Our FlexTeams have been using several user-friendly, newer techie tools for expressing creative ideas, online ‘cloud’ sharing, social media, and advertising and promotions.
The marketing workplace and marketplace have changed dramatically in the last 3 years or so, partly due to ‘the cloud.’ Strategies, communication and research efforts can be implemented so much faster, more efficiently and more easily.
During that time we’ve discovered Dropbox, Wordle, Keyword Tool, Facebook ads, Hootsuite, Mail Chimp… and Apple’s iPad, iCloud and Keynote program.
Online business marketing & communication tools
DROPBOX. It’s such an easy way to share files among team members. As the name suggests, once you set up Dropbox you simply drag and drop files into a project or client folder right on your desktop, even though it’s really in ‘the cloud.’ Invite as many people as you wish to share particular folders. Right now we have 7 folders set up for 7 different clients or projects with 7 separate sets of people invited to share. (2.5 Gb free; get more free Gbs when you invite people)
WORDLE. At first Wordle seems like a graphical toy to transform hundreds, even thousands, of words into colorful, arty ‘word cloud’ diagrams. There are so many variations possible in terms of color, fonts and layout. We’ve used it twice to quickly visualize the results of hundreds of consumer surveys and once to analyze website keywords for specialized vacation properties. We like to limit the number of individual words displayed to 15-20. Otherwise the word cloud gets too jumbled. (free)
Below is an example of a Wordle cloud we created from the 109 responses to a question on a Brand Audit survey we did for a human services provider. It helped to identify key branding characteristics.
KEYWORD TOOL. Google also calls this Google AdWords because their main intent was to help you create ads that would return strong search results. But we use it to look for the best keywords to use on the websites we build and administer. Again, easy to use. We don’t necessarily look for the most frequently used keywords for searches, but rather ones that have lower “competition” but still relatively high volume in “local monthly searches.” (free)
HOOTSUITE. Calling itself a “social media management dashboard,” this is a great time saving tool if you’re using social media. Hootsuite allows you to post to more than one social media site simultaneously (but you also have to be an admin on those sites). So, for one client we can post to two Facebook pages and his Twitter feed at one time. Cool. Easy. (free)
FACEBOOK ADS. We’ve had some interesting success with Facebook ads for two clients. One client is now up to 1,550,000 impressions and has gotten 404 clicks; the 10 Facebook ads and links to their website from their Facebook page make it the leading referring site for Master Remodelers. Plus, the ads give them enormous social “reach” on Facebook.
MAIL CHIMP. One of our associates swears by Mail Chimp and publishes 3 regular e-newsletters with it. She says it very easy to use and design in—while we’ve heard numerous complaints about Constant Contact. Plus, like the others, you can measure the results of your mailing. (pricing starts at $10/month for up to 500 addresses and as many mailings as you want in a month)
Other cool Tech Tools—Apple products & services
The iPad is a versatile, user-friendly business and marketing tool; we especially love the way it can instantly display our portfolios and case studies.
THE iCLOUD. We haven’t really tapped into Apple’s new iCloud services much yet.
But it’s great to have iCalendars and Address Books sync automatically and wirelessly between the iMac and the iPad—instantly.
Next comes the iPhone as part of the tech team.
KEYNOTE. A powerpoint-like element of Apple’s iWorks, Keynote is so easy to use to create presentations, and even simple videos. (See a sample reconstruction slide show for a contractor) It’s so intuitive and includes drag and drop features for adding images. It even has basic photoshop-like features that gives lots of image control. And it’s great for quickly mocking up ads for print and banners. (From $9.99 for mobile to $19.99 for desktops)