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What is BidSketch?

BidSketch is a 'cloud hosted' web application that lets you put together proposals within minutes. The website states that proposals could be cut down from 3 hours to 45 minutes, but in our play with this product they take even less time. We were able to generate a proposal in as little as 10 minutes!

Creating great proposals isn't the end of BidSketch it also manages the sign-off/approval of the proposal by the client and offers integration with SalesForce for larger clients making integration with your existing sales workflow quick, simple and easy. 

You can sign-up at www.bidsketch.com

How it works

When you sign-up, you're given your own web address for use with bidsketch, ours is mydigitalmedia.bidsketch.com for example. Through this address you and your staff can login to your own portal to create new proposals, print/save/share existing proposals and monitor their status if you've decided to make use of BidSketch's built-in approval mechanism to gain approval from your customer.

When you create a new proposal you first need to create a client, a good feature of BidSketch is that is manages the value of a proposal, and tracks the total against each client across all proposals so if your client has been a long-term customer, you can see just how valuable they've been to you, which helps you to identify what you've been doing right.

Once you've created your client, you can go ahead and create a new proposal with the client selected you begin creating your proposal following a simple and easy to use wizard.

BidSketch-Process.png

You start by choosing from a template a design, and giving a name to your project/proposal. As you select a template, the system intelligently prompts you with some sections to include in your proposal, you can quickly choose which you do and don't want to include and away you go. 

Default text is initially inserted into each section for you to edit if you want to. What isn't immediately apparent (to us) is that the text includes placeholders {client_name}, for example, which are replaced automatically by the system with information that you've already entered for you, or your client, when the proposal is completed. We'd assumed that we had to make these changes ourselves, which even still wouldn't have been that hard to do, but with the system doing it for us it's a doddle!

All of the default text is editable in the system so that any future proposals use your own text, and it's certainly worth reviewing the language used. We're a UK-based IT consultancy, and the language felt a little 'American' to us. That said, the the content is valuable and therefore gives you a good guide as to what should be said, so it's easy to replace the text with something (UK) English.

The default system is clearly tailored for IT companies, but you can easily add your own templates for your business sector. In a previous job I described this exact system as being invaluable for our business development team as it felt that they were regularly asking various individuals, teams and departments for the same pieces of information for their proposals. Using BidSketch though pieces could be put into the initial template and then included/excluded using the checkboxes when each proposal is generated.

Once the shell of the proposal has been created, you have the ability to complete the 'fees' section of your proposal. From here you can add products and services that you've already stored in the system, putting them into one-off (Project fees), monthly and annual fees.

Once your fees are added, in the same manner that you started the proposal, you are presented with your closing sections to review and amend as necessary before reviewing the overall proposal's design.

Once you're happy with the proposal you can save it where you can generate a PDF, create a new proposal based on this one, or you can send your proposal to your client.

If you do decide to send your proposal using BidSketch rather than downloading a copy to e-mail over your self, BidSketch allows you and your clients to add signature as well as allowing comments to be added to your proposal by your client, and for your response as well. You're notified about everything that's taking place by e-mail notification. 

The benefits

Very fast generation of proposals

Highly customisable

Bank of proposal components to allow inclusion/exclusion at a click

Ability to add fees categorised by types

Ability to tag created reports allowing you to quickly and easily find them again in future to create another based on this one. 

It's limitations

Adding fees could be a little more intuititve, the use is left a little unsure which button they should be clicking to add the fees to the proposal and add more. After a few goes, you quickly get to grips with this though.

Price, depending on the size of your company, the cost of this tool may be off putting, but if you're not already putting effort into creating proposals, the return on this investment will pay for itself allowing you to target better quality, higher value project.


Posted: 23/05/2013 07:56:06 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments


One of our client's asked us this week all about how they can achieve a better position within the sponsored search results for Google AdWords. We put together some rather lengthy advice and then thought it may be useful for some of our other customers as well, so here it is (with some made up names and places thrown in for good measure to keep our client's identity anonymous)…

How does Google AdWords work?

The way Google AdWords works in summary… "You select how much you want to spend per day (your daily budget) and how much you're willing to pay for every click on your ad… Google displays your ad so that it gets the most money out of you that it can (legitimately)."

With that in mind… here are some factors that you should consider when comparing your position to your competitors.

Google takes into consideration "Ad Performance"

What does this mean? Well from Google's perspective, it's a case of "how much money does it earn them?" but from the advertiser's perspective it means "how many clicks does your ad get?".

Let's go through an example (ignoring the position of the ad for a moment), if you're willing to pay £1 per click, and your competitor (let's call them "Al's Toy Store" are willing to pay £0.50 per click, you get 10 clicks a day, but Al's Toy Store gets 10 times more clicks than you do, then Google would make £10 from you, but they would make £50 from Al's Toy Store. Google would assess this, and (now back to position) would position Al's Toy Store higher in the sponsored results because they still earn Google more money.

My budget is being used up

When you increase the amount you're willing to pay per click, you're also speeding up how quickly your budget is used up. In addition, if you advertise to a bigger area, you're allowing more people to click your ad, and again allowing your daily budget to be used up quicker.

Why else am I not in the No. 1 spot?

Again, as Google is looking at ways it can make the most money out of everyone, it will also consider the areas that you're advertising to. If your competitor (Al's Toy Store) is only advertising to say St. Helens, but you're advertising to Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington, Widnes etc. then Google will consider (based on Ad Performance) whether putting you in the No. 1 spot in an area where there's lots of competition earned them the most money, or whether they could allow you to be in the number 1 spot for other areas (such as Warrington, Widnes etc.) and allow Al's Toy Store to be in the No. 1 spot for St. Helens and make more money.

It is also worth bearing in mind that the position changes with every search. Google records what you as a user are doing… what appears as No. 1 for you, may not appear as No. 1 for someone else. In addition, if an ad fails to grab your attention the first time, it may not grab your attention the second time, so Google will automatically change the position trying another ad in the number 1 spot.

Here is an example search for Widgets St. Helens (first time) – completely made up (there are no Widgets in St. Helens!):

Here it is a second time, notice one of the ad's has disappeared:

 

A third time – take a peek disappeared this time:

 

Sometimes they will also change order. There is no way to control this as Google's search engine constantly takes all factors into consideration to work out how it is most likely to make the most money from a person's search.

Will I always have to pay this much?

That's difficult to tell. As before… Google considers Ad Performance… so if you increase your budget temporarily, you may be able to show that your ad can perform when ranked higher. Once Google has built up enough history of good performance, you may be able to reduce the amount that you pay and still remain in the No. 1 position.

The cost of No. 1 position

You may also want to consider that an ad can cost £0.20 per click to get you on the first page of advertising (right hand side included). It may cost you £0.50 per click to get into the yellow box on the first page, but then it could cost you up £10.00 to get you into first position consistently.

Take the Google Traffic Estimator below for the search term "Widgets" (again made up example based on our client's real key words). The point marked with a spot is estimated to have an average position of 1.1 (meaning it's 1st position most of the time). This point would cost £12 per click and due to its position on the page would likely result in 15 clicks per day – that's £180 per day on just 1 search term!

 Preview

In the second chart (same chart but with a different point highlighted) the average position is 1.9 (meaning that occasionally you'll appear in the number 1 spot, but most of the time you'll appear in the No. 2 spot. This point would cost only £0.31 per click, and due to its position is estimated as 11 clicks per day. That's £3.41 on just 1 search term!

 Preview
 

So as you can see, as the maximum cost per click (Max CPC) goes up, the position of your ad, and the resulting number of clicks that you'll get don't continue to go up in proportion.

When you consider that for some businesses these terms are highly sought after meaning that the range £3 - £12 could be more like £5 - £50, you should also consider is paying over 50x more for your advertising really worth 30% more clicks to your business? As the charts demonstrate, the ads that show in 2nd place, get 67% of those that clicked on the  1st place ad.

Posted: 07/11/2012 12:41:57 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments


Many of you may have used and experienced the benefits of Windows Live Writer, and it's a fantastic blogging tool, second to none in my opinion, and as soon as the rumours of the Windows Live brand being killed off started circulating, I've been worried that I'm going to be left using something different that… well that I won't enjoy using as much.

I'm not going to go on about if, when or why Windows Live Writer will be binned… others have done that enough… but instead I wanted to write about alternatives. Over the last few weeks there have been a few exciting developments. Office 2013 Preview was made available to the public, and it's an excellent release. Pretty stable, and a nice enhanced UI. The whole interface seems to have a more fluid and responsive feel to it, which is great.

Whilst I was using Microsoft Word as part of Office 2013, I thought I'd see just how useful it is as an alternative to Windows Live Writer, and to my pleasant surprise, it's actually a viable alternative, though some of the best things of Windows Live Writer are still missing.

Word 2013 pretty much has the same editing facilities as any other blogging tool in that you can connect to your MetaWeblog, you can write a blog post, and you can upload, and for doing as much, it feels nice. The interface is very clean, and distraction free, which (in my opinion) is essential for any blogging tool.

What it doesn't do, however, is allow you to edit in-place. This was one of my favourite features of Windows Live Writer… you can (through the application) download a preview of your blog, and it's styles, then view your blog post in its surrounding as you're editing, which gives you a great feel for the content that you're writing. Many would no doubt argue that writing a blog post shouldn't worry about the style, but when you're determining the size of the images that you're using, it's really useful to see the size of the page.

Anyway, we thought we'd give it a full and fair trial, and as a good test, this particular blog post has been written using Microsoft Word 2013 Preview.

If you'd like to give this a try for yourself, you can download the Microsoft Office 2013 Customer Preview from:
http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en?WT.mc_id=MSCOM_EN_US_HP_FEATUREHOME_131L1ENUS21367

Step-by-step instructions to configure Word 2013 are below…

Firstly, create a new blog post, you can do this by clicking File > New… and from the templates, simply search for 'Blog post'. If you've created a blog post before using Word, it should appear as a template you've used recently.

When you create your blog post, before being able to write anything, you'll be asked to setup your blog account. If you don't opt to do this now, you can configure your account by choosing 'Manage Accounts' from the 'Blog Post' ribbon.

If you do choose to create your account, you'll first be asked for the provider of your blog. As this post is about Kentico, we'll be targeting our settings for MetaWebLog API, so we need to choose 'Other' as the type:


After clicking next, you'll be asked to select the API, which you'll find contains an option for MetaWebLog, as well as the URL, Username and Password. If you've ever used Windows Live Writer, then all of this will seem fairly familiar, as these are the same settings that you will have entered when setting it up. If, however, you haven't ever configured Windows Live Writer, you'll need to enter the following settings:

Blog Post URL: http://<application path>/CMSModules/Blogs/CMSPages/MetaWeblog.ashx
User Name: Your CMS Desk Editor's Username
Password: Your CMS Desk Editor's Password

Clicking OK, and Word 2013 will head off to the MetaWebLog API on your Kentico site, and query a list of blogs that you have setup.

You'll first be prompted as to whether you want to allow your details to be passed to your selected provider:

When prompted, choose which one you want to setup:



Once you've selected your blog, choose OK and Word will be configured. If everything works as expected, you'll get a successful message, and your first blog post will be ready to write:

Posted: 04/08/2012 23:24:01 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments


This week, we’ve had a number of our customers that rely heavily on Facebook for the promotion of their business as part of their marketing strategy contact us asking what the ‘Promote’ option that now appears when they publish a status update is all about.

Typical questions have been:

  • Are Facebook charging businesses for all posts?
  • Do I have to pay £4 to post?
  • Are Facebook hiding my posts unless I pay?

Let’s try to explain what has/hasn’t happened and what the promote button does… but before I begin, let me point out I in no way agree with what Facebook are doing, or the way they have gone about introducing and communicating this.

History

A while back, Facebook realised that their users have literally hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook. They’re not all people that we speak to, or want to speak to on a daily basis, but we want to be associated with, and we want to have a nosey about what they’re up to from time to time. Facebook originally would put all wall posts from all of these friends into your stream (that’s the recent stories as it’s called now), and it was quite difficult to see what your real friends and family were up to, the people you were really interested in, and even for that friend, the posts that you’re likely to be interested in.

They changed the way that the stream works, so that it intelligently, only shows wall posts that you’re likely to be interested in based on two real factors, how much you interact with that person, and how much your mutual friends have shared, commented and interacted with your friend.

This change… affected Pages as well. So in summary, for a while now… if your likers don’t interact with your page regularly, and mutual likers don’t interact with your posts often, then those posts aren’t likely to appear on your liker’s stream when they log into Facebook.

It’s important to point out that, in both the friends and pages examples, your friends/likers can still visit your page/wall and view all posts. Facebook haven’t done anything to the way these are shown.

The promote option

So what is this new promotion option all about? Well for a long time, Facebook have relied on advertising revenue, and the promote option allows Facebook to gain a little more revenue by allowing you to pay to force your post to be shown on your liker’s streams whether they interact or not. I see this as an advert, and the pricing is the same model as an advert down the right hand side as well from what I understand.

So, if you post normally, your posts will continue to reach the same people that they reached before – those that interact with your page, and if you choose to pay to promote, you’ll be paying for your post to appear on your likers' streams whether they interact or not.

Your options

So what can you do to appear on your likers’ wall without paying to promote. Well there’s a number of things you can do, but they ultimately all come down to “make your likers interact with your page”.

So how could you encourage your liker’s to interact with your page? As well as posting about what you’re doing, and your latest products (your marketing side of things) ask your likers things such as:

  • What’s your favourite product from our new summer collection? Get them to comment.
  • What do you think we should offer next? Get them to comment.
  • Upload your pictures of you using our product. Get them to upload pictures.
  • Complete the blank: Using our products is like _________. Get them to comment.
  • Post polls, choose your favourite. Get people to vote, their vote will cause your poll to appear to their friends, non-likers.

We’re sure you can think of others, and more creative ways, and you’ll no doubt see people doing competitions, auctions and other things inviting people to comment on the post to enter. They’re not only trying to get more likers, but by encouraging them to comment, they’re increasing those users to interact with their page but… please ensure that you abide by terms of use. Some of these activities are not allowed under Facebook’s terms.

Well, we hope this helps you to understand the new option, if you have any questions, please drop us an e-mail to support@mydigitalmedia.co.uk or write our wall - to interact with our page  Smile.

Posted: 13/06/2012 12:28:06 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments


Whilst reading the Metro on my daily commute this morning I was reading how Disney's latest film to hit the cinema (John Carter) is set to be the biggest flop of the year, with the estimated loss for Disney being in the region of $200 million. 
 
The article then went on to point out that last year's biggest flop was “Mars Needs Moms”. Has anyone seen this film? Had anyone heard of it before I (or the Metro) mentioned it? I hadn't until I stumbled across it one Saturday/Sunday morning on Sky Go for the iPad for my little boy to watch whilst pretending it wasn’t time to get up and trying to have a lie-in of sorts. He loved it, (and I secretly enjoyed it too) so much that its up there in his top films. Granted he's only 4, but it still shows that Disney hit the right notes in this little boy's heart... So why was this film a flop? 
 
Well... I ask again... Had you heard of it before now? I think the problem lies there. The only reason I put it on at all was because it was an animated film made recently (in the last couple of years) that we hadn't seen before from the selection that was available. Not because I'd seen a poster for it, I knew anything about it or had I heard friends talking/asking about it... So I can't help but think that's the reason for it being a flop.
 
The studios seem to on each occasion allocate about $100 million for marketing, so (in my view) its not that they're not investing in marketing at all, but instead, they're doing something wrong... Either using the wrong channels, or not giving the right message... Perhaps their marketing agency just were in-tune with the film or the audience this time. Who knows for sure?
 
One things clear... It didn't work this time.

What has this cost Disney? A lot of money, not only the money they invested into marketing, but also the money that they spent on the film that they're making in the first place, a lack of ticket sales means they didn't cover the cost of making the film. Now Disney is a pretty cash rich business, fortunately the large majority of their films are a success, but small businesses and particularly start-ups aren't that fortunate. Such a failure in marketing could bring about the early termination of the business, or the closure of an established business. This only highlights the need to correctly market your business and your products, first time. Spend time to make sure you get it right as you won't necessarily get a second chance to put it right later. And if you're unsure, why not speak with one of our consultants (for some free advice) about brand, marketing your business and whether you're taking the right approach.

We'll gladly point you in the right direction if we think you need it. 

Posted: 21/03/2012 18:11:53 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments


MyDigitalMedia's online blog covering topics from technology and the internet, to marketing and ways to run your business more efficiently.

Our blog is lead by whatever our current experiences and projects happen to be, but if you have any particular subjects that you'd like to see here, please get in touch blog@mydigitalmedia.co.uk

Our online blog covers a wide range of subjects including:
  • Internet
  • Web design
  • Web development
  • Latest devices
  • Online services
  • Technology trends
  • Brand
  • Marketing
  • Photography
  • Business automation
  • Cutting overheads
If there is anything in particular that you'd like to see on our blog, please get in touch blog@mydigitalmedia.co.uk

Recent posts

BidSketch - A Review

An overall smarter way to generate your proposals consistently, quickly and easily.  Gives even the simplest proposal a polished and professional look and feel. Requires no technical knowledge whatsoever suiting Business Development Managers in any industry including non-IT businesses. Read our review of BidSketch.com. 



Google AdWords and Ad Performance
One of our client's asked us this week all about how they can achieve a better position within the sponsored search results for Google AdWords. We put together some rather lengthy advice and then...

Blogging to Kentico website using Word 2013 preview
Many of you may have used and experienced the benefits of Windows Live Writer, and it's a fantastic blogging tool, second to none in my opinion, and as soon as the rumours of the Windows Live brand...

Promote for £4? What’s this all about?
This week, we’ve had a number of our customers that rely heavily on Facebook for the promotion of their business as part of their marketing strategy contact us asking what the ‘Promote’ option that...

The value of effective marketing
Whilst reading the Metro on my daily commute this morning I was reading how Disney's latest film to hit the cinema (John Carter) is set to be the biggest flop of the year, with the estimated loss...

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MyDigitalMedia are a small business IT consultancy specialising in web design, and web development creating high quality bespoke web solutions, and establishing our client's brands online, without a hefty price tag. Based in Widnes, Cheshire we cover all surround areas including St. Helens, Liverpool, Warrington, and Runcorn and have a number of national clients from throughout North Wales, and as far as Plymouth. Thanks to the internet, and online conferencing, we're never too far away. View our portfolio to view examples or projects that we have undertaken to date.