What’s a Widget?

A widget is a small utility working in the background, looking for specific information for you on the Internet and aggregating it in a specific location. For example, the weather forecast for the next week in your city, currency exchange, digital clock, your favorite stocks ticker, TV broadcasting and so on. Almost everything that you need to have current. In technical language, widgets are small JavaScripts applications running a widget engine on a user computer under MS Windows or Mac operating systems. Originally called Konfabulator, they were recently acquired by Yahoo! and now widgets are commonly known as Yahoo! Widgets.

How Do You Use It?

First of all, you need to download a widget engine from Yahoo and install it on your computer. This will allow you to access more than 3,000 different widgets created for this engine. There are several designed specifically for photographers, and particularly for those who are actively selling photos to stock and microstock agencies.

There are several widgets for iStockPhoto such us iStockWatcher, iStockDash and iStockphoto-PC Widget. All of them are free. iStockWatcher works under the Yahoo! Widget engine only and has an iStockwatch Lite version with some limitations. This watcher gathers information such as last selling, statistics, personal message notifications, new forum and blog topics, news and so on.

iStockDash is Dashboard Widget for the Mac operating system only. There are no big differences in functionalities from the one mentioned above.

In contrast, iStockphoto-PC Widget is an MS Windows version that contains everything you need to work autonomously. In other words, you do not need to install the Yahoo! Widget engine first, but rather everything is inside this widget package, so you just download and install it, and it is ready to work.

There is another one that covers all of the above and more. I’m talking about MicroStock Watcher. This widget keeps you up to date on iStockPhoto, Dreamstime, Fotolia, Shutterstock, Stockxpert, and LuckyOliver. And the list of microstocks is growing. But, this widget is shareware with a trial period.

For those who are only interesting in photos themselves, there are several widgets working with photo sharing Web-sites like Flickr. They’ll show you recent photos in selected categories, travelers’ stories and so on. To find out more try to make a search both in the Internet and Yahoo widgets page.

The Guppy Tank – Assessment of the Real Small Business

I must admit that I proudly proclaim that I don’t watch reality shows. However, that’s not really true. I am an avid follower of ABC’s “Shark Tank” series. The question is why, and what do I learn from that show that can be applied to my business?

While we all strive for the multi-million dollar or even billion dollar business, the truth is that most of us would be happy to have a small business that satisfies our needs – both in terms of income and satisfaction. We will likely not develop a business in which Mark Cuban would want to invest. So let’s take a look at our business interests as they might be evaluated by smaller investors in the “Guppy Tank”.

A small business, by my definition, is a business that often starts from scratch, employs the owners, perhaps some family members, and a few others. Initially, at least, the business struggles with sales and is faced with at least some periods of negative cash flow. This, of course, differs from the definition of a small business that might include 50 workers and have five million dollars in sales. With this definition in mind, let’s follow a hypothetical business into the “Guppy Tank”.

Our show opens with the introduction of three possible investors. Each has had some level of small business success of his/her own. They represent hard work, good planning, and the recognition that not all small business owners will get to this point.

Next, in comes the owner of business “X” which designs, manufactures, markets, and sells widgets. The widgets could be a consumer product or service. It really doesn’t matter. The owner of business “X” introduces his or her widgets with some fanfare. He or she explains why business “X’s” widget is so much better than any other widget out there and why it occupies a unique niche in the developing market. Everyone is properly impressed at this point.

Our guppies, however, know nothing about the widget or business “X” or the person or persons behind it. The questions begin.

Guppy 1 asks how business “X’s” founder and owner, whom we’ll call Sandy, got into this business. The question, of course, is intended to find out more about Sandy. What is Sandy’s background? Does Sandy have prior business experience? Is Sandy committed to this business? Where did the idea for the widget come from?

Guppy 2 asks questions about the widget and its current acceptance in the market. Is the item selling now? What is the market? What do we really know about the market? How did Sandy form her projections?

Guppy 3’s inquiry is focused on the financial needs of business “X”. What is needed now? What will those dollars accomplish? What will future needs be? And, of course, what’s in it for the guppy that invests.

In our show, the guppies get their answers, are impressed with the widget, with Sandy, and with the future prospects. They fight over investing in business “X” and Sandy. Sandy has succeeded. But how?

Sandy demonstrated by her answers to Guppy 1 that she is passionate about her small business. She has always been willing to work long and sometimes stressful hours because she enjoys the enterprise. She sacrifices for her business. Her widget came about from a combination of prior experience and a love for the product or service. The business provides Sandy with more than a job. It is her vocation and hobby rolled into one. Hard work – yes. Time consuming – yes. She says “Bring it on!!”

To Guppy 2 Sandy presents some data about the product and market. The guppies and Sandy know that the data was less than stellar since there was no practical way to do a full-blown analysis. But it was clear that Sandy had thought this through. She had tested the market as best she could. The results were more than encouraging. Sandy is the expert when it comes to her widget and it shows.

And as for Guppy 3’s focus, Sandy presented a picture in sufficient detail as to how the funds would be used, how they would increase sales, and how profits would benefit. Sandy had done her homework.

As the show comes to an end, we are very happy for Sandy’s success and can’t help but wonder “how would I have done” in the Guppy Tank.

The lessons from the tank are simple. In order to achieve success, we have to be passionate about our business. We must understand our market. The ultimate bases for decision making in any business, cash flow and profit, must be no strangers to our thinking. Planning is essential. And we have to understand and keep within our available resources.

But we knew all of that, didn’t we?

Widget Marketing-Can Widgets Benefit B2B Sites

There has been a lot of “buzz” about widgets and widget marketing recently as creative online marketers have discovered the use of widgets. Widgets are simply pieces of embeddable code that can be found on one site, and embedded in another that can be used to promote your own site or blog. Widgets have become popular with users of online communities as a result the business of marketing via widgets is a great way for site owners (including B2B sites) to promote their content and business.

Widget marketing is starting to catch on in the online marketing world. Today there was a great post by Nick Wilson over at Search Engine Land on link baiting for 2007. According to Nick, a major component of link baiting in 2007 will be “widget baiting”. Widget marketing has been discussed in a number of blogs over recent months. In fact, back in November, Top Rank Blog had posted a great interview with Lawrence Coburn on Marketing with Widgets. Coburn is one of the pioneers in widget marketing

How Can Widgets Help B2B Sites?

Simply put, widgets are all about providing your users with the tools to promote your B2B business or any business/online property for that matter. For B2B marketers, widgets offer the potential to be a means of acquiring new customers at a minimal cost, promotion of your site’s presence out to the rest of the Web, and can provide a traffic source to help build your external link inventory.

Widgets are a great way for promoting your site and your content. For B2B sites, which are looking to create streaming media channels (combining audio, video, photos, text, and RSS feeds etc) and broadcast them live across their site’s pages or blog, widgets can help accomplish this. Sites like splashcast specialize in just that.

As I result we have compiled a list of our favorite widgets and widget related sites:

Top 10 Favorite Widget Sites for B2B Search Marketing

My Blog Log

Mashable.com

Widgetoko

Snipperoo

Reuters Widget

Spring Widgets

Word Press Widgets

Poll Daddy

Business Week Widget

My Blog Log is currently my personal favorite as it is very user friendly and is home to a number of interesting and diverse blogs

Honorable Mentions

Sphere.com

I Like.com

Google Gadget Tryouts

Rollyo

Looking for more information on Widgets? Check out the following resources:

http://www.widgetgallery.com

http://www.sexywidget.com

[http://www.cameronolthuis.com/category/widgets]

http://widgets.opera.com

http://blog.snipperoo.com/marketing_widgets/index.html

http://www.widgetslab.com

While widget baiting can be time consuming, the results can be tremendous. Can widgets benefit B2B sites? Most definitely providing that you have a strategy for widget marketing, widgets can help B2B site owners promote their sites, their solutions and their brand.