IT solutions for SMEs

The below is an interview between Michael Mertens and ‘The NewsPaper’.  It talks about IT solutions for SMEs, particularly for beginners.

Computer Corner

Computer have become so much an important gadget in our lives these days. With this edition of the NewsPaper  we are starting a regular column about computing. The editor welcomes suggestions and is keen to hear your feedback.

We recently met IT expert Michael Mertens from Sidmouth. He is an experienced computer consultant in East Devon and answered a few questions for our readers.

NewsPaper: Michael, many small businesses have a website these days, but why do quite some people still use email addresses from AOL, BT-Internet, Hotmail, GoogleMail etc.?

Michael Mertens: This puzzles me at times. It looks a bit odd when you have a bright and shiny website but your email address is still that old AOL address.

The reason might well be that people just don’t realise how an email address can have the same domain name as your company website. An example shows best what I mean: www.smith-plumbing.co.uk is a website address and should always be combined with an email address like Jim@smith-plumbing.co.uk and not something like the slightly silly hippo2306@btinternet.co.uk. The latter is ok to make your friends smile, but is it really business-like?

 

NewsPaper: Is this also part of the overall marketing strategy for a business?

Michael Mertens: Absolutely, the email addresses I recommend are also called branded addresses. They are part of any company’s branding. They are also so much easier to remember, which is really important for contacts with new customers. Imagine a prospect emails an enquiry to the wrong company, this can easily mean loss of business.

 

NewsPaper: Isn’t such a branded email address rather costly, especially now in the recession?

Michael Mertens: Not at all, many website hosting packages have it actually included in the price; it just needs to be activated. Any good IT man can set it up in less than an hour. And for those who don’t need or want a website yet, an own domain name with reliable email service is available from various providers for typically around £30 per year, hardly a big investment. Also, you don’t need to close the old email address at all, you can redirect or run it in parallel, no email will be lost.

 

NewsPaper: But what happens if you have to move to a new premises or simply want to change the broadband provider?

Michael Mertens: That’s the beauty of it; email with your own domain name is totally independent from your provider. If you find a better broadband deal from another provider, you retain your email address without any involvement of your old provider. Your entire email setup stays untouched and unchanged, with no interruption whatsoever. Your domain name is owned by you and not by any provider. No risk that you need to print new business cards. No need to change the graphics on your van just because you’re getting a different broadband provider.

 

NewsPaper: Thank you that was quite interesting. One last question, Michael: If any of our readers would like to know more about this or have any other computer related question, could they contact you?

Michael Mertens: Most certainly, I am always happy to help. Please email your questions to questiontime@mertens.co.uk and should I not be able to answer every single email, the answer might well appear in another edition of the NewsPaper.

 

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Michael Mertens is an IT consultant with over 20 years experience. When he doesn’t support businesses on their computer problems he is probably out on the fields with his best friend Harry, a lively Labrador cross. Harry is of course computer literate and even has his own email address harry@mertens.co.uk