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Tuesday Tool Day

Top 10 Tools to Connect You to Your Customers

In my presentations, I talk about tools last, because it’s all about the value you provide first, and then the tools you use to manage those relationships second.

Top 10

Here are my top 10+ favorite tools to connect you to your customers. I’ll be doing reviews of many of these in the future.

If you use these tools, I may get more time on my subscription or a few dollars in my pocket. I use each of these all the time and I LOVE them!

WordPress Tools That Don’t Suck: Interview with Jeremy Wright of @23press

NOTE from Phil: A few years back I was writing a blog called Slacker Manager, about what life was like as a manager. It was on a blog network called b5 Media, and we had some really awesome folks in our network. The CEO of this company was a super smart guy by the name of Jeremy Wright. I got to know him a little bit online, and then I finally got to meet him in person at SOBCon, where I karaoke’d my butt off with him. He’s got a new company that makes awesome products that I’m using with many of my clients. I begged him to give my readers a discount, as well as answer a few questions about his company, and he obliged.

Jeremy WrightPhil: Tell us about your background?

Jeremy: Well, I’m a blogger at heart. I no longer have time, so I’m a Very Bad Blogger, but I started blogging in 2001-2002 and ended up founding what became one of the largest blog networks in the world. I was CEO, we raised a bunch of funding, grew really big and then I burnt out cause I forgot the whole “you’re only human” part!

I’ve spent the last few years juggling between agency life and startup life – helping startups grow quickly, and helping agencies transition to more digitally-focused models.

PG: And I know it’s not just you who else is on your team and what is their background?

JW: Terry Smith is our other Founder. I actually hired Terry at b5media (that blog network I mentioned earlier!) as a Junior Developer, and over the last few years he grew into the Lead Developer at b5, up until it was sold a few months ago.

We have a few other folk involved on the team, advisory board and investors that aren’t public (yet), but we’re looking forward to everyone saying hi soon!

PG: What is 23press?

JW: We were built on one simple premise: WordPress is a pain in the ass, and it really should be easier for regular humans to use. For us, this means we currently offer an end-to-end service, as well as a couple of products. The products are BackupPress (the best premium backups out there, including the ability to Undo any screw-ups you have! Think of it like TimeMachine for WordPress.

Our second product is Move That Blog. It’s a touch niche, but if you’ve ever had to move your blog from one host to another, it’s a massive pain! It can take 10-40 hours. We do it in close to one click for $10.

And the service is something we really love. Basically you dump all of the crap of WordPress on us, and we make it really, really sing. We’ll update templates, give you plugin suggestions, host the blog, optimize it, back it up, keep it secure… And our concierge service allows you to spend our Credits to get extra services like a new design, research, tool suggestions and other stuff for free!

PG: Why did you create these products?

JW: That’s easy! WordPress is a pain. It shouldn’t be. Every business that needs a website, or blogger that needs a blog, should be able to run their site/blog easily and not worry about all the backend crap. As Terry likes to say: we help our customers get back to blogging.

PG: What problems do your products solve for small businesses?

JW: If you’ve ever wanted a concierge or a butler for your blog, that’s us. We take care of absolutely everything, and all you have to do is look pretty.

PG: What else should we know?

JW: BackupPress really is awesome, and at $5/month, it’s a steal. Our upcoming Managed WordPress service (better name is pending, sorry) is in testing now but will be priced at $25/month so if you’re interested, drop me a line at Jeremy@23press.com.

PG: What’s next for 23press?

JW: The next really big step for us is that we want to work with people who are already providing WordPress services of some kind (designers, devs, consultants) so we can help them build a passive revenue stream. Basically we will be building out a full white label solution, so you can offer all of these services to your customers, charge them whatever you want, and we process the payment and send you a big cheque every month. So for designers that launch 4-5 new sites a month, by the end of the year you could be pocketing $3-4K/month for doing no work at all.

Phil Gerbyshak Jeremy Wright do karaoke

Phil: OK, I want a discount for my readers. What can you do to hook them up?

Jeremy: Hah, how could I not spread some love to your readers after all the karaoke and other stuff we’ve been through over the years?! For those who want to join us in our beta program for website hosting, we’ll give you 20% off at www.23press.com and we’ll get you moving!

YOUR TURN: There you go folks. 20% off of your hosting, thanks to one Mr. Jeremy Wright (and Terry too!). It just doesn’t get any better than that. Go getcha some, and if you’re not 100% satisfied, Jeremy and Terry will fix it and make it RAWK!

Capture All the Information From Your Email Contacts While You Sleep

Free stuff alert: You can get a free trial of this service by scrolling all the way to the bottom of this article – but you probably don’t know or care yet. Just letting those of you that pan and scan know right up front.

Picture this: You just got back from a networking event, and you exchange e-mails with someone you want to schedule a meeting with, because you know how important it is to connect the offline to the online back to the offline. And you’re busy, so you never find the time to enter that person’s contact info into your contacts – and you need to call them right now because you got lost on the way to see them at their office and the GPS directions you have aren’t quite right – you’re going down Oakwood Avenue and you need to be on Oakwood Road. So you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, and you vow to never let that happen again!!!!

And yes – this has happened to me PLENTY. I vow to update my contacts as soon as I get back from a networking event – but I never do. It often stops at the first email back and forth, and yes, I occasionally get lost.

So I’ve been looking for a better way.

For a LONG time.

About a month ago, I found WriteThat.Name, a web service that scans all my incoming emails and automatically creates contact cards from email signatures. Helpful for me – and helpful for my contacts.

And the best part… it’s done while I sleep!  How cool is that?

WriteThatname

I signed up for WriteThat.Name on March 28th and have already had 56 contacts automatically updated. I’m on their premium plan which is $20/yr and will continue to update any new contacts I have without an ounce of effort from me. (Anyone that tries out the service gets the premium plan the first month then moves to freemium).

I also tried out their extra service, HistoRecall, and got a whopping 540 updates (culled from 52639 emails!), hence all of the people from last year whose info I didn’t have, and all of this instantly went into my address book. Pretty cool, eh, and all that for a mere $20!

And according to Brad at WriteThat.Name, I am in their Hall of Fame (for top 20 updates ever). Most folks get between 50-250, and the most ever was 1456. Pretty cool!

If the service was just awesomely helpful, it would be worth the small investment I made in it. But the best part is the personalized service I got when I realized I signed up for the wrong service. Brad emailed me to reassure me everything would be fine, he pointed me (with a link RIGHT to the page on their site) that was for the right service. And I got a personal email when the process ended so I would know all my updates were done.

Because I love this service so much, I asked Brad if I could give away a subscription to all my readers. He said no (dang it!) but he did give me a 1 year premium subscription of each service to give away – to 2 lucky commenters.

ENTRY RULES: Leave a comment between now and May 11th, 2012 at 5 PM central time on this post with your BEST email story (anything related to email will work). I’ll pick 2 winners at random and connect you with Brad so you can give this service a good shot for the next 12 months or benefit from HistoRecall.

And definitely check it out, either way, as EVERYONE gets a free basic account of WriteThat.Name, just for signing up.

 

Social Media on my Mobile Phone (top row)

This week’s tool is actually several tools that I use on my mobile phone to manage my social media life for me – and for my clients. Many you may recognize, but others you may not. Believe it or not, before they worked with me, some of my clients think they need to go to the website of the social media service to manage them, and explaining how I use them may help others understand how they could better use them – or share how they use them so I can be better at what I do.

NOTE: All of these applications are free to use. I am currently using an iPhone 4s, but all of these applications are available for the Android – and may even be better on the Android that on the iPhone. These are my top row. I’ll be posting the rest on future Tuesdays.

social mobile on my phone top row

Google+- I use Google+ to post to Google+, to find interesting things that I might share on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and to upload interesting photos I find or take. Mostly a consumption application, though occasionally I will post something from the mobile application – or at least I can re-share the good stuff. You need a Google account to use this application.

LinkedIn – I use LinkedIn for finding connections in common, for accepting LinkedIn requests and for responding to e-mails people send using LinkedIn. I do NOT decline connection requests via the mobile app (unless it’s an obvious spammer). Seldom do I make connection requests. Reason: I like to reply to those I don’t know who send me LinkedIn invites and find out how I might know them – or how we might benefit each other. I don’t make connection requests because I can’t personalize the invitation – and I don’t want anyone (even if they know me SUPER well) to think I’m a spammer!

Facebook – Great for managing my personal profile, accepting friend requests, managing a group and replying to Facebook messages. Can be a challenge to manage my client’s pages, as I’m never sure if I’m logged in as the page or as me – and I normally need to be logged in as my client if I’ll be posting on their wall.

Foursquare – I like Foursquare a lot, as it helps me see where my friends are, helps me explore neighborhoods I’m unfamiliar with, and allows me to stay connected to my friends and clients and show them how they could use it for their businesses. I also try to upload photos of locations I’m at or people I am with. I don’t post everywhere I check in to Twitter or Facebook but I do post some pictures and some check-ins if I’m trying to build buzz for a location or if I’m going to say something I think may be helpful to others.

YOUR TURN: How would YOU use these 4 tools for your small business social media efforts?

I’ll Tungle For Ya – Scheduling Made Simple

One of the things I miss about corporate America is the ability in real time to book appointments with people who want to work with me. It was easy because we were all on the same e-mail and calendar platform, I could see anytime, anywhere, when people had time to meet, and I could request a meeting simply and easily.

When I went full-time in my own small business, I didn’t have the luxury (or the capital) to set up a full-blown calendaring solution for me – and even if I had the money and the time, it wouldn’t have worked for scheduling meetings with my clients who were not on the same servers as I was.

Enter Tungle – an even better tool than what I had in corporate America.

It’s simple – you just sign up for a Tungle account (http://tungle.me), synchronize your calendar, then you share your Tungle URL with people who want to book your time.

Simple – easy and painless. And it’s free.

Tungle’s website has 3 things they tout – and they work great!

1) Share your calendar so people can book it – without sharing details

2) Reply to meeting requests and send invitations from your mobile device.

3) Synchronize the calendar you’re already using with Tungle so you can have 1 up-to-date calendar – and so you don’t get double booked.

If you’ve had trouble getting meetings and appointments scheduled with your customers and potential customers, give Tungle a try.

If you want to see my calendar in action, check out http://tungle.me/philgerb

YOUR TURN: What’s your biggest challenge scheduling? What other calendaring program do you use to help you overcome this problem?

5 Ways to Find More Time In Your Day

All of the business owners I know are very busy. They all need more time in their day, and they need it now.

I need more time in my day too. So I’ve been looking for ways to find more time, and I came up with 5 ways that are most effective in finding more time in my day, that you can use to find more time in YOUR day.

I need more time 24/7/365

5 Ways to Find More Time In Your Day

Make a plan for your day – Every morning, look at your calendar, and make a plan for your day. Add in time right now for planning before any meeting you need to prep for, and time after a meeting if you need to debrief and type up notes or send out a proposal.  Make a good plan for the day – and then do everything you can to stick to it.

Batch tasks whenever possible – Anything that can be done together gets done together. Email replies. Sending emails. Outgoing phone calls. Text messages. Whatever I can batch, I batch. What can you group together to do all at one time?

Focus for short periods of time – and then get up and out of your chair – I’ll admit it – I can’t sit still for more than 30 minutes without losing focus or getting bored. So rather than force myself to sit for 30 minutes, I go for 20 minutes – and then I move around. How long can you sit still or do one thing with extreme focus? Do it for that long – And don’t force yourself to do more and watch your productivity soar.

Find things that can be done in 5 minutes or less – I often end up waiting between client meetings for 5 or 10 minutes, either in my car or at a coffee shop. I try to find things (like replying to Twitter people, accepting LinkedIn connections, wishing people a happy birthday on Facebook) I can do in 5 minutes or less – and then I do them when I’m waiting. Makes me more productive – and prevents me from getting sucked in beyond 5 or 10 minutes because clients come first.

Plan for interruptions – I expect to be interrupted at least a few times a day, so I plan for it. I never book a full 8 hours worth of stuff, and I always leave myself travel time so I don’t speed (or get speeding tickets) and time to think, and sometimes even to relax.

Doing all of this adds up to at least an extra hour a day of my time that I can spend doing other important things.

Want more tips? Over at Business on Main, Chris Brogan shared more tips to help you find more time in your day.

What about you? How do you find more time in your day? Share your favorite tips in the comments so we can all learn from your experiences.

Disclaimer: My blog is a part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis.

[HOW TO] Video Testimonials Made Simple

One of the most important things you can do for your business is getting testimonials from the customers you’ve delighted. While it would be great if your happy customers would go out in the world, passing out your business cards, sales literature, and otherwise saying amazing things about you, it’s doubtful your prospects will come in contact with your customers online in real time.

Enter the video testimonial

Video testimonials are a great way to capture this real time love from your customers who love you, and allows you to place it anywhere you want it. The best place to put a video testimonial is right at the point of decision – so when folks are deciding whether or not to do business with you, there’s a video right there to say “Yes, do business with Phil. He’s awesome.” If done well, it’s a great way to prove to your prospects that you are worth working with.

Video testimonials have been relatively difficult to capture from non-technology savvy customers. You’ve had to ask people to use their camera, to save it, to e-mail it to you or put it on their YouTube channel, and then you could embed it somewhere. That is NOT easy for most people.

Another way would be to go to a customer’s location and film them saying nice things about you – in front of you – RIGHT NOW! While that can be successful, usually it isn’t, because you’re putting someone on the spot, and you’re there to make them nervous. Yikes – that can be way uncomfortable for everyone.

The last way I used to hear about gathering testimonials is to send out a camera crew to video tape your customers. This was expensive and often time consuming for your customers – making them unwilling to help because they didn’t have an hour or two to get something just right.

Until now, it was very hard to get those wonderfully powerful video testimonials.

Enter Bravo Video

A few weeks back I was contacted by John at Bravo to check out their new way of capturing video testimonials. And boy – is it EASY and effective.

How to capture video testimonials with Bravo

1) Sign up at http://getbravo.com If you use code MAKEITGREAT you can take 25% off your first month’s bill.

2) Customize your page in 5 minutes or less (I just uploaded my photo and changed a bit of wording).

3) Send your happy customers an e-mail with a link to your Bravo site (my site is at http://makeitgreat.getbravo.com). If you’re not a writer, don’t worry – they have resources to help you.

4) Watch the testimonials roll in.

Seriously – it really is that simple to ask for testimonials. Of course, you have to WOW your customers first, but if you are, you should be able to capture at least a few testimonials this way.

Your customers only have to:

1) Click the link

2) Click the button to record the video.

3) Enter a minimal amount of info

4) Save the video.

Video testimonials made simple - and 25% off your first month

What are you waiting for? Go get yourself some customer testimonials at http://getbravo.com and remember, if you use code MAKEITGREAT you can take 25% off your first month’s bill.

Disclaimer: If you use my code, I get enough money to buy a cup of coffee, or maybe 2 cups of coffee, though I suppose if 1 million people sign up, I could probably buy some new glasses. But you get 25% off your first month, and I don’t endorse anything I don’t love, so it’s win win. 

Update All Your Social Media Profiles Easily

As a small business owner who is working to get more involved on social media, you’ve probably created profiles on a bunch of different social media networks. Congratulations!

And now you realize you need to update your profile photos, or your bios, because something has changed.

CRAP!

That will take you all day!

Until now.

Enter BlissControl. It let’s you quickly and easily find where to update quite a bit of your information on many of the most popular networks. Most importantly, it’s very simple to use.

Step 1: Pick what you want to do.

Step 2: Pick where you want to do it.

Step 3: Click go.

And it will provide a link to the relevant pages to do it. SUPER simple and helpful for busy folks like you and me.

My one recommendation for improvement: provide an authorization for each network so you can make the changes in one place.

I encourage you: If you need to easily update your settings on your social networkss, check out BlissControl.

[Note from Phil: This is part of a new series I'm starting tool Tuesday Tool Day. I'll be reviewing a tool on Tuesdays (hence the name) that can make your life a little easier. I hope it is useful for your small business.]

Wordle: Make Your Text More Visual

If you haven’t played with Wordle yet, take a few minutes and check it out. It’s a visual way to see the words you write about, think about, and blog about.

Mike Sansone's Wordle

This is Mike Sansone’s Wordle cloud. I’m working on mine, and will share it very soon.

A few things I’m going to do with this cool tool:

  • Insert it into a presentation to make a point at the beginning to show folks what you’ll be sharing
  • Insert it at the end of your presentation to show people what you already told them
  • Tell someone about your personal brand and what you stand for
  • See what the most popular words are in your article so you know what key words you might want to tag the article with

What else could you do with Wordle?

If you do a Wordle with your blog, please leave a link below so we can all take a look at it.

Flickr photo credit from Mike Sansone

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