Monday, November 17, 2008

TechSoup Webinar on Reducing Your Paper Usage

As part of their November drive to encourage nonprofits and other social benefit organizations to reduce their paper consumption, TechSoup Talks is offering a free webinar on Reducing Your Paper Usage on Tuesday, November 18, 2008.

Joining the webinar panel is Steve Adams, Vice President of Protus Marketing, providers of MyFax. Steve will address the hurdles to making those paper consumption changes and offer tips on how better to “green” your organization. Steve will be joined by Anna Jaeger from TechSoup Global’s GreenTech Program.

The Details:
What: Free webinar Reducing Your Paper Usage
When: Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Time: 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. (PST)
Cost: FREE
Where: Click here to register

Hope to see you there!

Find out more GreenTech Reduce Paper Use Challenge

Friday, October 31, 2008

79 Ways for your Small Business to Save Money

I just read a great article on InsideCRM called 78 Ways for your Small Business to Save Money in this Economy. It’s filled with great advice and is even broken down into categories like Technology, Office Items and Office Space, Advertising, Travel, etc. I highly recommend you check it out.

I was surprised that an Internet fax service like MyFax did not make the list. It’s inexpensive and it doesn’t tie up any phone lines since you send and receive faxes through your Internet connection. It also helps you save energy, paper, and toner since all documents are electronic.

Fax machines are huge energy wasters, in fact the The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have named the fax machine as the biggest energy hog in the office.

Here’s a few other numbers you might find interesting if you are looking for ways to save money. Over five years, a standard fax machine in the $150 range will cost you about $5,400 if you add in the cost of toner, paper, and a 2nd phone line. (And this doesn’t cover your long distance charges or any maintenance if it breaks down).

MyFax on the other hand is $10 a month with no long distance charges and free 24/7 support and you can cancel at any time. Even if you’re like me and not great at math, you can still see that is a considerable savings.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Faxing as a punchline

I was watching a movie on TV the other day, and saw something I thought was pretty amusing. Although it was a recent movie, it was set in the 1980s, which is important to the story. At one point, the main character told his companion he needed to get some important information to a person who was far away. His companion said something to the effect of, “Here, we’ll go into my office. We have this new machine up there that lets you send an entire page over the phone lines. And it only takes 17 minutes per page.”

I have to admit I laughed – just like I did when Drew Barrymore’s boyfriend brought over this amazing new music-playing device called a CD player in The Wedding Singer. It doesn’t take long these days for one era’s hot new technology to become the next era’s punchline.

It’s hard to imagine a world when 17 minutes per page was considered a marvel, but that’s the way it was not so long ago. Of course today it takes longer to a prepare a fax than to send one thanks to advances such as MyFax. With just a few clicks of a mouse you can select your recipient(s), add your attachments, and even choose the style of cover page. Then all you have to do is write the note and hit send.

Probably the biggest difference from the sender’s perspective is you don’t have to stand by a machine somewhere while the fax goes through to make sure it’s successful. MyFax sends you a confirmation e-mail that shows either that it was delivered or that it failed – and why.

One other nice thing about an all-electronic sending method (versus the mechanical task of pages feeding one-by-one into a machine) is you never have to worry that the rollers are going to grab two or three pages at once. That used to happen a lot with lengthy documents (like contracts) being sent over fax machines. In those cases, the person on the other end would be missing pages, requiring a re-send either of those pages or the whole thing. Which at 17 minutes a page isn’t much fun. Today, your whole document arrives intact, where it can be reviewed on-screen – no paper required.

I wish I could remember the name of the movie, but I can’t. If I see it again, though, I’ll update the post. Or, if you happen to know what I’m talking about, let me know! In the meantime, be glad you don’t have to spend 17 minutes per page just to send or receive a fax. Isn’t technology marvelous?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Customer Service: A department or a way of life?

As I was making my way around the world of small business blogs, I saw a post on Small Biz Survival that caught my eye. In it, the writer describes how a trainer was working with a trainee at a big box office supply store, ostensibly teaching him how to handle his customer-facing job at that retailer. The trouble is, the trainer completely ignored the customer in order to go into the finer points of how to offer tech services. In other words, rather than taking the opportunity to teach the trainee how “our customers are our most important asset” the trainer instead chose to focus on some arcane computer procedure.

It’s really kind of a funny perspective. The reason it caught my eye, of course, is how much effort we at Protus put in to our customer service. It’s one of the things that draws the highest praise from customers who have to use it. Often, they seem shocked that it’s so attentive and their issues are resolved so quickly. I guess in the technology space in particular the expectation is getting into a Battle Royale, followed by the opportunity to meet three or four new people over the phone before anything is resolved.

In my daily life, I’m amazed how many companies simply don’t get it. They will list a “customer service” number, but when you call it you find it leads to a phone tree that seems to have been designed by the same people who create those Sudoku puzzles. When you finally do make your way through the maze, you’re met by someone reading a script, who is more clueless about the product or service you’re calling about than you are. It’s only after getting belligerent and practically squeezing your phone to dust that they finally get you to someone who can help. It’s almost like running a gambit – you have to earn the right to speak with someone who actually knows what’s going on by first making your way through an army of minions.

Worse are the live ones – the service providers who ignore your questions, or the people in stores who are more interested in folding the sweaters than helping you find what you want. It’s like they view you, the customer, as an inconvenience instead of the reason they have a job.

That’s just not right. “Customer service” has to be more than a department or a marketing slogan. It has to be an approach to doing business. I’m proud to work for a company that still understands that, and borders on being obsessed with making sure customers are happy. Too bad that way of thinking seems to have gone out of style.

Have a cusotmer support story, good or bad? I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Improve your Home Office Week

Well, well, allow me to be the first to wish a Happy Improve Your Home Office Week to you and yours.

Seriously, who even knew there was such a thing, much less that it’s happening September 7-13? I didn’t until someone I know told me about it. But it makes sense, all you have to do is look at the entries we had at the beginning of the year in our Messy Office Contest and you can see there are a lot of home offices that could use some improvement at least once a year. Of course, some would take a bulldozer but don’t get me started.

Beyond just the general clean-up and learning to put things away, there are all kinds of things you can do to improve a home office. Here’s my top 5:
  1. Obviously number 1 is signing up for MyFax and my1voice. Both of these services can really help small business owners work more efficiently and present a professional appearance to customers, partners and suppliers.

  2. Update your home wireless access (or get wireless access if you don’t have itJ). A ton of improvements have occurred since you bought that 802.11 b wireless router at Radio Shack so it’s time to let it go and get faster download speeds over a longer distance. While you’re at it, look in to upgrading your PC/laptop, monitor, or business applications.

  3. Join the organizer mania! Everyone is doing it! Organizers can actually give you places for your stuff, so you can find it when you need it (instead of a week later after you’ve bought another one). My top recommendation is the charging station. It lets you store and charge all your little portable electronic devices (mobile phone, iPod, PDA, camera, etc.) in one handy unit. Sure beats having all those bulky charging block under the desk and all those cord snaking around your work area.

  4. Replace your old desk chair. If you’re like me you probably lugged your current chair home from a garage sale and fixed it with duct tape. But you really can’t underestimate the value of a comfy work chair.

  5. Give your office space a facelift. Even if it doesn’t “need” it, a fresh coat of paint can be a real pick-me-up in your work environment. Don’t just settle for beige either. Us traditional office types have to settle for beige but you don’t. Pick a color that inspires you and revel in your non-corporate freedom.

So there you have it. I’d love to turn this in to a top 10 list so let me know what you’re planning or what you’ve all ready done to improve your home office?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New Features for MyFax and my1voice

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve just implemented some great new enhancements to both MyFax and my1voice, and the best part is you don’t have to buy, or sign up for anything in order to take advantage of them. As with all MyFax and my1voice enhancements, they’re free and already available to you as part of your service (of course there is a charge to purchase additional phone numbers).

For my1voice there are three big changes I think are really going to add an incredible amount of value to your service:

The first is Internet Fax Reception. Now faxes can be sent to your my1voice number! my1voice will recognize a fax call and will save the fax to your my1voiceCentral Inbox. From there you can read it, forward it, even save it to your hard drive. A great bonus to this is you will never again pick up the phone expecting to hear a human and instead be deafened with that horrible fax machine sound!

The second is what we call Web Calls. Basically, you can place a "Call Me" link on your website or in emails. Visitors to your site, or readers of your email can click this link, enter their phone number in the pop up box and my1voice will connect the caller to you at the number or extension you choose. One benefit with this is you can mask your number so callers aren’t aware of the number they’re calling, this is good because if you change your phone number or add new numbers, your callers are not affected. Callers will always be able to get a hold of you with no thinking required! This is also another great way to make sure your customers or even potential customers can reach you from yet another medium. Imagine what this can do for your business.

Finally, the third addition to my1voice is Multiple Number Support. Not only does this allow you to have both a toll free and a local number, but you can also use this enhancement to have numbers that dial directly to your auto-attendant, or extensions, queue, or mailbox.

Finally, our last enhancement applies to both MyFax and my1voice. It may not seem as flashy as the others but it’s a great addition to our service and really quite valuable.

We’ve simplified our password reset process, you can now reset your password online or you can choose to receive and email with a secure link. What this means is, if you do forget your password it is now a lot easier for you assign a new one with the absolute minimum of wait time.
So there you have it, our newest enhancements in a nutshell. To explore them further just login to your my1voiceCentral and/or your MyFaxCentral account. As always, our Technical Support Teams are available 24/7 x 7 to answer all of your questions, or if you have an Account Manager, give them a call for more information.
I’d love to hear what you think of our latest enhancements and as always if there is something you’ve been dying to see us add to either service, post a comment and I’ll put in a good word for you with our development team!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Handy tip: Use MyFax for emergency printing

Funny how sometimes we get so caught up in new ideas that we forget there is still a lot of value in things that have been said before. Here’s an example.

I was looking through some old materials recently and I came across a tip that we’ve sent out from time to time, (though not recently). It’s a pretty cool way to work around a situation where you need to print out a document – say you need it signed – but there’s no printer in sight (or it’s in sight but is out of toner, out of service, or just generally acting up in that way only printers can when you really need one).

If there’s a fax machine nearby, use your MyFax account to send the document to the fax machine. It will print out for you and you’ll have the hard copy you need.

That’s one of those ideas that probably makes you hit your forehead and say “duh!” because it seems so obvious. But a lot of people don’t think that way.

There are a few good uses for this little trick. One is if you’re at a customer site. You may be using their wireless Internet connection, but don’t have access to their full network resources. And getting someone to get you that access may be like asking for the keys to the company jet. But, if you can send yourself a fax to their machine, you’ll have your document in moments.

Hotels are another place it might come up, whether you’re using an Internet connection in your room or a PC down in the business center. If you have access to your documents, either on your laptop or through a VPN on their computer, you can use MyFax to send the document to the hotel’s fax machine.

Pretty cool right? You may not need much, but if you do I’m sure it will be an emergency. And of course, I’ll expect a big thank you present for letting you know!

Friday, August 15, 2008

MyFax as a wedding planning tool?

You know that bizarre thing where you don’t hear from someone in forever and then you see or hear something that makes you think of them and like an hour later your phone rings? Or, sometimes an idea you’ve never really considered crops up, and suddenly you’re seeing it all over the place. Is there a name for that? It’s along the same lines as déjà vu but different. There has to be name for that (if you know it, please let me know, this is the type of thing that will drive me crazy!)

Anyway, to get to the point, something like that has happened recently, in the last few days, we’ve seen not one but TWO mentions of using MyFax to plan weddings. One was from a
wedding planner who has used it in her business, and the other from a guy (yes, that’s right a guy) who was planning his own wedding using online tools (mostly from Google), and decided to tell the world how he did it.

In all of our creative planning and brainstorming sessions, this is a use for MyFax we’ve never really thought of before, but it totally makes sense.

Planning a wedding seems to be one of the more complicated endeavors you can get yourself into. There are a million people to contact –caterers, florists, musicians, hall rental people, bridal shop people – the list is pretty much endless.

Once you’ve decided who you’re going with, most of them are going to want a signed contract. Now, if you’re planning your own wedding chances are you’re running around like a madman, and stopping by each supplier to sign a contract is the last thing you want to do. This is where MyFax comes in! With a MyFax account you can have the contract faxed to your PC or laptop, print it, sign it, scan it and send it back. It’s still a bit of work, but it’s a whole lot easier than driving all over the planet, while stressing out about getting to wherever before closing time. You could even do it at 3 in the morning during one of the pre-wedding jitters bouts of insomnia you’re probably going to have! (You knew about that right?)

If you’re a wedding planner, it makes even more sense. Assuming you’re good at what you do, you’re constantly on the move lining up multiple suppliers, making sure everything is working right, and meeting with clients. Being able to send and receive faxes from anywhere you can get an Internet connection is a huge time-saver. Being able to store them on your laptop or handheld so they’re always at your fingertips is even better.

So let the wedding bells ring. Just remember to open your MyFax account before you start the planning the walk down the aisle!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tackling the telecommute

Ouch! That’s all I can say after filling up my sister’s gas tank last night at more than $1.44 per liter in Canadian dollars. That’s like more than $4 a gallon to you Americans. Ouch! And every time we think we’ve hit the limit of how high it can go, the oil companies prove us wrong. I’m personally amazed that the villagers have not been storming their corporate headquarters with torches and pitchforks (like in the old Frankenstein movies), but so far not a whisper. Maybe everyone’s afraid they’ll raise it another couple of dollars if we make too much of a stink.

As I’ve mentioned before I ride my bike to work and don’t own a car so you may be wondering why I even care. Two reasons really, first I do have to pony up my share of gas money when I’m travelling farther than my bike will take me, and two, because most of my friends drive I am forced to listen to conversations on this topic whenever we get together.

The solution seems to be looking for other ways to cope. One of course is riding your bike to work but I realize this isn’t practical for everyone.

Another way is telecommuting. If you can believe what you’re seeing in the media, telecommuting is on the rise.

Back in the good old days, when gas was a “mere” 77 cents per Canadian liter/$2.25 per American gallon, telecommuting was used primarily by people who worked for a company but lived hundreds of miles away, working moms who didn’t want to see their entire paychecks swallowed up by the cost of day care, and freelance writers. Today, though, things are changing.

Some companies are actually encouraging employees who live within a few miles of the office to log in from home one or more days a week to help them offset rising fuel costs. That’s a huge change from the days when people assumed their telecommuting co-workers were actually sitting in the sun on the patio sipping Margaritas while the office-bound workers slaved away under the cold glow of the fluorescent lights (and the cold gaze of the Boss).

For some of us, the challenge of telecommuting is self-discipline. There are a lot of distractions at home not present in the office. For example, it’s very tempting to get a head start on the week’s laundry rather than looking at a month’s worth of sales figures. And let’s not forget the Oprah factor…

But one of the biggest challenges is being able to operate out of your home they way you operate out of the office. There are a lot of little conveniences there we take for granted. A well-stocked supply cabinet is certainly one. At the office, if your stapler runs out of staples, you just go to the cabinet and get more. At home, you probably don’t even have a stapler let alone staples. So if you’re planning to telecommute regularly, carve out a little space to store the essentials – pens, pencils, paper, rubber bands, binder clips, paper clips, etc.

Another good tip is to make sure you have a comfortable chair and desk. Sitting on the couch with your laptop perched on your lap is not going to cut it.

Sending and receiving faxes is another consideration. We take the technology for granted until we suddenly find we need a client to send over a 10-page document and there’s no fax machine in sight. Fortunately, there’s a solution for that one – a MyFax account.

For just $10 per month (or the approximate cost of 2.5 gallons of gas) MyFax lets you send 100 pages and receive 200 pages anywhere you can get an Internet connection – including the sunny patio. That’s a pretty good deal – especially when you figure what it would cost in time and gas to drive 10 miles each way just to pick up that same document.

Of course, I’m sure some of you veteran telecommuters have some good tips of your own. Tell you what. If you’ll share them in the comments section below, we’ll pick out two or three favorites and give you a free month’s worth of MyFax service. That may not quite be the “free gas for a year” promotion some of the desperate car dealers are running. But it will certainly help make your telecommuting a little easier.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The world is now your office

You know, I remember reading once somewhere that there was a time in business where when you walked out the door at night you were done for the day. If there was a dire emergency at the office you might get a call at home, but that was the exception. If you left for a week’s vacation, well, either someone else had to figure it out, or it would wait until you got back. Those were the expectations, and they were universally accepted.

Not anymore, of course. The office is no long a single place. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the whole world is now your office. That’s the new expectation. And if you can’t live up to that expectation? Well, customers, prospects, and business partners will find someone who can.

What got me thinking about that was reading one of the case studies on the my1voice web site. We have a customer, Chris Biber, who operates a small business called SearchingWorks that helps its customers with search engine optimization, search engine marketing, pay per click advertising and Web analytics. All very cool stuff, and all very important in today’s marketing world.

The thing is, a lot of Chris’ business happens outside of the office. First of all he has a distributed workforce, including one person in Romania. (I always picture going there as being like landing in the middle of a spy movie.) Then there are the client visits. Even if everyone was in one location, the nature of their business takes them out of the office a lot anyway. Which means they could be tough to reach at any given time. Add in the fact they’re all over the place and it was really tough for their clients to figure out who to call where. And when.

That’s what brought Chris to my1voice. He wanted to be able to give out a single phone number to every client, partner and supplier, then have an auto attendant funnel the calls to the right extension. Not only would that make things more efficient, it would also present a more professional appearance than handing out multiple phone numbers for each person. While he had looked into a traditional PBX (private branch exchange) phone system like many small businesses use, he found it was very costly. It also only worked for people who were in the same office as the equipment. Furthermore, if someone left the office there was no way to forward an important call to a mobile or home phone.

Glad to say my1voice solved all of that for him. He was able to set up extensions for people inside and outside of the main office, just as though they all worked in one office spanning the world. He also has taken big time advantage of the find me/follow me feature – his personal favorite – that rings his second office, mobile and home phones either simultaneously or in a particular order (depending on how he sets it up). my1voice has helped SearchingWorks improve their response time to clients, and has made them a lot more reachable. In the fast-paced world of Internet marketing, that’s huge.

My generation (and those that follow) will never know what it’s like to just leave for the day and be completely disconnected from the office. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. But as long as the expectation is there, it’s good to know that technologies such as my1voice are around to make it a little less painful – and a lot more convenient.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How to Profit in any Market

I know we have a lot of real estate agents and brokers using MyFax and my1voice. My colleague forwarded this blog from Chris Pollinger to me today and I thought it would be of interest to you, our customers working in this industry.

Actually, there is a lot of useful information here for every small and medium business.

What do you think about this list? Do you have additional ideas you’d like to share here?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

my1voice (could have) Saved the Day!

In my last post I told you a little bit about some of the different products we now have at Protus, and I thought today I’d go into a little bit more detail about one of them because something annoying happened to me that directly relates to my1voice, and I need to vent.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You get a voice message and it goes something like this:

Hi Tara, it’s Jon from xxx I really need to get in touch with you today so if you could call me back I would really appreciate it. If you get this message before 9:00 am (oh don’t forget I’m on the west coast, so that’s my 9) could you give me a call at this number, xxx-xxx-xxxx. If it’s after 9, call me at this number instead xxx-xxx-xxxx. If it’s after 9 but I don’t pick up at that second number, try me at this one. xxx-xxx-xxxx. It’s really important I talk to you so if you can’t get me, can you leave me a message? Better do that on the second number, so I’m sure to get it during office hours.

While this is playing I’m scribbling numbers down like crazy and trying to put little notes beside them so I remember which number is which, and of course, the numbers are said fast so I have to listen to the message more than once, AND THEN I have to Google the west coast time zone because I can never remember if it’s two hours or three hours difference. By the time I’m finished I can’t figure out any of my notes, and I hate Jon for putting me through all of this, so the last thing I want to do is call him at ANY of his numbers.

Are you with me? Are you feeling my pain on this one? I know this has happened to you at some point.

What makes it even worse is now I know I don’t have to go through all of this, if John had a service like my1voice he would have left me one number that he had set up to call all of his phones. I in turn would have listened to a nice, normal-length message and promptly (because I always return my phone calls right away of course) called him back. I would not have spent 10 mins trying to get the numbers down, 5 mins on Google, and 10 mins complaining about Jon to everyone within earshot of my desk.

Oh and if you are Jon, or someone like him, and you leave messages like this on a regular basis, I’m telling you, people are calling you names and muttering all sorts of other things under their breath as they’re constantly looking up and/or dialing your multiple numbers. So you should really at least check out my1voice and see if it’s right for you. Like MyFax there is no obligation or contract, it’s easy to use, and you can be setup right away, even before you leave your next annoying message!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Protus Spring Fever!

I know. I know. I have fallen behind on my blogging. In my defense, it’s been a crazy but incredibly rewarding couple of months here at Protus. Our family (of products) is growing!
In addition to MyFax, our communications portfolio of services now also includes my1voice, a virtual PBX phone service designed for home and small offices – particularly those mobile professionals always on the go. And yesterday we announced the acquisition of GOT Corporation, the provider of industry-leading email marketing services called Campaigner and Campaigner Pro.

I could go on and on about all our offerings but I’d just be repeating what’s already a fast growing story. Check out yesterday’s story in the Ottawa Citizen.

Bloggers are covering our news too. There’s a lot of information out there on the web. Here are a few:, and .

You can also check out our site for articles and more information.

Let me know what you think of our new services!

Friday, April 18, 2008

MyFax Celebrates Earth Day!

You probably know that April 22 is Earth Day, which is sort of like New Year’s but for environmental resolutions. Instead of promising yourself you’ll go to the gym or stop lying to your friends, you try to make yourself a little more earth friendly.

I’m considered one of the “green” people here at MyFax. I don’t drive a car; I keep my heat at the lowest possible level, (not only does this have an impact on my energy bill but it’s a great way to get rid of unwanted guests), and I try to make environmentally sound choices. What I don’t do is preach. There’s just no point. Preachy people just end up sitting by themselves at lunch. I do my thing, and keep my mouth shut unless people ask. But its Earth day and I have control of the blog so I’m going to step on my soap box for a minute.

I hear things like this a lot: “what’s the point, anything I do is just a drop in the bucket”, or “It’s just too much work to be environmentally responsible”, etc. etc.

I read a great quote a few years ago that I immediately adopted as my own personal motto: “I can’t change the world, but I can change my world”. You should think about this if you’re one of the “what’s the point” people. Don’t get caught up in the big picture, you can’t resolve all of the issues with the environment yourself and if you go into it with that mindset, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

To you “it’s too much work” people: It doesn’t have to be, you can draw your own line and there is nothing wrong with that. Anyone who says you have to be militant or nothing is probably either a fanatic, or a teenager, the rest of the world can see shades of grey. There are a lot of things you can do that you only have to set up once and then you can forget about them and others that will fit easily into your routine. A lot of things that are environmentally friendly also have added benefits like saving you money or making you healthier.

We’ve put together a page, where you can download 10 Simple Ways to Green your Office, read a case study on why an alternative energy company switched to MyFax, and learn some really interesting stats that you can use at your next dinner party. Check it out and if you want, comment back with some of your own Earth Day Resolutions. I’d love to hear about them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Your @%!& Opinion

Recently I received some feedback on the subject line of one of the emails we send out. To give it some context, this email is midway through a series where each email deals with a different reason to switch from a traditional fax machine to online fax. The subject line is “Where the @%*!& is that Fax”.

The feedback I received referred to our use of the “cursing” symbols as “poor taste, unprofessional, and offensive”. It further stated that they disagreed with our message so much that they have decided to go with one of our competitors.

This is the only feedback one way or another we have received about this email in the three plus months we have been using it. It averages about the same open/click/conversion rate of the rest of the emails in this stream. However, we have decided to change the subject line of the email to “Where is that Fax” and run a 2-week test to see if our numbers change one way or the other.

But I want to know what other people think. Is this offensive? Would you not purchase a product or service from a company that sent you an email using these symbols? Do you think you would be more or less likely to open an email like this when it came into your inbox?

I also want to know your thoughts on a deeper issue: As marketers, how far should we go to make sure we are offending the least amount of people? (I put it this way because I don’t think there is anything you can write that’s not going to rub someone the wrong way.)

I would say that our marketing department is pretty diverse; the age range spans a couple of decades, different backgrounds, and lifestyle choices are represented and no one raised an eyebrow about this subject line. So how safe is safe? I’d be interested to hear where you draw your lines when it comes to marketing and how quick you are to back down if someone does cry foul.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Funny Fax

The Daily Biz Solutions blog picked up an article Steve Adams (MyFax Marketing VP) wrote, 7 Signs You Need an Internet Fax Service. If you're having the kind of day where you need a smile you should check it out.

Point 3 is my favorite, not that we have a "Madge" at our office of course, but I'm sure some of you do!

Once you've read it, let me know what you think, Steve is my co-contributor to the Inside MyFax blog and I'm sure he'd love the feedback. Oh and if you have ideas for “signs” you think he missed send those over as well. If he gets enough suggestions, maybe he'll write a Part II. Everyone loves a sequel!

Big Thanks to Daily Biz Solutions for posting this article.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A MyFax Leap Year

I was reading about leap years on Wikipedia and I realized that February 29 could be the world’s most famous bug fix.

Okay I’ll start at the beginning and so we’re all in the same place. Before the Gregorian Calendar (what we use now) there was the Julian calendar, think of this as Version 1.0. Before that there were a couple of Beta tests like the Roman calendar, but the Julian was really the first full release. It was okay, it helped people plan lunch dates and setup a workout schedule but it had this huge flaw which caused an ever expanding gap to grow between it, the civil calendar and the seasons. So Pope Gregory called in new developer Aloysius Lilius to revamp the program.

This new version was designed with the goal of keeping the vernal equinox on or close to March 21. Aloysius set to work on his specifications and his calculations were almost perfect. Things were going great. A media blitz was planned, the Pope was already conducting interviews on how this new calendar was going to change every person’s life on a day to day basis, people were clearing spots on their desks, and flipping a head to see if their birthdays fell on a weekend. It was a done deal, except for one small thing.

No matter how he ran the numbers, Aloysius could not reconcile the fact that the solar year was about 6 hours longer than the 365 day magic number he had come up with. This wouldn’t cause problems right away but it would down the road as those 6 hours added up. The fix? Add an additional day once every four years to correct the drift. Sure it was a little cumbersome but it fixed the problem. It’s interesting that the Gregorian calendar was released in 1582 but the first leap year wasn’t until 1600. Makes you wonder if it was in place when the calendar was unveiled to the public. So what do you think? Did I prove my theory, February 29 – the ultimate bug fix?

Of course, you may just be wondering what any of this has to do with MyFax… Don’t worry, I have a connection. The Julian calendar was serving an important purpose, just like the traditional fax machine, but it had problems that kept piling up and becoming more of an issue as time went by. A better, more practical solution that fit the needs of the people, like the Gregorian calendar, had to be developed. It’s just like the fax machine, when it was first introduced it served it’s purpose, but as privacy concerns and the mobile workforce became more predominant the problems associated with it become more and more predominant until the tool itself becomes more of a hindrance than a solution. Aloysius cut ten days off the Julian calendar, revised the calculations, and added Feb 29 and created a calendar system we still use today. Online fax solves the problems of mobility and privacy and modernized a technology that was no longer working for the people who needed to use it and to top it off it saves you a ton of money. Seems like a pretty clear connection to me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MyFax Take Me Away!

I just realized this is the third time in a row I’ve posted on a Tuesday. Of course now that I’ve noticed I’m wondering if it’s just a coincidence or if there’s some sort of underlying reason why this has happened? Is it my work schedule and Tuesday is the best day to write? Am I in a more creative place on Tuesdays? Do I have some sort of internal 7 day clock? I was born on a Tuesday, I wonder if that has anything to do with it?
Something to think about…

Anyway, moving on to what I actually meant to talk about, MyFax is going on the road and I get to go with it! Tomorrow morning I’m leaving for Orlando for a week to exhibit at a conference.

I’m not sure how I’m going to react when I step off the plane and there is no snow. I’m sure some people reading this are not going to be able to relate, but this winter has been out of control here. We actually just ranked in as the 9th snowiest winter in 70 years and the way the forecast is looking I wouldn’t be surprised if we move up to 8th or even 7th before it’s over, if it’s ever over. To give you an idea, last year we didn’t have snow until the end of January. This year it started in November and it just keeps coming. It’s to the point where I’ve contemplated moving into my cubicle until spring, and if the selection in the vending machine were better, this would have all ready happened.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to a few days of not having to wear 3 layers of clothing and a hiatus from shoveling, but I’ll admit part of me is worried when I get back I’m going to have to wrestle a polar bear before tunneling my way to my front door.

One more thing, we’ve added an RSS to this blog, just slide your eyes over to the right and you’ll see an orange RSS button. If you click it and subscribe you’ll be notified whenever I write a new post, this way you won’t have to keep checking and being disappointed if there is nothing new. If you were thinking you’d just come back on Tuesdays, I should warn you, now that I know about my subconscious pattern I’m going to make sure to break it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Work at MyFax and I'm Real

If you’ve ever taken a test drive, downloaded collateral that requires an email address, registered for a webinar, or started the registration process at you have probably received an email from me. In response, I get on average 2 emails a day asking me if I'm a real person. This works out to about 10 a week (I don't work weekends) or approximately 400 a year. That’s 400 times a year that my being is called into question.

Coming up with this number has lead to a slew of questions. First, I wonder if it is some how damaging to my psyche to have my existence constantly challenged. Like Tinkerbell, does every doubt make me a little less real? Am I going to need everyone to clap and repeat "I believe in Marketing Communication Specialists" so I don't fade away all together? How would I even go about setting that up in my weakened state? Tink had Peter, maybe I should line up someone in Sales to help me out?

Continuing down this path, I became curious as to how often the average non-marketing person is asked this question. I took a little poll here at the office and the most frequent answer I received was a strange look followed by "never". Mmm, maybe I should have provided some background instead of just “Do people ask if you’re real a lot”? It’s possible my data is flawed.

My research does show this issue seems to be relegated to email. I've never left a voice mail for someone, had them phone me back, and begin the conversation (or message) with "Hi, I'm not sure if you're a real person, but you left me a voicemail". Is there something about email itself that makes people less likely to believe in you? (Sounds like a separate project, if anyone would like to look into it I’d love to hear what you find out.)

Here’s where it becomes really bizarre. Every single time I reply to these emails I find myself re-reading what I’ve written trying to make sure I in no way sound like an auto reply. This is no easy feat, with personalization so rampant it's easy to merge people's names, companies, even problems into an automated message. And these are business emails so I can't be too casual, I can't make spelling mistakes, or jokes to make my reply more realistic. So now I’m not just replying to an email asking if I’m real, I’m agonizing over my response trying to make sure what I write actually proves my reality. That’s a lot of pressure!

I was going to write about the flip side of this issue and look at why people email me when they have doubts about my being real. Are they optimists? Dreamers? Bored? On some level trying to prove their own existence? But I’m going to have to save that until next time because this has left me in need of a reality check, so I’m going to look at my credit card bill. That will prove I’m real.

BTW 3 weeks left in the messy office contest! You could win $10,000.00!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Messy MyFax Confession

I have a confession to make. I'm addicted to the Messy Office Contest submissions. I'm not talking about a small addiction where I check them once a day, smile and move onto something else. No, I mean really addicted, like "considering getting a sponsor" addicted.

Have you seen these? (If not, you can view the weekly winners here and all of the submissions at the MyFax Messy Office Facebook Group). I know that some of them are probably staged in hopes of a better chance at winning the $10,000, but I'm sure some of them are real or at least pretty close and that's where my addiction comes in.

I'm a bit of a neat freak, (translation: "outrageous control issues and mild OCD") and the thought that there are actually places like those in the pictures and videos we have received, and people actually spend time in them, has me both horrified and fascinated at once. It's like driving by an accident, or watching that operation show on TV.

And I can't stop myself, I have an alert set up so that I know the instant anyone posts to us. I know it's not good for me, I know I should bow out of the judging. I literally get itchy looking at some of them, I stare at the pictures trying to figure out ways to clean them up. Yesterday I was halfway through an email to one of our weekly winners, asking her "if I could stop by and just straighten up a little", when I realized what I was doing.

It's not just my work that's suffering, I've been going home and doing extra cleaning at my place, hoping to create some sort of "tidy balance" in the world. Now do you see why I say I need a sponsor?

I can't be the only person like this can I? If you're reading this and can relate, make me feel better with one of your own neat freak issues. Of course, if you're one of the "others" and don't have a problem working in chaos, you should take a picture or video of your own mess and send it over to torture me. Here's a link to the entry form.

Only three weeks left to submit, not sure if I'll be relieved or sad to see it end...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

$10,000.00 Prize in the MyFax Messy Office Contest!

This week we launched a pretty cool contest, you can check it out at

We have a pretty good mix of neat freaks and absolute slobs here and the debates over which is the better work environment can get pretty heated. Of course both sides are adamant they're in the right.

I keep out of it since I've yet to hear anyone give an argument that swayed someone over to the other side. Sure, some of the clean desks get a little cluttered when we're ramping up to a new release, but before long it's back to the status quo.

When we started planning this contest the messier group insisted we don't make trying to change them a part of the prize, and I think this really sets our contest apart. You're not going to win a prize package worth $10,000.00 that's made up of gift certificates to all kinds of office supply and organization stores, you're actually going to win $10,000.00 in cash. It's like a reward for being a slob!

There are also 10 weekly prizes, and some runner up prizes as well, so if you or someone you know has a messy office, you should enter and pass the link on. Really, who couldn't use $10,000.00?

Oh -- check out the rules though, as with most contests there are some places we can't accept entrants from.