Tag Archives: Epicom

Don’t Finish Last! Create a Strong Company Culture!

3 Apr

Everyone has had that job before; the one you dread every time your alarm clock rings at 9 am. It wasn’t the overwhelming amount of work you would have to do that made you take longer to get dressed, but instead the environment that beat the dreadful drum of disappointment in your head. You weren’t quite sure whether it was your job, your coworkers, or your 2×2 cubicle, but something about going to work just didn’t seem eventful.

While working is not always going to be similar to your favorite busch garden’s field trip when you were seven, it shouldn’t be something you consistently dread. A lot of what we associate our job with is not necessarily the work at hand, it’s the people you work with; the respect and appreciation acknowledged, your room for growth, and the overall company morale you face every day. It’s the company’s culture that can make or break your commitment to your job.

Having worked in different industries with varying jobs, I have been subjected to some of the best and worst company cultures around. I have been at Epicom for three months now, and this startup is definitely one that understands the importance of company culture.

Every employee’s time, opinions, knowledge, and strengths are all identified and recognized on a daily basis. Regardless of their position at the company, every voice is heard equally and with high regard. This recognition allows the company to grow together and compliment each other, which is exactly what the staff is doing. Different traditions are also in place such as “New employee Lunch” and “Wednesday Pint Night” to help employees bond and get to know each other. It’s not only the effort given by the company, but the time, principles, and values that form it. These steps are what so many companies forget to take with their employees.

Everyone can go to work, and everyone can do their work. But it’s the desire to grow and build with a company that only your company culture can create. Going the extra mile regardless of the feat is only something someone is willing to do when they identify with their company. A company’s culture is always subject to change as the business grows, but such as Christmas and Easter, somethings sustain even with time. If you don’t want to finish last in this growing economy, remember to create a company culture you would want to wake up for every morning.

Epicom_Team_Picture_May2012altered

Manage your Marketing before it Manages You

22 Feb

Finishing up my third week here at Epicom, I can honestly say I have learned a lot. While getting up to speed with our SugarCRM system, custom integrations and partners’ products, I have also started to dive into the strategic marketing efforts behind them.

And while I was extremely excited to begin strategizing and collaborating with my team, there was a part of me that was extremely nervous. It has been awhile since I’ve had the wide range of responsibilities this internship allots me, so I didn’t even know where to begin. And even before starting I had to brush up on my social media skills and marketing software knowledge. So as you can imagine, I felt like I was juggling swords while simultaneously balancing on a tightrope. Trying to learn all the recent updates in twitter, linkedin and every other social media avenue, as well as learn the characteristics of all the current softwares and integrations at the same time seemed almost impossible.

But with determination and motivation comes hard work and progress. I began immediately and everything else seemed to fall into place. In the field of marketing, managing your time appropriately is extremely essential in the flow and function of your company. Not only because it helps to navigate your efforts, but also because it creates the atmosphere you subject to your clients and your staff.

Below, I have created a list of the 5 most essential tips I found helped me manage my time and my marketing efforts. These factors played an instrumental role in organizing my work ethic, my thought process, and how I attacked and accomplished each goal.

1. Prioritize and Organize

Nothing is more essential than prioritizing. Everything cannot get done immediately. But it is important to organize and outline which tasks must be done first. Then you can create a list of other tasks that need to be accomplished by level of importance. Organizing your thoughts as well as your tasks is the first step. Once this is done, now you have something tangible you can look at as a reference, rather than running around with a million thoughts and not a single record of any of them.

2. Find a Source/ Outlet for Scheduling

The wonderful world of the interweb offers you a way to simplify almost anything. There are numerous outlets and programs out there to help make your day more efficient and useful. Find these and use them! For instance, I use Hootsuite to help schedule my social media announcements, as well as Basecampto organize my to-do lists. While I also have written to-do lists on my desk, everyone knows these can vanish just as easily as they were created. It is helpful to have something tangible, online and available at any time. There are also many other programs out there to help you manage some of your marketing efforts, and to consolidate your thoughts as well as your materials.

3. Motivate Your Team/ Your Office to be Involved

There is nothing more helpful and resourceful as group effort. Your co-workers are there to help you, so use their input and their advice. By involving your co-workers you get a wider range of support and intel. Don’t expect them to create your marketing campaigns, or write your press releases, but during your weekly meetings, mention your progress or some of your ideas, and ask if they have any suggestions. Everyone’s efforts only works toward benefiting the entire company. People are also always willing to give their opinion on a subject or matter, so use this to your benefit! Having other people’s recommendations and opinions may save you time consistently altering your material.

4. Create Quality Material

Everyone knows quality always wins over quantity. When it comes to marketing, the same applies. People would rather have quality materials exposed to them, than a million different useless and annoying marketing efforts thrown their way. So when it comes to drafting your strategy and your actual materials, make it count! Put purpose and effort into what you’re creating. Don’t just create a newsletter to have one. If your marketing efforts are lacking quality, they will feel as though your products and services are as well. So whether you are writing for your blog, creating a brochure, or organizing a drip campaign, make sure your work has quality and substance behind it.

5. Keep Measuring Your Efforts

Lastly, measuring your efforts can pinpoint exactly what is working, and what needs improvement. The essence of marketing is to engage your customers, and to consistently acquire and retain them. But if your approach is not working, or your targets are misplaced, how will you know unless you gauge your efforts? Paying attention to what is not working, can help steer you into the direction of what is working! There are numerous websites that can help you monitor these efforts. Google Analytics, Alexa.com, and Compete.com are just a few out there that can help you know how your websites are doing and what content visitors are focusing on. Besides these, there are many other useful resources out there that can help you improve your marketing efforts and become a more successful marketer!

Overall, closing up my third week, these 5 tips have helped me to manage my work as well as organize my efforts. It is hard to sit back and collect your thoughts, but it is necessary. Staying organized and creative are all extremely important facets to marketing. Regardless of your workload, it is important to stay focused and remember your goals. These 5 tips definitely have worked for me these past few weeks. While it may still be hard at times to maintain a balance, having a key strategy and organizing your efforts can definitely help you effectively manage your marketing!

Start-Ups that Help You Start Smart

8 Feb

Upon moving to Austin this past August, I was introduced to the wonderful world of start-up companies. I never quite understood how much these companies actually move mountains until I had the great opportunity of joining one this month. Seeing as though I’m from Virginia, where what we lack in high rises we make up for in national parks, I could not come to imagine how much start-ups help mold Austin into the great city it has become.

I had the wonderful opportunity of joining Epicom this February. Since my arrival, I have been able to see how much better this company is to any corporate chain. Being a leader and partner in providing numerous industries with CRM products, Epicom not only develops and customizes its products, they provide each customer with an efficient and effective team of engineers to help train, educate, and assist you throughout the way.

So I know some people may be wondering what CRM may stand for, because at first it may seem like a doozie! But it stands for Customer Relations Management. Essentially we use CRM in nearly every aspect of doing business. However, the key to CRM is staying organized and updated, and this is where Epicom comes in! They provide you with a program named SugarCRM, that can be customized to meet the needs of any specific field or industry you work in, or with. They can design your software to assure your reports, calendars, campaigns, and accounts work together swiftly and smoothly. They also provide you with training for your program in order to get you ramped up and ready!

So as you can imagine, I was extremely excited to join a team who works so hard to provide such an innovative and important software to their clients. But that was not the only upside of joining the team. I was also greeted with one of the nicest staffs I have ever encountered! While friendly faces are not hard to find in Austin, the Epicom staff goes above and beyond to make sure I feel right at home. The office is filled with a charming spirit, that allows everyone to look forward to their day, and one that I find motivating.

I am extremely excited to become an Epicomer, and cannot wait to see what the future holds! I know SugarCon is just around the corner, and I am excited to see what the company has to present. I am continuously learning CRM and all the magic that happens within it, but with Epicom as my guide, and Sugar as my new found friend, I am sure everything will be great!

Businesses and Social Media Expectations #realtalk

12 Jun

Recently SugarCRM recognized Epicom for its marketing efforts. A large part of Epicom’s marketing strategy includes using social media as an outlet for communication and promotion. Social media is my passion/addiction. However, it has occurred to me that many businesses aren’t seeing the value in social media while others expect far too much from it.

What is Social Media Marketing?
Countless times I have heard professionals speak about social media marketing as a branding and marketing cure all. “It’s a promotion strategy!” FALSE. Social media itself is not a “strategy.” Rather, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and the like offer an outlet for communication, making them powerful tools for strategic planning. The impact of the plan comes from having something to communicate.

Before delving into the social mediasphere, you need to answer a few questions.

-What is the voice of my business? (Think Barbara Walters or John Stewart?)
-Who is my audience? (Stay at home moms or professionals on-the-go?)
-What am I trying to say? (“This is what I had for lunch today,” or trending topics in tech?)

The Voice
Did you watch this season? So good. Anyway, the new generation craves a connection with everything. They don’t want to just buy a sweater. They want to buy a sweater from a label that they identify with. Social media allows for that identity connection. When it comes to corporate tweeting, it’s important to figure out how you want your company to present itself on the web. While your online presence is young, you have time to play around with this.

Warning: sales tweets lose followers. Sales tweets are just like spam. “I love reading SPAM mail,” said no one ever.  All business, all the time is boring. No one is trolling your twitter to read about your ROI. Social media allows your audience to see that your company is made of real people. I’m not saying tweet office gossip, but don’t be afraid to tweet about office outings or give a shout out on an employee’s birthday. Consumers want to know they are doing business with actual humans.

Even a B2B business needs to engage its audience. This includes RT (Retweeting), responding to Tweets, contributing bloggers from various departments, and overall interaction with the audience. Businesses, like people, love being noticed, mentioned and praised. Flattery will get you far in the world of social media.

An Audience of Who?
It may prove to be more useful to figure out who you are trying to preach to before you stand up to the podium. If you’re marketing for a tech company, chances are retweeting stay at home mommy bloggers isn’t improving credibility (unless you work for Diaper Genie). Figure out your market and who is making the decisions. Chances are, that’s who you are trying to reach.

Tell Me Something Good
Nothing is more annoying than a pointless text.
Sender: “Hey, what’s up?”
Recipient: “Nothing”
Sender: “Cool”

If you don’t have anything to say, you’ll flat line. It’s meaningless and over all, obnoxious. This is where companies can fail in terms of social media. “No one is clicking through to our blog!” Are you putting out meaningful content? Not all the content has to be earth shaking, but it should have a reason. Don’t overlook the power of repurposing content, as well. Maybe a blogpost from a few months ago deserves some updates for reuse. Regardless, content should have a reason: to inform, to educate, to entertain, to promote etc.

Additionally, if your lag time between blog posts is longer than Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy, don’t expect many returning readers. Readers not only want fresh content, they want frequency. During a scholarly survey I took of seven friends via gchat, 100% said they spend the first hour of work reading  industry related blogs and newsletters. If you don’t update regularly, people forget about you and stop frequenting your site.

If you walk away with one beacon of knowledge, remember this: social media is not a “strategy” on its own. For an effective strategic effort with social media, know who you’re talking to, what you want to say, and how it needs to be perceived.

Moving Pictures

28 Oct

The InnoTech trailer is up! This is the first time-lapse I have ever had a hand in creating. It would not have been possible without Epicom’s investment in QuickTime Pro, Amanda’s idea of employing this technique for the set-up of Epicom’s booth, and Justin, who knows a thing or twenty about time-lapse and generously lent his expertise and intervalometer. For those new to the concept, the video consists of a series of pictures that, in this case, are taken every 3 seconds (the intervalometer is responsible for this setting). There is no actual moving picture, but when placed back-to-back, a motion effect is created. We plan on doing another time-lapse for the construction of Epicom’s new office space. This was kind of our test run. As you can see, we had a lot of fun with this experiment and I am very proud of the way it turned out!

 

The “Tips and Tricks: Studio” videos have yet to be posted due to logistical issues. The good news is that more time has been freed to look into video layout designs that will best suit Epicom’s site.

Yesterday I had the privilege of scouting locations for the upcoming Tech Talk on the integration between EchoSign and SugarCRM at Bill’s house. An amount of time was blocked off so that I could play around with the framing, lighting, and background until I got it just right. Bill is an experienced and knowledgeable photographer, and since photography is the backbone of cinematography, I found the advice he gave me to be very beneficial. Especially in interview settings where the camera is stationary on a tripod and the only thing moving is the subject’s talking head, the process of composing a shot is almost identical to that of a photo. In video (or any field for that matter), preparation is key. Time is money, so it is crucial to have your ducks in a row before you execute. The video, not the ducks. I feel good and ready this time and am very excited about this Tech Talk! We shoot (footage) next week.

Chasing Inno Tech

24 Oct

Last Thursday there was a strange and unusual occurrence – I was awake and at the office at 7 in the morning. Fortunately, the reasoning sufficed. Amanda and I were there to carpool to Inno Tech, an annual conference in Austin that brings industry professionals together to share trend insights, demonstrate recent innovations, and network. It is a place where members of the local tech community can exchange ideas about where the community currently stands and where they believe it is headed. My job was to capture the energy of the atmosphere, particularly from Epicom’s experience. The final video will aim to summarize Epicom’s role within the event as well as the event itself. We recorded a few select presentations followed with interviews from the speakers and I was able to snag additional interviews with willing attendees inbetween time. Our neighboring booth was sponsored by a non-profit organization that upholds online security. One presenter I had the privilege of speaking with is working with the state to find ways to make the internet accessible to people with disabilities. There’s nothing quite like listening to interesting ideas that come from sharp people, dedicated to securing the future for the better. The more I find out about the tech world, the more I like it and recognize it’s essentialism. It being my first conference and my first on-the-spot shooting challenge, the experience was very exciting for me personally. I had many opportunities to practice pulling focus and stabilizing handheld shots. I love shooting B roll at social events, because if you are skilled at it, the shots are candid, which in my opinion, makes for the best footage. The strangers I became acquainted with were so easy to engage and eager to help that I felt welcomed as a newbie and proud to be living in Austin.

The video will be posted within the next week or so. A teaser trailer will be submitted tomorrow that includes a time-lapse of Epicom’s set up of it’s designated space within the Inno Tech conference – Booth # 512!

Top Tech Applications, Websites and Tools I Will Use After Epicom

26 Aug

These are in no particular order, but they are on here because they provide me the most use. I can’t wait to take the skills I gained from these great applications, websites, and tools with me in my career.

Pardot: www.pardot.com

Knowing how to use Pardot and learning about marketing automation is something that is going to get me other jobs. I am figuring how I can stay up-to-date with marketing automation software for when I leave Epicom. Pardot is the most hands-on and practical software I have ever used. It enables user to expand their marketing efforts, then gives important data to revise and continue communicating with more and more leads.

SugarCRM: www.sugarcrm.com

I mentioned this in my last post but I could run a business using only Sugar. It is easy to use. It showed me ways I never thought of to organize things. It also made everything simple with account-centric organization. Plus, Sugar give great insight into a business, which makes spotting strengths and weaknesses in a business plan easier, faster, and before it hurts the company.

Basecamp by 37 Signals: www.basecamphq.com

I’ve already signed up for a free account with Basecamp’s sister version Ta-Da for my next internship. I am looking for an Android app as I write this. Basically, it is the cleanest user interface I have ever used–uncomplicated. I like it because I can go into a meeting and add to-do items as they are being discussed so nothing gets lost in conversation. I can give my to-dos dates, and filter based on the due-dates I assigned.

Klout: www.klout.com

Klout is more of a “for now” tool. Klout connects different social media accounts and measures the user’s influence. I say “for now,” because it needs some improvement and is in a start-up stage. I am waiting to see what happens to Klout, but it is excellent at directing social media efforts towards communicating more.

Tweet-later: www.SocialOomph.com

SocialOomph is a tweet-later service. Facebook and Twitter can be set up under once account, and tweets and status updates can be made from the platform. It is really great for content generation, and allows me to not be plugged into Twitter all day. I can set up out tweets for the week, and with the Professional version I could set up a tweet schedule. It is a really great tool to get out content. However, it doesn’t replace interacting on Twitter and Facebook, because that is why people are on the sites.

Meet Up: www.meetup.com

I am disappointed about being college graduate. I don’t miss taking tests or writing (some) papers, but I do miss learning and discussing new ideas. I will continue to use Meet Up to find other people interested in the same things I am, and more importantly, find groups for new topics I am interested in learning about.

That wraps up the best tools I discovered at Epicom. Hope you find them just as useful.

LinkedIn vs. Google+

26 Jul

I was invited to Google+ by one of my coworkers at Epicom before I left for vacation. At that point, Google+ was still full/completely closed. Yesterday, I finally registered my account.

Most of the Google+ articles I read discuss Google+ as Facebook’s rival. And Google is Facebook’s rival. However, the real loser in the launch of Google+ is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn‘s Jeff Weiner, who recently complained that both social networks could not “coexist.

Based off my first experiences, I believe him.

The brilliant part about social media is that it allows the company to interact with the consumer at every stage of a company’s development. However, the practices that work extremely well for B2C most of the time don’t hold up as well for B2B.

Before the launch of Google+, many people I know complained about LinkedIn. For a social network that is based around the idea of connecting professionals or social media for B2B, it does a mediocre job.

Most of the LinkedIn profiles are not “as complete” as they could be.

Most people do not check their LinkedIn accounts as frequently as they check Facebook, Twitter and their mail.

It is easy to build a network on LinkedIn, but for social media, LinkedIn offers such limited ways to interact with people. Google+ new marketing tool known as circles puts LinkedIn ages behind.

I am more than likely not the first person to note the benefit of circles for professional connections, targeted B2B and B2C marketing for small businesses.

  1. Google+ circles allows users to put professional connections based off of certain criteria in specific groups. Why LinkedIn loses, users can interact with their best friends and their boss on one platform.
  2. Circles allows smart small businesses to target certain campaigns and group customers into would like this or would like that groups. Small businesses can define the customer characteristics and launch campaigns fitting the customer’s buyer persona. This is B2B and B2C.
  3. Video conferencing creates a new stage for interaction. Where LinkedIn’s discussion boards are filled with sales pitches and not-to-active conversations. Video conferencing with Google+ works for answering customer concerns, virtual board meetings, and of course, talking to friends.
Newt Gingrich holds a Press Conference using Google+ video conferencing:

These three things make Google+ better than LinkedIn for B2B and social media for professionals. Even if Google+ doesn’t usurp Facebook, Google+ for business is looking promising.

Social Media Database, SocialCRM & Planning for a Better Business

22 Jul

I signed on to work with Epicom fresh out of college because I knew CRM was something bigger than anything I learned about in school. I stand by that statement too.

The last internship I finished was with a full-service advertisement and public relations agency. In my transition from agency to Epicom, I made it my goal to hang out with the agency’s interactive and social media department.

With the interactive team, I learned about different tools to use, different communities outside of Facebook, and above all the importance of being a part of the conversation and how to easily be in the conversation without devoting too much time.

As soon as I started researching for my interview with Epicom, I SumbledUpon SocialCRM. When I think about my lessons from the agency about tailoring messages for each medium, being a part of the conversation and above all evolving from what people are saying and compare it to customer relationship management, I get really excited for my future as a consumer and in business.

The biggest flaw I see with SocialCRM is the inability to easily browse everything people are saying or have said about a brand/service/experience. Even with Google Alerts, HootDeck, Facebook pages, hashtags and other applications, it is near impossible to go back to something that could have been valuable for relationship planning.

Once all the kinks are figured out, which is happening every day, the ability to collaborate to improve business based on what the customer wants will become instant. Right now, there is a lot of focus on customer service in CRM and social media. Customer service is normally after the problem such as an apology on Twitter for a bad bagel or a mistake from an employee. SocialCRM needs to continue on the path of making the customer relationship stronger, but a lot of what is said exposes valuable flaws in business.

The next big step for CRM is the ability to log social media comments based specific characteristics, and then be able to shape a better business around the aggregated comments. Sure most companies are listening but are they retaining?

The fundamental problem with social media is that everything is permanent but it is quickly forgotten.

A better business experience can be found. SocialCRM needs to aggregate conversations for the long-term customer relationship, not the here-and-now discussion. Smart businesses are already doing this but SocialCRM needs to step up and make it easier.

What Else Can a CRM Do?

16 Jun

I have been “learning crm” for a month now. I am definitely in a weird spot. I am stuck between learning and knowledgeable. Not expert, by any means.

I think a lot of people start with their crm, and they learn how to use it. Then, they get to the place I am at where they know “enough.” I want to emphasize “enough” because there is so much more a crm can be doing.

It is just a matter of figuring out what is needed. This task alone is definitely more difficult than actually learning crm.

But, I am going to continue to explore and I urge you to think of what else your crm can be doing for you.

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