Domain Squatters Targetting Children

David Churbuck had a great post about domain squatters today, which is definitely a must read…he calls it the “bottom of the online marketing barrel.”

It’s a bigger issue…if you have children.

I sat last weekend next to my daughters, 7 & 8, as they surfed.  At that age, spelling isn’t exactly a strong point.  As they moved around the heavily branded sites they like, such as (Post Cereal),,,, they often mispelled the url.  Each time I had to interject “STOP”…

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IE 7 – Many sites will require minor rework

I’ve been doing some screenshotting of sites and I’ve found most sites that use CSS (like all Vario sites) will require a review prior to the final release of IE 7 later this month.  We will begin immediately screenshotting pages for our sites and contacting customers as to whether or not they require changes. The good news is that the changes required to accomodate this new browser from Microsoft are generally minor and can be accomplished quickly.

Our general policy will be that sites launched after July 1, 2006 will be fixed as a part of normal site maintenance at our expense.  Fixes required for older sites will be quoted on an as needed basis.  It would be a good time to have a look now and let us know if you have other work you would like done on your site, so that we can do it at the same time.

If you’d like to see what your site will look like in IE 7 or any other browser, you can go to and create screenshots over the web. is now live – if you’re a small business owner, or you do business with small businesses, you should take a look.

The premise of the site is to provide a network of businesses in Central Massachusetts who can help small business owners make their businesses a success.  Marketing, commercial construction, accounting/finance are just a few of the area which are covered by the site, and in the coming weeks we’ll have many more professionals join us.

In addition to information about the businesses, we’ve put in a blog which will offer information of interest to small business owneres, and an “Ask Us” feature that will allow readers to informally ask questions that will be answered on the blog.  It’s a great way for us to share our expertise, as well as to demonstrate our benefit to the small business community.  You can check the site out at

Rob O’Regan and Fake Blogging Across America

Fake Blogging Across America

Rob O’Regan, former Editor in Chief of CMO Magazine (which had it’s plug pulled in January) posted to his (brand new) blog Magnosticism this week about a couple who have blogged their way across the country in an RV staying at Walmart parking lots (which is one of the little quirks of Walmart, RV’s are welcome over night).  The rub is, they were sponsored by Edelman, the “global PR firm” at the behest of Walmart itself. 

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Your Email Signature as a Marketing Message

If you contact your customers via email extensively like I do, you should really think about how you set up your email signature.  Personally, email is one of my primary means of contact, so it’s the one thing that most of my customers will see during the course of our business.  And looking at what I’m sending, it’s honestly pretty weak.

The trick here is that it’s a fine line between including a little marketing message and being preceived as spamming them with a gigantic image laden signature. In the past I’ve included messages about things like User Group Meetings, Trade Shows, or new website offerings.  These are generally simple calls to action presented in a one line format with both colored and bold text.

John Smith
Vario Creative – Innovation, intelligence, and inspiration through creative marketing and design
Join us for our webinar “10 Effective Web Strategies”

Simple, and it gets the point across. You’ll be putting your message across in front of the people who need to see it, your customers. Give it a try, you’ll find it gets results – and the price is right – $0.

Good Specs Make Good Projects

Having spent years as a construction project manager prior to starting to work on the internet in 1995, I know the value of a good specification.  It’s the document that defines the expectations, goals and means of achieving a final result which is agreed to and signed off on as the first phase of any project.  In the case of small projects, we’ll often rely on the accepted project estimate as our specification, but for anything more than a simple project, a full specification process is highly advised.

As the old saw goes, you can’t get where you’re going when you don’t know where you want to go.  A good spec, which doesn’t have to be voluminous, can ensure that everyone’s on the same page, allowing the developer, designer, etc. to be sure of meeting the clients needs, and smoothing out those nasty “surprises” for the customer.  In short, a good spec is a win for everyone involved.

The problem is that on tightly budgeted projects, either in terms of time, money, or both, the specification process is often the first thing to be cut.  That’s dead wrong, because the spec is the thing that allows you to identify potential problems before they come up, and as importantly, keeps the “That’s not what I wanted” factor to a minimum.  Spend the time, and get the job done right.

A good specification is one of the key items to presenting predictable, repeatable results on projects.  As business owners, we learn to love “predictable and repeatable.”