When it comes to tools to help a farmer manage an operation, is the most basic and widespread option always the best? Just think about your equipment, the tools you use out in the field. Do you buy whatever is cheapest, or do you like a certain brand or type of equipment? Do you buy the first thing you see, or research everything that is available first? The same logic applies to your agricultural accounting software. The software you use is a crucial piece of equipment that can help you stay on track and be profitable. Don’t trust it to whatever is easiest to find or cheapest! Instead, have a careful look at your options and what fits best for your farm. At least then if you decide to purchase the cheapest and most basic package, you will do so with your eyes wide open, and you will know exactly what you are getting. So a good question here is, with so many basic software packages available, who needs Ag software?
Farmers who want information in their own language.
You probably won’t find anything about enterprises, farms, fields, production, or other farm-related activities within a basic accounting program. That’s because those programs have to fit a huge variety of business types. Ag software presents tools and features to you in a way that is familiar and makes more sense.
Farmers who want to know how they are doing compared to established guidelines.
Did you know there is now a software tool available to help you understand where you should be with industry benchmarks? This same tool can also help pinpoint areas of strength and weakness in your farm, so you can increase your profits and reverse negative trends. This tool is ratio analysis, and some Ag software has this as one of its features. Ratio analysis includes guidelines, ratios and indices that are specific to Ag, so you won’t have to guess how you are doing; you can see it for yourself, using the numbers you have already entered into your system.
Farmers who want to plan how much profit they will have, and where it will come from.
Software specifically for Ag gives you tools to track information in the way that is most useful to you, whether it’s by profit center, by enterprise, by account, and much more. Tracking information helps you understand which areas of your farm are profitable, so you can focus on your income generating enterprises and increase your profits. Another helpful tool for planning is the ability to run ‘what if’ scenarios. Doing this allows you to project future sales, cash flow, income states, and assets and liabilities. Once this information is tracked and reported consistently, managing your finances becomes much easier and can become more goal-oriented.
Using an Ag-specific program to run your farm can make your information much easier to enter and understand. No matter which program you choose, make sure it can provide you with the financial information you need, in the way you want to see it.
If you are a business, your business name is likely somewhere out there on the internet. This is a good thing, since most people turn to the internet to do their research before buying a product or service. You may not be aware that there are places on the internet that encourage people to review your business and its products and/or services. Here are some of the places you may want to check out to be sure your business information is listed correctly, and also to see what people are saying about you!
Your business is probably listed with Google, even though you didn’t put it there yourself. The majority of businesses are there! You can go in and claim your listing within “Google Places”. It’s free to claim your listing, and you can add your hours of operation, company images, and even coupons, all at no charge to you. A very compelling reason for you to go in and claim and enhance your listing is that is the information people will see when your Google Places account shows up in the search results. One other thing you will see on your Google Places account are the reviews and star ratings that people have left for your business. While you cannot control which reviews are shown, you can go to your Google Places account and respond to the reviews as the owner, or you can flag a review as inappropriate if necessary. Feel free to visit Red Wing Software’s Google Places page and leave your own review by clicking here.
Yelp is a Web site dedicated to providing real customer reviews for virtually any business. Customers can go in and leave a star rating as well as feedback for you and your products or services. Again, you have no control over what is being shown, but you can go in and leave a reply as the business owner. Yelp also offers FREE tools for business owners to promote their business: the ability to set up special deals for users and also the ability to join the conversation on their site.
Don’t be afraid of customer reviews! Embrace the technology that is available, since people will be leaving reviews for your business either way. Enhance your customers’ experience and join the conversation, and your reputation and service will be all the better for it.
A huge number of businesses use Google Analytics to monitor the activity on their Web site. If you are not one of them, you may wonder what all the fuss is about, and whether you are missing out on something useful. Well, without knowing you or your business, I can venture a guess and say ‘yes’ you are missing out on some very useful and important information if you are not using Google Analytics. You can gather some amazingly useful information with Google Analytics, which can inspire you to take important action!
Have a reference point.
Your Web site can be an extremely useful tool for your business, no matter what type of business you have. But if you don’t know who is visiting, how they got there, your number of daily visitors, or anything else, you won’t know if any of your marketing efforts are making a difference. Even if you install Google Analytics now but don’t look at it right away, you can always go back and look at the data later on. By using Google Analytics even in the most basic way, you will start to understand how many people on average visit your site and how they got there, and you can also begin to see how the things you are doing impact the visitors to your Web site. Here are just a few examples of how it can help!
Know how people find your site.
Google Analytics allows you to see which keywords or Web sites people used to find your site. When you know which traffic sources are working, you can try to increase the traffic from those sources. For example if a large number of people are finding your site by searching for the term ‘blue widgets’, you could create a whole Web page about blue widgets. You could write useful articles about blue widgets and post them for people to see on Facebook and Twitter. You could submit that same article to your blog and to a free article submission site (like www.ezinearticles.com) with a link back to your Web site. Knowing how people find you is a great start to something that can be extremely useful in enhancing your marketing efforts.
Know which pages are sticky.
You put the time and money in to building a Web site. Now, how do you know that people are finding what they are looking for? You might be thinking “people would let me know if they couldn’t find the things they need on my Web site.” This is not true. Web searchers will not tell you anything at all; they will simply go away and look someplace else. Analytics will show you how much time people spent on each of your pages, and also where they came from and where they went next. This helps you understand whether your Web site is effective! For example, if people came to your site, viewed the home page for 20 seconds and then left your site, you should probably question whether things are easy enough to find.
Discover which call to action works best.
Do you know which action you want people to take on your Web site? Every business is different, but you should always have your call to action clear for people to see. Maybe you get the best response from having people fill in a form, or a request for proposal. Well then, that is what you should have as a call to action on your Web page(s)! Using Analytics can help you track and understand the actions people are taking on your site, which can in turn help you decide which actions result in the most sales.
I doubt I have even seen anything as useful as Google Analytics for such a low price: FREE! The biggest cost you will incur is that of your time (or your webmaster). It’s basically just a matter of signing up, and getting a piece of Java script code added to all the pages you wish to track. Install it today and open up a whole new world of data to help your business focus on what works!
Do you have some exciting news to release? Make the most of your news! There are Web sites out there that allow you to submit your press releases at no charge. (Of course, most of them do also offer upgraded services for a fee.) This link offers a great list of 20+ free press release distribution Web sites.
More and more people are turning to the internet to find their news. Having your press releases submitted online is another way for you and your news to be found.
Hint: If you are able, include your company’s most popular keywords within the press release, and also include a link back to your Web site. Even better if you can make the keywords be the link back to your site! This helps the search engines and people find you and your news.
Have you seen this new icon popping up on the Web sites you visit and also in the Google search results? In case you were wondering, this is the new Google +1 button. According to Google, the +1 button is shorthand for "this is pretty cool" or "you should check this out." When you are signed in to your Google account, you will see this button appear next to organic and paid search results, and you may also see it on the Web sites you visit. By clicking on the icon, you are letting others know that you approve of the page or search result. You are also letting Google know that you have given that search result or Web site your vote of confidence, which Google in turn takes into consideration within the placement of search results. You will see the +1 icon on the Red Wing Software home page, next to our other social networking icons. If you like us, why not give a click on the +1 button? We sure appreciate it!