10 Signs That You Need to Update Your Website

1. Perhaps it looks dated now. It might have been at the cutting edge of design several years ago, but like fashion, website trends change, and your site might not portray the right impression of your company anymore.

2. You might want or need new features on your website. If you want to sell online, or want to have additional forms, or want your visitors to be able to submit their own content, then you'll need to make the necessary changes to your website.

3. You'll want to make sure that other sites in your industry or sector are not stealing sales from you by having have better sites. If a competitor has launched a new site, or significantly updated their existing site, do you need to do something as well?

4. If you're selling more or different products, then you might need to update your website accordingly. Perhaps you'll want to offer more pre sales advice, or buying guides so that more visitors become customers. Maybe you're offering finance, or now need to meet other legal requirements.

5. If you want to help your visitors and customers make the most of your products, or help them to choose the right model, then why not add videos to your website? You might also want your visitors to upload their own videos to your site.

6. What other news services could you offer your visitors? What sort of things will they be looking for? What else would make them more likely to buy, or likely to come back? Would a finance or area calculator be useful on your website? What about being able to book online?

7. If your website has grown, and now you want to be able to manage it more easily, then perhaps you'll want a Content Management System, or CMS. This will make updating your site and adding new pages much easier, and mean that you can do it yourself without needing to ask your web design company to make any changes for you.

8. Perhaps you want to take advantage of new technology and web trends. Such as RSS, podcasts, social media integration, etc.

9. Maybe your target audience expects certain things from your industry, or sites selling the products you sell. If you're appealing to teenagers, then you'll want to make sure your site has the things that teenagers want, like sharing content with their friends via social media. If you're appealing to silver surfers, you'll want make to reassure your visitors that it's safe to buy from you.

10. What about if you want to offer your visitors more than just products? Perhaps you might want to think about adding a about a blog, or testimonials, or product reviews, or allow visitors to post their own comments or recommendations.

If you’re looking for some additional suggestions and/or a free consultation, please email me at:  terry@aisoftwareinc.com


How Social Media Worked for IKEA

fbIKEA is known for connecting different components to make something practical, right?  In 2009, they connected with customers via Facebook to create a brilliant marketing campaign that engaged their customers for a store opening in Sweden.

To promote the opening of a new store, a Facebook page was created for store manager – Gordon Gustavsson.  This effort immediately created a ‘personality’ to the store and allowed and individual (Mr. Gustavsson) to engage Facebook members with the national IKEA brand. 

Immediately (and with minimal expense), there was a ‘face’ to the store that allowed customers to connect on an individual level – bringing them closer to the organization.

The Campaign

A 12-day campaign was launched during which time Gordon uploaded images of display rooms.  The first person to tag themselves on a picture of the specified item won that piece of furniture.  This ingeniously simple ideas quickly went viral (utilizing the mass of Facebook users as a virtual sales force) and had furniture aficionados watching the page like cyber-hawks.

Why it worked

This campaign went for a specific time period that proved short enough to maintain hype, but long enough to take advantage of the popularity of social media and traditional ‘give-away’ marketing.  It achieved accessibility by using a tool (in this case – the ‘TAG’ function in Facebook) that nearly all Facebook account holders are familiar with.

Better yet, it kept people coming back!  Unlike traditional giveaway promotion, users could ‘win’ at any time over the 12 day campaign which kept users coming back to the profile.  Additionally, the talk of the campaign in countless status updates increased the exposure by utilizing Facebook users as the mouthpiece of the organization.  Brilliant!

The results

Gordon’s profile was visited by thousands of virtual customers who begged him to continue to release new winnable items.  Everyone then knew about the store opening (the original objective of the campaign) and – as a bonus – IKEA’s online catalogue was distributed between thousands of Facebook friends for free.

As a brand, IKEA discovered the power of social media to launch store openings, reinforce their brand and create customer loyalty. 

Since this time, they have gone on to create an online community that includes a well-done YouTube Channel.


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By The Numbers – Part 2

The exponential growth of the Internet is almost unfathomable.  What’s even more amazing is the adoption of social media, check out the following stats – AMAZING!

  • 60% of all web users visit at least one (1) social networking web site.
  • On September 8, 2010, The Huffington Post published an article called:  Why YouTube is the future of the written word.
  • Users on Twitter grew 109% in June 2010.
  • Facebook now has half a BILLION (with a B) users.
  • Americans spend 25% of their online time on social networks.
  • 33% of women (aged 18-34) check Facebook when they first wake up.
  • Social Media/Networking adoption is up 230% since 2007.
  • 30 Billion online videos watched in April 2010.
  • Worldwide, social networking adoption is up 82% in 2010.

Gosh, if that wasn’t enough to fathom, think about the impact of all this online traffic of mobile devices, such as:

  • Twitter saw 347% growth in mobile browser access in April 2010.
  • Social Networking became more popular on mobile devices (vs. Desktop/Traditional computers) in February 2010.
  • RIGHT NOW, Americans 18 & under send a text message every 10 minutes (when they are awake).
  • Mobile app store downloads will hit 25 BILLION (with a B) by 2015 (if not sooner).

By now, your head is probably spinning (mine certainly is).  So, let’s break it down.


  • If you don’t have a decent website – please get one immediately.  We’d love it if you hired AI Software, but either way, get online and/or get your online presence up-to-date.  Excuse the language, but DON’T HALF-@$$ it.  It’s likely the most important part of your marketing strategy. 
  • Stop considering Social Networking and DO IT!  If you’re still considering, read the stats above.  Social Networking is not a fad, it’s HERE TO STAY and will be a part of your marketing strategy (and will evolve) over the years.  You can no longer ignore it.  If your firm does not have the resources to tackle social media, then engage a firm like AI Software to help make this happen for you.
  • Consider mobile browsing/apps.  Ever heard of an Android, iPhone, iPad?  These devices are real.  It’s no longer PC vs. Mac.  Your online marketing partner needs to be aware of the possibilities, implications and opportunities that we now have.  Guess what?  AI Software can help!

No time like the present to get on board.  Email me today to learn how to put affordable and effective strategies together for your organization. 



Does My Organization Need a Blog?

By now, any credible organization realizes that they need a central website.  Most organizations know what a blog is – many have considered one and even set one up. . . but, does your organization really need a blog?

Short Answer: YES

Medium Answer: YES, but only if you can keep up with it.

Long Answer: Read below!

The Wiki definition of a blog is as follows:

A blog (a blend of the term "web log")[1] is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

The social networking craze has helped blogs become increasingly more popular for individuals and businesses alike.  Much like other social media outlets, a blog can offer many benefits – but is only effective if created and maintained properly.

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of maintaining a blog:

  • Blogs provide another instance of your organization online.
  • Blogs provide a casual and non-intrusive way to connect with your customers.
  • Blogs are indexed by search engines.
  • Blogs can deliver important and useful information to your stakeholders.
  • Blogs can be linked to your other social media for cross-linking & increased exposure.
  • Blogs can be used to demonstrate expertise in your field.
  • You are reading a blog right now, so they must work, right?

It’s true that a blog can offer these benefits and more.  But to be effective, you should make note of the following:

  • If you cannot keep up with a blog (1-2 updates/month minimum) – do not create a blog.
  • A blog is PART of your online marketing strategy – not 100% of your online marketing strategy.
  • DO NOT use a blog to push products/services in an aggressive manner.
  • DO use a blog to inform your stakeholders with useful information.
  • Use a blog as a suppliment to your online strategy, link to other instances of your organization on the web.
  • HINT:  www.ezinearticles.com is a great website to brainstorm for new blog ideas.

If you only remember one thing from this article, please remember to not trouble yourself with setting up a blog unless you can keep it up to date.  Shoot me an email if you are looking for more tips/tricks.  We’re happy to help.

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How Do I Register a Domain Name?

Whether you have the next great business idea or just a ‘gleam of the eye’ idea, it’s not a bad idea to register a domain name so that your intellectual property is protected. 

So, just how do you register MyNextGreatBusinessIdea.com (or the domain of your choosing)?

The way that this process works is that you purchase a domain (or domains) from a domain registrar.  There are hundreds of reputable domain registrars and thousands (if not tens of thousands) of domain resellers in the market today.  However, AI Software endorses GoDaddy as the best option for domain registration, and this blog will inform you on how to secure the domain of your choice through this service.

First, you need to think of the domain name!

OK, I can’t help you with this, however, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already thought of the domain.  Remember, the Internet grows exponentially every day, so you’re going to need to check to see if your desired domain is available first.

OK, how do I check availability?

To check availability of a domain, visit www.godaddy.com.  You will see (in the page) the image shown below:


Type in your desired domain, choose the extension (such as:  .com, .info, .net, etc.) and click ‘GO’.


Unfortunately, many .com domains are not available, so, you may need to pick a variation.  Before abandoning a .com, check on some variations.  If you run into trouble, check out our blog article on how to pick a domain name – HERE.

Once you’ve found a domain name that you are comfortable with, click ‘Add’ and continue through the checkout procedure and you have secured the domain name for the amount of time that you choose during checkout.

If you’re uncomfortable going through this process, AI Software can help you (as well as manage the domain going forward).  Don’t worry, if you ever want to transfer it to a personal or business account, we can help with that also!

Send me an email if you need help or would like more information!



Phone Home! – Accounting for Mobile Web Browsers

ipadMy son recently complained that he had to wait until his 12th birthday to get a mobile phone. 

My response: I had to wait until cell phones were invented!

Anyone in my age group (which will become painfully obvious soon) remembers the real ‘movers and shakers’ of the 1990s had the ‘bag phone’ that was carried in an over-the-shoulder bag that contained a gigantic phone and an even more gigantic battery (that held 2 hours of talk time at $4.99/minute).

 Looking back,the following boggles my mind:

  • The first time I viewed the Internet was in ‘96. 
  • That same year, I sent my first email.
  • I was required to use the Internet for college first in 1998.
  • I got my first cell phone in 2000 – a full 2 years after graduating college.
  • I did not have Internet access at home until 2002.

That doesn’t seem all that long ago – particularly when you take a step back to evaluate where Internet and cellular technology are today and how it is constantly evolving.


Every day, more and more people around the world are utilizing their mobile device as an Internet browser.  Think of all the people utilizing an iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry and/or Palm to access the Internet.  Because of this, you should be thinking of the following as you continue working on your web strategy:

  • Is my website using Flash? – Flash is not supported by iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.
  • Does my site have a mobile interface?
  • Does my site need a mobile interface?
  • Does my site recognize what browser (mobile vs. conventional) is being used to view the site and act accordingly?

These are all things that you should be thinking of as adoption of mobile web browsing becomes more popular and mainstream.  Our team at AI Software can build applications that will recognize these technologies and display your web site appropriately. 

It’s part of the the next generation of web browsing – and we would like you to be on board!

Send me an email if you need help or would like more information!



32 Ways To Use Facebook for Your Business


Got questions about successfully using Facebook to promote your business and/or organization? 

Here are 32 tips and guidelines to follow that will help you be successful in this venture.

Manage your profile

  1. Fill out your profile completely to earn trust.
  2. Establish a business account if you don’t already have one.
  3. Stay out of trouble by reading the Facebook rules regarding business accounts.
  4. Install appropriate applications to integrate feeds from your blog and other social media accounts into your Facebook profile. (Although you should be careful before integrating your Twitter feed into your Faceboook profile, as a stream of tweets can seem overwhelming to your contacts.)
  5. Keep any personal parts of your profile private through Settings.
  6. Create friends lists such as “Work,” “Family” and “Limited Profile” for finer-grained control over your profile privacy.
  7. Post a professional or business casual photos of yourself to reinforce your brand.
  8. Limit business contacts’ access to personal photos.
  9. Post your newsletter subscription information and archives somewhere in your profile.

    Connect and share with others

  10. Obtain a Facebook vanity URL so that people can find you easily.
  11. Add your Facebok URL to your email signature and any marketing collateral (business cards, etc.) so prospects can learn more about you.
  12. Post business updates on your wall. Focus on business activities, such as “Working with ABC Company on web site redesign.”
  13. Share useful articles and links to presentation and valuable resources that interest customers and prospects on your wall, to establish credibility.
  14. Combine Facebook with other social media tools like Twitter. For example, when someone asks question on Twitter, you can respond in detail in a blog post and link to it from Facebook.
  15. Before traveling, check contacts locations so you can meet with those in the city where you’re heading.
  16. Research prospects before meeting or contacting them.
  17. Upload your contacts from your email client to find more connections.
  18. Use Find Friends for suggestions of other people you may know to expand your network even further.
  19. Look for mutual contacts on your contacts’ friends lists.
  20. Find experts in your field and invite them as a guest blogger on your blog or speaker at your event.
  21. Market your products by posting discounts and package deals.
  22. Share survey or research data to gain credibility.
  23. Use Facebook Connect to add social networking features to your web site.
  24. Suggest Friends to clients and colleagues — by helping them, you establish trust.
  25. Buy Facebook ads to target your exact audience.
  26. Read up on Facebook Beacon to see if it might be useful for you.

    Use Network, Group and Fan Pages

  27. Start a group or fan page for product, brand or business. Unless you or your business is already a household name, a group is usually the better choice.
  28. Add basic information to the group or fan page such as links to company site, newsletter subscription information and newsletter archives.
  29. Post upcoming events including webinars, conferences and other programs where you or someone from your company will be present.
  30. Update your group or fan page on a regular basis with helpful information and answers to questions.
  31. Join network, industry and alumni groups related to your business.
  32. Use search to find groups and fan pages related to your business by industry, location and career.

Send me an email if you need help or would like more information!



What You Need to Know About Google

If you are not already familiar with ‘Google’, you can go ahead and navigate away from this blog right now.  However, if you’re looking to get the most exposure on (by far) the most widely used search engine, there are a few things that you should know. 

Google Acquired YouTube in 2006

That’s right, two of the most widely used websites on the web are owned by the same organization.  If you don’t currently have a YouTube Channel – I would STRONGLY recommend that you set one up immediately if not sooner.  If you’re wondering how YouTube can be used for business, check out our past blog:  YouTube as a Business Tool.

What’s important to consider is that the same algorithms (i.e. search logic ‘instructions’) that are used by Google are used by YouTube.  For this reason, you should use care in adding keywords and descriptions to every video that you post on your channel.  This will help you get the most exposure when web users search Google.

Take the following instance: 

Go to Google and search:  ‘Guaranteed AutoMotive Supersale’ or simply CLICK HERE.


What we are looking at here is the fact that just below the second link, there are two videos from YouTube that appear in the result set – both relevant to the search terms.

Also, please make note that the results for G&A Marketing dominate the page – showing the user that this company is active and progressive with regards to the Internet.  Think what impressions you draw when a single company has multiple listings appear on a Google search.



Google Maps will list your business location(s) for Free 

If you have ever searched for a business address on Google Maps then you will see there are multiple businesses listed where the building houses multiple tenants.  Getting listed is as simple as signing up for Google Places (a free service) and submitting your information. 

Signing up for this service allows you to not only submit your address, but also a photo icon, web and email links, video (via YouTube) links and services/products offered by your organization. 

By doing so, you are making sure your business is indexed in a map search as well as in the Google Directory.  In addition, you are increasing your chances of being found by random web surfers as well as creating a better impression with the additional information that you submit.

Google Owns Blogger.com (AKA Blogspot.com)

If you have a blog or are considering a blog for your organization, you should use Blogger.com.  This is a free service and the look/feel can be customized to match your organization.  A blog can be an effective tool to touch and communicate with your customers.  Because Google owns Blogger.com – this service will be indexed more effectively by Google.  Start a blog today using Blogger.com to expand your online reach.

Google Offers Free Analytics (i.e. tracking traffic on your website)

If you are not already utilizing Google Analytics, you should contact your web developer (or AI Software) to find out about the benefits of tracking your web traffic.  Google Analytics offers a very deep stat tracking system that will allow you to review hits, unique users, key terms, traffic sources and much, much more.  This will help evaluate your overall web strategy as well as give you insight on where traffic is coming from.  CLICK HERE to explore the features and benefits – and, let us know if you need help setting this service up.

What’s All This Mean?

If you are not already utilizing some or all of these services, then you should waste no time in setting up an account on Google to start taking advantage of such an effective (and free) suite of services.  If you are ever in need of assistance, please contact me and we can help you out. 

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10 Misconceptions of Safe Web Browsing

10 misconceptions of safe web browsing

Many web users today are suffering from misconceptions about safe web browsing.

You might think you’re being safe, however, a newly infected web page is discovered online every couple seconds. It is nearly impossible to stay up to date on infected sites—no matter your competency levels and experience with the World Wide Web.

To start this assessment, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you practice ‘safe’ web browsing?
  • Do you avoid ‘risky’ sites?
  • Do you limit the time spent online during work hours?
  • Do you use a secure web browser?
  • Do you know what a ‘risky’ site looks like when you visit it?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then you MUST read this article!

Misconception 1: The web is safe. I know this because I’ve never been infected.

You may not even know you’re infected. Most malware attacks are designed to steal personal information and/or passwords. Some will use your machine for distributing spam, or other inappropriate content without your knowledge. Most users have no idea when they have been affected by malware and/or a viral attack.

Misconception 2: Users in my organization don’t waste time surfing inappropriate content.

If your organization does not have web filtering in place, then you would have no idea what users are doing on their machine(s). Nearly 50% of corporate Internet use is going unchecked today. That is an average of 2 hours per day (per user). More importantly, if employees are exposing their machine(s) to inappropriate content, there can be serious legal ramifications.

Misconception 3: My organization controls web usage through an established policy.

If an employee is smart enough, they can circumvent filtering policies by anonymizing their proxy and visiting any web site they wish to visit. Anonymizing proxies are widely used by students – and now are finding their way into the work force as these children graduate and become gainfully employed. If you do not think this in an issue, you can Google the term: ‘bypass web filter’ – you will find approximately 1.8 million ways to accomplish this task.

Misconception 4: Only sites containing pornography, gambling and other ‘questionable’ content are dangerous.

Trusted sites that have been hijacked represent more than 80% of malware hosting sites. Most of these infected sites are those that you may trust and visit on a daily basis. The reason for this is that popular sites with high traffic are bigger targets for those who wish to distribute malware and viruses.

Misconception 5: Naïve users are the only ones to get malware and viruses on their computer.

Malware from drive-by downloads happens automatically without any user action, other than visiting the site. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what level of computer expertise you have. The fact is, if you are visiting sites on the internet, you are at risk for viruses and malware.

Misconception 6: You cannot get infected unless you download files.

Most malware infections now occur through a “drive-by” download. Hackers inject the malicious code into the actual web page content, then it downloads and executes automatically within the browser as a by-product of simply viewing the web page. The malware is typically part of a professional exploit kit marketed and sold to hackers that leverages known exploits in the browser, operating system or plug-ins to infect the computer and download more malware. Again, it does all of this without a user having to do anything other than visit a hijacked web site.

Misconception 7: Firefox is more secure than Internet Explorer

All browsers are equally at risk because all browsers are essentially an execution environment for JavaScript, which is the programming language of the web and therefore used by all malware authors to initiate an attack. In addition, many exploits leverage plug-ins such as Adobe Acrobat reader software, which runs across all browsers. Although the more popular browsers may get more publicity about unpatched exploits, it’s the unpublicized exploits you should be most concerned about. The fact is, there is no safe browser; when security research firm Secunia tabulated the number of browser exploits reported in 2008, Firefox was actually the least secure.

Misconception 8: When the lock icon appears in the browser, it’s secure.

The lock icon indicates there is an SSL encrypted connection between the browser and the server to protect the interception of personal sensitive information. It does not provide any security from malware. In fact, it’s the opposite because most web security products are completely blind to encrypted connections: it’s the perfect vehicle for malware to infiltrate a machine.

Furthermore, some malware can exploit vulnerabilities to spoof SSL certificates to make users feel more secure or enable devious connections to fake banking sites. There are numerous recent examples of hackers creating elaborate phishing schemes that emulate bank, credit card, or PayPal sites complete with spoofed SSL certificates that are extremely difficult for the average user to identify as fraudulent.

Misconception 9: Web security requires a trade-off between security and freedom

While the internet has become a mission critical tool for many job functions, whether it’s Facebook for HR or Twitter for PR, it’s completely unnecessary to create a trade-off between access and security. A suitable web security solution provides the freedom to grant access to sites that your users need while keeping your organization secure. Policy settings for groups or individuals don’t need to be complex—a few quick steps through a wizard are all a user needs to secure and enable your organization.

When evaluating a web security solution, be sure to focus on the administration tasks you will use most often, such as establishing special policies for users or groups. How easy are these tasks? How much time do they take? How many steps are involved? Is documentation required to navigate through the process? These are all important security questions when managing a network or user group.

Myth #10: Endpoint security solutions can’t protect against web threats

Typically, this has been the case because the web browser is essentially its own execution environment: it downloads content, renders it, and executes scripts all without any visibility outside the browser to endpoint security products. However, this is changing. As a result, it’s opening up a whole new approach to web security, particularly for mobile workers who are operating beyond the traditional boundaries of the corporate network. Live Protection enables real-time malicious site filtering at the endpoint to protect mobile or remote workers who may be operating off a corporate network.

What does all this mean?

In a nutshell, this means that if you do not have a trusted IT partner that is managing security – FIND ONE!

AI Software can help you with this. Contact us today to learn how to keep up-to-date with the most recent security now . . . and in the future.



How Do I Show Up On Google?

In 1995, the Internet had 16 million users.
In 2000, the Internet had 361 million users.
This Year, the Internet has 1.8 billion users.

This means that if you do not have a solid web strategy, then you are missing out on the most powerful advertising vehicle in the history of mankind.

This begs the question . . . how do I show up on Google?

It's safe to say that any legitimate organization realizes the importance of a professional web site, but a surprising number of organizations are still in the dark when it comes to Search engine optimization (or SEO).

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site or a web page (such as a blog) from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results as opposed to other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) which may deal with paid inclusion.

In other words, if you want to show up effectively on Google, you would need to run a SEO campaign.

You may have asked yourself, "Why do I need to hire a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company? Can't I do the same thing myself?"

Let's explore the correct answer to that question. While it is true that anyone can submit their site to a search engine, there is a lot of knowledge and technique that is required to rank well in them.

SEO Company Benefits

There are many benefits to hiring a professional SEO company. A SEO company knows what search engines are looking for. Each search engine has their own set of rules, algorithms, regulations, etc., that they apply to web sites that become part of their indices or databases.

One of the keys of ranking well in any particular search is knowing exactly what they are looking for and making sure your web pages are designed properly. This is called "optimization" and unfortunately the vast majority of web sites on the Internet are not properly optimized for keywords or phrases related to their subject matter.

A professional SEO company will ensure that your site is optimized properly and not just for search terms that are the most popular but also the most relevant to your business.

A good SEO company will keep up on the latest trends in the search engine industry. They will make necessary adjustments to your web pages or your campaign to accommodate these changes so you do not lose rankings. This is an ongoing process that never seems to end. It is a full time occupation just keeping up with all the change and transition that goes on.

If you want to reach the top of search engine results, it is imparitive that. It is well worth the money you will spend as well the peace of mind knowing that someone else is worrying about your rankings for you.

A good SEO company such as AI Software will actually not cost you anything in the long run because it will amount to increased exposure and increased traffic which in turn will bring increase revenues.



The Internet – BY THE NUMBERS


Americans Currently Have Access to:

  • 1,000,000,000,000 web pages
  • 65,000 iPhone & Droid apps
  • 10,500 radio stations
  • 5,500 magazines (traditional)
  • 200+ cable TV networks


More videos were uploaded to YouTube in the last 2 months than if ABC/NBC/CBS had been airing new content 24/7/365 since 1948 (which is when ABC started broadcasting).

[Click image to the right to view presentation and more facts]


Traditional advertising declined as follows in the last year:

Newspaper -18.7%     |     Magazine -14.8%     |     Radio -11.7%     |     Television -10.1%

The computer on your cell phone today is

a million times cheaper...

           ...a thousand times more powerful and

                             ...about a hundred times smaller ...

                                         (than one computer at MIT in 1965)

Pretty staggering, no?  If you’re not using the web as a viable marketing channel, you’re missing out.  Contact me today to learn how to put the web to use for you and your organization!



YouTube as a Business Tool?

youtube The growing popularity of social networking on the web has not only grabbed the attention of the world, but also caused those in the business community to ask: 

'what benefits are there for using YouTube for my business?'

While the answer to this question cannot be covered in a single blog post, we would like to educate and inform you of how YouTube can be used to increase the value of your organization's online presence.

Many think of YouTube as an entertainment site, however the landscape of the web is rapidly changing and the superb technology offered  by YouTube will allow your organization to use this application for much more than entertainment.

Here are a few ideas on how to utilize YouTube as a business tool:

Credibility - record your satisfied customers and post videos to YouTube.  When a prospect asks for references, direct them to your YouTube Channel or email video links to them.  View an example HERE.

Instructions - record instructions for your products/services/policies.  Email these links appropriately or embed into your website.  Click HERE for an example.

Marketing - create a video that describes your unique products and services.  Utilize the video as a marketing tool by emailing or embedding into your website.  To see a sample of how this can work, click HERE.  

These are just a few ideas on how YouTube can help your organization.

For more ideas, click HERE to view an article from Web Worker Daily.

Also, don't forget that YouTube is owned by Google and instances of your company/organization within YouTube will improve your visibility to major search engines on the web.

For more information on how to maximize YouTube as a business tool, contact AI Software today!



The True Value of a Professional Website

Every week, we get emails and calls from potential clients who ask: How much does a website cost?

In 2010, it can be assumed that any legitimate business realizes that a website is an important piece of their business, but 9 times out of 10 are unaware of price (or even a price range). I hope that this article will help you understand the true value (and cost) of a professional website.

Example: How much for a car? imagesCAIHSF2X

Automobiles are a great comparison for websites. Cars can look completely different, they can drive completely different and they can have lots of different features. Also – there is a huge cost variance based on the variables above.

More importantly, consciously or subconsciously, you draw opinions about people based on the type of car they drive. imagesCAWM85FA

Think about it – what do you think of when you see someone driving a beat up pickup truck vs. a BMW? It may not be right to draw an opinion, but it is human – and – humans will draw these same conclusions when they look at your website.

So, are you driving a beat up pickup or a BMW?

But, that seems expensive, doesn’t it?

In our industry, we hear this phrase quite a bit and it is difficult to answer. Even though it is 2010, many organizations are still utilizing a ‘Generation 1’ site – many times designed by a trusted friend or freelancer to cut costs and save money.

‘Expensive’ is also based on business size/marketing budget/etc. To a small business, $1000 may seem like a steep marketing expense, to medium businesses – perhaps $10,000 – for large businesses, $50,000 may seem reasonable (based on their paradigm and tolerance).

With AI Software (as with any other professional development company), a high-quality website starts around $3,000 – but, that seems expensive, doesn’t it?

Well, I had the opportunity to talk to a potential vendor for print advertisement in a quarterly periodical with limited circulation (www.greenbusinessquarterly.com). The following are the rates that they provided me (please keep in mind that the rep told me these are ‘discounted’ rates):

Double Page color ad: $9,210     150 words editorial
Full-page color ad: $5,850         100 words editorial
1/2 page color ad: $3,940          75 words editorial
1/4  page color ad: $2,750         50 words editorial

What does this mean?

The above-state rates are for a single-run in a little-known publication. Since they are in business, we can assume that they are selling advertisement. However, their lowest rate is right in line with a professionally-developed website by AI Software – consider the following:

- A website is permanent, not just a quarterly run.

- A website reaches the world, not just a select group of subscribers.

- A website contains limitless content, not just a quarter, half or full page.

- A website does WHATEVER YOU WANT!

- A website allows you to track response and traffic.

- A website from AI Software costs about the same as a quarter page advertisement.

We should also consider that print advertising is typically a fraction of what you would expect to pay for radio, television, etc. So, shouldn’t the question be ‘How much value do I get from a professional website’ rather than ‘How much does a website cost?’



What's in a [DOMAIN] Name?


'Domain Name' is a synonym for URL or Uniform Resource Locator.  A relevant domain name is an important item to consider by any organization that is serious about establishing a web presence. Choosing the right domain name can be difficult, but here are three 'rules of thumb' to assist your organization with the first step to building an effective web strategy.

1. Long or Short?  How long should my domain name be?

A domain name can be up to 67 characters long.  However, it is not recommended that your domain is this long.  That being said, a shorter domain is not always better.  You should pick a domain name based on the ability of someone to remember the name rather than the length.  A domain name that makes a statement is more effective than an acronym because people are more likely to remember a statement (or phrase).

Example:  Imagine a car company called Thompson & Jones Ford Mercury.  A domain name of www.tjfmcars.com may make sense to them, however www.bestnewcars.com would be more memorable for driving traffic (no pun intended) to their website.

2. My domain name is not available, what do I do?

There are several ways to work around unavailable domain names.  One common way is to choose a suffix other than .com (such as .us , .net, .org, etc.).  Another way is to add a short word before the domain name that you wish to register.

Example:  Assume you opened a coffee shop.  You can bet that coffeeshop.com has already been registered, so trying variations as follows can help you find an excellent domain name that is still available:

3. Consider the digits and characters you are using.

Don't register a domain containing the digit "0" in it, unless it is going to be part of a recognizable word (like 1000 or 2000). This is because the digit "0" is often confused with the vowel "O."  If you feel that you must register a domain with the digit "0," make sure that you also register the corresponding domain containing the vowel "O."   Try to avoid using domains that contain '2' for "to," '4' for 'for,' 'u' for 'you.' Your customers will easily get confused. However, if you must register such a domain, register the expanded form of the domain as well, i.e. if you are registering "FirstAidCPR4U.com," also register "FirstAidCPRForYou.com."

There are other things that can come into consideration when considering your domain name, but these will get you started.  It is recommended that you work with your web developer during this process and also, if you see one you like - GRAB IT (before someone else does)!



Should My Company Be On Facebook, Twitter, etc?

With the exponentially increasing popularity of social networking, the most common question of 2010 for our team is – should my company be involved with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, etc?

The short answer is – YES. Social networking provides the following to a business:

  • Add a human element to your product(s) and/or service(s)
  • Engage with customers directly, but informally
  • It’s fun for many – and very easy to use
  • Can help drive traffic to primary website(s)
  • Create a buzz around your website(s), product(s), service(s) or brand(s)
  • Assist with search engine rankings by establishing inbound links
  • Create loyalty and trust through an online community

But to find a true answer to this question, you must ask yourself the following:

  • Does my organization have the resources to effectively keep social networking sites up-to-date? This could be internal work or outsourcing to a competent firm (or individual).
  • Which social networking sites deliver the best benefit? Particularly if resources are limited.
  • Does it matter if my business is B2B vs. B2C when I organize and implement an online strategy involving social networking?
  • How do I get people to follow me online?

These are all very important questions and cannot be addressed in depth in a simple blog. However, I’m going to attempt to break down some of the most popular social networking sites – and hopefully help you start thinking about your online social networking strategy.

Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

Rule #1: Do not over-commit to social networking.

Many people (and firms) make the mistake of signing up for every single social networking site available. While being on all of the social networking sites can generate larger degrees of exposure, if content is not kept fresh, then users will lose interest (very quickly). If resources are limited, focus on the most important social networking sites for your business or outsource to a firm like AI Software to keep ROI high.

Rule #2: Know your market.

Certain social networking sites are more geared toward B2C marketing rather than B2B. Find out what social networking outlets can best benefit your business and marketing efforts – focus on those.

Rule #3: Realize what social networking truly ‘is’.

Social networking was created to be ‘fun’ first. While many businesses are reaping the benefits of having online social networking exposure, it should never be the primary focus of your business or marketing efforts – it should only be used to enhance the efforts that are working for your organization already.

So, in order to help you better understand social networking – and perhaps develop a strategy – I’m going to give you an insider’s opinion on some of the most popular social networking sites today.


If you’re going to commit to a single social networking site, make it YouTube! Since being acquired by Google, this is an excellent outlet to post videos that will get ranked on Google (if posted effectively). At AI Software, we record and post video testimonials from our clients as well as product videos (for instruction and marketing). YouTube is fun as well as beneficial to your business.


If you’re considering (or all ready utilizing Facebook), remember that it is for entertainment first and foremost. It’s great for connecting with friends and sharing information, but the business use is more appropriate for B2C companies. If you are a B2B company, focus on LinkedIn.


LinkedIn is a great site for connecting with other business professionals. It offers great services for business (and social) networking as well as finding suppliers and promoting products. LinkedIn is heavily used by recruiters, so if you’re looking for a job – GET ACTIVE on LinkedIn.


Constant updates of a ‘normal’ person’s life are boring and counter-productive. However, if used properly, Twitter can help generate a buzz for products, services and brands. Twitter is more for a B2C company and should be used in that manner. Think of a restaurant that uses an NFL player as a spokesperson. Commission the spokesperson to ‘tweet’ about the restaurant regarding special events, pricing, etc. This would be highly effective; however, ‘tweeting’ about ‘a day in the life of Terry Robinski’ is just the opposite.

Well, I hope this has been helpful. Now for the plug – AI Software can assist you with all your social networking needs in 2010 and beyond. Send me an email and let’s get it figured out for you! 



Become A GOOGLE Search Pro

A typical web user utilizes Google many times a day to find information online, but may not know how to narrow a search to get the best results available.  Here are some tips you can utilize every day to find the BEST results on the nation's most popular search engine - http://www.google.com/.

1. Explicit Phrase:Lets say you are looking for content about internet marketing.  Instead of just typing internet marketing into the Google search box, you will likely be better off searching explicitly for the phrase.  To do this, enclose the search phrase within double quotes.
Example: "internet marketing"

2. Exclude Words:
Let's say you want to search for content about internet marketing, but you want to exclude any results that contain the term advertising.  To do this, simply use the "-" sign in front of the word you want to exclude.
Example Search: internet marketing –advertising

3. Site Specific Search:
Often, you want to search a specific website for content that matches a certain phrase.  Even if the site doesn't support a built-in search feature, you can use Google to search the site for your term. Simply use the "site:somesite.com" modifier.
Example: "internet marketing" site:www.smallbusinesshub.com

4. Similar Words and Synonyms:
Let's say you are want to include a word in your search, but want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms.  To do this, use the "~" in front of the word.
Example: "internet marketing" ~professional

5. Specific Document Types:
If you're looking to find results that are of a specific type, you can use the modifier "filetype:".  For example, you might want to find only PowerPoint presentations related to internet marketing.
Example: "internet marketing" filetype:ppt

6. This OR That:
By default, when you do a search, Google will include all the terms specified in the search.  If you are looking for any one of one or more terms to match, then you can use the OR operator.  (Note:  The OR has to be capitalized).
Example: internet marketing OR advertising

7. Phone Listing:
Let's say someone calls you on your mobile number and you don't know how it is.  If all you have is a phone number, look it up on Google using the phonebook feature.
Example: phonebook:617-555-1212

8. Area Code Lookup:
If all you need to do is to look-up the area code for a phone number, just enter the 3-digit area code and Google will tell you where it's from.
Example: 617

9. Numeric Ranges:
This is a rarely used, but highly useful tip.  Let's say you want to find results that contain any of a range of numbers.  You can do this by using the X..Y modifier (in case this is hard to read, what's between the X and Y are two periods.  This type of search is useful for years (as shown below), prices or anywhere where you want to provide a series of numbers.
Example: president 1940..1950

10. Stock (Ticker Symbol):
Just enter a valid ticker symbol as your search term and Google will give you the current financials and a quick thumb-nail chart for the stock.
Example: GOOG

11. Calculator:
The next time you need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, you can just type your expression in to Google.
Example: 48512 * 1.02

12. Word Definitions:
If you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the "define:" command.
Example: define:plethora