Saturday, October 19, 2019

Killer Tips for Inbound Marketing - from an Old Friend

My friend and former Marketing Manager Monica Caraway wrote a blog post recently, reporting on the InBound conference in Boston. Check it out here: 11 Actionable Marketing Tactics We Learned from Inbound 2019.

Monica is now a Marketing Consultant with Orange Marketing  -

And while the blog article says there are eleven actionable tactics, several of these have several bullet points. So there's lots of good stuff here.

In addition to just summarizing great tips, Monica reposts the relevant slides decks, if they're good. I love this.

Personally, I was a little irritated when she sent this to me - because I totally have to make a checklist to implement TIP #1. And that means there will be lots of other great tips, and lots of work for me to do.


If you read that, you'll see that I haven't implemented tip #1 yet. But I promise I will, but it makes perfect sense.

Anyway - check it out. Bookmark it. Share it.

And implement it.

Thanks, Mon!


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Business of Drones Takes Off

Over at the Killing IT Podcast - - we are constantly talking about what's new, what's next, and what it means for IT consultants.

One of our recurring topics is Drones - specifically drone aircraft. In fact, our Tuesday podcast includes a story about UPS developing (and getting a license for) a drone airline. After all, they already have their own airline for cargo delivery by plane.

Again and again, people ask me at conferences, what has any of this to do with US - with IT professionals. Well the simple answer is A Lot!

The drone industry is growing up fast.

With this move, UPS will start deploying drone deliveries in "campus" settings such as medical campuses and college campuses. To make this successful, they will need to develop a great deal of sophisticated controls, procedures, and safety protocols. But my guess is that they'll be hugely successful.

Of course Google (Alphabet) is in the race as well, as it Uber.

As with any technology, solving a big problem such as this (massively coordinated deliveries in a control environment) will also solve many related problems in the larger market. This includes creating designated flight paths, collision prevention, and even theft prevention.

It also means that lots of technicians will be needed to deliver, program, deploy, and repair these drones. This might mean companies like yours, if you have the skills.

CompTIA has a new drone community.


The CompTIA drone advisory council is looking at the evolution of this industry, how partners are making money, and how opportunities are emerging to make more money going forward. Their first online community meeting was last month. The next one is this Thursday - October 17th at Noon Eastern. You can register here:

Bottom Line: There's opportunity here! It's definitely not too late to get into drone technology. And it's certainly not too soon to start making money with drones.

Action Steps:

1) Listen to the Killing IT Podcast on your favorite pod catcher

2) Join the CompTIA Drone Community and watch that webinar Thursday

Keep watching this space. I've been pushing these emerging technologies for years. Now they are entering the stage of commercial adoption. Make sure you get your share!

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For the news article on the UPS drone airline, see


Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Don't Assume You Know What Clients are Thinking

(I almost entitled this "Don't Assume Clients Know What You Go Through")

I had an interesting conversation with a Lyft driver yesterday. Dude was telling me that he sometimes gets a ride that's fifteen or twenty minutes away - and then turns out to be a seven dollar fare. He says he always gives those people one star because they should have cancelled.

I said, Whoa! That's not fair to the rider. They requested a ride. It takes time to get there. It's not their fault that you're inconvenienced. In fact, it's the app's fault.

He said that riders should use common sense. They have two minutes to cancel without a penalty. They should see how far the driver has to go and cancel the ride as a courtesy.

I see his point. But, the fundamental problem with this logic is that it assumes the client has both the same knowledge and the same perspective as the driver. Both of these are very unlikely.

Many people have cancelled a ride and paid a fee. To the rider, there may be confusion about whether that was Lyft or Uber. And, of course, they may not know that they cancel within a certain amount of time. And is that two minutes or five? The driver knows all the rules because he does this all day long. The rider is far less likely to pay attention to all the rules, or have them memorized.

As for perspective, it's natural that the rider has a different perspective. There's an app. You push a button and someone magically shows up at your door. It's not the rider's job to think about where the driver came from, how long he's been driving, what mood he's in, etc. And she certainly can't know that he'll give her a one star rating because she requested a ride and took it.

All these lessons apply to your business as well. By definition, the client's perspective is not your perspective. Their knowledge is not your knowledge. Because of these facts, what you consider common sense is not what they consider common sense.

We sometimes bundle all the things we do into a category called "Service" sector. But there are lots of different kinds of services out there in the service sector. Lawyers, accountants, and bank tellers are all in the service business, as are receptionists and checkers at the grocery store.

IT is a very different animal, though. In addition to doing some consulting (like attorneys and accountants), we need to look after a lot of things our clients are not aware of or able to understand.

Why is http different from https, and why should I care?

I pay a lot of money to be safe, so how come I'm not safe?

We need to understand the client's perceptions and perspectives. IT really isn't their job and you can't expect them to care about it. Now, having said that, when you warn them about things and they take no action, you also can't take the blame for that.

I've always used the line, "You pay us a lot of money to give you advice: You should take it."

I used to have a client (an attorney) who never saved or closed his Word documents unless he had to. One time, we needed to kick everyone off the network for some reason. His office manager went into the attorney's office and started closing out Word documents. There were over 100 documents open! Some had not yet been given a name.

As the office manager was patiently saving and naming files, I asked whether the attorney had never lost any data. The answer was no. The reason he pays us is to keep bad things from happening. So I asked, don't bad things just sometimes happen? No, he said. The guy drives a BMW, buys only top shelf, and expects everything to go right.

That's a great approach and a great attitude. But it also means there's a lot of pressure on my company to take care of him where he won't take care of himself. And for the right price, that's what we did.

Now, that's not a normal client. But the behavior isn't completely unheard of either.

What habits and practices do you have in place to understand your clients' perspective on technology?

For me, regular roadmap meetings go a long way. In addition to helping me see the client's perspective, they build a relationship that will hold up when other things fall down.


Tuesday, October 08, 2019

5-Week Class: Make the Most of QuickBooks Desktop in an IT Service Business - Start October 15th

Course 5W12

Make the Most of QuickBooks Desktop in an IT Service Business

Taught By: Rayanne Buchianico

October 15, 2019 - November 12, 2019
Tuesdays, 9:00 AM PST

Register Now 

QuickBooks is QuickBooks, right?

Well . . .

QuickBooks has to be set up right. Then it has to be used right. Then you need to have specific processes for the kinds of things you do in YOUR business. QuickBooks has some great interview-based setup parameters that differentiate between a "service" business and a storefront.

But QuickBooks does NOT have a configuration setting tailored specifically for a technology consulting business! There is no "MSP" option when you install QuickBooks.

In this class, Rayanne walks you through several processes that are geared toward the kind of business you run.

This class provides unique content from a unique teacher! Rayanne is a managed service provider from Tampa, FL. She is also an accountant and an Intuit certified ProAdvisor. In addition to her MSP business, Rayanne helps I.T. consultants to take control of their finances and understand their own business at a deeper level

Topics for this class include:
  • Set up your Chart of Accounts to manage your MSP
  • Read and understand your financial reports
  • Set up and track KPIs and service-level metrics
  • How to track and claim a credit for sales tax paid to vendors on products for resale
  • Maintaining HAAS equipment and recording income and expense properly
  • Tracking direct labor and overhead payroll expenses
  • Creating and maintaining a purchase order system
  • Managing customer deposits, retainer payments, and unearned revenue
  • Action plans for success
  • . . . and More!

Delivered by Rayanne Buchianico, Financial Coach and QuickBooks Advisor. Rayanne has been an MSP - managed service provider - for many years and advises MSPs on how to get the most out of their QuickBooks and PSA integrations.

Includes five weeks of webinar classes with related handouts, assignments, and "office hours" with the instructor.

This course is intended for business owners and managers. It is particularly useful for the Service Manager or Operations Manager.

SBT Community Members: 
You must use a code to receive the discount.

Go to the SBT Community "Offers and Deals" Forum to find the discount.

If you have questions, email concierge at Small Biz Thoughts.


Thursday, October 03, 2019

It's All About the Questions

This week I was a guest on Laura Steward's It’sAll About the Questions radio show.

She send me this note:

"Thanks for being on the show my friend! You totally rocked it. I loved how you were willing to play with me to create an organic show that shares so much of who you are and the work you do and wisdom you have learned! My engineer in the booth told me after you hung up that he enjoyed the show as have others who have reached out to me who heard the show live. And many thanks for making me laugh. A lot."

The recording is up on Laura's Blog, website, iTunes, iHeart Radio, Spotify and Stitcher, etc. 

Here are the additional links. If you enjoy the show, reviews and likes are greatly appreciated.


Status vs. Status

As a frequent traveler, I belong to all the "award" programs. Platinum this and Gold that. But unlike most frequent travelers, I'm not very strategic about it. If a conference is at a Hilton, I stay at the Hilton (not the Marriott across the street). If it's at a Marriott, I stay at the Marriott (not the Hilton across the street).

Some people are rabid "points" aficionados. They go on and on about how this credit card gets you these benefits, these passes, these upgrades, etc. My brain gets tired just trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B without sitting in the back of a small plane.

I have to admit, I've been Delta "Platinum" for a few years - but I have no idea how to work the system.

I'll easily fly another 30,000 miles between now and early December. So I'll have the miles I need. But I don't think I'll spend enough money to get past Gold. The same thing happened last year, but some stars aligned and I renewed the Platinum.

The reward programs refer to this as Status. What's your status? Are you Silver, Gold, or Platinum?

Of course this isn't real status. You don't buy real status: Your earn it.

As a non-coupon-clipper, I find all the complicated rules too much trouble to keep track of. (This is the same reason I don't follow sports.) In the long run, here's what I think is really going on:

  • If you can afford to always fly Business or First Class, and you fly a lot, you might reach the top tier.
  • If you get the airline credit card, and spend lots of money on it, you are much more likely to get the top tier.

Both of these strategies consist of buying your way to "status." After all, the airlines are in the business of making money. They don't award status points based on your good looks or zip code.

In a separate realm, I'm not a huge believer in credit cards. I'd rather pay cash in advance whenever possible. As a result, I'm never paying $500 for a credit card just so I can get a jump up on the race for status.

No exaggeration here: I will forget to use the benefits. I always do. I am ending 2019 with five suite upgrade nights and a free night at Marriott. Every year I give up a companion pass on Hawaiian because I forget it's there. So if I added a gaggle of additional paid-for benefits with a $500 card, I would forget those as well.

Here's what brings me value (Inside my head. Your mileage may vary.):

1) When I book airfare, I buy it as far in advance as I can. That gets me a great price.

2) I also balance price with convenience and comfort.

3) When it makes sense, I buy airfare and hotel together on Travelocity. The price is often amazing, but you get zero rewards for the hotel nights.

For example, on my recent trip from San Jose to Manchester England to Seattle to LAX, I bought the tickets five months in advance. I paid $930, and was either Comfort Plus or First Class the whole way. BUT the airfare portion of that trip, without the taxes and fees, was just under $360. As a result, it did me very little good toward renewing my Status.

Some people make points runs in order to get status. So, this time of year, they are looking at spending $3,000 or $5,000 in order to get the dollar spend needed to reach Platinum. Inside my head, that doesn't make any sense.

This wouldn't work for me because I would insist on staying wherever I go. I'd spend at least four days at the location before heading back. So that adds hotels, taxis, and food to the spend.

Because I buy tickets far in advance, I can buy legroom and comfort for $50-150 per leg of the trip. It takes a LOT of hops to spend the extra $3,000-$5,000.

The bottom line for me: I'm not buying status. I'll take what I can get. And if I end up paying for my own upgrades next year, I'll be just fine.

No points runs for me.