Small Business Solutions

Examples of Short Contractor Videos

Posted by | Marketing Advice, Small Business Solutions | 6 Comments

In this post, I am doing something a bit different. I have talked to many of my clients over the years on using video in their marketing. This can be a tough one for many of you reading this to swallow. So what I’ve done is tried to make this a bit easier for you. I have linked up a number of different types of videos used by others in the industry (and similar industries). Read More

Using Zendesk Sell (formally Base CRM) for a Seasonal Business

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

Update: November 2018: Base has joined with Zendesk Support. Their new name is Zendesk Sell. Their pricing structure has changed as well. It spans from $19, $49, $99 and $199 per user. I use the words Base CRM in the article below, written in 2014.

This fall (2014), I helped a seasonal Christmas lighting company setup and manage a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that I use and like: Base CRM. I have been working with them since 2008. In previous years, the company used several different methods to manage leads and sales ranging from Google Apps, Dropbox, Highrise CRM, Zoho and a few others. Yet there was really nothing that really quite worked well until we implemented Base. Each year the company’s leads have grown making it that much more crucial to track and manage the sales process. Here are a couple of the highlights of how a seasonal business is using a CRM and why it is working so well. Read More

Base CRM (Now called Zendesk Sell) Adds Events & Accounts

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

Update: November 2018: Base has joined with Zendesk Support. Their new name is Zendesk Sell. Their pricing structure has changed as well. It spans from $19, $49, $99 and $199 per user. I use the words Base CRM in the article below, written in 2014.

During the past several months, the Base CRM development team has been very busy providing many valuable updates to their simple yet effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) cloud software. I have been using Base for the past couple of years for my own business. After the last couple of big updates, it has become an even better tool for my company. I use it daily, and if you are still looking for a great CRM, you should give it a try yourself. It is built for small and medium size businesses. Read More

Alternative to GoToMeeting

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | 7 Comments

Updated June 2016

I first came across StartMeeting in late 2012/early 2013. I was told by my contact there that they would be adding video conferencing in the late summer of 2013. That did not happen until now! Starting this month, video is included at no extra charge. This now makes StartMeeting less expensive and a great alternative than GoToMeeting and other online meeting software. 

…For web conferencing (screen sharing) and now video conferencing, StartMeeting is easy and inexpensive. Read on about my original post if you’d like or give it a trial

Original Post from March 2013:

For the last 4 years, I’ve basically used one online program for meetings and webinars, GoToMeeting. It really is a pretty simple product to use. The only real complaints I have regarding GoToMeeting are, 1) A little expensive for what I use it for and 2) My customers and I seem to always have to install updates. I tend to be coaching my clients on how to use GoToMeeting more often than not. A little frustrating, but on the other hand, there was nothing on the market that was better. Webex was a good program but cost more than GoToMeeting. I tried every other one I could find and chose to stick with GoToMeeting. Until…

Meet StartMeeting

Recently another online meeting tool surfaced in my inbox. I used a conference line company at times when I need it called Free Conference Call. That company is a sister company to the latest and greatest online meeting program called StartMeeting (affiliate link). I really had no reason to switch from GoToMeeting to StartMeeting but thought I’d contact the company and drill them about why their program was the same or better than GoToMeeting.

I scheduled a call with Greg Plum, VP of Channel Development. He walked me through all the features and benefits of StartMeeting and how it compared to GoToMeeting. I really had no problems using GoToMeeting, so I would not even consider switching unless it was easy to use for my clients, had screen sharing, was cheaper and featured mouse sharing. Greg did a great job convincing me about StartMeeting and the vision of his company too!

Selling Points That Are Making Me Switch

After close to an hour walking through the program, I was very impressed. StartMeeting was created to go to battle against GoToMeeting. That is their main competitor. That is why it intrigued me! I wanted the same product for less. I’m not being cheap. I just have a lot of small monthly cost programs, and I want to simplify my expenses! StartMeeting offered some key selling points for me:

  • The price point for 50 users was half of what GoToMeeting offers: $19.95.
  • It allows for the user to have a company branded “wall” which is where people can schedule a meeting or start a meeting. The background and logo are fully customizable.
  • One Meeting ID and Phone Number. I didn’t like having to schedule a meeting with GoToMeeting…as sometimes I’d be on the wrong call waiting for my clients who received a different Meeting ID. So it keeps it simple
  • Screen and Mouse Sharing: Most of my calls are to run marketing meetings. Yet I do get involved “fixing” or setting up certain programs and features on my client’s machines sometimes. Therefore it is nice to have the mouse sharing feature. If it did not have this feature, I would not even consider switching.
  • Video Conference: This feature is a little weak, currently, but the presenter can show himself using his camera. This is good for a webinar. The weak part is it does not allow a two way video sharing like GoToMeeting’s HD Faces. This is a feature, StartMeeting said they will be working on. Again, for the price savings, I’m switching…as I don’t use HD faces all that much. If I want to do that, I just use Google Hangout which is free and simple to use as an alternative.
  • Downloading and Upgrades: I’ve not used StartMeeting much just yet, but they assured me that my clients and I won’t have to be continually updating my computer with v1.3, v1.4, v1.5 etc. This sounds great!

So I’m making the transition from GoToMeeting to StartMeeting to keep the pricing and features simple. If you are interested in giving it a shot for your business, the first 30 days are free. Let me know what you think. My referral link is here: StartMeeting. (same cost as going directly through them.)

What is Google Remarketing & Is It Right For My Service Business?

Posted by | Small Business Solutions | 2 Comments

Most small business owners have heard of Pay Per Click (PPC) by now. You guys have also heard of Google Adwords too? Well, Google has made over 90% of their money through companies using their Google Adwords service over the years. In recent years, Google started another type of paid advertising which is known as “remarketing.” So what is that all about and is it something I think can work well for your business?

Remarketing Defined

When a visitor enters your site and then leaves to continue his (or her) browsing, will he ever return or remember your website? In most cases the visitor will forget he came across your website. Sorry to disappoint many of you, but people have a very short attention span these days. Take a look at your analytics. My guess is that most people searching for a service contractor are not spending more than a minute on your site. If your site is amazing, maybe some will stay on for 2 to 3 minutes, but don’t get your hopes up. Remarketing basically makes sure that when a person leaves your site, he doesn’t forget your brand! 

How Does It Work

Google will install a “cookie” (aka a tracking code) on his browser when he leaves your site and follow him around and post your brand on sites that allow for Google Adwords: Text or Image Ads. Let me give you an example of how this works.

Two days ago, I typed in my search engine the words, “Breville Espresso.” I was looking for a picture of my espresso machine I owned to send to a friend of mine. We were comparing coffee machines! I found the espresso machine image I wanted from Macy’s. Macy’s is using a remarketing ad campaign (with Google or someone…others do it to). I didn’t know that at the time…but two days later I went to a completely different site to download a custom FONT for my computer. Here is what I saw on the FONT page:

Check out the ads on the top and sidebar: Breville Espresso Machines and other modesl from MACY’S. That is remarketing. They knew that I did not order an espresso machine from their website, and they are sending me little hints to not forget about them or what I was looking for the other day. Pretty cool, eh?

Should Your Business Give Remarketing a Try?

I have spoken to a few paid search companies, and they’ve all told me that remarketing is still VERY cheap compared to most pay per click campaigns. As long as the pricing stays reasonable, I’d say it is a good idea to create and run a remarketing campaign for your service business. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this, but to be able to stay in the minds of a consumer after he leaves your site is powerful. Maybe he is just doing some research on painters, remodelers, plumbers etc and not ready to buy just yet. In 2-3 weeks…he sees your ad pop up again, it should trigger his memory that he’s been to your site before!

Now there are other ways to stay in the mind of a consumer doing blogging etc. But for the price and ease…give remarketing a shot as part of your marketing plan.

A Few Pointers On How to Use Social Media

Posted by | Small Business Solutions, The Obvious | No Comments

I get asked often what types of things to post on social media sites, how often to post and so on. I think many business owners and employees don’t really know how to use Social Media the “right way” so they either go crazy and post too much or don’t post at all.

A client of mine recently forwarded me a “visual” article called, “The 6 Simplest Ways To Say “Thank You” On Social Media” by David Larson. This prompted me to write this short post and share it with my followers. The six ways use different social sites: Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook etc. You don’t have to use all 6 sites. Instead look at the things you can do, pick 1 or 2 social sites and start doing them. It really is quite simple.

To add to the steps mentioned in the article above is connecting with your customers on a face to face level and write handwritten notes too. The little things matter. Customers will love you for staying in touch in a way that is not irritating.

Base CRM’s Fall 2012 Update (Now Zendesk Sell)

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | 12 Comments

Update: November 2018: Base has joined with Zendesk Support. Their new name is Zendesk Sell. Their pricing structure has changed as well. It spans from $19, $49, $99 and $199 per user. I use the words Base CRM in the article below, written in 2012.

Base CRM from Future Simple keeps getting more robust every month I use their product. To learn more about the details of what this simple CRM can do, read my previous reviews on Base 1 Post Here and 2. Post Here Read More

Best Bluetooth Earpiece for Driving

Posted by | Cool Software, Small Business Solutions | No Comments

Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent more money on bluetooth earpieces than I have cell phones. I’ve tried the cheap and the most expensive devices I could find. I’ve had the phone reps swear up and down of their personal favorites: Jawbone I, Jawbone II, Motorola, Jabra, Blue Ant, Plantronics etc. Yes, I’ve tried them and always had mediocre success. I wanted a bluetooth earpiece where I could hear the person I was talking to clearly and visa versa.

Earlier this year, I was told by my sister that her husband was using the Bose earpiece and loved it. He was not a techie guy, so I figured it must be easy to use and good. I was sick of spending $125+ on earpieces but decided to do it one final time. I gave the Bose 2 a try. As I write this blog, 6 months later, I am still a fan of the Bose 2 Bluetooth Earpiece. It truly is the best earpiece on the market for those driving a loud truck or sitting in an office. In fact, I switched from using my landline to using my Bose Bluetooth for almost all phone calls. You can connect it easily to a smartphone or your computer. This is the first time ever people cannot tell I’m using an earpiece.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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