Is Your Website Down? Pingdom Will Tell You for Free

Your Website Will Go Down

It is a fact that your website will go down at some point every year.  Do you know how often that happens?  Think about the consequences of your website being down… a prospective client might pick that exact moment to go to your site.  Error page.  Ugh.  A business friend might be trying to find information about your products or services to forward on to their referral.  No dice, it’s down.  Your social media posts that link to your blog article don’t work.  Your visitor might be thinking, “Are they a trustworthy company if they can’t keep their own website running?”  None of it is good, and most companies have no idea when or how often this happens.

Pingdom.com is the Answer

If you have never heard of pingdom.com, you should check it out right now.  It is an excellent web service that will monitor your web site for you 24/7.  Pingdom will send you an email (or SMS text message if you prefer) when your site is down.  Sign up for a free account by clicking the FREE SIGNUP in the lower right hand corner of the site.  With a free account, you can monitor a single URL.  I recommend you monitor the home page of your site.  You can also set up how often Pingdom should check that URL (every 15 minutes is probably a good starting point.)

Read more

Marian Hope Center for Children – Blue Gurus Gives Back

Every quarter, Blue Gurus selects a Kansas City based not-for-profit to help with web, social and content marketing.  We believe that giving back to the community where we live and work is a critical component to a healthy, growing company.  But enough about us… this article is about the not-for-profit that we learned could use our help!

The Marian Hope Center for Children is a 501c3 organization with a driving mission: to give hope to every child through innovative programming, educational support to parents/caregivers, and outreach services to the community.  We heard from our good friend and client Doug Hubler, President of Apex Business Advisors, that the Marian Hope Center could use help with their web site and social media marketing efforts.  Mic and I went out in February and met with Angie Knight, Heather Ruoff, and Theresa Sonderman to see how we could help.

It always hurts my heart to see good people struggling with technology.  We see this across the board with our clients, not just not-for-profits.  The Marian Hope Center is driven by an amazing and talented group of people that are donating a TON OF THEIR TIME to really make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities.  Check out the staff picture to the right to see what I am talking about.  They are licensed professionals with sparkly eyes because they know that the work they are doing MATTERS.  We had a great time getting to know their team.  While we were at their center in Independence, we got to see first hand the classrooms, materials, playground and even meet some of the families and children that were attending classes.  It was one of those moments for me personally when I realized something special was happening in that place.

After seeing the work they do, we wanted to help them be as efficient as possible with their web site, social and content marketing strategies.  We talked about so many things in the afternoon that we were there… a switch from Joomla to WordPress for their web site to make it easier to maintain the site content, LinkedIn best practices and why to focus more time on that social network (business owners are key donors), HootSuite for updating their status across multiple social media sites, RoboForm for password management, and much more.  It was a productive session!  Since then, we have had great follow up discussions with their team and continue to help them become more efficient.

I don’t know if you have a not-for-profit that you have adopted to support in 2012, but if not, the Marian Hope Center would be a good organization to look at.  If you have children with disabilities, or know of any families with children that have disabilities, be sure to check out their web site for more information on programs and services that they offer including Integrative Therapy Groups, Parent and Caregiver Education, Peer Modeling and Nutrition.

ANNUAL FUNDRAISER
SPRING INTO HOPE SHOPPING EVENT AT INDEPENDENCE EVENTS CENTER
APRIL 27-28, 2012

Be sure to check out more information on the Marian Hope Center annual fundraiser called Spring Into Hope!  It is a two day exclusive shopping event. 
“Come eat, drink and mingle as you shop amongst the greatest boutiques and vendors KC has to offer. We will feature fashion shows, great raffles, yummy food and drink samples from area restaurants and much more.”
Click here for more information

Why You Should Consider Migrating to Google Apps [VIDEO]

Time for another video blog update from Blue Gurus!  The topic this week is our recent switch to Google Apps.  We did this for many reasons ranging from features to price.  Watch the video for more on why, and below the video I have included some important links that I mentioned.  I would love to hear from you if you are using Google Apps, and if you have any great tips or tricks to share that I could include in a future video!

 httpv://youtu.be/XFcKs28WCEI

Important links:
Umzuzu – Kansas City based, Google Premier SMB Partner that did our migration from Hosted Exchange to Google Apps
Rapportive – Excellent social plugin for Gmail (recently bought by LinkedIn), hover over a person and see their social media info from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
Backupify – Google Apps backup solution for $3/user/month, recommended by Umzuzu as well

Tech Orchard – The easy way to sell your old iPhone or iPad

I was having lunch recently with my friend Matt Simpson, who owns Infusion.  He was telling me about a mutual friend Phil Poje, that just started a new company here in Kansas City called Tech Orchard.  Matt and his team did all the design work and web site and they made sure the site was live well before the launch of the new iPhone 5 that is supposedly happening on October 14th.  Phil was the Chief Marketing Officer for Stallard Technologies before starting this venture, so he is very familiar with the business of dealing in used technology gear.

The concept is that Tech Orchard will buy your old iPhone or iPad and send you a check in 3 days or PayPal payment immediately once the condition of your used equipment is verified.  I had an old iPhone 3G that has been collecting dust on a shelf for over a year.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Tech Orchard would give me $105 cash for it if it was in good condition!  I filled out the simple form on their web site and got a bubble mailer sent to me in short order.  Dropped the old iPhone into the mailer and shipped it off.  I got an email confirmation that they had received it the next day and now a check is in the mail for $105.  This was about the easiest process I can imagine and I would much rather have cash than a boat anchor.

If you remember in my last blog post, I mentioned that I would be having lunch with Matt and joked about the fact that “people don’t want to know what I had for lunch.”  Well, I had a great salad and a cup of steak soup at Nick and Jake’s.  It was excellent as always.  The point here is that real conversations happen over lunch and often they are stories worth telling.  Matt and I talked about a lot of interesting topics, goals for our businesses, trends in social media, the brand development work that Infusion is currently engaged in and more.

The important thing to note, this is yet another example of how simple word of mouth can have a dramatic impact on your business.  Matt did the creative work for Phil’s new company.  Matt told me about it.  I had a need for Phil’s services.  I tried the services and liked the result so much that I decided to blog about it.  There is a strong chance that 3,000+ people that Mic and I are connected to might hear about Tech Orchard.  What if 1% of them tried the service out?  That is 30 people.  Assuming the average purchase is $105 like mine (and that is on the low end) this could be more than $3,000 of business for Phil.  And I am just one person.  Phil is going to grow his business successfully by being well connected, telling good stories and delivering on his brand promise that Tech Orchard is the easy way to sell your old iPhone or iPad.

If you have an old iPhone or iPad sitting around, go to www.techorchard.com and trade it in for some cash!

A Day In the Life of Jason Terry – Blogging 101

We talk a lot about being consistent with your messaging when it comes to pace (at least weekly), voice (fun, professional or somewhere in between) and platform (social networks, email newsletters, marketing pieces).  One of the questions that we hear all the time is “How do you come up with things that are worth saying to your audience?”

I have been doing this for so long that it comes naturally.  I have to remind myself that not everyone has experience writing, thinking like a blogger, or paying attention to the things that happen every day that are worth talking about.  You might be doing this kind of activity for the first time in your professional career.

I thought it would be good to walk you through a day in my life and show you the many opportunities that occur to talk about your staff, your company, your clients and more!

Before I do that, here is a quick list of things that you should consider talking about:

  1. Clients
  2. Vendors/Partners
  3. Projects
  4. Things that caught your attention
  5. People, people, PEOPLE!

September 7th, 2011

6am – Personal and Business – For Me, They Are The Same Thing
Got up and went to LifeTime Fitness with my brother Mike Terry who works for Ingenix.  Talked about the fact that Adam Rector from Beautiful Outdoors was coming by the house today to give me an estimate on some landscaping work in the back yard.  Mike mentioned that he needs to have some work done in his back yard as well and wanted me to have Adam give him a call.  (Later in the afternoon, I did refer Adam to Mike = Word of Mouth Referrals in Action #1)

8am – Creating my Daily To Do List, Checking Emails, Etc.
Came back to the house to clean up and get to work.  Checked my email and started making follow up calls… this involved a list of people and companies that is too long to even try to include here.  Took me about an hour.

9am – Mic Rocks, T-Shirt Talks
One of the things on my follow up list was to talk to Mic about the “Avoiding People That Suck” T-Shirts.  The article he wrote was a huge hit and Brett Gibson at AdventureTech asked when the T-Shirts would be available!  (Mic is creative and driven and I could have written a blog article about him!)  He is working with a good friend of his, Molly Beacom at Image Market on pricing, etc.

10am – Public Service Announcement
Started errands, including going to Commerce Bank to make a Blue Gurus deposit and then to the post office to mail off my quarterly estimated tax payments.  Yes, they need to be sent by September 15th, so count this as a friendly reminder to get on that if you do quarterly estimates.

11am – New Client
Got a call from Donna Rimbo at Christ Church in Overland Park.  She was referred to us by one of our clients, Tommy Wilson at the Downtown Council of Kansas City.  (Word of Mouth Referrals in Action #2) We had a great conversation for 30 minutes about a potential project we could do together.  I told her how we do what we do.  She mentioned that their committee had been talking about this project and when Donna mentioned that she was going to talk to Blue Gurus that one of the committee members started raving about us.  (Yay!)  She said based on our brief conversation, the strength of the referrals and the respect of peers, they are not looking at other companies to help them with this project!  A new client for Blue Gurus and a testament (nice word choice?) to what we keep saying about the power of word of mouth and building a positive reputation for doing what you say you are going to do.

12:30pm – Technical Work
My friend Matt Simpson, owner of Infusion, asked me to help him out with a client project involving WordPress.  I spent 90 minutes getting the project done and following up with Matt on next steps.  Oh, and scheduled lunch together for September 21st at Nick and Jake’s.  I had to include this detail because so many people say “I don’t care where people are going for lunch.”  Hey, if you don’t care… fine.  It’s part of my story though.  You won’t care about every part of this story, that is normal and even expected.  Some people live near Nick and Jake’s.  Some people own Nick and Jake’s.  Some people love or hate Nick and Jake’s with a story of their own.  You get the point… it’s not just about what I had for lunch.

2:30pm – Writing My Blog Update
Sat down to write my blog update with nothing particular in mind.  Thought about all that had happened today and thought about the fact that there are dozens of stories involving people and companies that might be worth talking about.  Realized we hadn’t done an article on the blogging process, so why not document the day!

In Closing…
If you read this whole article, you prove my point.  This thing was WAY TOO LONG.  You must care about me, Mic and Blue Gurus to have gotten through it… and that is the whole point.  People want to hear what is going on in your life because they CARE about you.  In a 9 hour period today, I connected with dozens of people, representing dozens of companies.  Helped my brother out.  Earned a new client through a word of mouth referral.  Did billable work for a client.  Crossed off the majority of the things on my To Do list.

I could expand on any one of these stories to create a great article that talks about specific people and companies.  (Did you recognize any of the people or companies?  Do you know them?  Have you done business with them?)  This stuff matters.  Look at what you and your company are involved in on a daily basis and tell your stories!

iPhone and iPad Update | Great iPad Cases

Release Dates for New Devices?
As many of you know, we use the iPhone and iPad on a regular basis.  It is an interesting time of year as people speculate when the next versions of the iPhone (iPhone 5 and iPad 3) will go on sale.  If you don’t already know about MacRumors.com, you need to check that site out for breaking news on all things Apple.  I have been paying attention to the rumors from various technology sites including MacRumors, and the general consensus is that the iPhone 5 will be available in the middle of September and the iPad 3 will be out later… possibly for Christmas or Q1 next year.  Bottom line, is if you are in the market for the iPhone, wait until September before locking in to that 2 year hardware contract with AT&T or Verizon.  I also thought it was interesting that a poll showed that 35% of people surveyed were planning to buy an iPhone 5 within 12 months of the release.

Great Cases for the iPad 2
I am always looking for a good case for the iPad 2.  I recently found a company called DodoCase that has an interesting twist on cases for the iPad.  They used to be a book binding company and they were on their way to going out of business because of all the new eReaders that were hitting the market like the Kindle and iPad.  They decided to go with the times and make book binding cases for eReaders!  The cases look a lot like a book when you close them and are very well made.  I just received mine and I love it!  I also loved the video on the home page of the DodoCase site that shows the decades old binding machines making these cases for the iPad.  Great story of a company that reinvented itself because the market changed.  (For other iPad case options, I also like the one that Mike Jones uses that is made by Knomo.  For a laundry list of other top rated cases, go here.)

“The Johnny’s Story”

Johnnys

When I first started thinking about a career in Social Media, I found myself spending hours a day for months on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I couldn’t get enough of it and loved all of the minute-by-minute interaction that was happening right before my eyes.

One of the stories that came out of that time is one I share on a regular basis with our clients and prospects:

“The Johnny’s Story.”

Johnny’s is a bar and grill that started in Lawrence, KS and a place where I spent more than a few evenings when I was a student at KU. They have two locations in Lawrence and six in Kansas City. In fact, there is one that is five minutes from my house at 8262 Mission Road, Prairie Village, Kansas 66208.

I’ve lived in Prairie Village for nearly 5 years and realized a few months ago that I hadn’t been to Johnny’s in years. How did I realize that? I noticed one of my Facebook friends “became a fan” (now, as you know, it’s just called “LIKE”) of the Prairie Village Johnny’s Facebook Page .

So I became a fan too and started seeing updates every day in my Facebook feed….”2-for-1 burgers on Thursdays!!!”…”Join us for Taco Tuesdays!!!”…..”Live music this Friday!!!”….”$2.50 Schooners!!!”…..and on and on. Eventually I found myself thinking “2-for-1 burgers is a good deal”, “I’d love to go hear some live music”, “Mmmmmm, tacos sound good”, and “I need to get over to Johnny’s”.

And I did. Again. And again. And again. And not just by myself. I brought people with me. I started to tell my friends about 2-for-1 burgers on Thursdays. I coordinated a couple of Jayhawk watch parties with my friends. I gathered some people to see live music. In fact, thanks to a recent promotion they mentioned on their Facebook page, I check in on Foursquare every time I go to Johnny’s now and, (after ordering a couple of drinks), get a free appetizer for doing so! (I’m partial to the mini-burritos.)

Read more

Fry-Wagner : Moving your business or home? Bring in the experts.

Fry-Wagner Moving & Storage

Fry-Wagner Moving & Storage

Moving is a stressful undertaking.  Whether it is your business or your home, there are many forces working against you, including time, weather and people averse to change.  One of my best practices when faced with these types of situations is to bring in the experts and let them handle it.  I have been referring business to Fry-Wagner Moving & Storage for years and they always do a fantastic job.  The relationship has gone even deeper over the past 2 years because Earl Kawaoka and I are in a Vistage group together that meets each month, and I recently trained their Kansas City and St. Louis sales teams how to use LinkedIn more effectively.  Through all this, I have gotten a deeper understanding of how Fry-Wagner is operated and who the people are that make the company successful.  These guys are the real deal.  Whether it is a residential move across the country, or moving your small business from one location to another in Kansas City, you should call them.  I am going to have them move my parents from Wichita to Kansas City later this year when my father retires from Boeing.  That is how much I trust them. Read more

Team Office – If you are looking for office furniture, you gotta call these guys.

Team Office

Team Office

I work with people/companies all over Kansas City, and one of the things that comes up often is that they are growing or moving.  One of things that is usually a part of any growth or move process is office furniture.  This can be a time consuming, expensive, and frustrating part of the process.  (So many options, how do you choose?  Did they ship the right stuff?  Are the installers going to be there on the right day/time?)  I have been working with Team Office for years and highly recommend them. Read more

Getting your logo on stuff!

Box of Pens

Box of Logo Pens

One of the things that I have had to figure out is how to get my logo on marketing materials.  I believe that shirts and pens are two of the most effective ways to advertise.  You will always see me in a blue shirt with the Blue Gurus logo on it.   I do have “off duty blue” for evenings and weekends where the shirt is blue but no logo.  :) Read more