Back to Work…

Some of you have been wondering what happened to me. The blog went silent for a while. Well like most of you I took some time off over the holiday season, or at least I tried to. One of the downsides to being your own boss is that you can’t predict when and where you’re going to have to work. Strange thing is, one of the upsides is that you don’t necessarily have to work an 8 to 5 shift from Monday to Friday.

Rest assured, TikLogic is alive and well. Our customer base has increased steadily over the past year and we’ve been busy not just delivering services but learning more about our clients. 2011 is going to be a growth year for TikLogic. We’ve got some interesting projects ahead of us and some interesting new services to help our clients achieve their goals.  Our SnapSite product has been a huge success and we have made some improvements that will make it even easier to get your web site up and running quickly.  The TechFoundations program for small businesses has also be very successful.  Our TechFoundations clients are enjoying a more stable computing environment  simply by introducing some basic computing best practices.

It’s going to be a busy and exciting year and there are a number of new programs and products in development at TikLogic.  Subscribe to our blog to get the latest news when new services are introduced.  As well I will be offering some simple tips for small businesses that can improve your office computing experience.   You can also learn about new blog posts by checking our facebook page


Published in: on February 21, 2011 at 9:29 AM  Leave a Comment  

How Important is PageRank?

I design, create and host websites for a number of people.  Whenever I meet with a new client for the first time one of the first things they ask is “How do I improve my PageRank.”  I understand that PageRank and SEO are hot topics when it comes to creating a web site.  There are thousands of blog entries that tell you to make sure you have a solid SEO strategy and that you focus on PageRank.

The reality is, that’s not true for most small businesses.  What people don’t really understand is that PageRank is simply a ranking of importance on the web relative to Google and the rest of the Internet.  If you have a company that sells green widgets you might not be very important to the Internet in general but to the market that is interested in purchasing green widgets, you might be very important.  So Google’s PageRank is not really a good measure of your website’s success.  In other words, it doesn’t matter if your website shows up at the top of Google searches, what matters is that the people who find their way to your site are interested in what you have to offer.  I’m not saying that you need to ignore Search Engine Optimization entirely.  I am saying that it is only a small part of your web strategy.

I ask my clients to tell me how their website fits in with their business’ strategic plan.  A lot of the time the response is, “Strategic plan?”  That’s OK, there are a lot of successful businesses out there that have never done strategic planning and will continue to be successful simply because they are remarkable and have momentum.  I envy those organizations.  But a web site is an investment.  There is a financial investment and a time investment required so I encourage my clients to put some thought into it before they throw up a web site.  Fixing a web site after it’s up and running is much more complicated than starting out right.

The other key to online success is understanding that a website is just one component of a comprehensive online strategy.  There are a number of other components to consider.  Social Media now offers enough tools and depth that many companies don’t even bother with a web site or their web site is a just a simple informational tool.  For most organizations the goal of an online presence is to grow their business and increase revenue.  The resources available to us online let us target our efforts at a focused demographic, deliver a message that will appeal to that market and hopefully engage the market.  The sure path to gaining strong clients is through a two-way interaction.  A link in a Google search is probably not going to impress a lot of people and certainly won’t set you apart from all of the other links they see in that same search.

Here’s a simple step process:

  1. Figure out what your goal is.  What do you want your web site to do?
  2. Figure out if Social Media fits into your plan.
  3. Determine a budget both financial and time and choose a deadline for your web site launch
  4. Talk to web consultants.  Find one who has a method that best suits your goals and understands that your website is a business tool.
  5. Measure.  The only way to know if you are successful is to compare before and after.  Understand what metrics you need to collect along the way and be diligent about collecting them.  Set a time to review them and review your online strategy.

PageRank doesn’t decide your online success.  You do.  If you know what you want to achieve and you have a plan to achieve it PageRank doesn’t matter, what matters is the actual results you see after you put your plan into action.


Published in: on December 5, 2010 at 11:21 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Value of Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

There are a lot of good resources out there to help you build the online portion of your business.  One thing that most of them have in common is that they talk about building a following.  A large number of hits on your site is nice but it seems like successful small businesses can attribute their success (at least in part) to their loyal customers.  Building a following, or as Seth Godin puts it, a tribe, is critical to success online.

Twitter is all about building a following.  I know that there is a lot more to twitter but when you’re trying to navigate the complexity of Social Media and figure out where to start with the various channels, using twitter to help build a following is probably a good place to start.  In my last post I talked a lot about my experience with facebook.  I have found that facebook will help you build a following but the investment on the part of your followers is much greater.  Some people just aren’t willing to invest in “liking” your page and allowing you to inject ads and potentially long status updates into their news feeds.  Facebook followers who do make the investment are probably VERY committed to your organization. But let’s not discount those who are merely enthusiastic.

Twitter users are very enthusiastic and the great thing about twitter is that the “follow investment” is relatively low.  Twitter followers have a lot of control over how they see your messages.  Even if they do nothing, you can’t send them more than 140 characters per post.  It’s that low investment that allows them to commit to your organization and easily spread your message if they deem it to be worthy.

The real secret to success with Social Media is to start slow and let your business evolve with the Social Media channels.  Take small bites and be patient.  Take note of what works and what doesn’t and build on the things that add value to your business.  Don’t feel that you have to “tweet” all the time.  When you do post an update on twitter, the best thing you can do is make it stand out so creativity is probably more important than quantity.

Published in: on November 29, 2010 at 2:28 PM  Leave a Comment  

Why SMBs and CBOs Need a Social Media Strategy

At first, I didn’t understand how social media could help me.  I’ve been creating websites for about 18 years now and I understand how a website can help your business but the Social Media link eluded me.  So I decided to do some digging and learn more about how to use Social Media.  Let me introduce you to Social Media from a business perspective.

Let’s say you have a small business or a CBO (non-profit, charity, etc).  You need to reach people to deliver your message, generate leads for new business or new funding sources and create a conversation about your organization.  I call this “engaging the market”.  What we need to understand is that “the market” is a huge conversation.  To make an impact on your market you need to make sure your name comes up in the conversation.  In the old days you would buy print ads in the newspaper, get ads on the radio, TV, billboards, etc.  For small organizations this approach was relatively expensive when you considered the reach that they offered.  But those were the vehicles available for engaging the market, that’s what people were tuned in to.

Today, the Internet is a massive entertainment source.  facebook now has over 500 million users who share approximately 3.5 billion links, blog posts and news stories weekly.  That is an incredibly active market!  What’s even more interesting is that when people visit links from facebook, they spend more time on the hosting site than if they had just found the link through a Google search.  The reason is most likely because the promotion of web content on facebook is personal.  The link was recommended by a friend.  Twitter is just as active.  At its current rate, twitter will deliver nearly 10 billion tweets per year.  That’s a lot of talking.  Much more talking than we’ve ever seen before in the market.  It used to be that the brands simply got up on a soap box and talked to the market.  Now we have real conversations that include instant feedback and meaningful insights into the minds of your clients.  It’s a real 2 way conversation.

I recently launched my own facebook page.  In all honesty, I launched it less than 48 hours ago as of this post.  I also created a facebook ad campaign.  As I write this, I currently have 4 wall posts that have generated a total of 300 views in the last few days with zero promotion effort on my part.  I simply posted one link to my company’s facebook page in my personal status update.  The ad campaign I created has so far generated over 4300 impressions.  That’s approximately 100 impressions per hour and the range of my campaign is only my home town which has a population of around 200,000 people.  The budget for my campaign is $50 and it’s scheduled to run for one month.  So far, I haven’t even made a dent in my advertising budget.  Compare that same reach to what you would get from a newspaper or TV ad and compare the cost.

So by now you should be able to see the value of Social Media but there is more to it than just creating a facebook page and waiting for business to roll in.  The market won’t tolerate passiveness.  You need to become part of the conversation.  We still seem to be stuck on SEO activities.  We all want to be first in a Google search.  Yes, it is important to show in a Google search but that will happen organically if you build your web page correctly.  A great page rank doesn’t translate to dollars in the bank.  It does make you more visible but are you visible to the right people.  Page rank doesn’t offer a feedback source, Social Media does.  Social Media offers you 2-way communication with your customers.

If your organization hasn’t come up with a Social Media strategy, I encourage you to think about it now.  Get online and become part of the conversation going on around you.  Engage your market and show them how remarkable you can be.  Of course, I’m more than happy to help you get started but if you don’t think I’m the right person for the job, that’s fine, I’m not offended, there are plenty of great organizations out there who can help you.  Or try it on your own.  The worst thing that can happen is you will learn something new.

Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 6:30 PM  Leave a Comment  

Announcement! Snap Sites

I would like to announce the launch of a new TikLogic service for small businesses. I’m quite excited about this addition.  I call it Snap Sites.

Snap Sites are high quality web sites designed to meet the online needs of small businesses.  Sure, you can hire a big design company and spend $10,000 or more to have them create a custom web site for you but will it be money well spent?

Most small business owners that I’ve spoken with have told me that they want a simple yet effective online presence.  No need for e-commerce.  Nothing fancy.  Just the basics to answer questions from potential or existing customers and help bring in new business.  This makes a lot of sense to me.

Your online marketing strategy evolves over time.  More than likely, your first web site will not be your last.  Over time, your customers will give you feedback and you will discover some things on your own.  It can take some time to know what will really be effective so it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars and  a lot of your time to launch a site that might not meet your business needs.  The important thing is to choose a solid foundation and build on that as you learn more about what your customers want and what will attract new customers.  The Snap Site package includes:

  • An attractive, professional layout and appearance
  • An introduction to your business
  • All of your contact information and hours of operation
  • Details about your products and services
  • Photos specific to your business, not stock photos.
  • One on one consultation with a TikLogic Network consultant

If you would like to see a sample Snap Site just go to: (this is just a sample, it’s not a real web site and, by the way, it was created in less than an hour).

Creating a Snap Site is a simple 3 step process:

STEP 1: Click this link to Request a Prep Package.  The prep package is a guide to help you prepare before we start working on your site.  You probably have a lot of this information already so it’s not a difficult process.

STEP 2: We spend a couple of hours together reviewing your prep package and we start working on the site right then and there.

STEP 3: We get your site online within the next 24 hours.

That’s all there is to it.  No hassles, you get what your business needs.  No extra frills that provide little or no value and as a result, you get a quality product at a lower cost.

So, how much does all of this cost?  $5000?  $3000?  Nope, not even close!  Snap Sites are a flat fee of $600 until October 31, 2010! That includes the prep package, one on one prep package review with myself or one of the consultants in the TikLogic Network and a professional web design that will impress your clients and give you a great online image.

The TikLogic Network services don’t stop there.  Your business may be small now but I’m sure you plan to grow.  Snap Sites are designed to get you off the ground and get your business on the Internet giving you more marketing power and a bigger audience.  The services we provide will grow with your business so if you find that you’re ready to take your web site to the next level we can build on a solid foundation that we create with Snap Sites.  But it’s not just about web sites.  We provide a full range of IT services for small businesses ranging from our Tech Foundations service (more information to come) to large scale IT projects.

Even though the Snap Site program officially starts October 4, 2010 we are already working with new Snap Site clients.  We are working hard to make sure prep packages are delivered promptly but if you don’t receive your prep package within 24 hours of requesting it, don’t hesitate to call.  You will find all of my contact details on the TikLogic Contact Page.

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 9:35 AM  Leave a Comment  

TikLogic Principle #1: It’s About People

Everything we do with technology today can be traced back to one common driving force behind it’s creation: people.  I can’t think of any technology that we use today that is not somehow related to providing something for people.  If it’s about people then why do we, as IT professionals, have a tendency to complain that people don’t understand the technology.

If people don’t understand the technology and the technology is meant for people, then I would conclude that the technology has failed in it’s intended purpose.  Granted not everyone is going to easily grasp every concept but as IT professionals it should be our job to create works that are intuitive and meet the needs of people.

I like Apple products.  I’m not sure that I’m a big fan of some of their business practices but they do have a compelling product.  What they sell isn’t an iPod or an iPad.  Apple sells a user experience.  The bits of technology are simply tools used to create a user experience that is unlike anything else out there.  My Macbook, iMac and iPod are just devices on their own but when I combine them with iTunes and MobileMe I now have a user experience that is something more than the individual capabilities of each device.

Google is creating something very similar with Gmail, the Android phone, Latitude, Google apps and voice chat.  With the device and the software all combined, it creates a unique user experience that changes the way you work and live… for the better.

Technology that is designed and presented with people in mind always wins because people get a certain level of satisfaction in return for their money.  It’s the feeling of satisfaction that wins loyalty and emotionally invested fans.

Published in: on September 10, 2010 at 2:47 PM  Leave a Comment  

How to Make Steel

I asked a lot of questions when I was a kid.  I guess I must have had a lot of questions about where babies came from because when I was about 5 years old my Dad felt the need to take me for a drive and tell me about the birds and bees.  This was a very basic and high level version of “the talk” but it was “the talk” regardless.  When he was finished with his awkward monologue my Dad glanced at me and noticed the puzzled look on my face.  “Do you understand all that?” he asked.

“Yeah.  I just have one question.” I replied.

“What’s that?”

“How does God make steel?”

I still take a ribbing from family members over that question to this day.

Trying to explain service delivery to an organization is often like trying to explain how god makes steel.  You really don’t know where to start but it’s clear that the question asked cannot be answered.  The question shows that there is an obvious lack of understanding in a few areas.

When we approach service delivery within any organization we are met with questions very similar to “How does god make steel?”.  We need to be able to recognize these questions because they help to define the line between understanding and confusion.  Part of developing the service delivery fabric is weeding out the areas of confusion and laying down a base of clear understanding.

The problem is that we have a tendency to ignore these questions and focus on developing processes.  We draw flow charts showing how to do things but we need to ensure that people understand the idea around the process.  Why do we do this?  What happens if we don’t do this? How does this help us reach a goal or desired result?

Successful service delivery is dependant on people not process.  The base skills of the people need to be developed before you can even think about a process.  The process is only as good as the people who use it.

Pay attention to the questions asked and find those points where your people lack a clear understanding.  Address those points before you spend too much time on detailed processes.  Smart, well-informed people will fall into the right process naturally.  Ill-informed people will struggle with any process and they will not delivery the way you need them to.

Published in: on August 20, 2010 at 2:43 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Value of Mowing Lawns

When I was about 12 I took on my first job.  My financial needs were very basic but I did need to make sure I had enough quarters for the arcade and there was a new BMX bicycle that was calling my name.  At the time I thought the job would simply provide the cash to satisfy these needs but I had no idea how much more valuable the experience would be later on in life.

I lived in a small town and my employer was a home care organization that provided basic services for the elderly and disabled.  There were a number of kids who would do this type of work but I always seemed to have a large number of people who requested me specifically.  It took me a while to figure out why.

I learned early on that doing the actual work was only a small part of the job.  There were plenty of times when I was called to a job and I spent a fair amount of time talking to the clients after the work was done.  Most of my clients were essentially shut-ins and they liked to have someone to talk to.  Basic human interaction is essential for all of us and spending some time to listen to stories about grandchildren and life in the 30’s can mean a lot to someone who doesn’t often have another person to talk to.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself as some great humanitarian I was just being polite.  I was raised to respect my elders and sometimes that meant listening to stories about homesteading rather than riding my bike with my friends.

We have a tendency to deliver what is asked for and not concern ourselves with what our customers need.  But, it’s fulfilling the true needs of our customers that provides the value.  If you find yourself speaking to a dis-satisfied customer and you utter the words, “but that’s not what you asked for.”  You have failed to satisfy the true need.

Being able to identify the real needs of your customer and deliver that will set you apart from the crowd.

By the way, it didn’t take long to earn enough money for that BMX bike.  Being able to ride a cool bike that you worked hard to earn is a pretty cool feeling that will last well into your adult years.

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 2:36 PM  Leave a Comment  

Squeaky Wheels Don’t Need Grease

It’s very rare for people to do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do.  Sadly, in today’s world, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I’ve often wondered why, when people are polite and respectful, they aren’t treated well.  It seems that if people are rude, loud and threatening, they get what they want.  Maybe we have conditioned ourselves to accept this kind of behaviour.  Pavlov would be so disappointed to see what we’ve done with conditioned responses (I am assuming that before Ivan Pavlov died in 1936 that people treated each other better, I realize that might not be the case).

Take a simple example of 2 people waiting for assistance at customer service in a retail store.  One person has an item that was clearly damaged in shipping that he would like to return for an item that is not broken.  He has the receipt, the original packaging, he takes a number and waits his turn.  While standing in line he is joined by another man who would like to return an item that is clearly not broken, he has no receipt, no original packaging, in fact no way of proving that he purchased it at this store and wants a refund. This second man does not wait his turn quietly, instead he very loudly complains about having to wait in line and while waiting goes out of his way to disparage the store, it’s products and it’s employees.  In fact, he makes such a ruckus that the employee at the customer service desk calls a manager to give this person special attention.  The manager personally deals with the refund immediately, thanks the man for shopping with them, smiles and waves goodbye.  Meanwhile, the polite person who had followed proper process waits another 10 minutes.  Is it just me or is this scene completely ridiculous?  And yet it happens every day.

The problem here clearly seems to be that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  Right?  Wrong!  The real problem is that we use seemingly clever analogies that equate humans to machines.  Squeaky wheels do indeed get grease.  People are not wheels.  We have conditioned ourselves not just to grease noisy components, we have conditioned ourselves to treat people like machines.

This doesn’t have to be the way things work in your IT shop.  There is no doubt that you will have squeaky wheels who try to get around process but keep in mind that people aren’t wheels.  People are sentient and “greasing the squeaky wheel” when it comes to people doesn’t make the problem go away, it just creates more squeaky wheels.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 2:28 PM  Leave a Comment  


From Wikipedia:

In music, syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak beats in a meter (pulse). These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be stressed. “If a part of the measure that is usually unstressed is accented, the rhythm is considered to be syncopated.”

In most organizations there is a tendency to define a beat and stick to it.  We call it something like “compliance” or “best practice” or something equally dry and we chant about this beat being the best beat and the one that will bring us success.

So if my organization follows “best practice” and your organization follows “best practice” along with every other organization out there, what sets me apart?  What is it about my company that will make it stand out from the crowd if we’re all drumming the same beat?  How do I attract the best talent if my compensation plan is “industry standard”.  Why do we strive to be average?

I won’t even get into the ways that we measure success.  Let’s assume that we want to achieve the traditional success in business.  That means we have to sell more product and capture more market share.  Can we really do that by jumping up and down yelling, “Look at me, I’m just like my competition!  We operate the same as everyone else!”

Now I’m not saying that there is no value in having standards and following regulatory compliance but these things do not bring you success.  These things are the absolute minimum to be like everyone else.  It’s not good enough to strive for best practice, you need “better practice”, you need syncopation within your organization.  Find the unique quality of your beat, embrace it and encourage the freedom to create something better than average.  If you start to feel like you’re just like everyone else, syncopate.

Published in: on March 6, 2010 at 2:23 PM  Leave a Comment