you can keep up with the Jonesses - like everybody else does. Common Human Reaction.

Common sense should have told the debtors one day - soon - the balance would have to be settled (credit and debit go hand in hand). But common sense isn't that common anymore it seems. Free lunch is what everybody saw - and what everybody else had/did/could do.

Balancing day appears to be here now, but common human reaction prevails again: who's to blame? Not the debtors - they were offered a free lunch; not the lenders, they just provided what everybody asked for, a free lunch.

Aren't buzz-words handy? Credit crunch. No need to change anything, just the buzz-word next time round.

Hot Chocolate - a sticky new experience

Our friends, Peter and Ross, from the UK we took with us again last weekend to our home-town enjoy life the simple way - like we. Small treats are celebrated as wonderful gifts, good times fondly remembered and talked about for months.

Bruggehorse On the way back, Monday, we decided to take a 2 hour 'pit-stop' in the medieval Belgium town of Brugge, famous for its Belfort, historic buildings, city tours in open horse carts, lace and of course chocolate of the highest quality.

Ross had ordered a hot chocolate drink every day over the weekend and so when we found a fine restaurant near the Belfort her choice was easily made: hot chocolate please.

Now, you have hot chocolate and hot chocolate of course. Some are made of powder added to milk, some come ready made (light or creamy), some are weak and some really, really sweet. But what Ross got in Brugge turned into a whole new hot chocolate experience: do it your self. On a silver plate - yes, we know how to find a fine restaurant - a large mug of milk arrived with a wrapped thingy next to it. A Choc-o-lait stick, made of the finest Belgium chocolate.

Hot Chocolate a whole new experience with the Choc-o-liat stick The stick was unwrapped, admired by all of us and then disappeared into the mug of hot milk. Slowly the milk turned, well, chocelately. Lifting the stick out of the milk showed thick melting strings of sweet smelling - not overwhelming - chocolate, slowly 'gliding' into the mug and turning the milk further into real hot chocolate. And of course the chocolate had to be tasted before it melted completely! Just lovely, Ross said after the careful bite.

The hot chocolate in the sticky new style tasted as good as the whole experience promised. And of course the choc-o-lait sticks had to be found to take home with them for their grand-children, sweet-tooths all of them. Brugge has many, many chocolate shops, so we thought it would be very easy to purchase a couple of them. But no, the new hot chocolate experience is a well guarded secret it seems, until finally in the fifth shop they stood proudly on the counter. Mission accomplished.

Choc-o-lait a sweet gift for manyMakes you wonder. Belgium famous for fine chocolate, Brugge famous for chocolate and chock-a-block with tourists - only a tiny majority of the retail businesses dedicated to the famous chocolate recognises a brand new hot chocolate experience for what it is: customer delight!

And the marketing by the company who produces the stick is a delight too, simple and sticky:

"From now on, enjoying real hot chocolate takes no time at all, with Choc-o-lait. With a cup of hot milk and a Choc-o-lait stick it takes you barely a minute to make some delicious hot chocolate.

The Choc-o-lait concept is both simple and brilliant: it comes on a stick. One end of a wooden stick is coated with authentic Belgian chocolate, which melts rapidly in a cup of hot milk. Or in the mouth. Because for some, the temptation will be too much...

In milk at 75°C the chocolate melts in barely a minute. And when the stick is used to stir the drink, it melts even faster. And then it’s pleasure time...!

Choc-o-lait is not only the most fabulous hot chocolate you ever experienced. The ways in which you can present the chocolate stick is also a feast for the eye. And you get the smell of authentic, tradition chocolate for free. This is no less than a full treat for all your senses!"

Makes you want to run out and buy loads, loads, loads.

Jazz break

Like last year, we're off back 'home' - our hometown Bergen op Zoom in The Netherlands that is - for our annual short Jazz weekend break.

Hope the weather there is a bit better than here, but we'll take umbrellas, sweaters and wellies with us anyway just to be sure ;-)

See you next week.

What I learned from.... mash-ups

The subject of this months MZM WILF sounds rather like messing up. I learned a lot from that too, but that's perhaps for another day.

My turtle friend Robert at MZM objective of this month is to mash up at least two items from a list he kindly enough provided us:


So, here goes:

Time - Heroes

You know, as children we all had our heroes, be it Punch and Judy, Dumbo or in my case Bones McCoy, Mr Spock and later followed by Mr Data. Why does someone becomes "your hero"? Mainly, I think, because they inspire you to follow in their footsteps, to act, behave like they do.
You aspire (thanks for this mash up Drew) to become as great, kind, knowledgeable, sincere, respectful and respected, sociable and generous as them. And while over time your actual heroes may change, the reason why they and their replacements are your heroes doesn't.
At least, that's what I've learned.

Heroes - Friends

Fictional heroes from my youth are one by one replaced by factual heroes - real people (although I have to admit you don't have to search far to still find various ST-memorabilia im my possession, just listen to my pc). My 'modern day' heroes too are great, kind, knowledgeable, sincere, respectful and respected, sociable and very generous. Sometimes it feels they go out of their way to help me, guide me, advice me, encourage me. Very kind and generous of them.

Factual heroes, contrary to fictional heroes, turn into real friends.
At least, that's what I've learned.

Friends - Technology

Some 30 - 35 years ago I had 'pen-friends', 'friends' you wrote hand-written letters to - once every month or so. Some you had never seen, only knew them from their letters.
Imagine that! A friend far away who you'd never seen, but who still told you all about their daily things, what they had done at School, what this or that person had said to them and vice versa of course. Your pen-friend knew all about your life.

Fast forward 30 years and some of my hero-friends I've never seen in real life too. But instead of once every month or so technology brings daily conversations with them. Well, almost daily then.
Many doom-and-gloomers warn that technology will only bring superficial friendship: here today, gone tomorrow. I beg to differ, my friends were here a week ago, were here yesterday, are here today and will be here tomorrow and next month too. Thanks to technology.
At least, that's what I've learned.

Technology - Writing

I'll be honest now, the draft of this WILF contribution I wrote rather - in my case - old-fashioned with pen and paper. I'd closed my showroom and headed to our School-garden this afternoon two days ago - the weather is/was just to gorgeous to stay inside. It's been a long time since I took an afternoon off - away from my (as my partner sometimes jokes - jokes?) "home-away-from-home" showroom. And for a tiny moment I wished I did have a laptop - that item just went up 4 places on my wish-list!

But pen and paper it is for now. Which means I miss my spell-checker terribly, my online thesaurus too - all essential items you need when English isn't your first language. But I'll get by.

There's only one, very old, problem for me when writing with pen and paper. I have to really force myself to write readable, an ability which has never ever been my strongest point and what goes back as fas as the first time my primary school teacher taught me how to write. After two/three days my scribbles seem to turn into hieroglyphs and I have to start guessing what I wrote! 
A keyboard and screen makes writing less of task (or guessing game in my case) and much more pleasurable.
At least, that's what I've learned.

Writing - Space

If you'd asked me what I'd wanted to be when I grew up, for years the answer was: a journalist - like 3 of my uncles from my dad's side.
Words, stories have always bubbled up in my head, filled my head really and I just had to write them down, always - to make space in my head for more. My first official publication happened when I was only 7 years old. The local paper published my short story "The talking pen and the flying paper" in their weekly Wednesday's children's corner. And nothing has really changed - words, stories still bubble up in my head and I have to write them down, always.

What has changed though is the subject of my writing. Before, I wrote fictional stories, sometimes about my fictional heroes. Nowadays I write factual words and stories, sometimes about my factual heroes.
Two years ago I managed to mash-up fact with fiction in my debut business novel, I (and especially my mother) am still very proud of this milestone - a real paperback carrying my name on the cover and in which one of my hero-friends so very kindly wrote his generous foreword.

Writing creates space in my head for the next idea, the next story.
Writing is what connects friends, far away and close by, the progress in technology enables the written word to reach many and contrary to what doom-and-gloomers have warned us for time and time again, no era has seen so many books published as this era of technology.
Writing is timeless, we still quote the old masters in blogpost, in articles, in E-books and in newspaper columns. And we all hope our own 'wise' words will be quoted in future times too.
Writing is, like Space, without boundaries.

Writing is the ultimate mash-up.
At least, that's what I've learned.

Mamut and MYOB - when 1 plus 1 makes 3

As (Dutch) qualified bookkeeper most of you know I'm one of those persons who gets excited over accounting programs - I know, weird to say the least.

When we moved to the UK - today exactly 8 years ago! - I had the 'pleasurable' task to select an accounting program that complied with English accounting rules and regulations but that also would make our 'foreign' business life simple. Well, that took care of SAGE - makes bookkeeping and especially reporting the facts and figures harder, not simpler.

I opted for MYOB and have never regretted it. Great software, great service.

Until our business needed a Customer Relationship Management System and I was introduced to Mamut CRM & Sales. Great software, great service.

It soon became apparent to me that adding the accounting module of Mamut would make my life even easier. My personal Support Manager advised me to opt for the Mamut Enterprise solution to benefit from even more modules and so came the time - January this year - to say a heartfelt farewell to my loyal and trusted MYOB accounting program.

Today I received the news - straight in my inbox from Alan Moody, the Managing Director of Mamut UK  personal! - that Mamut has purchased the UK and Ireland Business Division of MYOB.

The 'marriage' of two of my favourite, loyal and trusted accounting and marketing programs - who can ask for more?



Yes I know, only a weird bookkeeping nerd like me would get excited about this news, but I know what this can mean to many other small and medium businesses in the UK - user friendly and effective software for a very reasonable price with a proven track record of great customer service. Multi functional software that gives every user a big advantage over their competitors who are still 'stuck' on or with SAGE.

Passionate about Givers Gain - the mindset, not the trade-off

Many a word is written on the 'Givers-Gain' principle - I'm guilty of it myself

Doing it: by Givers Gain Principle, posted 14.01.2007
Hard Facts and 'givers gain', posted 01.02.2007
My blogging metaphor: BNI, posted  30.05.07
Cuisine ala Givers Gain, posted 21.04.08

BNI (Business Network International) has it as 'motto': by giving business to others, you will get business in return.
That however is somehow distorting the true value of Givers-Gain. It's almost a trade-off: I give so I must gain, I give so you have to give back.

True value of Givers-Gain is a mindset where the 'gain' is
a) not for you
b) an afterthought mostly experienced through the eyes of others.

The giving part is being generous, being so passionate about something you can't help but give it away - tips on how a product or service can help another person, advice on which product is the best for your client's circumstances, pointing someone to a better, simpler, quicker software  program that will help him/her best. Writing down your expertise for everyone to have access to freely.
Give, give, give to make others gain. It's a mindset born out of generosity, but more so from passion.

Let me explain why I've been contemplating on the Givers-Gain mindset this weekend. My good friend and business consultant Richard Calderwood has almost drilled the 'be passionate about and in everything you do and the world is your oyster' principle in to me; marketing genius Paul Gorman hammers it home constantly as the most important asset you have to have to succeed in business.

Both lead by example:

GivinghandsPaul Gorman, together with Ed Rivis (another great follower of the principle - he gave his book on which he laboured for 3 years away for free!) is giving away his secrets on copy-writing through the Copy-Writers Gang.
(Side-note: go over to Paul's LeaveThemInTheDust site, subscribe to his announcement list and receive 12 valuable Business Success Advisories from the genius for free!)

Richard Calderwood is in the process of compiling over 100 business building advisories, tips and ideas that anyone can understand and use - and all for free too! Subscribe to his blog-alert to receive the news of this launch the minute this happens on his bizRichard website.

Both, no sorry, all three are passionate about helping other businesses grow in a profitable and sustainable way. All three are experts and authorities, passionate about their own profession - copy-writing, web-marketing and building businesses.

They give, give, give passionately so we gain. That's the true Givers-Gain mindset.