Remember Grover's Corners Let customers book online appointments with HourTown

Posted by tom klein April 9, 2008 at 7:00 am

You’ve established a presence across the search engines, driven a respectable amount of traffic to your website, and even converted the curious browser to the ready-to-commit customer. One small problem- that customer can only get to your email or voicemail inbox when what he/she really wants to do is set up an appointment.

Think about using the online scheduling tool HourTown to close the deal right on your site. Once you create an account, you set up your service offerings and rates. Then HourTown generates a custom calendar for your business. Once you have a calendar with available time slots, you’re almost there. All you need to do is take the system’s “Book Now” button and put it where you need it – your website, mail signature, or e-newsletter.

You may even learn that your customers prefer to book your services online. Given that this tool is free, why not book some time with it.

Frustrated by your clients or customers who set up an appointment and then flake out or forget? This system can also send a reminder message to your appointment holders so you can decrease no-shows.

There’s something to be said for getting your customers to commit to an appointment. So many companies drop the ball because the right person doesn’t connect with the specific prospect. If you let your prospects set up appointments, you can be sure to match them up with the right sales person.



  Okay, say when Coordinate meetings across time zones with WhenIsGood

Posted by tom klein April 3, 2008 at 7:00 am

These days, you’re more likely that ever to be working with customers across time zones – sometimes on the other side of the planet. Unfortunately, creating meetings across time zones just hasn’t gotten any easier – quick, what time works for Tokyo, Paris, and New York?

Give the mental gymnastics a rest with WhenIsGood. This simple and free tool solves one of those problems that’s plagued just about anyone who does any international work. Here’s how it works.

First, pick your time zone. Then, indicate what times you’re available to meet. Then, fill in your email address. The system will then send you an invitation that you can forward to anyone you like. Recipients can then see when you’re available and pick what works for them (and adjust by time zone).

You won’t get tripped up by time zones or daylight savings again … or worse, miss an important customer call.

Don’t faint, but there’s no sign up, no password to choose, no email verification. It’s just free and easy - off you go. Start scheduling.

There may be nothing that’s more mundane and vital than scheduling meetings or events. If you’re trying to get your foot in the door, presenting a thoughtful way to make a meeting happen may be just enough to set you apart.


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  Swim, swap, and sweet Build your marketing network with Meetup

Posted by tom klein January 30, 2008 at 2:30 am

Marketing is rarely a large department in any company – if it exists at all. Given that, how can you find a kindred spirit or maybe find someone who has been around the block a few times?

Check out Meetup as a way to build your personal marketing (or any other kind of) network. Meetup is simply a way to meet real people. Live. In person. You know the way it had to be before the web was around. It’s a simple and easy to use way to find people who live in your neighborhood who might be interested in the same things you are. All you need to do is sign up and join a Meetup group (as they call it). This group will actually have meetings where real, live, breathing people will get together and talk about stuff.

Also, many of these groups will sponsor featured speakers on an endless variety of topics. If you’re looking for a way to help your marketers develop by cross-pollinating with others, here’s the easiest and cheapest way to make that happen.

If you’re interested in improving your knowledge of open source tools that might not have detailed documentation (we are big fans of Drupal and Joomla), you can usually find user groups for popular open source software tools who use Meetup.

There’s a reason that social networks are so popular. They really work. For a small input of time and effort, you have the chance to extract real value. This tool is just an electronic helper to a real, off-line network.


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  On a clear day Manage marketing workflow with Alfresco

Posted by tom klein January 2, 2008 at 2:30 am

So often a marketing mistake results from what you could describe as a version control problem. An old version of a marketing item (e.g., a press release) is mistaken for the real version … and trouble ensues. Cringe.

To avoid this kind of problem, consider using the open source (free) content management tool called Alfresco. This system looks like a shared hard drive (what many people use today to share documents). However, you can create rules that are attached to documents. Things like who needs to approve a document for it to move forward. From there, it also automatically manages and tracks versions, so there’s really no risk that people get their hands on the wrong version. By adding workflow to your documents, systems like these can help you create marketing process that keeps things moving smoothly – on-time, and on budget.

While everyone likes to talk strategy, the reality is that getting work done is what occupies most of our time. This may be the key to improving your company’s efficiency.

This system requires significant technical expertise to configure for your company, so we recommend it for larger companies with access to IT capabilities. Alternatively, you can engage Alfresco directly. We will keep looking for entirely web-based systems that offer similar capabilities.

In addition to general tools like this one, there are emerging Enterprise Marketing Management tools that can go even further when it comes to putting marketing execution best practices in place. Stay tuned.


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  Travel bane Create a virtual trade show with GoExhibit

Posted by tom klein September 18, 2007 at 2:30 am

Proving the ROI of a trade show can seem like an impossible task. How can you know the leads, if any that are generated, result from the show? Maybe the prospects just delayed their interest until the timing of the show to give the visit to New Orleans or Miami more purpose (beyond the sun and the beignets).

By creating or attending a virtual trade show, the math gets a lot clearer. You can manage your own trade show by using sites like GoExhibit. For $24.95 per month, you can set up and manage a trade show of an unlimited number of companies. This system lets you generate revenue from partners or advertisers as well as generate leads and track specific visitor behavior. What exhibits did they visit? What videos did they watch?

Of course, you can also just participate in one of the many virtual trade show events that are now available across to many industries to name.

While these virtual tradeshows create a virtual experience that may make you think of the super-hyped virtual reality world called Second Life, this is all about business. If you have a broad array of products to sell, why not create or participate in a sales event that lets anyone attend, even if they can’t leave their office?

This web-based application requires the use of a Shockwave plugin (by Adobe). While Shockwave based applications work well with PC’s, they require some technical leger-de-main by Intel-based Mac users. You may need to persuade your Mac genius to attend the virtual tradeshow with you.

While virtual events can’t really do the job of creating a relationship with your customer, they can be a great option for reaching potential customers who might live far away or may be too busy to attend regular shows. The bonus here is that most of the marketing assets required can be re-purposed after the virtual event.


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