What Is Success?

Today I want to touch on a subject that is one of those that has led to many hours of controversial debate and conversation, no matter what circle you travel in. It is the subject of what makes a person or business successful.

The reason why it has the potential to be one of the most controversial topics to discuss, is for the simple fact that it is driven by what a person’s personal idea of success is. Every person has their own viewpoint, and many times it is influenced by the way their were raised.

So what exactly is success? According to the dictionary, success is: “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals”. It also says that it is: “the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.” Again, even with the definitions, it is not a cut and dry answer.

So, now I want to tell you a story about my great grandfather. He owned a bakery in Philadelphia in the early 1900’s, near the Germantown area of the city.  It was not a huge bakery, though he provided bread and rolls to most of the restaurants in the area, and everyone in the local community went to him for their baked goods. He was an energetic person, and very involved in the community.

During the depression, when many people found themselves out of work, and families were scraping what little they had together to eat, my great grandfather opened the back door of his bakery and proceeded to hand out hundreds of loaves of bread to these families on a daily basis. He encouraged other businesses in the area to do the same, and became the voice of the community to unite them “as one family”.

When he passed away in the 1950’s, the entire community was in mourning. The church was standing room only for the funeral, and hundreds of people stood outside during the service. The procession from the church to the cemetery afterwards stretched for at least a mile.

My great grandfather was not a rich man when he passed away, nor was he some high ranking dignitary. He was an immigrant that came to this country, started a family, built a business, and loved and cared for his neighbors. His success can be measured by the good he did for others.

As small business owners, we can learn a valuable lesson from this. The foundation of what makes us successful starts in our own community. From the way we treat our customers, to giving back to help out a cause, to how we are involved in making our community a better place.

At Delaware 302, we firmly believe in giving back to the community. We are currently supporters of 2 Delaware charities, and are always looking for ways to help out where and when we can. We also have something great in the works to be able to extend that reach and do more.

Is your business ready for success?

Let’s build the future together.

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SEO Marketing SPAM

Today I wanted to touch on a growing trend that should come with a big label attached to it that says: “Warning, you are about to be had.” This trend is the promotion of SEO services and marketing that touts “We will get you on the first page of Google”. I get at least one of these emails a week from these companies, and most of them are located in India.

How can it be that so many of these companies know the safely guarded secret of how the site and page ranking logarithms Google developed work? They don’t! Not even the engineers at Google know how the system fully works, because it is broken up into pieces and divisions, to ensure no one takes advantage of the system for personal gain. I happen to know this because a close associate of mine is a recently retired engineer from Google.

Maybe I am being overly crass with regards to this subject, though many businesses fall prey to this type of marketing on a daily basis. They are so eager to have these “experts” help them move up in the search engine rankings, that they don’t heed the warning signs.

Now that I got that off my chest, let me share with you some things that you should watch out for, before you click that Reply button and start a chain reaction that will damage your business.

1. The email address – Most of these spam emails come from free email addresses, with the majority of them coming from Gmail accounts. My favorite was best.seo.marketing245@gmail.com.

2. Lack of knowledge – In almost every instance these emails are sent out to a list that they obtained from the registrar of your site. They have never once looked at your site to see who you are, or what you do. This is evident in the fact that they send these to my company, and we are a technology provider.

3. No web site listed – None of these companies will give you their URL to go look at their site. The few that happen to send the emails from a company email address, you will find that the site is always “Under Construction”.

4. The message – This is where they rope you in by using buzz words, and making it all sound legitimate. Here is one I just got yesterday:

We are a Delhi-NCR, India based, leading SEO company.

We provides Guaranteed first page ranking in Google.

We use only ethical SEO techniques. Our organic search engine optimization consultants (SEO Experts) ensures a high ROI (return on investment) by achieving maximum visibility within major search engines including Google, MSN & Yahoo! Search. We analyze your sites web traffic and all other online marketing activities to find the most optimized path to increase your sales leads.

We use 100% white hat stuff.

We offer complete Search Engine Optimization solutions:

On Page Optimization:

1. A detailed keyword research (if necessary)
2. Header text with h1 tag.
3. Write Meta title, Meta description and keywords.
4. Write header text and footer text with right keywords.
5. Optimize alt tag with right keywords.
6. Optimize the body content through appropriate use of keywords in the right place.
7. Modify the footer links

We Use Various Off Page Optimization Techniques.

If you are interested reply this mail.

Within 24 Hours we will contact with quotation & time Frame to bring your keyword to front page.

5. The Disclaimer – I usually get a kick out of the disclaimer, since it is almost always the longest paragraph of the entire mailing. This is where they tell you that this is an advertizement and a promotional mailing, and they are doing everything legally and in compliance with the CAN-SPAM act guidelines.

There is also a catch to all of this that they don’t tell you until you have paid: In order for them to do all of these neat SEO techniques they are selling, you have to give them full access to your web site and your statistics package.

Maybe it is just me, though the last thing I would want to do is give people I have never met, nor know anything about their company, access to the core of my web site. If you are an on-line retailer or a service related business, you have basically just handed over the keys to your customers, and sales information. And say a big prayer that your system is PCI compliant, our they will have the credit card information too.

So why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I don’t want to see you get taken advantage of, or have your business suffer. It goes against everything we believe in as a technology provider.

At Delaware 302 we don’t use these tactics to sell you on our products and services. We believe in being open and honest with our clients, and working closely with them to build the solution that works for them.

Our 302 Engine has a built in SEO platform, and we train our clients on how to effectively track and manage their site to get the search engine results they need, at no extra cost.

Contact us today, and learn how we can help your business grow.

Let’s build the future together.

Provider Nightmares

Today I wanted to relay to you a conversation I had recently with a potential client. Sadly the story they told is one that I have heard time and time again, and each time I hear of the nightmares they have gone through, it leaves me wondering how these solution providers can treat their clients this way, and still stay in business.

This company’s story goes like this:

About 2 years ago we were in need of a new web site, so we contacted one of the local development companies that seemed to do most of the web sites in the area. We sat down in an initial meeting with them and told them exactly what we needed. They said they would draft up a quote and send it over. Shortly after that started a back and forth process that quite frankly took a lot longer than we expected, and each time we were talking to someone new over there. Finally, almost 5 weeks after the first meeting, they came back with a $15,000 quote for our site. At this point we were already behind schedule, since the new site was a key element to our marketing, so we signed, and cut them a check to start work.

A few days later, their graphics designer called us, and said he would have a proof for us within 2 weeks for review and approval. About 2 months later, after calling them repeatedly on a weekly basis, we received the proof, and came to find out the designer that contacted us initially, was no longer at the company. We were promised at that point that once the design was approved, our site would be ready in less than 3 weeks. 6 weeks later they sent us a development link to look at. At this point we were hard pressed for time, and said go with it.

Finally, almost 5 months after our first meeting with them, our new site was launched, and then the nightmare really began.

Over the next 9 months we experienced constant email outages, with one stretch being a week. Our site kept going down due to server issues. Every little request we made for a change to the site was followed with a $120/hr invoice, even it it was something very simple. Never being able to get someone to respond to our calls or emails. It was finally capped off with the owner of the company telling us point blank, after our 20th some odd complaint, “We have no contract. If you have problems, and don’t like the way I run my business, leave.”

So we gathered around in a meeting at the office, and decided to take our site and go. Unfortunately we found out that we were locked into his system, and leaving was no simple task. So we did the only thing we could think of at the time, since we couldn’t afford to do this all over again, get as much of the site as we could, and created a new one ourselves.

Needless to say, the experience they had has left them wary of any technology company. The only reason they were even willing to talk to me, was because of my reputation as being straightforward and honest. I assured them that my company was different, and was willing to do whatever it took to prove it to them.

Is your business going through similar issues? Are you tired of your solutions provider treating you like you don’t matter? Are you frustrated of being overcharged for everything?

At Delaware 302 we treat our clients the same way we would want to be treated, with respect and honesty. Drop us a line and find out how we can help your business grow.

Let’s build the future together.

Buzz Word Overkill

Recently I was asked by an organization to do an independent review of a proposal that was submitted to them by the PR firm that they have been working with, as a lead up to their contract renewal. This is something that I have done time and time again over the years for clients, so I was more than happy to help them out. What I read left me scratching my head, and quite frankly angered. This proposal was literally a blatant attempt to take advantage of the client, disguised behind that WOW factor of buzz words.

The proposal was broken down into 2 sections, Branding/Marketing and Social Media/Web, each with a price attached to it.

I read through the branding/marketing section, and while some (emphasis on some) of the general marketing aspects made sense, there was very little substance to it to substantiate the price tag they attached to it. The item that glared out at me larger than life though, was the fact there was no breakdown on pricing. That is a huge first sign indicator that you are about to get taken to the cleaners. Without line item prices, you can’t completely evaluate exactly what you are getting. It would be like going to the grocery store, and having the person at the register look at your cart and give you a price. I don’t know many people that would shop that way.

The second part of the proposal, Social Media/Web, is what really got me. It was crammed with so many buzz words that my head was spinning. Things like: seed your social media, ongoing SEO performance enhancements, engage your audience, and campaign saturation monitoring with targeted site modifications. Again I looked at the price tag (this one was an exorbitant monthly charge), with no breakdown of what cost what, not even listing the Social Media platforms to be utilized. Knowing that this was a contract renewal, and now being very suspicious, I decided to do some research and digging. This PR firm had no idea how deep they just stepped in it.

I decided to start with the web site and social media, since these are the core of my business, and where many businesses and organizations get taken advantage of. Here is what I found:

  • The FaceBook page and the Twitter account for this organization were both active, and currently maintained, including an active engagement with their audience. This raised a red flag as to why the PR wanted to charge for the “engage your audience” in the proposal.
  • The web site was being hosted by a small media company in Maryland (Red Flag raised high). Upon further digging, I found the server domain name was also registered to this company, and I would be willing to bet the server is located in their back room, given the IP look-up location ping back.
  • There was NO SEO done at all to the site. The only reason it came up in the search engine is because of the organic content and the site name. If this is ongoing SEO, it should have been there to start with.
  • The website was built on WordPress, which isn’t a bad thing, except that there didn’t appear to be any tags.
  • The PR firm was in charge of building and hosting the web site, and the maintenance.

There is more, though hopefully you get the picture.

So what lessons can we take away from this experience I just shared with you? The answer is: you need to be fully aware of what you are paying for, and if you have any doubts, ask questions. If the company is honest, and values you as a client, they will answer your questions.

At Delaware 302, we take pride in being transparent with our clients, and building trust. Our solutions are geared to be affordable, and we don’t believe in a one size fits all approach. We also will never charge our clients for something they don’t need.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your business grow.

Let’s build the future together.

Outsourcing Our Future

Today I want to touch on a subject that may raise some eyebrows.  Maybe you’ll consider me a fanatic.  I’m talking about the issue of outsourcing.  The truth is that I am not fanatical at all, I am passionate. Passionate about being an American, passionate about living in the greatest country in the world, and passionate about taking pride in what we can accomplish as a state and a nation.

I have watched over the last 2 decades as our economy has continued an almost total shift away from things made here.  I’ve watched the labels on merchandise continue to change rapidly from “Made in America” to “Made in China” or any one of a few dozen other countries, to the point that you would be hard pressed to find anything made here in our country, without going to a custom niche store. I’ve watched as factories close, and people find themselves on the unemployment line. It saddens me as an American, and leaves that looming question: Why?

The answer is simple: Money. Companies can get their goods produced cheaper elsewhere, thus increasing their bottom line. Now I know that will raise all types of debates like: ‘we still export goods to have the products manufactured’, and ‘it is about building a global marketplace’, and ‘there is more to the story’. Try explaining that to the factory worker that has to go home to his family and tell them he is out of work, and they might lose their home.

We have altered not only our future; we have also altered the future of our children, and their children to come. We have created a precarious balance that impacts our economy, and with how hard we were hit recently, widens that recovery time, and leaves the rest of the world holding their breath, since over 20% of their economy is dependent on us.

Outsourcing goes well beyond manufacturing; it has also had a significant impact on the technology industry.

In the nearly 16 years I have been building solutions, leading development teams, and being a design architect for many projects across numerous Fortune 500 companies, I have been on the front line and watched this shift happen. The bulk of the work has shifted from local US based development companies to India. It became a reality, and one that showed me the final writing on the wall when I was doing work at Citi Group. I was a sub-contractor for IBM at the time, and happened to be the only US staff member on the team. The rest of my 26 person team was on-shored (the term they use when they bring in employees from other countries) from India. We also had another team stationed at Citi’s facility in India.

Let me set the record straight and say that I am not opposed to working with programmers and systems people from other countries. In fact, I have worked with people from all over the world, and many of them have been some of the brightest and most intelligent technology people I have met. What I am opposed to is the mentality that I have heard time and time again with regards to sending work over to India: “They work cheap, and we can get 2 or 3 programmers for the price of one here.” I have had first-hand experience with managing this “cheap labor”, and have the battle scars from the headaches and nightmares that ensued, that are proof of the saying: “You get what you pay for.”

The other thing I have seen occur in the technology industry is formation of shell companies. These are companies that set up base here in the US, register as a business, and start plugging for work and contracts. While this is great, and they build the illusion that you are now dealing and working with a local US company, the truth of the matter is that it is all a front. Except for 1 or 2 employees here to manage the business, all of the work goes overseas, and in most cases to India.

There is a company right here in Delaware that is a prime example of this. In an open discussion, the owner of the company stated point blank, that he sends all of the work over to India. They have worked on numerous projects for multiple State agencies, and I am willing to bet very few of the Department heads know who is really doing the work. The illusion that has been presented is that this is a local Delaware company that is doing the work, and that they are putting Delawareans to work. Sadly, this is not the case at all.

At Delaware 302, all of our products are produced, and all of our work and services are done, right here in the U.S. and more importantly, right here in the First State.  We believe that the future of our economy relies on making “Made in America” mean what it used to: Taking pride in our hard work, attention to detail, and working together as a team.

Contact us today to learn how we can put “Delaware pride” to work for and use our solutions to help your business grow.

Let’s build the future together.

The Art of Illusion

Have any of you ever watched a magic show, and sat there in awe as the magician preforms all of these great magical feats? The magician slowly builds up the anticipation, until the grand finale, when the entire audience is at the edge of their seats watching. Then the show is over and the lights come up. People start to leave, and the air is buzzing with conversation about what they witnessed. These people will swear that this is the greatest magician they have ever seen.

Many web development companies do the same type of magic act with their clients. They bring the client in, show them the best examples of their work, and build the excitement and hype. The client gets drawn in, and starts to believe that no other company can do the same thing for them. Once the development company has them hooked, they know that they can get the full allotted budget the company has.

The truth is, that what you are getting sold is pretty much all an illusion.

On one side, you have the development companies that aside from the design of your site, use free one size fits all platforms to put it on. All of the “special features” that are charged for, are no more than widgets that they have gotten for free, or paid a nominal fee to use. The justification is that you are paying for the “development expertise”. Don’t be fooled by that smoke and mirrors trick either. Many of these companies hire kids out of college, because they work cheap.

On the other side, you have the companies that sell the products and services of another development company, and make it sound like it is theirs. They build the illusion that you the customer are getting one total solution company, when in fact it is multiple companies that are doing the work. The customer usually pays more too, since there is always a markup.

So how is it that the businesses get sucked into this great magic act, and don’t see the mirrors or wires? The answer is simple. Building a web site is probably one of the most grueling processes a business can go through. I had a client of ours tell me: “It is like writing a business plan.”

So what makes my business different from the rest you might be asking? The answer to that comes in two parts, and is easy to answer.

First our core beliefs are different. At Delaware 302 we work with our clients to build a complete solution that works with their business. We believe in total transparency, and in offering our solutions at an affordable rate. We will never sell you something you don’t need.

The second part to this answer, is our technology. Our core system, the 302 engine, is a module based system that has been designed to grow with the business. It was built by us using the latest in technology, and for each build, we customize the system to meet the needs of our clients, without forcing them to use something “as is”.

Contact us today, and let’s build the future together.