jump to navigation

Check out the New SMBTN Online Community! March 10, 2010

Posted by Jim Locke in Alerts, Tools.
Tags: ,
add a comment

After months of work, we officially opened up the new SMBTN Online Community on February 1, 2010. A little more than a month later, we have over 200 members on this private, SMB focused, social network. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we invite you to do so at http://Community.SMBTN.org.  Each member can build a profile that establishes their expertise and optionally provides contact information so other members can partner with them. You can blog from your profile, add  pictures, links, video and other content, some of which we plan to feature in upcoming issues of the SMBTN weekly newsletter. You can even link your Twitter, Facebook and Flickr accounts to your profile.

However, this is just the start. We are working on new communities and forums and content providers. Those of you that make use of the SMBTN Community Toolbar will also find many new features in it that will connect you better to the new community and make it easier for you to share content with your peers and other community members.

So check it out and let us know what you think. We need your feedback and hope that you will see this as a good start on a great improvement. Please feel free to post any comments or suggestions that you might have below.

Cast your Vote for the 150 Most Influential People in SMB March 10, 2010

Posted by Jim Locke in Alerts, Promotions, SMB News.
Tags: ,
add a comment

We all know lots of people that we respect in the field of SMB IT – peers, vendor representatives, authors, and SMB community members who help us innovate, connect and refine our industry. With this in mind, SMBTN has joined with SMB Nation and SMB-PC Magazine to identify the 150 most influential people in SMB, or the SMB 150 as we like to call them.

Why 150? Well, the concept for the SMB 150™ was based on Dunbar’s number, a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. We suggest this principle fits well with the SMB community.

So, how do you cast your vote? Simple, all you need to do is click here to take the SMB 150 survey and cast your vote for up to 15 people. The 150 most frequently recognized individuals recognized in the survey will be recognized as members of the SMB 150™ and featured on the SMB150.com website and other media. Hence, we encourage you to not only to take the survey but to help us get the word out about it by Tweeting it, posting it on Facebook or LinkedIn or other important sites and forums.

SMBTN Releases Autotask Template November 16, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Finance, IT Business, Marketing, Tools.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Just a little over a month after announcing that it would standardize on the Autotask platform, the SMB Technology Network has officially released its new template for the platform. This release is just a starting point for us. We are committed to making consistent improvements to this platform that integrate industry best practices and SMBTN partner offerings into a professional services automation platform that fits the needs of our membership. Currently, the SMBTN/Autotask Platform offers the following:

  • A customized Autotask Template for SMBTN Business Members
  • Integration with a variety of Managed Services platforms, including hosted Kaseya from Virtual Administrator, Level Platforms, N-able, Zenith Infotech and others.
  • Integration with SMBTN’s Virtual Assistant partner, TelAssistant.
  • Integration with SMBTN’s Outsourced helpdesk partner, Cloud Services Depot.
  • Integration with SMBTN VitalSigns Financial Dashboard by CoreConnex.
  • Integration with the latest release of the SMBTN Community Toolbar.

SMBTN also understands the importance of integrating its member’s websites and marketing functions into their back office operations. With this in mind, SMBTN has begun working with Pronto Marketing on Autotask forms integration which it hopes to have available for its members in the first quarter of 2010.

Finally, SMBTN will also host its own forum on the SMBTN Community for peer support, sharing best practices and gathering ideas about future improvements to its Autotask platform.

Pricing for the SMBTN/Autotask platform starts at just $99 per month for a single user (through the end of the year) and includes Autotask Pro with the SMBTN template, Outlook integration, Client Access Portal, Quickbooks integration, Corelytics Lite Financial Dashbaord and the SMBTN Community Toolbar. For more information, visit the SMBTN Community or contact SMBTN Member Services.

TelAssistant Offers Virtual Assistance to SMBTN Members November 16, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, IT Business, Productivity.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

TelAssistant Virtual Assistants for ITDo you ever wish you had a real, live person to answer your phones, track you down in an emergency or just enter a service ticket into Autotask or Connectwise for you? Ever had a client complain about getting your voicemail or a delayed call back? Most IT professionals would like to have this kind of support but fear that they cannot afford it. However, much like managed services and outsourcing has changed the way we do business as IT service providers, it has impacted the way offices run in general too. Many businesses and professionals are beginning to outsource the work of receptionists and assistants to virtual assistant companies like TelAssistant.

TelAssistant is the nation’s premier provider of remote receptionist services for small to medium IT companies, entrepreneurs, small businesses and home-based businesses. SMBTN recently partnered with TelAssistant in order to permit its members to focus on taking care of clients and growing their businesses, knowing that they have a professional support staff behind them to make sure no important opportunities are missed.

TelAssistant uses the latest in technology and tailors their service to your needs. They will greet your callers, announce calls to you, route calls to any number you designate, schedule appointments, fill out work order tickets, take sales leads and even follow scripts that you put together. Best of all, you can have this level of professional support staff for less than $10 per business day.

TelAssistant Features:

  • Fast & Easy Setup: Use your current phone number or select a new one.
  • Work Ticket Completion
  • Dedicated Account Manager
  • Unlimited Talk Time
  • Voicemail to Email: Listen to your voicemail right from your email.
  • Other Included Features: Call Screening/ Announcing/ Routing/ Patching/ Auto Attendant, Appointment Scheduling, Sales & Work Order Form Completion, Local or 800 Number.

Best of all, SMBTN members can try this service for two weeks without obligation. Setup is complete in just 3 easy steps. For more information on how to take advantage of this free trial, please check out the details of this offer on the SMBTN Community.

Technology Marketing Made Simple November 16, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Marketing.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

If you’re like most of us, your To Do list is long and clients come first. Marketing tasks like updating your website or putting together a newsletter always seem to be something you’ll do “next week”.  This is why we are very pleased to announce a new alliance with Pronto Marketing. Not only will they take care of your website and newsletter but they will do it for an affordable monthly cost.  Derek Brown, the CEO of Pronto Marketing, likes to think of it as “Managed Services for Marketing” but prefer to call it “marketing-as-a-service.”

Whatever you call it, Derek is the guy to deliver it. What makes him so special? Well, let’s start with the fact that Derek spent over twelve years at Microsoft, many of those leading the Windows SBS Product Marketing Team and visiting SBS user groups. Prior to his time at Microsoft, he held technology marketing positions with Tech Data, some software start-ups and value added resellers. Thus, Derek knows both our channel and its marketing challenges extremely well.

What’s unique about Pronto is their focus on execution. We’ve all got boxes of marketing materials from vendors or programs we’ve signed-up for and big plans gathering dust back in the office somewhere. If this sounds like you then I invite you to take a moment to check out Pronto Marketing and see how they can get your marketing on track for a very low cost.

The complete Pronto online marketing program is only $247 per month – but the SMBTN Business Member discount price of $197 saves you $50 per month.

  •  Professional Website–Based on the WordPress platform and customized to meet your business requirements and branding. We proactively update your website each week with new content or as you request. In addition blogging tools are integrated right into the website.   
  • Original content – our team of writers and editors create compelling content for the newsletters and website – we don’t repackage other content.
  • Monthly e-newsletter–We manage the whole process including your offers and news and all production and list management.
  • SEO and Analytics–Placement in local directories, optimized for local search and reporting on email and web
  • No Term Commitments & No Hidden Fees–Pay as you go month by month and cancel anytime. Our price includes all design and content, updates, hosting and emailing fees – everything.
  • Learn More–Get the details on the SMBTN Community.

In these times, we all need to be looking at ways to grow and strengthen our businesses. Hence, I strongly encourage you to check out what Pronto has to offer.  However, nothing is more reassuring than the successes that other SMBTN members have had with Pronto Marketing:

“It all starts with a filling out a simple questionnaire and in a short period of time you have a something that is customer ready with minimal effort on my part. I can now focus on what I need to do and that is helping my clients solve their business issues.”

Alan Helbush, MCP, SBSC –  Where To Start, Inc.

“Pronto Marketing is fast, efficient, well-organized, professional and does great work.  Our newsletter and website development have been a terrific success.  Pronto makes us look great and we would be happy to recommend them to others.”

Eric A. Adkins, CTO – Adkins Technologies

We are also working on new integration between Pronto Marketing sites and the SMBTN/Autotask Platform that will permit you to capture information about visitors to your website in your Autotask PSA software. We hope to have this ready in the first  quarter of 2010.

For more information about the Technology Marketing offering from Pronto Marketing, please visit the SMBTN Community or the Pronto Marketing website.

Make Recurring Revenue With SonicWALL GMS October 26, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Alerts, Events.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

VALogoFrom time to time, Virtual Administrator holds webinars about their products and how you can use them to generate recurring revenue. Their next webinar is this Tuesday, October 27th, at 2pm EST. They will be discussing their hosted SonicWALL Global Management System (GMS for short) and how you can use it to generate revenue. Jan Sijp from SonicWALL will be our guest presenter. Feel free to join us by going to https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/803176467  and registering for the event.

I would also like to take this opportunity to intoduce you to Paul Barnett, the Marketing Director for www.VirtualAdministrator.com, an SMBTN Partner. Over the coming months, Paul hopes to familiarize you with Virtual Administrator and how they can help you grow your business. He will also offer you some bits of information and advice on how to effectively manage and market your enterprise. Finally, he will be following this blog and will answer as many questions as he can. So I encourage you to post your comments and ask him anything you like. If you would like to contact Paul directly, you can e-mail him at paul@VirtualAdministrator.com. In the meantime, I hope you will  join me in welcoming Paul and Virtual Administrator to the SMB Technology Network.

Regards,

Jim Locke
SMB Technology Network

Social Media for SMB (Part 1) October 6, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Marketing, Social Media.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

There was quite a debate within SMB Nation’s Social Media Panel this weekend about the value of social media and it’s return on investment. In my opinion, far too much of the discussion revolved specifically around the use of Twitter as a platform for social media. Hence, I wanted to offer this article about analytics that relate to the use of that technology in general:

Twitter Data Analysis: An Investor’s Perspective

Dell has certinly proved that Twitter has a value in our marketplace. However, they are a direct marketer of computer products and using this technology primarily to promote special deals and promotions. In the services sector, we can certainly use Twitter for promtional purposes, as well as, to communicate tips and drive traffic back to a primary business site (e.g. a website or blog).

I encourage you to take alook at this article and offer your comments on its findings and how they might relate to your business and social media efforts.

Stay tuned for more info on this topic…

SMBTN Previews Social Network for SMB IT Providers October 2, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits.
Tags: ,
add a comment

The SMB Technology Network (SMBTN) previewed the beta edition of the SMB Technology Network Community, a social network for SMB IT providers, at SMB Nation today.  The new network will include forums, online communities, blogs, online chat, resource information and member profile information. Visitors may preview it at http://community.SMBTN.org. “While we still have some work to do, we think it is a great start,” said Jim Locke, president of SMBTN. “We hope to get a great deal of feedback from the community on the features, communities and resources that will make this a valuable tool for them.”

“I really think that the SMB Community will like what we have planned. For example, SMBTN affiliated chapters, will have the ability to post information to their own online community, host their own forums (which we plan to integrate with Twitter and LinkedIn), and be able to send weekly or monthly e-newsletters with minimal effort and at no cost to them,” he said.

The release is accompanied by the beta release of the new SMBTN Community Toolbar which is integrated with the resources found on the SMB Technology Network Community and has been updated to include new partners, tools, news feeds, podcasts, online chat, and much more.

Interested members of the SMB community may join the SMB Technology Network Community without delay by visiting http://community.smbtn.org/?xgi=7Qf8Lax by Sunday, October 4th, 2009. At that time SMBTN will begin moderating membership to ensure the privacy of its members.

SMB Technology Network Now Offering Standardized Managed Services Platform for Members October 2, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Autotask LogoThe SMB Technology Network™ (SMBTN) today announced it can now offer members a turnkey suite of solutions, including managed services, customer relationship management and billing, all standardized on Autotask’s IT business management platform. SMBTN has established partnerships with Autotask Corporation, Reflexion, OwnWebNow, Virtual Administrator, Cloud Services Depot and Speakeasy, making it possible for SMBTN members to purchase a pre-configured suite of services at a significant discount.

After several months of development, SMBTN president, Jim Locke, is pleased to offer members the consolidated product suite. “The needs of our members are best served by a standardized offering in which we can share best practices and experiences through a common application suite,” Locke says. “We have done the difficult work for our members and integrated various components and structured a best practices methodology to drive immediate ROI to our community.”

As part of this customized suite of managed services solutions, SMBTN members can purchase a single seat of the Autotask Go! Special Edition for SMBTN. This special edition, coupled with the other services offered by SMBTN, will allow members to immediately market, track and bill customers for managed services. SMBTN teamed up with Autotask to form a preconfigured database template with suggested services, workflows and price points, which is preloaded into the special edition. Autotask will also provide In-depth training and support, as well as a free copy of the Corelytics™ Lite, Autotask Edition financial dashboard to all SMBTN members.

Review: Support from ThirdTier is Top Notch September 21, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Productivity, Reviews.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

thirdtierOver the past several months, my firm (AxonTech) has had the opportunity to use the services of ThirdTier on several occasions. The first was more of a test to see what kind of support they could provide to one of our workstation techs on an Exchange issue that our network engineers were not available to work on. We contacted ThirdTier and David Shackelford (an Exchange MVP) walked our technician through the process. Follow up was excellent and we were very happy with the results and the price we paid for the service.

I have personally used ThirdTier on a couple of other occasions related to Exchange and Small Business Server. Each time, I have had excellent results, a quick response, good follow-up and paid a reasonable price.

When I contrast this with the support I receive from Microsoft and other vendors, it is like night and day. I have successfully scheduled call back appointments with ThirdTier that were actually kept on time. I can’t say that for the “competition”. Furthermore, the folks at ThirdTier actually value the information that I provide to them. I don’t waste time proving the basics to them like I do with a Microsoft technician that I have to wait up to four hours for to call me back.

The bottom line is that I spend less time and close tickets faster when I work with ThirdTier than I do when I work with Microsoft. That is unfortunate but true all the same. I was told recently by an IAMCP member that I just need to know how to “work the system” in order to get the results I want and  in all fairness, he might be right, However, I really don’t think that I should have to manipulate the technicians at Microsoft into transfering me to an appropriate person in the USA to deal with my issue. Hence, I look forward to using the services of ThirdTier as my third tier support until Microsoft can compete with their service.

Congratulations to Amy, Eriq, Chad and David on putting together a top notch service. I highly recommend that anyone that is frustrated with the time wasted on Microsoft technical support, give them a try. You will not be disappointed.

Check out ThirdTier today at http://www.ThirdTier.net.