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7 Popular Web Apps That Can Change The Way You Do Business

In yesterday’s post I outlined the road map for building a total web presence even though you’re short on time. Today I want to share an eBook I wrote that reveals how and why I use certain tools to get some of the online work I do, done.

There should be something for everyone in this free eBook – The Productivity Handbook: 7 Popular Web Apps That Can Change The Way You Do BusinessGo get your copy here and don’t be afraid to share with friends!

In this guide I explain how and why I use:

  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • StumbleUpon
  • GMail
  • Pinterest
  • Delicious
  • Instagram

3 Free Handbook: 7 Apps That Will Change The Way You Do Marketing

The Productivity Handbook by John JantschThere’s always more to do than time to do it these days. That’s why I love discovering new tools and apps that help me get it all done.

I also love to share what I find and so I teamed up with Hubspot to write The Productivity Handbook: 7 Apps That Will Change The Way You Do Marketing.

(Yes, Hubspot asks for some information from you, but trust me, the how to use and why to use info included in this eBook will be worth it to you. If you’ve read anything I write you know I give away practical advice only.)

You’ll learn how these exciting, new tools can help you:

  • Brainstorm ideas for fast content creation using Evernote
  • Easily share large files across multiple devices using Dropbox
  • Generate more traffic to your website using StumbleUpon
  • Tell your story and share photos using Instagram and Pinterest

Download your eBook here

13 How and Why I Still Use Delicious

I know, I know, what, del.icio.us is so old school. And didn’t they get bought and killed off by Yahoo? Well, actually all Yahoo really did was make it Delicious.com, but fortunately they sold the technology to AVOS, a company founded by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.

Delicious Stacks

But, that’s not really what this post is about.

I still use Delicious every day to bookmark and automatically publish content to the web via RSS and I think you should too.

At the root, Delicious is a social bookmarking site, which means you can use it to find and bookmark and tag stuff all over the web. I use it to create collections that I then post in my Saturday Weekly Favs post. I use it to curate collections of things related to marketing topics. I use it for research and I use it to publish filtered content to a number of pages.

Basic bookmarking

Bookmarking is a pretty basic skill these days as you must be able to find and aggregate large amounts of information of risk drowning in the virtual sea of stuff related to your chosen field.

Even the simple act of blogging requires the ability to find and sort various sources and few things are handier than a site like Delicious that is both discovery engine and reservoir of other people’s discoveries.

I use the Firefox addon that allows me to right click and add any page to Delicious, but you can find bookmarklets and other browser tools here.

Content discovery

I’ve also long used Delicious as a content inspiration source. I find that the users of Delicious are some of the old Internet souls that know quality from viral and I can always count on a romp through my favorite tags to produce ideas for my own content production.

The new Stacks feature brings a bit of a visual element, but you can still find the basic text links here too.

Auto publishing

One of the most underutilized features of the Delicious technology in my opinion is the ability to grab tag specific RSS feeds. Any tag you create produces a unique RSS feed. What this means is that you publish a dynamic feed of content related to a subject to simply publishing the RSS feed to any page. I bookmark lots of tools that I find to a resource page on my site by simply using Feedburner to create HTML code to publish a Delicious RSS feed to a page – you can view my resource page here.

All I have to do is find a new tool, right click and hit Save to delicious and tag is as “favs” and the link publishes to this page.

Custom filtering

You can take this a step further and use Delicious to help you create custom content feeds for things like product mentions, news stories and even social media mentions.

All you need to do is add Google Alerts to the previous step.

So, let’s say I want to track and publish mention of my book Duct Tape Marketing. All I do is set up a Google Alerts for the term Duct Tape Marketing and have it sent to my email inbox.

Then, when I spot a positive news mentions of Duct Tape Marketing (I mean, they’re all positive, but hypothetically speaking) I can visit the page, bookmark what I want to publish in Delicious and tag it DTNews or something like that and then it publish the mention automatically to a page or widget called Duct Tape In the News (bottom left on this page)– all without leaving my surfing.

Delicious, paired with RSS is a powerful way to create content on the fly while cataloging and categorizing the kind of stuff that helps you learn, teach and be a filter for your clients.

29 My Content Amplification System

Today’s post is in answer to a direct request I’ve received a number of times.

Content AmplificationOf course writing good content is only part of the business challenge. You’ve also got to get it read. Some would say, and to a large part this is true, that simply writing something that people want to read is the first step in drawing links and shares, but you’ve also got to put your content out there in places where people do their reading these days.

The following is a sampling of my content amplification routine. I do this with each blog post in an effort to get that particular piece of content the greatest amount of exposure. Is this the perfect, all inclusive list, probably not, but it’s a routine that I can do in about five minutes and still give my content a chance to be seen by lots of potential clients, journalists and strategic partners.

After I hit publish I:

  • Tweet the headline and link with some context to draw the most interest using StumbleUpon link shortener su.pr – this syndicates the content to StumbleUpon and Twitter and starts the traffic exposure in both places.
  • Publish the post to my Facebook Page
  • Publish the post to my Google+ Stream – public, circles and extended circles
  • Publish the post to my LinkedIn profile – also share with several large groups
  • Bookmark the post in appropriate tags to Delicious
  • If a post has drawn a large number of retweets I may post to Twitter a second time during the day – I generally make this decision and schedule the Tweet for a specific time using TweetDeck’s scheduling function

A couple things worth noting:

  • I don’t use a service or tool to cross post this to all avenues as I think they all have their own personality and following and I take a minute to point out something different about the post in each network.
  • I participate in many other ways, unrelated to my own content promotion in each of these networks
  • I check back several times a day, depending on my schedule to participate in any conversations happening around the content, including comments on the original blog post
  • I have +1, LinkedIn, and Facebook buttons above every blog post
  • I have links to share the content with popular bookmarking sites on the blog posts (sociable plugin) and in the RSS feed (Feedburner feed flare option)
  • I often highlight a particularly well read blog post or two from the week in my weekly email newsletter

So, what would you add to this list?

11 How to Create a Content Lead Generation System

Content RulesEveryone’s talking about content these days and like it not you’ve got to get in the publishing game. (Content Rules – great book on the subject just out.)

Of course this doesn’t mean get the game just to play. The idea behind all of this content creation you’re being asked to do is to use it to build your business in the long term – to get more leads and sales.

The following systematic approach to content creation will help guide you in the most effective use of your limited time on the way to creating a momentum building content lead generation system.

Content Creation Strategy

Like all good systems and processes, your content lead system must start with strategy. With that in mind there are three very important concepts to consider

  • The total body of work – think big picture when you think content. Pretend (or for real) that you are outlining a book about your entire subject of expertise. Now, as you think about content work through the outline and remember that are creating a body of work that may take months and years to finish.
  • Purpose and repurpose – As you create content always think about the purpose you have in mind – drive traffic, get links, draw reaction – and the repurpose opportunities – blend several posts into an article, use it as seminar, create an ebook from a category of blog posts.
  • Medium diverse – One great way to get more bang for your buck is to republish your content in various forms. Record and archive seminars, transcribe audio and video and offer multiple forms of the same content.

Tools – Moleskine notebooks to capture ideas, Dragon Dictation or Casting Words to transcribe audio and video to text, Audio and Video capture tools such as iPhone or Flip Camera

Content Inspiration

Even with a big picture body of work approach you can get blocked when it comes to creating fresh and frequent content. It’s a good idea to have ready made sources of inspiration to turn to and help keep you up to speed on all the real time happenings in your world.

  • Questions – make a note of all the questions that prospects and customers ask and get in the habit of posting answers to these inquiries.
  • Delicious – use bookmarking tool like delicious so you can mark things you’ve found for later reading and so you can see what other people are bookmarking for categories you need to keep up on.
  • Google Reader – Subscribe to and browse 50 or so related blogs – you can do this on your phone while you stand in line at the coffee shop.
  • Alltop – Convenient way to see lots of blog posts sorted by countless topics
  • StumbleUpon – Unique way to find of the beaten path stuff about topics you choose
  • Google Keywords – Sometimes you just need to write about what people are searching for and using a keyword tools helps you know the best way to say it.
  • SmartBriefs – Daily digests of some of the best of the web on a variety of topics.

Content Automation

Few people are still as geeky about RSS as me anymore, but I still love what you can do with it. (Back archives and tutorials on RSS use)

My favorite use is to create content automatically or on the fly by installing a bit of RSS magic. Using this approach you can create fresh content for your own site or even custom filtered feeds just for your best customers.

Here’s a quick tip: Bookmark mentions of your company in delicious using company name tag, grab the RSS feed from the tag on delicious and take it Feedburner and use the Buzz Boost feature to create HTML code to publish this info to your “In the news page.” The page updates automatically every time you bookmark an news mention.

Tools: Google News, Feedburner, Delicious, Yahoo Pipes

Advertising Content

If you want your advertising to be more effective and your content to generate leads don’t sell your stuff, advertise your content.

Use your Facebook and other PPC advertising to point to your valuable free ebook or upcoming online seminar and past seminar archive. Turn your advertising into a trust building platform rather than an expensive turnoff.

On Demand Content

One of the most dramatic advances in the communication of sales messages has come in the form of presentation platforms.

With today’s low cost and easy to use video tools you can create full featured, highly engaging sales presentations and host them online to effectively generate and nurture leads night and day.

Using a tool like SlideRocket allows you to also easily embed forms in your interactive presentations and receive alerts when people view the show and complete the form.

Content Partnerships

And now for the big payoff for all your content creation.

Once you create a blog, ebook, white paper, podcast, videocast, online and offline educational seminar you can take these proven and practiced bits of content and start offering them to your strategic partners.

Let them cobrand your ebook and offer it to their clients. Invite them write guest blog content and interview them for your podcast. Offer to provide your awesome seminar free of charge to their customers.

While content creation may seem like a lot of work, using even a fraction of the ideas contained here you can make the ROI of content creation crush just about any other form of lead generation today.

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Building a Small Business Marketing Consulting Practice.

48 7 Ways to Acquire the Right Kinds of Links to Your Site

linksI’ve said it here many times – winning high rankings in search engines is not that hard for local businesses. There are some categories of business that are very competitive and certainly require the investment of a high caliber SEO firm, but do it yourself type can do well if they focus on two activities.

Creating content and acquiring the right kinds of links back to your site.

I specifically say the right kinds of links because there are still some folks out there promoting the easy way out, suggesting you buy hundreds of links, but there is no easy way out and this can even lead to getting your hand slapped or worse by the search engines.

Below are seven of the best ways to acquire those all important links.

Write a blog

Without question creating a blog and consistently writing keyword rich content is the number one SEO activity for the small business. (For any size business) This is no longer something to debate, blog content will improve your chances to compete in the search engines many times over and draw links from other blogs and sites that syndicate content.

Guest post on blogs

A variation to writing on your blog is to seek out other blogs and offer to write content that is useful and relevant to their audience. Make certain that you get to place a link back to your site in the body of the post and look for blogs that are well read. You might also look for other local blogs using a tool like Placeblogger.

Submit posts and article to directories

Article directories such as still present a great opportunity for acquiring links. By submitting articles to sites likeEzinearticles.com, Articlesbase.com, Suite101.com, Buzzle.com you can begin to acquire more links and traffic to your site. You might also look into services like HubShout that provide turn-key writing and submission of content.

Write social press releases

Consistently writing news releases for even seemingly minor announcements is a great way to build up some extra traffic and links, particularly if you use the social features of tools like PRWeb or Pitch Engine. As a bonus print your press releases off and send them via mail to your clients and network, you’ll be surprised how much bounce you get from this little contact tactic.

Leave lots of relevant comments

Leaving relevant comments on other blogs does a number of things for you. In some cases, not many though, you may actually benefit from a link to your site, but the real value is that you may get the attention of other readers and the owners of these blogs in ways that could prompt them to point to some of your content via a blog post. I hope it goes without saying this won’t work if your comments are basically spam. Use a service like BackType to track when comments related to your topic get hot.

Create profiles

There are hundreds of places you can create social profiles on the web and most allow you to place numerous links back to your site. You probably won’t get a ton of juice from the search engines for these because many are what are called “no follow” links, but some are not and many will build extra pages and links for the big picture. You should be claiming this real estate and filling it with content and brand assets as a rule. You can even use a service like Knowem that will create hundreds of profiles on lesser known networks.

Use social bookmarking

Social bookmark sites such as delicious, digg, reddit and StumbleUpon offer great ways to create valuable links and search engine juice. By bookmarking and tagging your blog posts for relevant keyword topics your content may be found by the millions of folks looking for topic related to your tags. This can often lead to tweets and posts pointing out your content.

By creating a systematic approach that allows you to focus on a couple of these items each and every week you can start to build hundreds of links to your web pages and virtually lock out the competition for your key terms.

Image credit: Ramberg Media Images

45 Profiting From Other People's Content

newsDon’t be alarmed by that title – I’m not talking about stealing content for gain, I’m talking about adding the filtering and aggregating of content to your content consumption, creation and sharing routine.

Pretty much everyone has bought into the idea that they need to produce lots of valuable content in order to build the trust and search engine eyes of today’s online prospect. One way to supplement your content strategy while still providing lots of value, is to get good at finding and filtering other people’s content that your prospects and customers will find useful as well. (Done right, the “other people” will thank you for giving a wider audience to their content)

It should go without saying that giving credit to the original source and full attribution to the author when appropriate is a must.

There are a number of ways to think about this idea

Make yourself a better resource

Creating a habit of filtering content related to your industry, products, competitors and customers will make you better at what you do, allow you to keep up with trends and give you data to help you build deeper relationships with customers.

Share content to draw attention

Pointing out useful resources and good finds is a great way to build your social media and blog followings. Consistently sharing relevant links and sharing them on Twitter is a strategy that many find helps them be seen as follow worthy. Creating a once a week blog post roundup of good stuff is a great way to add content and keep readers engaged.

Filter personalized content

A more advanced strategy is to use your filter skills to create your own industry research briefs. If you specialize in several market niches you can create laser specific new pages and email newsletter roundups that feature the best of what you find each week. You can even use RSS technology to deliver dynamically changing web content password protected for your best clients.

Some of my favorite tools for finding other people’s content

AllTop – This site collects what it believes is the all the top blog content on a large number of topics and displays the last posts from each of these sources. This should be a daily stop for most. You can also build your own custom page here and use this as your RSS reader.

Delicious – This is my favorite bookmarking site. As I surf the web I mark sites here with tags that I define. It’s a place to categorize content, find new content and create custom RSS feeds of the content you find. If you are trying to create pages for customers you simply define a tag for the customer and then set-up an RSS feed that streams your hand picked content.

StumbleUpon – A service that helps you stumble upon content related to topics of interest that you define. Browser toolbar makes it very easy for you to go looking. I’ve used this technique on numerous occasions to find unique content to share on Twitter.

Business Exchange – Business Week’s community platform allows users to submit content related to specific topics.

Kurrently – Once of the first search engines that allows you to find what’s being said on Facebook

Twitter Advanced Search – Using the Twitter advanced search function you can set up a search like this: “small business” OR entrepreneur OR “start up” filter:links to bring you tweets for a specific topic that contain links. This is a great way to keep up with what’s being shared on a specific topic and since the search produces an RSS feed you can send it to your Google Reader or even publish it to an HTML page.

Google Reader – Subscribe to relevant industry blogs and have a library to read any time you have some down time. You can also set up a custom TwitterFeed to tweet your shared Google Reader items adding a hand selected way to share more content as you read.

Google Alerts – Create custom searches for things like brands, people and products and have any mentions delivered to your inbox or reader.

Google Insights for Search – With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties

Instapaper– A simple tool for saving web pages to read later but in a nice custom newspaper kind of format. Phone, Kindle and iPad apps available.

Feedburner – This is Google’s tool that allows you to enhance your RSS feeds. For purpose of this post I point to the Feed feature that makes it very easy for your to take and RSS feed and publish to a web page. Here’s an example where I’ve take hand selected delicious feed mention of my book, The Referral Engine, and streamed them on a web page. Bonus: Notice the RSS feed of Twitter mentions doing the same thing.

34 My Favorite Tools and Processes to Automate the Routine

Technology can be a great thing when it comes to getting more done. It can also be a way to wall yourself off from real engagement with human beings, but that’s a post for another day.

jottToday I would like to share a handful of tools and the actual processes I employ to get more done with these tools. I think it’s important to set-up routines that allow you to free up time to do the big things, the things that really make you money in the long term, so I don’t use technology so much because I love it, I use it because it allows me to spend more time engaging humans – and that’s where the real money lies.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive review of each of these tools, in many cases I many use one simple function, but that’s the trick sometimes, sifting through the hype about a tool and finding how to make it work for you.

  • Evernote
  • This handy little note taking application works for me because it syncs across offline, online and mobile devices. I am a list maker in the Getting Things Done style and this is my daily to-do as well as my idea pad.

  • Jott
  • Jott allows you to use voice messages to create actions. I call Jott and add appointments to Google Calendar. I call Jott to send an email to my staff or entire network of Duct Tape Coaches while driving down the road. I call Jott anytime I think of something I want to file and remember.

  • Delicious Firefox plugin
  • I’ve used the Delicious bookmarking tool since its inception, but my favorite way to use it is to post content to web pages. When I find a mention of Duct Tape Marketing in the news I right click and add to delicious with the Firefox plugin and use a special tag that produces and RSS feed. I’ve added that feed to a web page and viola! content added through surfing.

  • Central Desktop
  • This is a large and comprehensive tool that I use for my intranet and project management. My favorite process though is that I can email a task to a staff member and Central Desktop adds it to a task list for that person.

  • TripIt
  • TripIt is an online travel itinerary tool. I travel a fair amount and all I have to do is forward air, hotel, and car confirmations to TripIt and the tool builds an itinerary, including maps, local weather and events, and adds them to the mobile app so I can view at a glance. It also pushes out flight alerts for delays and gate changes.

  • Google Alerts
  • Google will send email or RSS alerts for any search term I want to save. I’ve set up a dozen or so terms that track and this tool brings them to my inbox as they happen. This is how I track brand mentions, for example, to use with Delicious plugin.

  • TextExpander
  • This application allows me to create unlimited text, emails, code snippets, etc, and paste them into any application with a few designated key strokes. I have dozens of email responses that are thoughtfully crafted, but used over and over again for questions and requests that come my way often. I have chunks of HTML code that I use over and over again and evoke with five keystrokes.

  • MyBlogLog
  • This is, among other things, a tool that allows me to track traffic to my blog in real time. What I love about it is I can know instantly when someone has linked to my blog and go jump in the conversation, adapt content accordingly and analyze where traffic comes from minute by minute. This may seem obsessive, but I can’t tell you how often I’ve joined a meaningful conversation because I knew about it in real time.

  • TweetDeck
  • This is my Twitter management tool of choice. I use this easily monitor mentions, search terms, hashtags, DMs and lists. Twitter isn’t very useful unless you can do this at a glance. The tool also has all the tools I use to engage in conversations and manage my account. Facebook and LinkedIn status updates are built in as well.

What automation processes and tools have you employed to be more efficient throughout your day?

29 5 Tips for Getting More From Social Media Marketing

listeningIn a further continuation of my series of quick social media tips (check out 5 Tips for Getting More from LinkedIn, 5 Tips for Getting More from Facebook, and 5 tips for Getting More from Twitter), I’m covering some overarching advice today as I believe small business owners and marketers need to think strategically about social media use, perhaps before they ever start to discuss tactical use.

1) Integrate – Don’t treat your social media activity as something separate from your other marketing initiatives. Feature links to your social media profiles in your email signature, on your business cards, in your ads, and as a standard block of copy in your weekly HTML email newsletter. In addition, make sure that links to your educational content are featured prominently in your social media profiles and that Facebook fan page visitors and blog subscribers are offered the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter and attend your online and offline events. Make your social media profiles a part of your address copy block and you will soon see adding them to all that you do as an automatic action.

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18 My Top 10 Sources of Content Inspiration

blog inspirationI’m often talking about producing high quality, education based content as way to draw leads to know, like and trust you. So, for example, I always advise small business owners to create and populate a blog because I happen to think it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to both create and optimize content.

Some of the questions I still receive frequently however, are one like – how do know I what to write about, where do I get all those good ideas or how do I uncover trends, tools and tips that might appeal to my audience?

So, for today’s post I thought I would share the tools I use to get my brain thinking about what to write about. My favorite strategy is to mine these tools and sites for seemingly unrelated ideas. I can’t tell you how often I’ve uncovered the seed of an idea from something totally unrelated to marketing that I could twist to apply it in a totally new and relevant way.

  • Customer feedback – I love to turn customer and prospect questions into blog posts and more. You should be keeping track of those FAQs and answer every single one and some that don’t get asked as content.
  • delicious – this old school bookmarking site is still my favorite place to go and see what other folks are finding and saving.
  • Bing/xRank – I have to admit this is a new one as Bing, the Microsoft relaunched search engine is new, but for now, xRanks seems to be turning up trend faster than Google Trends
  • Blogs I subscribe to – I use Google Reader RSS reader and anytime I can I check in with some of the 100 blogs I subscribe to
  • OneRiot – another fairly new real time search engine that I use to find the links that people on twitter are discovering and retweeting
  • Keyword Phrases – Google’s free keyword search tools can give you phrases that people are actually using to find your products and services and offer some tips for what to call your blog posts
  • SmartBriefs – subscribe to a daily briefing on a variety of topics and see what some pretty smart editors are turning up
  • Business Week’s BX – Business Week’s social network allows anyone to submit content to a large group of subjects
  • Twitter follows – I follow some folks that are always finding and tweeting good stuff. By setting a select group up in TweetDeck I can always stay on top of these important tweets.
  • Magazine pile – I subscribe to Wired, Inc, Entrepreneur, Business Week, and Fast Company and while I sometimes get behind on the pile, I love to go there for inspiration.

Image credit: USMarine0311

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