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smart phone and mouse on desk top with text fantastic apps for small businesses: part 1

Fantastic Apps for Small Businesses

By | Business Practices | No Comments

Running a business takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to be successful. Wouldn’t it be great if some sort of tools existed to make your life a little easier? We’ve got great news for you, because those tools do exist. We’ve put together a list of apps for a variety of small business uses. Here they are:

1. Trello for Project Management

Trello is an awesome platform to manage projects and deadlines. We use it to manage our blog posts — like this one. It has an easy-to-use interface that lets users categorize projects however they want on different boards. We have boards for ideas, blogs we’re writing, finishing touches like proofreading, blog promotion, and published blogs.

Users can create tasks, add checklists, and even add or remove team members from the tasks. Trello makes communication easy for team members with messaging within each task, and users have no excuses when it comes to receiving messages or not: Trello notifies users via email.

2. Google Drive for Data Storage

We use Google Drive for pretty much everything data-related. It lets users edit and port files from PCs to smartphones to tablets. Google Drive is a fully-featured office suite that acts as a full cloud drive, so you can store any file via a web interface or virtual drive app. Google apps is moving to repeat its success in small business webmail with cloud storage. The five free gigabytes of storage Google includes is just virtual icing on the digital cake.

3. Constant Contact for Email Marketing

Constant Contact makes email marketing seamless. You can use it to manage subscribers, and also create and optimize targeted email campaigns. The tool offers analytics so you can see how many people actually open your emails, and, more importantly, click from the email to your website. You can continually test and optimize your content and try new ways of doing things with that data.

Turn The Page uses these apps to make our lives just a little more efficient. We are freaky about results, and are always looking for ways to deliver. For more information on making your life just a little easier, call us at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001. Stay tuned for Part II of Fantastic Apps for Small Businesses!

 

 

Business and Social Media

By | Branding, Social Media | No Comments

By now you have surely heard of a little website called, Facebook. Well, maybe not so little these days but when I first heard of the site, it actually was little compared to what it is today. It was very basic, used primarily by students, and my mom most definitely wasn’t a ‘friend’.

What any business owner needs to know about Facebook is listed first on their statistics page: ‘More than 800 million active users’. Further down the page, you’ll read ‘More than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices’. I can’t help it…I’m cheesy and going to say it. If you have your Facebook business page up and running, users (potential customers) literally have your information at their fingertips!

By having a current and active business page, you can engage users (potential customers) daily by posting blogs, photos of products or projects, topics of the industry, deals or specials, events you’re involved in the neighborhood, etc. There is no end to how you can reach out to customers and keep them informed and interested in your business. You probably already know this and I am telling you nothing new. But it never hurts to hear it again that social media does actually work to draw in a customer base.

For example, I am not a car expert. I have one. I have driven a few since getting my license way back when but when it comes to fixing them, oh no. I leave that to the experts. With so many car mechanics out there these days, who does one go to? Unless you have a trusted auto service you and your family
have used for years, today’s consumer needs to do their research and know who they can turn to when they turn the key and hear eeerrrrrkkkkkkkkkk. Click. Click. Sigh (from me). Fortunately when this happened to me last week in Kansas City, I knew who to call immediately who could take care of whatever was going on under the hood. This fantastic auto repair shop in Kansas City that I speak of came by recommendation of a friend on Facebook who had nothing but great things to say of their
work. I ‘liked’ their page because of the recommendation that came so highly but as the weeks
went by, I was really impressed with the interaction this place had with their customers. I knew
that this wasn’t going to be Crusty Bob’s In & Out Auto Shop where the most personality of the
staff was in the hound dog laying at the door.

So I logged on Facebook, because I am most certainly one of those 350 million mobile users, found their phone number, arranged for the kind folks at Sallas Auto Repair to come pick up my car and it was finished that afternoon. All on a Friday. That is convenience and service at its best. There are several social media options out there that draw in users each and every day. If your business isn’t taking advantage of the free and definitely accessible markets already then you might just be the last one left in the yellow pages!

Use Evernote to Keep Your Business Organized

By | Blog, Business Growth, Email, Local Business | No Comments

If disorganization was a common character trait among the biggest business men and women in the world, I’d have been the next Zuckerberg by now. But let’s face it, I’m just not organized enough and have a hard time getting a hold of what I actually need to do to prioritize business needs and wants.

Running a business should be fluid and organic; sales should crescendo in peak seasons like an orchestra before their maestro with his arms raised high. Anticipation should pour out in the planning and strategic times, yet still remain profitable. However, your business may not feel like that. So what’s lacking? It might be organization.

Staying organized can be easy. You just need to focus, block out distractions, and prioritize. Luckily, this is where technology excels.

Evernote is a tool many people use to remember a wide array of things. From websites they’ve found useful, to the milk on their grocery run, to flowers for their wife on their anniversary. Evernote can be used for many reasons, but it’s main function is to stay organized. I’m going to take you down a path of organization, and today, Evernote is going to be the vehicle.

1. Keep track of customers.

Evernote allows you to create different notebooks. Within a notebook you can put pictures, audio files, and text; plus it can store passwords or links; think of it as a digital file cabinet. Start by creating a notebook for each client or customer. You will then be able to save PDF’s, documents, client conversations and everything specific to the client/customer. That way, when you want to look them up later, all the information is available in that one notebook.

2. Use Evernote’s email function.

When you sign up for Evernote, you automatically receive an Evernote email address. This isn’t a typical email address you check everyday and write emails to others from. Evernote’s email function is just to receive anything sent to it. For instance, if you send an email to the Evernote address, the content of the email you sent will appear inside Evernote ready to be filed. You can add certain items to the subject line in the email to tell Evernote what to do with the email. If you have a notebook called Bank-Statement, you can add @Bank-Statements to the subject line of the email and it will automatically go to that notebook. This is useful because instead of having to search through your regular email address, all your bank statements will be sent to one location. Then you can just click on your Bank Statements notebook in Evernote and see all the bank statements.

3. Save important documents.

Like a traditional file cabinet, you keep all your files and forms stored for later use. Instead of having physical copies of your forms and files, just save them inside a notebook on Evernote. That way you can access them easily. Forms like 1099’s, W-2, or employee applications would be good examples.

4. Share meeting notes.

One nice feature with Evernote is the ability to share your notes with anyone. If you sit in a meeting and take notes, you can put all those in an Evernote notebook and then share it with everyone that was in the meeting. You can create a notebook specifically for meeting notes; that way you can easily access past notes and remember what was discussed in previous meetings.

5. Store brand names and parts specific to your business.

Ever been on a office supply run and couldn’t remember what type of printer cartridges your office printer takes? Keep track of that information in a notebook in Evernote. This notebook can be shared across the company to let others know the names and product numbers for refills may be needed. Then, no matter who is on the office supply run will know the products used in the office.

These are just a few simple ways Evernote can be utilized to get your business more organized. Find ways to damper the static that distracts you from growing your business by using technology. Stop wasting time searching through emails and databases to find information that is crucial to the operation of your business and store it all in one easy to find place. Evernote could be the solution you’ve been needing to finally get you organized.

3 Tips For Maintaining Your Passion While Business Is Slow

By | Content Marketing, Local Business, Online Experts, Online Marketing, Small business | No Comments

During June, many companies experience a drastic slump in the amount of business that they do. Restaurants find themselves losing out to backyard barbeques. Retail businesses notice that their clients are spending more time at the pool and less time browsing in their stores. Service based businesses suffer because their clients have left their homes for summer vacations. While this decline in traffic might seem like a great chance to take a breather and recharge, many business owners find themselves struggling to maintain a sense of passion for their business when customers aren’t buying.

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Put the “Happy” Back in Your Employees’ Holidays

By | Business Growth, Business Practices, Online Marketing, Small business | No Comments

‘Tis the season where we’re all wishing each other “Happy Holidays” and spreading good cheer, but are you doing everything you can to ensure that your employees actually are happy? Work environment can be a major factor in employee satisfaction and as masters of freaky fun, we’d like to pass along some of our wisdom.

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Don’t Waste it: How to Make the Most of Your Company’s Blog

By | Blog, Blogging | No Comments

So, you set up a blog for your business. You’re ready to start publishing blog posts, but how do you make sure this new blog is worth your time?

Your blog can be more than a few updates posted every few months. When used correctly, your business blog can provide you with leads, teach customers, inform readers of upcoming promotions, and connect you with business partners.

You can knock it out of the park by keeping a few pointers in mind as you develop your company’s blog.

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Quick easy simple

By | Business Listing, Facebook, Online Marketing, Online Reviews, Social Media | No Comments

A few months ago the Midwest was hit by a really bad hail storm, many people had severe hail damage. Before walking into a local business networking meeting I checked my Facebook to see if anything had happened since last time I checked (being honest that was most likely 5 min).  One of my facebook friends that has moved to Florida updated that she needed a roofer to come look at their house her in Kansas City but she didn’t know anyone. I actually have a roofer in my meeting. So I shot her a message telling her I would have him call and slipped him a referral slip. It literally took place in 3 minutes time. This is just one example of how Facebook works for local business – I have hundreds!

We had this discussion yesterday about how Facebook is not a search engine, if I need a nail salon, a spray tan or a high heel fixed (yes I do fix  my favorite pairs) I don’t look it up on Facebook I will Google it. (With that being said your business HAS to be in Google Places or you are missing out on a TON of business) But Facebook is great for your business because you can get recommendations on businesses but you also get the opinion of a friend or someone you know. Let me give another example.

If my girlfriend messages out I want to get pictures taken of my kids I can share 5 different pages of photographer friends that I know. Some I can tell if I was pleased or some I would recommend because I like their work. My friends are more likely to look at a personal recommendation over someone we don’t know.

So to all you local business owners who do not have a Facebook – you HAVE to have a business page for this to even work…  Have a good day and send me your page requests so I can like your business. 😉

Finding Time

By | Business Growth, Local Business, Online Marketing | No Comments

The whole family gathered around the dinner table is an American tradition. Around 40 or 50 years ago the only interruption to this wonderful family event was television or maybe radio. We all remember our Mother’s complaining the TV was ruining the family because we never talked anymore. Moms constantly hit the the “OFF” button, insisting we all sat and talked while we ate. Now the family dinner table has become a “texting” area with regular Facebook updates and tweets (not from the birdies). Sometimes it feels like there is not time to eat. The distractions are limitless. Any conversation seems to center around the latest viral video on Youtube, cool Ipod games or something Aunt Nellie just posted about Uncle Bill. This mobile digital age can make you feel like your drowning in a sea of information – talk about sensory overload. Our ability to siphon what information we will actually ingest is being tested more than ever.  Information is shared like never before; we have more of it, we get it quicker and with loads more detail (sometime a lot more than we need or want). Technology has provided tools to help deal with this information overload more efficiently and make it somewhat manageable. Even so our capacity to deal with so much information is controlled by the limit on hours in the day and the speed that our minds can process information. We are learning to multi-task like never before, if you are reading this post in a coffee shop or restaurant you are probably having a conversation with someone about something completely different.  Mobility drives our ability to absorb more information; we can gather information on the go. Cell phones are used less and less for talking and more for information.

So how does a business owner compete for time and space?

Developing a Mindset

The new online marketing age is permission centric. With so much information available at the touch of a screen, nobody is really interested in having “stuff” interrupting their information filled day. The first step for any business owner to participate is at least to contribute to the information flow. Any business not having a consistent approach to the new digital age is akin to an Ostrich burying their head in the sand. Mobile and digital technology is spreading exponentially into the fabric of our daily lives. If you are a business owner in denial, first take your head out of the sand, if thats where it is, and start participating. If you are not promoting your business ideals online, someone else probably will.

Develop a Plan

Before you go rushing off with a plan on how to assault this digital information highway head on, think for a second. Consistency is key. There is a lot of information online thats a dead end, somebody started and didn’t finish. You need a plan to find the time to contribute on a consistent basis. A business owners day is busy. Finding time for additional tasks requires planning. So lets start with some things to consider when planning how to move into the online marketing arena:

  1. There is no minimum weekly time commitment consistency is key
  2. If you spent 10 hours every day working at it, there is still more to do
  3. Anything regular and consistent is better than nothing or sporadic stabs

Our experience is local businesses make the time to network and meet business partners all the time. This is great. We also recommend businesses make the time to consistently participate in the digital information highway. It is the greatest single networking opportunity available. Develop a long term plan to consistently promote your business online it will help you succeed.