Archive for the ‘Database’ Category

Seven Steps to Stop the Cash Flow Roller Coaster – Funnel Marketing is the Key

Sometimes your sales are going through the roof and then suddenly they come to a halt, the work disappears and you must scramble to start your marketing cycle from scratch again. This economic roller coaster ride is all too common for small business owners.

Landing one or two very large clients can provide consistent work and cash flow but presents a potential danger, too. Putting all your eggs in one basket and focusing on these, while failing to prospect for new clients, isn’t always wise.

The roller coaster problem is compounded by the fact that small business owners are often required to wear many different hats at the same time: meeting deadlines, addressing client concerns or employee demands, and dealing with cash-flow issues. On top of this, there are personal and family matters, which can be inescapable when working from a home office.

When you’re busy and the business is humming along nicely, it’s easy to neglect the very thing that got the sales going in the first place. Then, when sales drop off, panic sets in again. How can you turn this feast-or-famine cycle into a smooth, stress-free ride?

The Solution: Seven Steps to Keeping Your Sales Pipeline Filled and Flowing

Picture your sales cycle as a funnel, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. You need to keep as many prospective clients as possible entering the top of your funnel, then filtering down to your required number of new clients and signed contracts coming from the bottom. The idea is to always keep a constant stream of prospects entering your funnel.

Step One: Decide How Many New Customers or Sales You Need Each Month

What number would be ideal? What is the minimum number of clients (and sales revenue) you can get by with? How many is too many, and could strain your resources and compromise your service?

Be crystal clear about who you are marketing to. If you haven’t done so already, create a profile of your ideal customer.

Step Two: Understand Your Sales Cycle

How many initial prospects do you need to contact in order to make a presentation? How many presentations do you need to make to gain one new client? What is your closing ratio? It boils down to a numbers game.

Step Three: Select Activities to Meet Your Prospects

Based on the number of initial contacts that you need to make, how many networking events will you need to attend, flyers will you need to mail, calls will you have to make?

What sort of prospect-generating activities will work best for you, fit your personality and put you in front of your target clients?

Remember: When you’ve made these contacts, stay in touch with them, nurture them and keep your name in front of them.

Step Four: Your Sales-Cycle Timing

In order to plan and predict cash flow, you need to understand the timing of your sales cycle. What is the average length of time from the initial contact to closing the sale and signing the contract or selling your product?

Step Five: Your Marketing Budget

Establish a marketing budget. Be aware of the cost in time as well as dollars. A series of print ads in the local newspaper or trade journal may cost thousands of dollars, but take very little of your time; whereas attending networking events is relatively inexpensive, but will take many hours of your time. Don’t forget to compare the cost of gaining a new customer versus the cost of marketing to existing customers.

Step Six: Decide on Your Marketing Strategy

Select marketing activities that fit your budget, your available time and your personality. Consistency is key — make marketing activities part of your daily routine!

Be selective You can’t do everything, so choose a few activities that will work well for you.

Be realistic: Choose activities that you will do without procrastinating. Know yourself, and if you have issues that may sabotage your plan, you have two options:

a) Get help and change

b) Hire someone else to do it

Be creative: Don’t just stick with what is familiar or comfortable. Try something different — think outside the box. Choose more than one marketing approach.

Study other companies that are marketing successfully, talk to those responsible and find out what they’re doing, and how and why it’s working well for them.

Step Seven: Track Your Progress Regularly

Evaluate how well your plan is working. Find out which marketing methods are the most effective and are producing the best return on your dollar and time. Keep a log in a simple spreadsheet and track everything.

After analyzing their marketing results, a maid service discovered that their expensive display ad in the Yellow Pages generated inquiries only during the peak season, when they were already working at maximum capacity. However, less-expensive, but attractive door hangers with a discount coupon produced long term clients in just the right neighborhoods, enabling their teams to be more efficient.

The Bottom Line: Balance and Consistency

Your current customers need your attention too. Servicing them is a priority. However, you can never afford to “put marketing on the back burner for now,” which can be especially tempting if you don’t enjoy marketing. With limited time available, you must become as well organized, efficient and resourceful as possible. Use technology to your advantage; create and maintain a good database to communicate with customers and prospects. Employ the best possible contact management software for a business of your type and size.

Never buy into the misconception that you only need to market during slow times. No matter how busy you are, continue marketing. To stay ahead in business and avoid stressful cash flow ups and downs, marketing activities must become a regular part of your week. Set up your marketing plan, faithfully follow it, and enjoy a smooth, hassle-free ride!

SQL Server Tutorials

The MS SQL server tutorials provide all the details needed for understanding the databases and how they perform. The user must know what SQL server is and what is required to make full use of it. SQL server 2008 and SQL server 2000 are the most widely used applications.

SQL Server: The tutorials about SQL Server have lessons about the server, different editions, how to create database, creating table, adding data, designer, views, stored procedures, logins, linked servers, and integration services. Basically the MS SQL server is a management system that is created to work on different platforms like laptops or large servers. It is used as the backend system for many websites and it can help a number of users. There are many tools that help in maintenance of database and other tasks like programming.

Server: The database systems that are based on server are programmed in such a way that they run with the help of a central server and any number of users will be able to have access to the data at the same time with the help of an application. The users can do multiple tasks like accessing the data, updating of data, and anything that they want to do. SQL server has features that help the application in all its functions.

Editions: There are many editions to SQL server 2008 and the user will choose the one that suits his requirements. For a free database management, the user will choose the Express or Compact edition. There is also an Evaluation edition which permits the user to try the Server 2008 for about 180 days. Some of the notable editions of SQL Server 2008 are:

Enterprise edition that has better availability and security for applications related to business; Standard edition that provides easy management of data management and to run departmental applications; workgroup edition for secured synchronization at the remote end, and to run branch applications; Developer edition that can be made use of by one user in testing, developing, and demonstrating the programs in any number of systems; Web edition for web hosters; Express edition for learning purposes; Compact edition meant for applications for desk tops, mobile services and web customers; and Evaluation edition for evaluating the purposes till the trial period is over.

Creating database: SQL server makes use of SQL Server Management Studio as the console for administration. It helps in creating databases, views, tables and so on, and to access the data, configuring the accounts, and to transfer data to other databases. The Object Explorer guides the user to databases and to files. The user can get results by writing queries on data. Any amount of databases can be created with SQL server Management. After creating a database, the user can change the configuration of the database with the help of options available. Tables can also be created with the help of the options. The user can control the type of data in each column and thus have integrity of the data maintained. Options such as editing and adding data are also available to the user. Re-entering the data is facilitated by writing a SQL script. The user can use and run the SQL query for inserting data, updating it or deleting it.

Query designer: This interface permits the user to create queries to be run against the database and to create queries which will include views or tables. It is very useful for the beginners who want to learn to use SQL as the syntax need not be remembered for creating queries.

View: A view in SQL server is store din the database and when run, it permits the user to see the outcome of it from multiple databases. This is particularly useful when many users want to access the data at various levels. They can have access to specific rows or columns of a table.

Stored procedures: These are of great value to the programmers when they work on databases. The programmers can make the procedures work from either the SQL Server management or any other application based on their requirement. The advantages of the stored procedures are many, such as quicker execution, less traffic, and security. The user can configure SQL server security accounts, create linked servers, database maintenance, create scheduled jobs, replication, text search and many more.

Logins: SQL Server helps in creating user logins for every individual who wants to access the server. Based on the requirement of the user, the logins can be created to enable access. Not everyone should be provided with access to server role. The server role is useful for performing any task in the server, create options of configuration, help in managing logins and permissions, and managing files.

Database Schema: It is a means of grouping the data and works as a container. The user can be assigned permission to a single schema so that he can access only the ones that they are permitted to. The schemes can be configured in a database. Linked Servers permit the users to connect to another server remotely.

MS SQL server is a very effective application useful in manipulating the data. Any website that has more data will make use of the server for effective functioning.

Advantages of Web Database Solution

These days, more and more business organizations are becoming aware of the systems like database which simplify the work by consolidating information at one place. Online database system is one such vital element of your business which aids you in maintaining excellent client relationship by organizing and securing large amount of information efficiently.

Database system can help you in identification of the key trends and important data regarding the customers. Now, most organizations are choosing database applications which are web-enabled and have a desktop platform. These applications do not require any complicated abstraction models or codes since they are Meta data generated. Thus, they are suitable for both the beginners as well as advanced users. Simple web forms can be conveniently built to collect, organize and import data with greater efficacy.

With this web-enabled database, you can access your data at any time and from any place in the globe.

This database software is quite flexible and is a good choice for all types of business environments. However, selection of the software is a crucial decision for which the size of your firm and budget should be considered. With the right selection, your rows and columns of data can be turned into valuable information that can drive your business. You can design unlimited customized databases as per your business needs and workflow. You may search on the internet and find certain remarkable database solutions which can be used on almost all operating systems. The web-based database system helps in managing online workflows such as reminding assignees, designating roles, prompting actions, building audit loops and receiving inputs.

This system can support everything including a few files to thousands of documentations. The data collection can also be simplified by setting up HTML web forms as well as applications to gather data from employees, clients and partners.

In this technical era, the web database applications are growing ever more convenient. Indeed database system is a boon to any business organization. With an access to information from any place with just a press of a button, many organizations have increased their Return on Investment.

A Note About CD Text

The mastering process includes encoding CD text that can be recognized by home and car stereos, but not by iTunes or Windows Media Player. If you want your album information to show up for an internet connected media player such as iTunes or Windows Media Player you need to take additional steps after mastering. The process is simple and only takes a few minutes. All you need to do is submit your information to two major databases. The first database is Gracenote CDDB. Gracenote is used by media players such as iTunes, Winamp, and a few others. The second database is All Music Guide and is used by Windows Media Player. Follow the steps below to submit your information to these two major databases.

Gracenote CDDB submission:

1. Open your iTunes application. 2. Insert the CD that you want to submit. 3. After iTunes has recognized your CD, click on your audio CD and type in the artist, album, and track name along with any other information you wish to be stored on the database. 4. Check for typos as this information will be uploaded just as you have typed it. 5. Click the Advanced tab and then click Submit CD Track Names. 6. Your submissions have successfully been added to Gracenote. Allow 48 hours and check.

All Music Guide Submission:

Mail your retail ready CD to the following address:

All Media Guide

1168 Oak Valley Drive Ann Arbor, MI 48108

All Music Guide will take care of the rest. You will have to wait up to 6 weeks before your submissions are live.

Managing Database Systems For A Successful Business

Managing your database system needs crucial planning for greater business productivity. Information and record keeping in any business or organization is a very valuable factor in achieving goals for lifelong success. Handling your business files and other data for further growth and development of your business requires productive tools or software application programs that will tidy up everything and organize files and information in any way you want them to be to suit your preferences and special needs to make your organization or business become more productive.

Database Types and Characteristics

Database management systems in every company or organization are usually identified as either desktop database systems or server databases. These two types of systems are used according to the organization’s preferences and the volume of work or information it handles. If you are working alone in running your small business, you may opt for a desktop database system in dealing with all the information and records that your small business hold for your clients and for the entire business itself.

Bigger organizations or companies usually opt for larger databases system that will meet all their huge demands of information processing systems and bulk work that is generally catered by the server databases. Server databases are obviously more powerful than desktop databases. They are also more expensive than the desktop databases.

Choosing Your Own Database Management System

Your small business may eventually grow into a bigger one or may even develop into a huge company or corporation in the future. However, these foreseen growth and development will not just happen in a mouse click or a wink of an eye. This process needs hard work and proper management to flourish each day.

If you will have to examine your business development standards, you will actually realize that you have progressed from a one-man entrepreneur that slowly takes about 3-5 staff or employees after a year or two then expands to about 20 people or more in your workplace. Of course, you will not just calculate your employee fees here and other overhead expenses in deciding for your ideal database management system. Obviously, you could not deny the fact that your business is expanding so you need a more formal workplace or office space or even a small building that will meet your needs as a team or a stand-alone business body.

Considering these facts and changes, you now have to think of an ideal database system to manage information within your business. The good thing here is you still have the choice to use desktop database systems if you are thinking about your budget. However, since your business is growing and your human resources are noticeably increasing, it is even more recommended that you switch to server databases. This involves more money to set up such a system yet more rewarding when you become stable in dealing with it for greater productivity.

Evaluating Database Systems

Once you know what you actually need with your business information systems, your final step is to evaluate various options for success. Microsoft Access is a very popular desktop database system used by small businesses. This database application is very much affordable and simple in functionalities. Other desktop database applications that some users promote are FileMaker Pro, Lotus, Paradox and FoxPro.

For server databases, the popular options are IBM DB-2, Microsoft SQL server and Oracle. Server databases maybe costly yet offer the great advantage of providing detailed design and solution for a systematic collaboration and enhanced productivity.

It does not matter how big or small your business is by now. What actually matters is how well you manage your business through a well-planned database system and design for endless success in each coming year. Do your research very well and consider your own company’s needs to get your ideal database management solution for further success.

Peeling Back the Onion – Knowing the Attributes of an Effective Direct Marketing Database

The depth and quality of a marketer’s database is the key to a successful marketing campaign. It is only ideal to set up a database that will deliver sales leads and ensure increase in revenue. Direct marketing database is one of the most effective strategy you can adopt for your growing business.

It is the idea of generating leads from a detailed list of existing or potential customers. It is a targeted and inexpensive technique when properly executed. Essentially, it is a form of marketing driven by information about customers. The idea of a direct marketing approach goes beyond the straightforward marketing approach of a regular advertisement such as TV or radio, which the customer often discards. A lot of companies have been applying this trend in marketing. One of the best tools that you can use to apply this in your business is your direct marketing database.

Purchasing the business database from an outsourced company puts you in a greater advantage, they will attempt to identify qualified prospective customers by numerous demographic criteria and then market only to those businesses. What are the specific attributes of a direct marketing database to ensure a successful marketing campaign?

The database must be detailed enough to identify good leads- Customer’s information needs to be detailed enough in order for marketer’s to create a meaningful distinctions between those who are likely to purchase you offer and those who would be unqualified these are the people who can’t afford or who has no need of your products and services.

It must also be accurate so that the targeted recipients are reached-The marketer don’t need to store and update extraneous information of customers that do not have any compelling need. This means that even before the database is used, the marketer must also be really familiar with the market. This can be achieved through the help of the in house data and information or from an outside provider that really knows the demographics or other traits that characterizes a good prospective customers

It must be flexible enough to allow detailed manipulation and effective maintenance- Detail alone would not ensure a perfect and error-free database. If the mailing addresses or any other information are out of date, the information may be worthless. There are a lot of tools a marketer might use to update the data, you can change the address etc. If you are outsourcing from another company make sure that they have a system that they constantly update the information. Out-of-date records will only cost a lot of wasted money without any promise of returns. Having the accurate information on the database is crucial. If all the relevant information about potential customers is wrong the marketing strategy will really fail. Maintaining such an accurate data is a challenge, you can have your own in house data or you may also purchase this through commercial vendors.

There a lot of vendors that contains all the names and addresses suited for your target market. You’ll be ensured that there is a more detailed data on customers especially when you purchase it commercially. Most often than not all the information is maintained rigorously compared to doing it on your own. These companies usually have the system set up to maintain a data at a lower cost. Setting up a database is paramount in today’s business environment is the cheapest is not the best, inexpensive data are unlikely to have undergone maintenance. An effective direct marketing database is updated regularly, make sure that you look for a company that can deliver quality lead list. That can generate customers upon employing this strategy.

Microsoft SQL Azure – Microsoft Takes SQL Databases to the Clouds

A brand new Microsoft SQL technology just hit the marketplace on January 1, 2010. Or maybe it would be better to say that a re-branded Microsoft technology just hit the marketplace. Azure services is Microsoft’s most significant step into cloud computing. It functions as a complete platform in the cloud with computing, storage and fabric-tying individual systems into an integrated network that can balance processing load or share resources.

What is SQL Azure?

The part that is most pertinent for this review is how Azure relates to SQL. Microsoft used to call this service SQL Server Data Services and then SQL Services before recently changing it finally to SQL Azure. The name change just represents another step in the same direction that SQL server has already been headed with cloud computing.

SQL Azure provides data storage “in the cloud,” much like Amazon S3 and many Google Apps. One of the big advantages for SQL Azure is that relational queries can be made against data stored in the cloud, regardless of whether they are structured, semi-structured or unstructured documents. Besides making data queries, users can also search, analyze, or synchronize with SQL data stored by Azure.

Once your information is uploaded to SQL Azure, applications can make direct queries to the data in the cloud through the Internet. This works for local or cloud-based applications (such as applications that run in the computing portion of Microsoft’s Azure services). Provisionment and synchronization should be seamless between local SQL servers and the SQL Azure database. Microsoft also guarantees high fault tolerance by keeping multiple available copies of your data.

Why Use SQL Azure?

Microsoft claims that the major advantage SQL Azure provides is less maintenance. The service eliminates your need to store and manage SQL databases locally. In theory, administrators shouldn’t have to install database software or worry about setup, patching and managing their server systems. Nor are there hardware needs with servers, disaster recovery, or high availability. Physical maintenance and administration is unnecessary, so companies can feasibly save on staffing costs as well. If the headache of managing database servers is getting to you, this may be a great option.

One of the other advantages is easy scalability. If you need to increase or decrease your database storage, Microsoft takes care of that too. This is one of the differences between SQL Azure and other hosting services: data storage is distributed between multiple nodes and you simply pay as you go for the storage used. SQL Azure can work as an adjunct to existing database hardware. If you expect a sudden spike in data needs or even want to be prepared in case one happens unexpectedly, Azure can be available for heavy times, but you can return to local or other storage when the need is gone.

Another advantage of scalability is that it provides workable but cost-effective service for the database needs of small and medium-sized businesses.

Microsoft also expects Azure services to enable independent software writers who want to offer their software as a service (SaaS). Azure services can provide for all of the computing needs this model requires, but of course, SQL Azure would meet the database needs for this software. Feasibly, this could even simplify data security, since Microsoft is responsible for storing it. Line of Business (LOB) applications built on Azure computing services could use SQL Azure in the same way.

As with any kind of cloud computing, one final advantage is that the information is available for any applications or queries as long as they are connected to the Internet. But one related benefit of moving SQL databases to the cloud is that it consolidates data (such as databases in multiple departments of a large company) and integrates information better. This should enable more complex queries that stretch across multiple database tables.

Putting all of these together, the simple advantage is an economy of scale: the cost of letting Microsoft do SQL should be easily less than the total cost of hardware, software, and maintenance (TCO).

It’s All in the Details

Now the nitty-gritty. As far as programming model changes, most things stay the same, though a few details will be different. The core difference is that fully relational data has replaced an entity-based and ACE programming model. To access data, T-SQL is still the code, though developers will need to make a few changes to interact with the fully relational database service. Most data-access frameworks such as ADO.NET Data Services can still be used with minimal changes. Data transfer is through an XML-based format, the query language is T-SQL, and Tabular Data Stream is the protocol for internet access.

How is SQL Azure different from SQL Server? Azure works on top of SQL server. But SQL Azure also adds new relational data functions within the cloud. The biggest difference is as stated above -ease-of use, simplicity, and availability everywhere. The CTP is available for free on Microsoft’s web-site, but get there fast. Some things will no longer be available for free at the end of January. Microsoft has made significant changes to the software in the last few months, and there are major differences in each of the production versions.

And what about pricing? Microsoft offers 1 GB of relational database space for $ 9.99/month, up to 10 GB for $ 99.99/month, and data transfer fees of 10 cents in and 15 cents per BG. There are also a few options: you can pay as you go with no monthly commitment and fee, or you can get better prices by committing to 6 months with a base fee.

No surprise-the new Azure services definitely represent Microsoft’s commitment to the future of cloud computing. SQL Azure is a huge part of this innovation and provides great support for web 2.0 applications. The greatest benefit is probably for small and medium-size businesses or independent software writers that need cost-effective storage and computing. If Microsoft’s hunch about future computing is right (and it probably is), getting into the market first is a good strategy. It will only remain to be seen whether SQL Azure manages to stay the best cloud SQL database technology available.

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