Monday, February 28, 2011

Business Tools That Save Time & Money Part II

When it comes to running your business, what online or offline tool/ product/ service do you find has saved you time and money and helped you run your business more effectively in one or more of these areas:

Office Setup
Legal Advice

Jeff McCloud of Black Card Marketing Group offered the following ......

Current favourite is MindMeister. It's a collaborative mindmapping tool. I use it to set up complex campaigns, todo tasks, map out websites (and track progress), visually delegate tasks, map out marketing/sales/fulfillment strategy, and a handful of other things. It's the best tool I've ever used for visually organizing complex things (and collaborating on them with others!). I've tried project management software (celoxis, MS Project Manager), task management (Basecamp, Manymoon, paper), collaborative tools (google docs, google wave) and none of this compares. Cost is $9 per month.

2nd place: MyPhoneRoom. When a lead fills out a form online their info gets passed to the call centre in Phoenix realtime (about a 15 min lag usually). We give them a script (which they help us optimize) and they qualify leads for us. They go through an entire qualification flow to make sure the person is truly qualified before either booking an appointment right into our calendar, or three-waying in a sales person to close the sale right there. They charge $2 each time they disqualify a lead (it's worth it to not tie up my time with people who aren't qualified), and $3 each time they qualify one!

Time Driver is magic for me. I tie it into my gC and then pre-define times I have potentially available for meetings. Then I can send people to the calendar to book in their own meeting with me. They view the pre-defined available times (and if I have a meeting during one of them Time Driver catches that and marks that time unavailable), and choose the time that works best for them. I can even have it prompt them for their phone number, or specific questions that gets saved in the notes field of the appointment it auto-books into my gCal.

Fun one:

Jing! This is like having a mini, ultra handy, pseudo Camptasia at your finger tips. It has a hidden, floating activation button (and hot key if need be) for taking screen shots, or screen vids. Vids are max 5 min, but what they do with the media is the gold...Jing instantly posts it to a free file hosting site and pastes the link to it on your clipboard for mega easy sharing. Best part is it's free. You can upgrade for less than $15/yr and be able to post directly to facebook, twitter, and youtube. It's an absolutely must have for explaining things to people who can't just come look at your screen (ie, members of a virtual team, virtual assistants, non-entrepreneurs who go to bed at a reasonable hour, etc).


Keyboard Maestro saves me tons of time as I use 'short codes' and 'hot keys' to store passwords, and long strings of info (you can also do scripts/macros but I haven't fiddled with that yet). For instance, I have a short code telling people to book time into my calendar and the link for it from Time Drive saved. I have one for my "Office Hours", half hour appointments and full hour appointments. PC equivalent is Perfect Keyboard.

Animoto: bad-ass videos made in two shakes of a lambs tail. Really cool.

Google Search Story Tool: create a Google Search Store in like 8 minutes...also bad ass.

Infusionsoft: This is a little more h-core. This is the mother ship of all email marketing 2.0. It has killer email marketing tools, analytics, tracking, e-comm rolled in, and sophisticated CRM. This is the Lamborghini of Internet Marketing.

InfusionWP: I would have put this in my top three, but it only works if you use Infusionsoft. I wont go into it but to say that if you are using Infusionsoft, you've got no idea how much IWP can leverage it. It's like putting a reliable autopilot on your Lambo!

Articulate: this takes video, ppt, voice over, flash, and every other powerful media type and puts them in a stunning presentation. If you've never seen an articulate presentation, then you've never seen sales! But beware, this is BLOODY pricy.

A few givens:

-Google Docs (especially Google Forms)
-Google Wave
-Time Machine