Red Zebra Business Centre -Management Memos
September, 2009. Making Measurably More For Your Business Since 1985!

What a Wonderful Time It's Been At My Red Zebra!

Max Williams, Principal Consultant

This has been a really hectic few months at My Red Zebra.

So much growth and development has been going on, it's been like a whirlwind.

One of the biggest changes is the arrival of the ninth iteration of 'My Red Zebra Powerhouse', the suite of Red Zebra financial management tools. This revised version has the same trusted core as before, but user experience and feedback has provided improved usability.

Some of the more important, but less frequently used items in the 'Powerhouse' are now more readily accessed, and within each tool, there is improved access to the extensive facilities each provides.

Another of the really big changes has been the arrival of Trevor Dyson as a new consultant in the Red Zebra team. Trevor is introduced elsewhere in this edition, but almost everyone knows the activity involved with the introduction of a new resource like Trevor.

There are two other items of very great significance that occurred in the past few months.

Some readers will remember that way back in 2002, The Red Zebra trialled on-line consultation with an internet that still had a lot of growing up to do. In 2005, there was another step forward, but still the internet and its users were not ready. Now, in 2009, with the great bulk of Australian businesses with broadband access (86% at last count) we are pleased to be announcing 'My Red Zebra Conference Centre'.

MRZ Conference Centre

It's an online group communication service, much like MSN or Yahoo Messenger, but this time in private, and limited to Red Zebra members. We can announce it now, with the formal launch taking place in early October.

The remaining new service has just 'fired its first shot in anger'! Last month's Management Memos referred to SMS messaging as one of the current forms of communication means available to 'savvy' marketers.

It's not the easiest thing to undertake, and now My Red Zebra will do it for you, and with very, very, low charge out rates.

With all these very substantial changes going on, our schedule for publication of Management Memos has taken a bit of a battering. Each edition has been published monthly, as usual, but not in the timely manner we would want. So, although the September issue appears very late in the month, it comes now with a host of good news about product and service upgrades that keep on keeping 'My Red Zebra' ahead of the herd!

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t has taken just a few months, but there's a new, and different, My Red Zebra on the prowl!  Additional features, and new usability have been added to the program, along with an important new person. Now, with a client base extending throughout mainland Australia, the only state in the Commonwealth without a 'My Red Zebra' member is Tasmania. This has indeed been a hectic time of significant growth!

TrevorMeet Trevor Dyson - who joined My Red Zebra Business Centre in August, and just now is beginning to 'hit his straps' with his extensive contacts in the printing industry. Trevor operated his own printing business for 33 years, so has extensive experience in the challenging world of small business. Since then, Trevor has added to his skills in financial analysis with a Graduate Diploma of Marketing. Bringing a comprehensive package of finance and marketing skills makes Trevor ideally suited to the work undertaken at My Red Zebra Business Centre, and we welcome him warmly.

While Trevor has his experience in the printing industry, his addition to the team does not indicate a specific drive into that industry, although Trevor's contacts automatically mean an emphasis in that  field. Balancing that, My Red Zebra has worked in just about every industry you'll find in Australia and New Zealand over the last twenty four years. Over the next weeks and month's you will probably hear from Trevor. Great to have him aboard!

New, Improved Powerhouse Breaks Cover
This financial year sees the introduction of the ninth version of 'My Red Zebra Powerhouse', the extensive suite of Red Zebra financial management tools that clients can readily use. This revised version is built on the same trusted core as the previous version, and after so many years, why change it?

The new version does take advantage of user experience and feedback, which has demonstrated a number of ways usability can be improved. In particular, the menu, which last year had a number images to click to access the relevant tools, has this year been replaced by a simple 'Window' dialogue box, familiar to any 'Microsoft Windows' user.

Powerhouse Dialogue

Along with the new, easier access to each tool, each of the tools has been improved too. For example, the Marketing Planner picks up the marketing budget from the Budget itself, and allows you to factor in all the aspects of marketing expense, giving you a clear view of the main media spend you're planning.

The Budget now allows you to decide whether you are targeting Return on Investment, or Return on Sales to achieve the required profit, and it reports on the budget gross margin and return on sales, as well as the budget return on investment. Now that is a comprehensive view!

Other 'Powerhouse' tools now more readily accessible include the Investment Analyser and The Debt Tracker. These tools provide an easier, and clearer insight into the financial impact of what you're planning than you would get otherwise, and they make use of sophisticated analysis techniques not usually available to small and medium businesses.

With new flexibility, h new accessibility, and improved access and navigation, Version 9 is a clear step ahead!

Take Care With Web Optimisation
Last month 'Management Memos' referred to new forms of advertising and promotion that all businesses, whether small or large, can use. When it comes to web marketing, getting traffic to your website can be a real headache.

Enter 'Google' and 'Search Engine Optimisation', of 'SEO' for short. Getting a first page ranking on Google is both absolutely imperative for good results, and very hard o get. SEO sets out to make sure you get it.

Of course, getting a SEO specialist is worthwhile exercise, but it does not come cheaply. Fortunately, it works most of the time, and most people are happy. But wait! There is a new phenomenon.

It's called 'fear of Google', or FOG for short. It's that feeling you get when you sit bolt upright in bed in sheer terror at how much your livelihood relies upon an algorithm. Traffic to your website, the clicks that result in sales leads, indeed your entire presence in cyberspace, hinge on a search engine algorithm - that's the formula for selecting the ranking web sites, and it is as closely guarded a secret as the recipe for Coca-Cola.

But there is one important difference, as journalist Julian Lee reported last month, in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald: "That formula can change any time and you won't even know it, until, that is, your company's ranking on Google's all important home page sinks like a stone to the bottom of a well. Or rises to the top. The company regularly makes changes to it but does not feel inclined to tell people, yet the ranking of a company's website on Google's page can mean the difference between staying in business and going bust.

One that fell victim to such a change was the Sydney-based online training company Braincorp International. It was an effective user of ... search engine optimisation - where tweaks in the website's code and intelligent use of keywords on a site improves the volume or quality of traffic to it. Braincorp used to get about 200 sales leads a day through Google; that dropped to 10 a day when, without warning, Google changed its algorithm. The company went into liquidation in January. The tweaking of Google's algorithm was understood to be a significant factor."

So, why depend on an algorithm? You can drive traffic to your website using a wide variety of techniques.  That way, you are really in control!

If you are a small or medium business, we recommend that you use a number of other marketing techniques to drive web traffic to your site. Depending on 'Google' can be expensive, and it is certainly uncertain!

You may need some help to make the most of your website  and its marketing strengths. It costs nothing to discuss it with My Red Zebra, and it might cost you a lot not to talk it over!

If you'd like to find out more about how to make measurably more in your business right now, talk to us, or ask us a question here! Remember, there's no charge or obligation.

This same offer applies in New Zealand. Click Here!

McNicol Williams Management & Marketing Services is a Small Business Advisor listed with the Small Business Victoria, and has presented The Red Zebra program under its auspices. This listing requires that the first hour's consultation is always free. So when we say "No charge or obligation", we mean it!