Google Apps Offers New Lowcost Website, Email Strategy for Small Businesses


There are many ways to look at the launch of Google’s new Apps platform, but for me, it looks like a pretty cool and very low cost ($50/year/user) way for a small business to do a web site without traditional hosting, and with a bunch of neat features.

Because it supports direct domain (as well as sub-domain) hosting and includes integrated e-mail as well as a bunch of features (from Google Page Creator for creating web pages to calendars and other forms of collaboration), it’s quite powerful. More info here specifically for small businesses.

I think the biggest challenge will be having small businesses understand the scope of what’s being offered.

On the other hand, the bigger business story for larger enterprises and the broader IT market is that Google is Challenging Microsoft (NYTimes) with a service that offers email and more for $50/user vs $225/user annually using Office and Exchange.

MerchantCircle Aggregates Local Search Listings for Small Businesses

Over 14 million Business ListingsI’ve commented before about the expansion of local search, other convergent tools for local search, and even a directory of local search directories. All in support of small businesses who are recognizing that being found on the web is now far more important than being found in the paper yellow pages.

Now, thanks to the AlwaysOn.com Media 100 “special awards for market disruption,” I’ve discovered a wonderful service, MerchantCircle.com that gives small business owners a convenient way to access (or add) local search listings on most of the important local search directories (only Google seems to be missing) including Yahoo Local, City Search, YellowPages.com, Verizon Superpages, Yelp.com, Insiderpages.com and more.

The result is the ability to manage your business’ “web identity” and online “reputation.” So, if you have a business that has local, face-to-face community contact (in other words if your business does not exist entirely on the web), then MerchantCircle is definitely worth checking out. You can monitor and update most of your localized listings and also network with other local businesses in a very state-of-the-Web 2.0-art environment.

Hear Me Now: Internet Marketing Internet Radio Interview


Last Friday I was interviewed for an hour by the delightful hosts of the eMarketing Talk Show. The four-part interview, “Leveraging your Website to Grow your Business: Best Internet Marketing Practices for Small Businesses” is posted here: http://www.emarketingtalkshow.com/advertising-agencies/online-strategies.asp

I look forward to your feedback. I hope it’s useful to many of you as a solid introduction to the three main types of internet marketing and more. Enjoy!

Easy, Low Cost Solutions for Creating Websites & Podcasts

Here are a couple of interesting Web 2.0 style online user-generated content creation services I’ve come across lately:

> Weebly.com has an impressive video demo that makes it look (to me, at least) like Weebly may well be about the easiest way available for almost anyone to create a website. The video demo shows a drag and drop, practically brain-dead simple interface… and that’s a good thing!

> Likewise, BlogTalkRadio.com has it’s own push-button interface that takes the audio studio work, or even the GarageBand software production out of producing a podcast talkshow via the phone, complete with RSS feed. And some people say Web 2.0 is just a concept…

In both cases, no fuss, no muss, no independent hosting account is required.

FYI, I’ve also posted my first WordPress website, which was also a reasonably straight forward process. It’s a bit more feature-rich and blog-oriented as compared to Weebly, but I’m pleased with the results (which are viewable at: TheJoyofGolfing.com). Not bad for a rare solo effort (professionally, I’m more of a team player).

Any comments or anyone want to share their experience with any of the above services?

Free Conference Calls with Built-in Recording

I’ve been using free conference calls from FreeConference.com for some time. It works. No toll free number, but no per minute charges either. Now thanks to a tip from NYTimes’ David Pogue I’ve found LiveOfficeFreeConference where you don’t have to make a reservation, AND you can record up to 60 minutes of the call (just press “5*”). And, they make this recording easy to share because they send you a link to an MP3 file (within 60 minutes). This way someone who couldn’t be on the call can hear it. Now that’s a convenient service! And the price is right. 😉 Enjoy.

Internet Telephony, Better Yourpages & More

Yahoo has joined the Internet telephony game by bundling a Skype, Gizmo Project (my fav) Voice over IP (VoIP) service with Yahoo Messenger.

Among Google’s many new initiatives is Google Finance; but that wasn’t even one of the 25 things Danny Sullivan loves about Google.

There are new Web 2.0 applications every day… Today, I was especially impressed by one of the niftiest home page sites I’ve ever seen (you don’t even have to sign in to personalize your page): NetVibes. Really impressive. (btw, it seems to me that TechCrunch is the best place to tune into the latest Web 2.0 developments… pun intended.)

I know it’s not just a “good news day.” Things are accelerating again. Look out more is on the way!

(Oh yeah, and the hackers have already got Windows booting on an Intel MacBook Pro.)