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Patrick Murphy recently did a Brand Thunder interview with Shoestring Ventures, The Startup Bible Blog. One of their questions was “What other web-based products would you recommend to entrepreneurs, business owners or freelancers?” I realized the recommendations fell into categories discussed in our blog post about Sales Strategy: Browser Theme – Hunter vs. Farmer.

Given that start, here’s a short list of tools useful to that category of startup, small or medium business or freelancers. Tools to help you and your clients. Add your favorites in the comments.

Tools for Business Development

FREE LinkedIn.  Using LinkedIn has been a great tool to farm for contacts and actual names with targeted prospects

FREE Jigsaw for sure.  Jigsaw has been a great source for getting the contact information after you’ve identified who to contact, and sometimes even to identify who to contact.

CHEAP Less Annoying Software.  A great CRM to manage contacts and sales process.  Very simple, not overwhelming, and easy to use. Less Annoying is tailored for smaller businesses.

FREE Follow Up Then.  This is a unique email-reminder service.  When sending out emails, Bcc and get an email reminder to follow up with that recipient.  Example, will send a reminder email two weeks after the original email.

VARIES Smart Phone or Business Phone.  This sounds silly, but making yourself available and reachable at all times throughout the day has been key.  Responsiveness to emails has been very beneficial as well.  When a desired brand emails me, I want to email them back within minutes while I have their attention.  If I am targeting West Coast and they want to chat at 4pm pacific, making the call at 7pm my time is essential.  I could be out of the office, some emails me back a day after I emailed them, they say they have a few minutes to chat now, you want to do it.  Having a phone makes all of that possible. Learn more about business phones here.

Tools for Relationship Management

FREE Facebook. Sure, this is an obvious choice, but ignore it at your own peril. This is where the time online is spent and the more easily and seamless your customers can interact here with you, the more they will.

FREE Hootsuite. This is a great tool for managing your social presence, especially for Twitter. The free product has served my needs well, having tried the Pro version it seemed to have enough inconsistencies and not enough value for me to stick with it.

FREE Google Alerts. An easy way to keep aware of discussions about you and your brand across the Interwebs. Set up your account to track your company name, your name, Twitter handles, top keywords and refine as you see what works for your business. You can also set up different time frames based on urgency of information, which can help manage information overload.

FREE Conduit. I went into this some in my last post. It’s incredibly valuable to extend your content beyond your web site and engage audiences where they are. Conduit does an excellent job at this by allowing you to easily drop your most compelling content or functionality into apps that you can extend across their ecosystem of mobile, browser add-ons and more.

FREE BT:Engage. The browser remains king of meaningful Internet engagement and an interactive browser theme provides a huge advantage of maintaining awareness and sparking engagement with your audience.

That’s the quick tour of my list. What’s on yours?


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