November 3, 2009

Windows 7: Maybe the Best Ever

By Steve Bowers

Hi. My name is Steve and I’m a Microsoft fan. There. I said it and I’m not ashamed.

I’ve made my career using their products and everything our company produces is based on Uncle Bill’s technology. Even so, I was embarrassed by the initial versions of Vista. It was clearly released before it was “ready” and became a PR nightmare or the company whose software is estimated to run more than 90% of the business computing machines world-wide. Microsoft fixed most of the early problems with service-packs, but the damage was done.

As a result, over the last 4 years Apple has enjoyed a slightly increased share of the Market despite inferior hardware (plus they’ve produced those commercials that make my blood boil).

However, Microsoft is now staging a huge come-back with Windows 7. A few days after it was released to the public, we installed Windows 7 on one of our older machines in our development office. The guinea pig pc is 5 years old and has no special hardware. Here’s the verdict. Windows 7 installed with 0 problems. It was the simplest and most problem-free install of an operating system I’ve ever performed.

To make sure it wasn’t a fluke, I decided to install Windows 7 on my trusty lap-top that I use every single day of my life. Lap-tops, as you may know, can be tricky to “rebuild”. They have all kinds of special drivers that can be a problem if not handled correctly. I wiped the system clean and installed Windows 7 from the ground-up. Not only did Windows 7 install perfectly, it has improved the performance of my lap-top’s power management and battery saving features.
If you want another opinion, look at this. PC Magazine said this of Windows 7: “It's far and away the best OS we've ever seen from Microsoft. “ Here’s a link to their full review:,2817,2348899,00.asp

That is high praise indeed.

October 26, 2009

Boring Brochure or Super Salesperson?

I challenge you to ask yourself a few tough questions about your company’s website.

1. Is your website stale and just taking up space on the web?
2. Does your website bring value to your business?
3. Is your website a boring brochure or a dynamic, super salesperson?

Hopefully, you feel great about your response to these questions and you’re pleased with your website – it is current and operates as an online salesperson bringing great value to your business.

If you are frustrated with the performance of your website and it is not an online salesperson for your business, keep reading.

Ok, first, a few more questions related to sales.
· Would you hire a salesperson and never check on his/her performance?
· Would you keep a salesperson that has a poor product or service presentation?
· Would you retain a salesperson that doesn’t bring value to your business?

Your answer to each of these questions was probably, “Of course not!” Salespeople are constantly working towards closing the deal. Now, take a look at your virtual salesperson; your website. In order to truly maximize your website, it is imperative to start with a sales mentality.

Every interaction with an online visitor should be viewed as a sales process. I’m not saying your site should be converted to an E-commerce website – that’s totally different. I mean that your website should be working hard; using every opportunity to build relationships and generate interest and credibility to drive new prospects to your business, just like a salesperson.

In order to generate interest and credibility your website has to be a great communicator. Your online salesperson must be:

1. Current and fresh
2. Visually pleasing with a good color palette and high quality graphics and imagery
3. Easy to navigate
4. Updated frequently with content that is relevant and engaging

The entire goal of your website is to engage the prospect or customer and encourage him/her to take action. The website ‘call-to-action’ is like a salesperson wrapping up his/her presentation and asking for the business. That online ‘call-to-action’ should trigger a sequence of events which either drive or support sales such as generating a lead by capturing prospect data.

Of course, an online super salesperson needs to be coupled with various marketing and media campaigns to drive traffic to your website – but that’s a completely different topic. (I’ll cover that in a future post.)

If your site isn’t bringing value to your business, I encourage you to take the necessary steps to make it a vital part of your sales team. You may need to partner with a marketing agency and/or web development firm that can provide the skills and guidance you need to transform your site.

Here’s the bottom line: A website should be focused on the role of a 24/7 online salesperson and should provide measurable value to the marketing and sales strategy of your business.

Learn how Encore Web Works can help you transform your website into a sales and marketing asset.

Visit or

September 9, 2009

It's 2 a.m. Do you know what your web site is doing?

In the 1960’s (before my time by the way), there was a public service announcement that said “It’s 10pm. Do you know where your children are?”

I often ask the same thing of business owners with a slight change. “It’s 2am. Do you know what your web site is doing?” Most of the time, the answer is simple. “I have no idea…”

Here is the issue. Many business owners launch a web site and then never think about it or measure its success. Would you dump money into a mutual fund and never check to see how it is performing (don’t answer that)? Would you hire a salesperson and never check to see if he or she is selling anything?

Regardless of the product or service, a company’s web site should be a 24 x 7 x 365 super sales person. I’m not talking about e-commerce. That’s a different story. A company web site should be consistently and constantly driving leads and sales to your business by shouting from the internet roof-tops that yours is the best, brightest and most beautiful (insert your product or service here) in the world. It should provide a specific call-to-action to get that lead or customer into your “sales machine”.

How do you know if this is happening? How do you know if your web site is your star quarter-back or, heaven forbid, secretly playing for the other team by driving leads to your competition’s web site? The answer, and the moment you’ve all been waiting for ladies and gentlemen – Web Analytics.

Web Analytics (which is basically special code inserted into the pages of your web site), tracks nearly everything. It’s sort of like putting a radio-locator on your dog (or your kids). It tracks what people are viewing, when they’re viewing, where they’re bailing out, where they’re spending time, and, with the right tools, can even track how much money your site is making for your business…wow….

Using analytics correctly can mean the difference between a down year in a bad economy and an embarrassingly fantastic year in a bad economy. Using web analytics correctly can be the final ingredient in your secret “sales” sauce that makes your competition crazy with jealously.

Notice I mentioned using analytics “correctly”. Web Analytics are useless if you don’t review them monthly and make site adjustments. Think of it like paying for a termite inspection on your house but not listening when the inspector tries to tell you if you have bugs or not.

There are many analytics packages out there. Some are free (I like Google Analytics). Others have a license cost. If you need help getting set-up with analytics, be sure to choose a web development company that not only installs the analytics code for you, but can provide monthly analysis and recommendations of the results. Otherwise you’re no better off than before.

The next time someone asks you, “It’s 2 am. Do you know what your web site is doing?” You should be able to say, “Absolutely! It’s making me money!”

Check out Encore's web analytics services at

August 27, 2009

Encore co-owner chosen for Leadership Lee's Summit

Encore Web Works co-owner Jodi Bowers has been selected to participate in the 2009-2010 class of Leadership Lee's Summit.

This intensive 9 month leadership program was developed by the Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce to develop and enhance leadership skills in individuals who will generate positive actions within the community and help resolve future challenges. Since its inception in 1991, the program has graduated over 300 leaders who have gathered knowledge and skills to become influential in the community.

Approximately 25 participants are selected each year based on strict criteria, including personal motivation, an interest to serve in the community, potential or existing opportunities for advancement to top leadership positions, and willingness to commit time and energy to complete the program.

"My goal is to learn more about the Lee's Summit community and opportunities for community involvement, develop lasting relationships with business and community leaders, and enhance my leadership skills," says Bowers. Encore Web Works is proud to support Jodi Bowers as a participant in Leadership Lee's Summit.

For more information on Encore Web Works, Inc. visit

July 31, 2009

Encore Web Works listed among Top 25 Web Firms

Encore Web Works, Inc. was listed among the Top 25 Web Development Firms in Kansas City by the Kansas City Business Journal.

Encore was formed in 2001 by owners Steve and Jodi Bowers. The company’s consistent growth enabled it to make the Business Journal’s coveted list for the second year in a row. President Steve Bowers commented on the success of Encore, “Our continued success stems from our commitment to our clients. Our business relationships are important and our partnership approach has made our clients successful – which, in turn has made us successful.”

Encore specializes in online marketing services, customized landing pages, microsites, and web analytics, as well as database-driven web site solutions. Clients include NASCAR/Sprint, Austin Bank, Sequoia Systems International, CoreFirst Bank and Trust, and Summit Financial Group.

For more information on Encore Web Works, Inc. visit