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Five last articles
  • Building a Web Store on Shoestring Budget in less than Four Hours

  • Thursday, May 12, 2005
  • Effective Web Search with Google's "My Search History" Tool

  • Monday, April 25, 2005
  • Beware of Spyware

  • Thursday, April 7, 2005
  • How to Build a Business Website

  • Tuesday, March 22, 2005
  • Effective use of your online time

  • Saturday, March 5, 2005
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    This is more like a Business Blog. Rusbiz.com is a B2B portal with features that cover a wide range of online business activities. As the CEO of Rusbiz.com, it is my obligation to be in touch with e-business related issues that concern Rusbiz members. I am planning to write about some of these topics over here. I hope that subjects that personally interest me will not go unattended either.
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    Building a Web Store on Shoestring Budget in less than Four Hours Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Building a Web Store on Shoestring Budget in
less than Four Hours Starting a business online is no longer as difficult as it used to be! Now, there are plenty of interesting business ideas that anybody can pick up from various Internet resources. Startup related cost, which used to deter many in taking action, has become negligible. Many people already started to notice this! According to a recent report GoDaddy has gained 294,368 new sites in just the first 5 months of 2005 while the top four domain registrars combined, including GoDaddy, have gained more than half a million. Mind it! This is not the quantity of domains registered, this is the quantity of websites hosting with them! This recent explosive growth means one thing. Online business is on the rise!

    So, if you have one or several products to sell to a large geographical area and you would like to start an online business fairly quick but you dont have much money to spend on it, there are still ways to do so.

    Using the integrated features of many portals you can start your dream e–commerce site on a shoe-string budget within several hours. I am going to show you how to do this on Rusbiz.com.

    Sign up

    Preparation needed:

    Write an informative, precise but easy–to–read profile of your company in less than 600 words. If your company’s name is less than 12–letter long you are fine. If not, choose a nice name, preferably, by shortening the company name. This you will require for login name. Create a logo for your company. You can do it later if you don’t have a logo as yet.

    Steps: Register your company by filling up the membership form. Choose a membership other than basic. You need an option with the ability to build a web store. Copy and paste your prepared profile. Once you submit the form you will be taken to a page called My Business.

    Time required: Maximum one hour including preparation.

    Add products to the e-catalog

    This step will help you create electronic catalog of your products that you will use on your website as well.

    Preparation: Take digital pictures of your products. Each picture should not be more than 100 KB. Make thumbnail versions of your pictures. Thumbnails should be less than 10 KB. Both pictures and thumbnails should be of JPG or GIF formats.

    If your product requires special instructions, schemas, etc., make an electronic copy of them as well. This should be of doc, txt, or PDF format and less than 50 KB in size.

    Steps: Now from your My Business page click on the "Add Product" button. You will be prompted to "Add Product" page. Next step is to select the correct subcategory, where your product should be listed. First, choose the main category and than keep on selecting the right subcategory until you end up on the final subcategory. This E–catalog is based on USPSC, electronic classification standard, which offers a ten–digit, five–level logical hierarchy for organizing products and services. Once you successfully selected the fifth level subcategory you will be prompted to a detail form. Add all the necessary information about your product. Insert the pictures in the designated places. Once you finished, submit the form. Continue doing the same for all the products. You have just created your first electronic catalog!

    If you face difficulties, as a premium member you don’t have to go through the steps outlined above, you can just send all the required information to Rusbiz customer service and they will take care of your e–catalog.

    Time required: half an hour including preparation.

    Build your web store

    You will be surprised to know that part of your web store is already created from the information that you have inserted so far! From My Business page click on Manage web store in order to check and edit what you already have so far and what else do you have to do. Your web store has 9 more pages apart from the product pages. The pages are Home, Contact, Company events, Services, Employee information, Company News, Surveys, and FAQ.

    Preparation: You can gather information for some of the vital pages to give your site a professional look and feel. As the pages are template based, you can edit and insert needed information, whenever you like.

    Steps: From Manage Web Store the first thing you should do is configure your web store. This means, you have to select currency of your choice, payment and delivery methods. Next you should choose which of the products you would like to display on your home page. I’ll also suggest you to fill up some of the above mentioned pages, i.e. employee bios, etc. This gives your web store a human touch.

    Voila! Your e–commerce website is ready to go!

    Time required: Maximum two hours including preparation.

    Here are the advantages of having a web store like this one:

  • You don’t need to know HTML
  • Navigation and editing of your website is easy and simple
  • You receive instant access to Rusbiz community of thousands of prospective customers
  • Shopping cart is an integrated part of the package
  • Membership allows you to sell products through Rusbiz e–marketplace
  • As a member you are also allowed to use Rusbiz business process management system
  • You will get access to other useful features of Rusbiz system
  • Your website will be indexed by major search engines within a matter of days

    The best thing about this method is you can start with 3 months Simple Membership for just US$ 65! If you need to use a domain name, you can readdress it to your Rusbiz web store. After a while, if you feel that you require a full–fledged e–business website, professional developers from Rusbiz can take care of this as well. As more and more people are getting involved in online business, if you don’t start now, you might miss the boat! So, take action!

    Our Services
      E-business Solutions Deal Management
      E-commerce Market Research
      Web Marketing Add products to E-catalog
      Web Stores Advertisement
      Web Design Packages Read More...

    How to install?

    In order to add this feature go to the "My Search History" link on your Google home page and search results pages, by clicking the My Search History link on Google Labs, or by going directly to http://www.google.com/searchhistory. If you ever registered with any of Google’s services, i.e. Gmail, Newsgroups, Froogle, etc. you may use same user name and password to install this feature. If you don’t have account with Google as yet, don’t worry unlike Gmail account you can go to the following page https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount and create a new account. Once you created an account, you can turn on "My Search History", which will add the link to your Google home page and search results pages.

    Is this feature something new?

    This is actually not a new feature on the Internet. This service of Google has striking similarity to the one already existed on Meta Search tool www.a9.com. Other search engines like www.askjeeves.com and little know www.findory.com also have some thing similar incorporated to their systems. A9 also has a feature called "Discover", which along with your search results recommends sites relevant to the query. The My Yahoo Search test released in October also enables users to save, share and post notes on their own search results.

    Privacy issues

    There is always a reason to be concerned when your Internet activities are tracked and kept by any company. However, Google has taken several steps so that a user can have total control on how he exploits this service.

    First, you have to log on in order to use this feature. Your log in status is visible all the time on the Google home page. If you can see your account name on top right side of the page, this means you are signed in.

    If you don’t want certain searches to be tracked by Google, you have two choices. Either you can suspend the service for a while by clicking on the "pause" button or just log off from the service.

    You can also erase search results from history page by clicking on "Remove" link. Combination of all these mechanisms will allow you to keep your searches private and protected. However, if you are overly concerned about privacy, you better refrain from using this feature.

    Benefits

    Most of Google’s features carry great values for users. The personalization of search processes using "My Search History" allows you to get a better search experience. It’s a significant leap towards creating an ideal search system.

    The benefits of this feature for Google are also enormous! Almost all of Google’s revenue comes from search ads. Naturally, Google’s ability to provide more refined search results to users will allow vendors better targeting their market niche. They would spend substantially more if they could show ads to users based on their past search history. But, Google claims that at this moment it is not planning to post any ads on your history pages.

    No doubt, this is an interface that many of us have been waiting for quite a while. However, its impact on the future of search engines remains to be seen!


    Discuss this article at our new forum
    Effective Web Search with Google's "My Search History" Tool Monday, April 25, 2005

    Effective Web Search with Google’s "My Search 
    History" Tool You were looking for certain information on the web. After several attempts using different words and phrases with your favorite search engine, you finally have found the required information but, as it happens, forgot to bookmark the pages. In a few days when you needed to check out the same pages again, to your utter dismay, you realized that you couldn’t recall how you searched out those pages. Sounds familiar? If you are like me, you probably face this problem quite frequently!

    Finding the right page link you are seeking from the browser’s history feature, out of hundreds of pages that you have visited recently, is not easy either! More over, browser’s history page remembers where you have been as you browse the web for a limited time only. Things may be a little easier if you use Google Desktop search or similar tools from other search engines, but again if you don’t always use the same computer, even this might not be of much help.

    My Search History – a new Google feature

    However, thanks to new "My Search History" feature from Google, now you are able to overcome this difficulty. The service, which is still at beta stage and released just recently, provides complete search history of all the past searches made through Google once you install it. The search histories are stored on Google’s servers, this enables you to access search histories from any computer. From your search history page you are able to make a query on the search history itself. On the history page at the right side you can see the search words or phrases used for making a query, time of the query made, pages visited related to the query and the page link. At the left side, there is a calendar to check out the search made by you on an earlier date. It also shows how many searches you have done on a certain day and how intense your search activity was on each day. A neat feature, which will help you get rid of the problem mentioned in the beginning of the article, will show you relevant search results from your "My History Pages" along with the new search results while you make a query. "This feature of Google Web search enables you to find information you thought you lost", Google claims on its site.

    Our Services
      E-business Solutions Deal Management
      E-commerce Market Research
      Web Marketing Add products to E-catalog
      Web Stores Advertisement
      Web Design Packages Read More...

    How to install?

    In order to add this feature go to the "My Search History" link on your Google home page and search results pages, by clicking the My Search History link on Google Labs, or by going directly to http://www.google.com/searchhistory. If you ever registered with any of Google’s services, i.e. Gmail, Newsgroups, Froogle, etc. you may use same user name and password to install this feature. If you don’t have account with Google as yet, don’t worry unlike Gmail account you can go to the following page https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount and create a new account. Once you created an account, you can turn on "My Search History", which will add the link to your Google home page and search results pages.

    Is this feature something new?

    This is actually not a new feature on the Internet. This service of Google has striking similarity to the one already existed on Meta Search tool www.a9.com. Other search engines like www.askjeeves.com and little know www.findory.com also have some thing similar incorporated to their systems. A9 also has a feature called "Discover", which along with your search results recommends sites relevant to the query. The My Yahoo Search test released in October also enables users to save, share and post notes on their own search results.

    Privacy issues

    There is always a reason to be concerned when your Internet activities are tracked and kept by any company. However, Google has taken several steps so that a user can have total control on how he exploits this service.

    First, you have to log on in order to use this feature. Your log in status is visible all the time on the Google home page. If you can see your account name on top right side of the page, this means you are signed in.

    If you don’t want certain searches to be tracked by Google, you have two choices. Either you can suspend the service for a while by clicking on the "pause" button or just log off from the service.

    You can also erase search results from history page by clicking on "Remove" link. Combination of all these mechanisms will allow you to keep your searches private and protected. However, if you are overly concerned about privacy, you better refrain from using this feature.

    Benefits

    Most of Google’s features carry great values for users. The personalization of search processes using "My Search History" allows you to get a better search experience. It’s a significant leap towards creating an ideal search system.

    The benefits of this feature for Google are also enormous! Almost all of Google’s revenue comes from search ads. Naturally, Google’s ability to provide more refined search results to users will allow vendors better targeting their market niche. They would spend substantially more if they could show ads to users based on their past search history. But, Google claims that at this moment it is not planning to post any ads on your history pages.

    No doubt, this is an interface that many of us have been waiting for quite a while. However, its impact on the future of search engines remains to be seen!


    Discuss this article at our new forum
    Beware of Spyware Thursday, April 7, 2005

    Beware of Spyware One day, you suddenly realize that your computer started to work noticeably slower than it used to. You decide to run de-fragmentation of your hard drive and add more virtual memory to the system. No luck! May be, its probably some viruses, you reckon turning on your virus scanning software. Even after running the anti-virus program you notice that the problem wont resolve. Not understanding whats happening frustrated you pick up the phone. Its time to call your tech-support. Sounds familiar? You are not alone! Each day, thousands of users are facing similar problems caused by malicious software called Spyware. According to Dell technical support, nowadays 12 percent of their support calls involve problems related to some kinds of Spyware. Microsoft reports that fifty percent of all computer crashes are caused by Spyware, viruses and Trojans.

    What is a Spyware?

    Spyware also named Malware or Adware are malicious software programs, which most of the time get installed on your computer without your knowledge. These programs are capable of doing many outrageous, sinister things to your computer such as changing computer settings, tracking your online behavior, monitoring and controlling your computer, recording your keystrokes, displaying unwanted advertisement and reporting needed information back to the person behind it.

    Our Services
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      E-commerce Market Research
      Web Marketing Add products to E-catalog
      Web Stores Advertisement
      Web Design Packages Read More...

    The main types of Spyware are:

    Key loggers: This type of Spyware copies everything you type to a file and send it to the hacker. The more sophisticated type, which is used for identity theft, copies the information you provide when you are connected to a secure website.

    Browser hijacker: It modifies browser settings without your permission. This Spyware is capable of changing your start page, search page, search tool bar and redirect your url to specific pages.

    Email redirector: Surreptitiously copies all your incoming and outgoing emails and sends to the hacker.

    Dialers: This spyware install themselves to your dial-up settings and dials numbers without your knowledge, often to out of country numbers.

    Collectware: The purpose of this Spyware is to track your surfing habit and transmitting the statistical data to the hacker. This information later gets sold to advertisement companies.

    Adware: This Spyware downloads all sorts of banner advertisements every time you take some action such as typing a word on your search tool.

    Why my antivirus program does not block a Spyware?

    Although, Spyware uses same tactics like Trojan virus, technically it is not a virus. A virus is a program written to create trouble or possibly harm your computer system. Viruses are capable of replicate, evolve and cause severe damages to your computer files, registry or even hardware. Spyware, on the other hand, does not harm your computer intentionally. Any nuisance like system slow down is the collateral damage, which occurs while the Spyware serves its mission of monitoring your activities and making unwanted changes to your user experience.

    People rarely read the fine prints of the user agreements while downloading a file, a program, a game or other free stuffs from the Internet. Unethical sites use this to their advantage and add tiny Spyware with the file you are downloading.

    The anti-virus programs can not be sure, whether this program is installed deliberately by you or its a malicious Spyware. This makes identifying and blocking a Spyware difficult for an Anti-virus program. However, things are started to change! Major anti-virus companies are planning to integrate anti-spyware programs to their existing products very soon.


    How did I get infected with a Spyware?

    There are numerous ways how you might end up with having a Spyware on your system.

       When you download and install programs, games, smilies, pictures, screensavers from dubious sites, there is a big chance that you might install a sneaky Spyware along the way.

       Some websites and pop-up windows try to download and install Spyware while you are there. According a recent analysis of sex-based websites, up to 80 percent of these sites are now being used to upload Spyware, worms and Trojans to unsuspecting visitors.

       Some add-ons to you browser that is supposed to enhance your browser experience may secretively install Spyware.

       The most cynical method of infecting you with Spyware is when you receive a sudden pop-up ad, which claims that your computer is contaminated and you have to run certain program to cure your system. If you are credulous enough to run this program, it just installs a Spyware instead of eliminating any.

     

    How to fight back?

    If you carefully follow the instructions outlined below, your chances of getting infected with Spyware are pretty slim.

    Update your Windows
    Allow your version of Windows to update it automatically. Ensure that you have all the latest security patches installed.

    Use Firefox as your default browser
    Since Internet Explorer is the main target for many Spyware, you will be better of with Mozilla Firefox. Moreover, it is a better browser than IE in many aspects.

    Be extremely careful with your downloads
    Try not to download anything from a unknown site. If you still feel like getting a shareware or freeware program check it out on one of these online Spyware database. Spychecker is one such service, and Camtech 2000's Spy Chaser is a nifty downloadable database of nearly 1000 spyware-infested programs.

    Use an Anti-Spyware application
    Download and install one of the following anti-spyware programs: Ad-aware, Spybot or Microsoft AntiSpyware. Although, Microsofts Anti-Spyware is still at beta stage, I am using it and very happy with its performance.

    Get a Firewall
    If you are using Windows XP with Service Pack 2, you are probably fine! In other cases, if your computer is connected to the Internet directly you should get a firewall and install it. Zone alarm is a great firewall you can download for free.

    A recently conducted survey of the Top Network Security threats in 2005 reveals that two-thirds of IT managers and administrators believe that Spyware will be the number one threat to network security. So dont take any chance! Make sure that you are protected!

    Discuss this article at our new forum

    How to Build a Business Website Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    How to Build a Business WebsiteA recent report done by Yankee Group, a Boston-based market research company, states that at the end of 2004 around 34 percent of small and medium sized businesses in North America are selling goods and services on the Internet and another 25 percent is planning to do so within next 12 months. Online sales in the United States represented 8.4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2004. This figure is increasingly rising. This means, if your company is not paying serious attention to this vital channel of sales and marketing, you are simply missing the boat.

    In its basic form a website is a bundle of pages full of texts, graphics and other electronic files published on the Internet for people to view. How you organize your website depends totally on your online goals. Websites are built for various purposes. You can use a website as a sales point, a marketing channel, a corporate image building tool, a branding channel, an information center, a CRM center, a product launching center, and for number of other reasons. When you plan to build a website, you should base your online strategy keeping in mind two things: your online objectives and your potential audience.

    SOME OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF CORPORATE WEBSITES ARE:

    Information providing sites

    Most of today’s sites fall in this category. The simplest of them are actually mere reflection of offline corporate brochures.

    Promoting company
    The idea behind some of information-driven sites is to give maximum information related to the company. A holding company, for example, may prefer to have a site like this. These sites usually include: company history, company related news, mission statement, profiles of key executives, a good FAQ section, etc. Graphics are used in these sites only to accentuate the text information. However, the sites may include video and FLASH presentation as well.

    Promoting products or services
    A pharmaceutical company to promote its recently launched medicine may develop a website surrounding the product. The sole purpose of this type of sites is to create awareness of specific products or services. 

    Creating brand awareness
    A manufacturing company that sells its products exclusively through distributing channel may develop a website to provide ultimate information on the products and create brand. These sites complement company’s offline promotional efforts and always built in consistence with other commercials.

    Our Services
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      E-commerce Market Research
      Web Marketing Add products to E-catalog
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    E-commerce

    Online sales are done through the e-commerce sites. Main characteristics of an e-commerce site include:

      1. Detail products or services information with pictures and sometimes with multimedia presentations, drawings, charts, etc.
      2. Shopping cart – so that the buyer can select one or several items to purchase.
      3. Payment gateway – so that the buyer can make payments for the products or services purchased.

    Corporate portals

    A Website that offers a broad range of resources and services such as email, forums, company pertinent news & articles, members only area, etc. is generally called a portal. Portals are intended to be the gateway for their respective audience.

    B2B exchange

    Business to Business Exchange is an online platform where buyers and sellers come to communicate, collaborate and make business transactions. The main objective of a B2B Exchange is to create a venue, filled with features that allow members to efficiently conduct business processes through the Internet. A private B2B exchange is a corporate portal with a marketplace. It is designed to provide services to the company’s own buyers, sellers and workforce.

    WEBSITE PLANNING

    Before starting to build your website you should first develop a plan in line with your online objectives, target audience and resources. You can write your plan thoroughly as a storyboard. A storyboard is something similar to a flowchart of all the website components you deem necessary. Once you have a clear picture of what you are going to build, sit with your developers and create a technical scope of the project. This is absolutely necessary! In most of the cases your entrepreneurial vision will differ drastically with the way a programmer look into your requirement.

    While working on your scope or even after publishing your website bear in mind the following crucial aspects of effective websites:

    Page loading time
    In the euphoria of having a great slick website, often, we use images that make the pages too heavy. A page which takes just one second to load with T1 speed will need full 55 seconds to load with a 28.8 modem. Web surfers are impatient bunch of click-happy people; they don’t like to wait too long! Make sure you optimize each and every page of your website before launching the site! Otherwise, you will loose a large portion of your would-be visitors for nothing!

    • Look at your pages from a visitor’s prospective. Eliminate all images that are not so important to deliver your messages.
    • Optimize the remaining images with available tools.
    • FLASH images are may be cool, don’t use them just because they are cool. Use them wisely.
    • Host your website in a server with a good bandwidth.

    Navigation
    Your website’s links should be well-defined, persistent, and easily visible. If the site is large with many pages, you must have a site map page. Remember that not all visitors will land to your homepage, in order to keep them browsing through your site make navigation from your main landing pages as easy as possible. Try giving them compelling reasons to do so by using catchy links. Also, make sure that all your links work correctly and take a visitor to right place.

    Webpage consistency
    All your web pages should have one consistent look. This will give your website a professional appearance, and visitors while browsing through your site will always know that they are still on your website.

    Content is the king
    If you want your visitors to return back to your site, regularly add fresh, relevant and quality content to your website. Internet users are information hungry people, feed them with fresh information on a regular basis and you will have good number of loyal visitors to your website.

    If you already have a website make sure you optimize your website from user’s point of view. According to Gartner, a market research company, even a minor investment in improving the usability of a company website will yield an annual return of 10 to 20 per cent. It increases brand awareness, leads to higher user adoption rates and possibly more transactions per user. Average order size starts to rise and the site generates more return visits from customers.

    RESOURCES

    Website Performance Tool and Web Page Speed Analysis:
    http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze

    Check your web pages for bad links:
    http://www.siteowner.com/badlinks.cfm

    Webmaster resources:
    http://bignosebird.com


    Discuss this article at our new forum
    Effective use of your online time Saturday, March 5, 2005

    Effective use of your online timeThe Internet is increasingly becoming a major time killer for many of us. Involuntarily, we started to spend more time online than we really can afford. Here is how it goes: you were sitting at work, you needed to find some crucial information to finish that project at hand, you went on the Internet to look for the information, you run a web search or started browsing through web directory, and suddenly you noticed something that seems very interesting, it could be a banner ad, a link, just a piece of information, or some related ideas that came up that instant and required immediate attention. You clicked on the link to check it out thinking this wont take too long. This link took you to another seemingly more interesting page. Before you knew it, you started to ramble through the Internet aimlessly wasting your precious work time.

    Then, of course, there is this sports news that you must read, stock portfolio that you must check constantly, vacation place you need to choose for your next holidays, the list goes on and on, and what about those emails? Sounds familiar! You are not alone! Most of the Internet users are in the same boat.

    If you feel trapped and frustrated with your handling of the time spent online, you need to stand back, take a break, and look into the problem from a different perspective. Actually, what you need is more than a break; you need a balanced approach to your Internet activities. In order to understand where you online time goes, the first thing you should do is log everything that you do on the Internet for several days.

    Log your online activities

    If you scrupulously write down everything you do on the Internet for a day, you will, truly, be amazed to see how much time you waste on unnecessary things like reading spam, browsing through inconsequential websites, etc.

    By thoroughly analyzing your online activities with the help of the logs you make, you will be able to pinpoint and resolve the problems online activities that are unproductive and time wasters. The idea is to stay focused and do the things that you ought to do and stay out of impulsive moves.

    Our Services
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    To do lists

    Like your daily life, you should make a To Do list of the things you need to do on the Internet. First, make a list of all the tasks that you have to do online including routine activities like checking emails, etc. A generic activity such as working with your emails should be broken down into small tasks answering to a specific email, making an online order for office supplies, etc. Add every single job related to the Internet to this list. Once you created the list, sort it according to the priority. This becomes your master list of online tasks. Select the tasks you are planning to do in a day. Transfer those tasks to a separate list.

    Make sure this list is precise and not too long, so that you can finish most of the tasks from the list - at least the ones with high priority within the chosen day. Armed with this list you will be able to tackle the problem of productive use of your online time with confidence.

    Resources
    Many major portals have free personal information management programs that you can be used to create daily schedules and to do lists.

    Yahoo PIM: http://calendar.yahoo.com

    MSN PIM: http://www.hotmail.com

    If you rather use a desktop PIM, here is one that you can download from the Internet for free: http://www.essentialpim.com

    Organizing your computer files

    As recently as last year, in order to keep your computer files accessible you needed to properly categorize the folders, save the files in the right folders, and up-to-date them regularly. Even with all these troubles, you still used to have problems in finding files when you most needed them, wasting precious work time. Thanks to the desktop search programs, finding a file on your computer, certainly, became painlessly easy.

    Although, you still should try to maintain computer files organized; you no longer have to waste valuable time on finding them. All you have to do is download one of the available desktop search utilities and let it index your computer.

    A search tool can help you find any file on your computer, whether is an email or a DOC file, just like an Internet search. You only need to know one word, which you may encounter in that file in order to use the tool.

    Resources
    Google Desktop Search Tool:
    Find information on your computer as fast as you do with the help of Google search.
    http://desktop.google.com/

    MSN Desktop Search Tool:
    MSN desktop search utility comes along with a toolbar that you can download from
    http://toolbar.msn.com/

    Yahoo Desktop Search Tool:
    Still at beta stage, its a very comprehensive desktop search program.
    http://desktop.yahoo.com/

    Copernic Desktop Search Program:
    This one came out long before the search engine heavyweights figured out the need for getting your computer files at your fingertips and still one of the best.
    Free download: http://www.copernic.com

    Organizing links of important websites

    While browsing through the Internet often, you come across sites that you would like to visit again. All browsers have the options to add the page you are viewing to a list of favorite links, commonly known as Bookmark. If you want to bring substantial efficiency to your browsing skill, you should create folders according to your interest and add links you intend to visit again to those folders. On the Internet Explorer you create a bookmark using the icon Favorites, and on Firefox Bookmarks. You should keep those folders organized for easier access to required links.

    Another good option is to use Amazons Meta Search Engine A9.com. Once you install the A9.com tool bar, all your web browsing history gets saved. A9.com uses this information to recommend you new sites, alert you to new search results, and notifies you when the last time you visited a page. When you make a query, A9.com searches through you own history, diary, and bookmarks.

    A9.com has a neat feature called diary. It allows you to keep notes on any web page you visit. You will see the notes, whenever you revisit that page. Its a very handy tool for avid Internet users.

    Another great thing about A9.com is your bookmarks reside on A9 servers. This allows you to access them from any computer you use.

    Resources
    A9.com search results are essentially supplied by Google.
    You can download and install A9.com from the page: http://toolbar.a9.com/

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    Effective Offline Promotion Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    Effective Offline Promotion
Although, most of your traffic will still come from search engines and various online promotions, a little effort using traditional media might also bring a large number of visitors to your website.

    Reasons, why you should take offline promotion of your website seriously include:

    Internet is increasingly becoming a part of our daily life. However, still a big segment of the society – especially, the elderly – don’t spend that much of time online. Traditional media is a good method of getting their attention.

    If a person sees your printed advertisement with your URL in a year-old magazine and gets interested in what you have to offer, he will still be able to check out your website. Research shows that at least four people browse through a printed magazine in its life time.

    With planned media promotion, you can tap into particular target market, which otherwise might not be that easy to do. For example: if you sell car accessories through your website, a good promotional channel would be a specific radio station that commuters like to tune in.


    Your offline promotion endeavor should combine advertisement, publicity and promotional items.

    PROMOTION METHODS AND STRATEGY PLANNING

    ADVERTISING

    Once you identified the potential target market that you would like to reach, you can try to communicate with them using various advertising methods. Advertising is a paid form of delivering message to broad range of prospective customers through billboards, posters, print, broadcast media, etc.

    Each of your advertising campaign should have a clear goal and carefully crafted plan. Since advertising in some media forms is quite expensive, without a well-defined plan you might waste your money for nothing.

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    Your advertising goal might include the followings:

    • Bring targeted traffic to your website
    • Stimulate sales
    • Build brand recognition of your website
    • Increase public awareness of your product and services
    • Promote seasonal sales, clearance, etc. conducted through your site.

    Once you established your advertising goal, you need to clarify advertising budget, timing and media. You should set your advertising budget based on your objective. In general, companies set aside a percentage of their gross sales as promotional budget. A new online business might choose to spend on advertising, amount allocated in its business plan. Timing and scheduling are also crucial factors in advertising.

    Where should you advertise is a difficult decision, which should base on a number of factors:

    Market reach
    What is the market segment you would like to cover with your present campaign?

    Message
    Depending on your goal, you have to choose the right message to communicate with your prospective customers. The advertising media has to conform to the selected message.

    Product and service that you offer through your site
    B2B and B2C products and services are usually different in nature and require different media to reach targeted market.

    Budget
    The choice of media depends vastly on your budget consideration.

    Major offline advertising mediums

    Newspapers
    Newspapers are very popular media forms of advertising. If you are not planning to reach out to the mass, classified sections of local newspapers should be your first choice.

    Magazines
    Specialized magazines are good for targeting particular interest group. If you sell golf accessories through your site, you should definitely consider advertising in one of the local golf magazines. However, ad spaces in magazines are often quite expensive.

    Radio
    Radio advertising is a good option, if your business is aimed at certain social group like teenagers, housewives, drivers, etc. This is also a relatively inexpensive way of delivering your message to a certain community or locality.

    Television
    If the products or services that you offer have mass appeal, television is an excellent media of advertising. As the audience of a TV station changes depending on the show aired there is a limited possibility of target marketing. The ability to use audio visual scenes helps delivering certain types of message to the audience more clearly than any other media, which makes TV advertising highly effective but quite costly.

    Yellow pages and other directories
    You should definitely add your business along with your website URL to as many printed directories as you can. Industry specific directories are good advertising media for B2B businesses.

    Outdoor Advertising
    Outdoor advertising with billboards, posters, etc. are effective way of reaching out to a certain neighborhood. Since the exposure rate of billboards is very high – people often take the same route to work, it is a great medium to create brand recognition.

    Transit advertising
    Advertising on various transports, terminals, subway are known as transit advertising. Like billboards with this type of advertising you can target a specific route or area. This can be a very effective way to get your message to blue-collar workers, if that is your market segment.

    Direct Mail
    Excellent way of delivering you message in the form of promotional letters, catalogs, flyers, circulars, coupons, etc. to your prospective customers. If you choose your mailing list correct, the exposure rate and the response rate can be very high.


    PUBLICITY

    Publicity is any form of presentation of ideas, products, or services delivered by the media themselves rather than as a paid advertisement.
    If your website carries a really new message or unique and innovative products or services, for you publicity will be definitely more effective than advertising. People, often, trust news stories and articles much more than they trust paid advertisements.

    Press release
    Newspapers, magazines, TV and Radio are the main publicity conduits.
    Press releases are the tool to get into these media. Whenever, you do something with your online business, which you think is newsworthy you should write a press release and send it off.

    The main idea of a press release is to grab attention from a news editor so that he writes a story on the subject.

    That’s why follow the following rules while writing a press release:

    • Keep it simple, clear and precise
    • Be accurate in facts and figures
    • The news highlights should be expressed in the first two paragraphs
    • The press release should have an eye-catching headline
    • Tell your story from different perspective
    • The press release should have less than 200 words
    • Mention your website URL at least in two different places

    BUSINESS MATERIAL AND STATIONERY

    All your business literatures, materials and stationery should have similar consistent logotype and URL address. This is an extremely effective brand creation method within the group of people those, who one way or another, interact with your business.

    PROMOTIONAL ITEMS

    Give away items such as Pens, coffee mugs, key chains, coasters, calendars, sticky notes, etc. should have your company logo and web address. Apart from building brand this also work as a daily reminder for users of these items.

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    Selling Globally through a B2B Exchange Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    Selling Globally through a B2B ExchangeParticipation in B2B Exchanges is increasingly becoming one of the fastest growing marketing methods for businesses looking for augmenting their client base beyond their local markets. Any good B2B Exchange offers direct contact with thousands of prospective buyers in a single location. For some new participants of a B2B Exchange, it appears to be a goldmine as they discover unexpected quantity of readymade clients without much effort from their side. Of course, there are many other great benefits companies can reap from getting involved in a B2B Exchange.

    What is a B2B Exchange?

    In a broader sense, Business to Business Exchange is an online platform where buyers and sellers come to communicate, collaborate and make business transactions. B2B Exchange caters a large number of participant companies as a community. The main objective of a B2B Exchange is to create a venue, filled with features that allow members to efficiently conduct business processes through the Internet. B2B Exchanges are also known as e-marketplaces.

    What are the benefits?

    B2B Exchanges are capable of helping companies in buying, selling and streamlining their business processes. The benefits of participating in a B2B exchange may include:

    Efficient inventory management: Integration of your products and services with the Electronic Catalog of the Exchange will help you manage inventory more effectively.

    Better customer relationship management: Ability to have constant interaction through the Exchange allows you to serve your customers better. You can track the whole ordering process from payment to delivery and bring greater efficiency in customer service.

    New sales channel: By becoming a member of a B2B exchange, you open a low cost, highly functional and easy-to-use sales channel for your company. You expose your company to a new targeted audience which otherwise would have been untapped to you.

    Save significantly from reduced paper works: Automated supply chain management helps trimming down paper work greatly.

    Eliminate rogue spending: Consolidated and automated procurement and approval method stops unauthorized purchasing in a company.

    Community participation: You can receive valuable feedbacks from other fellow buyers, receive industry-related information, build new partnerships and use the networking ability of a community.

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    Tips for Success

    The key to ensuring success with B2B Exchanges are in planning, active participation, learning the tools necessary to use the Exchange effectively and dedication to work through it.

    1. Choosing the Right B2B Exchange

    Although, there are huge benefits in participating in a B2B Exchange, you have to be careful in selecting one. Not all B2B Exchanges might work for you. There are thousands of B2B Exchanges available on the Internet. Some are industry specific, some cater only certain geographical areas, and some concentrate more on delivering business tools to the participants. The challenge is to select the right B2B Exchange, which will serve your particular needs.

    In order to conduct the selection process you must establish certain goal. Possible objectives for you should be to:

    • Generate sales
    • Get access to a large numbers of buyers or sellers
    • Find distributors and importers
    • Enhance customer relationships through online tools
    • Develop product awareness
    • Extend market shares
    • Conduct market research
    • Streamline supply chain
    • Automate selling process
    • Adopt e-procurement

    Your goal should combine several of these objectives. 

    In evaluating a B2B Exchange you also should consider whether it has following features, as these features are vital elements for any good B2B exchange.

    1. Product catalog based on an industry-standard classification system
    2. Product search capability within the marketplace and e-catalog
    3. Directory of members
    4. Product content adding and editing interface
    5. Ability to promote products and services

    Other key characteristics of a B2B exchange also include:

    Simplicity – Primary tools of the exchange should be easy to learn and use.
    Significant membership base – The quantity of members should be big enough, so that new participants can expand their business from the very first day.
    Flexibility – The Exchange should add new and modify existing tools according to the market need.
    Neutrality – The Exchange owners should be unbiased and maintain absolute neutrality. Providing an open and transparent market for all the participants is an important constituent of the value proposition of a B2B exchange.

    2. Preparation

    Participation in a B2B exchange in order to achieve successful result is a serious commitment. Study the exchange of your choice thoroughly. If they offer trial membership, subscribe! Spend time on learning the tools - how they work? Are they beneficial to your business?

    Proper preparation will help you

    • saving money
    • making seamless adoption
    • increasing productivity right from the beginning
    • reaching your goals faster

    However, poor preparation can get you into serious trouble.

    • You may encounter higher costs
    • Productivity may suffer significantly
    • You even may be forced to abandon the whole idea


    3. Adoption

    The primary factors of company productivity are Revenue Increase and Cost Cutting. Both are easily achievable if you adopt a quality B2B exchange, train your stuffs to use it effectively, integrate exchange’s various tools to your advantage and slowly but consistently make it one of your primary channels for buying and selling.

    For more information on B2B exchanges or E-marketplace and how these Internet based platforms can help you, read other articles located at http://ezine.rusbiz.com/topic/2.html

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    New Year Resolutions to a Better Financial Future Monday, January 10, 2005

    New Year Resolutions to a Better Financial Future There could not be a better time to mull over the changes needed in our life style than at the beginning of a New Year. This is also a good time to set yearly goals and make resolutions. Each year, according to statistics, almost a third of us make some kinds of New Year Resolutions. Interestingly, although financial future is our main cause of anxiety, our personal finance, according to surveys, gets only to the fifth place in the list of most common New Year resolutions.

    For those of us who are still in the process of making New Year resolutions, my suggestion is to give high priority to financial aspects.

    Here are some resolution ideas that may change your financial future over the course of time.

    Saving

    Lets make one thing clear! What ever amount of money you make its probably never enough! The way our consumer psychology works is our demand increases along with our income. This makes saving really a problematic task! Some people do have inborn ability to save willingly, but most have to force themselves. If you are one of these people, who find saving a difficult thing, you should consider the methods described below.

    • Commit to yourself that each month you will set aside minimum ten percent of your income for investment purposes.
    • Make a strict habit of depositing 10 percent of all your incomes directly to your saving account.
    • No matter what happens, dont give up.

    You might argue that your income is not enough to make any kind of savings. Believe me, once you try putting away 10 percent of your earnings, you will see that this really does not have any serious impact on your budget.

    So your first resolution is to save ten percent of all your incomes month after month.

    There is hardly any point to save if you dont put your money to work for yourself! So, once you resolved to save, you need to invest your money wisely.

    Credit cards and other consumer loans

    According to New York Times through out the last decade use of credit cards has increased dramatically. The number of the people having credit cards raised about 75 percent from 82 million in 1990 to 144 million in 2003. However, the debt burden that they carry had grown 350 percent from US$338 billion to an astounding US$1.5 trillion. In 2003, according to the same report, average household carried a debt of US$ 7,520 in comparison to US$2,550 in 1990.

    This means that credit card loans are becoming serious problems for average Joe. Thats why the first step of your investment strategy should be to get rid of your consumer debts- especially your credit card loans. Most credit cards have horrendously expensive interest rates normally, 18 percent and over. If you are one of those people, who pay only minimum payment amount each month to their credit cards debt, you are making a great mistake. Check out the calculator at http://www.bankrate.com/brm/calc/MinPayment.asp to see how much you are loosing by not eliminating your credit card debt burden.

    If you are looking for financially sound future, take a hard look at your credit cards and resolve to do the followings:

    • From the savings you started to make, pay off maximum amount of your credit cards debts until you completely eliminate them.
    • If you are unable to pay off the whole amount at once, dont just pay the minimum amount required; pay out as much as you can over that limit.
    • Shop for credit cards with minimum interest rates which should not be more than 12 percent and switch to them.
    • Use credit cards strictly for convenience only. Dont charge to your credit cards unless you know for sure that you will be able to pay it off right away.
    • Minimize the quantity of credit cards you are holding. There is no reason to have more than three credit cards.

    Same goes for your other consumer loans like student, car, etc.

    Mortgage

    The second step of your investment strategy should be to evaluate your mortgage payments. There are several very simple ways of reducing your payment time dramatically. Used scrupulously these methods can lower a 30-year mortgage to 10-15 years.

    • Instead of making one single payment each month, every two weeks pay out half the monthly payment. The idea behind this is, since you are making 26 payments in a year each one of them carrying 50 percent of your monthly payment this is equivalent to 13 monthly payments. You are generating an extra months payment each year, which in turn will reduce your mortgage term substantially.
    • Whenever possible, each month try paying ten percent more than you are supposed to.
    • Whenever you manage to make some extra earnings, use a portion of that to pay down your mortgage.

    The mortgage calculator located at http://www.mortgages-loans-calculators.com/Calculator-Mortgage-Payoff.asp will help you to see your progress.

    Keep track of your expenses

    If you dont do it yet, resolve yourself to keep an expense ledger of all spending. Just the mere act of jotting down all your expenditure will reduce your expenses up to 20 percent. The reason is when you start keeping track of the money you spend, you become more careful and discerning in your buying decisions, which in turn help you cutting back and saving hard earned money.

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