Google Calendar - Duct Tape Marketing

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10 Did Google Just Create the Click to Schedule Ad Unit

The GMail blog team announced what looks like a much needed enhancement to Google Calendar this week called appointment slots.

This functionality allows anyone to create a public showing calendar offering up times when appointments are available. The idea is that people can visit your calendar and schedule a haircut or consulting session any time day or night.

Services such Tungle, Doodle and TimeBridge were created in some ways to fill this obvious gap. (Although they offer much functionality for, say team scheduling, you do have to wonder how hard this will hit them.)

Once the service is rolled out to all users you’ll see an extra link with the schedule box pops open that allows you to schedule blocks of time that are open for appointments. Choosing this function essentially creates another calendar and since every Google Calendar has its own personal appointments sign up page; you can embed it on your website or give the URL directly to friends and clients. You can find the URL for your appointment page at the top of the set-up page, which you can access via the Edit details link.

Google Appointment slots

Right now, one major limitation appears to be the both the owner of the calendar and those scheduling an appointment must use Google Calendar – not such a big deal for internal teams, but likely a deal killer for a hair salon.

However, think about the implications of Google creating a “Click to Schedule” function for AdWords units, Places Pages, and Review Pages like those in HotPot. For many industries this could be a game changing kind of social action and another big revenue generator for Google.

From a local business standpoint it gives Google another lever into the transaction while adding functionality for both buyer and seller.

12 3 Reasons to Use Twistory for Business

First off, what is twistory? Twistory is a twitter mashup that gives you a view of the backlog of your tweets, but with a twist. Your tweet history can be added to most online and desktop calendars. Setting up an ical or Google calendar is as simple as clicking on a button. On top of creating an archive of your tweets that goes back as far as you like, it also creates a visual display of your tweet activity that can provide insight into your use of twitter as an individual or organization.


Screengrab of twistory in Google calendar. (Click to enlarge.)

Here are 3 reasons I think businesses should employ this simple tool.

1) It’s hard to make, or at least realize, improvements in any skill unless you have a baseline to measure your current activity against. This includes your writing and engagement in social platforms like twitter. Twistory gives you the ability look back at your early tweeting activity and measure your improved use. I think this may be bigger than people realize.

2) I tweet my thoughts (every once in a while something intelligent) and sometimes those thoughts are kernels of much bigger ideas that I might want to capture in a blog post or article. The archive allows me to scan through everything I thought was tweet worthy, including links to sites I might need to visit again, in a very user friendly and familiar week by week view.

3) Using a shared calendar, such as Google, an organization could use twistory to pull everyone’s tweets together on a timeline for easy viewing and monitoring as well as (if this met your objectives) scheduling. If you use twitter to provide customer support this might be a way to collect somewhat common questions and answers for training and static content placement.

There’s something about the visual presentation of data that makes it immediately more useful to me.

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18 The New Marketer's Toolbox

toolsMore than once those that follow what I do have asked me how I seem to get so much done in a day. I have to admit that I get a lot of help from the man behind the curtain and from you my readers and subscribers. That’s the part that many don’t see, but the rich set of, often free, tools out there now make it much easier to run your business and increase your productivity.

I use a power set of tools throughout the day to write, collaborate, bookmark, filter, find and conduct commerce. Here is my current list of favorites, although like so much on the Internet, some of these could change in the blink of an eye.

Google Alerts – Free service from Google allows you to conduct customer searches for your brand, competitors, industry mentions, and journalists and have any mention of these terms online sent to your email inbox on a daily or as it happens basis. Key tool for monitoring your reputation in real time but it can also serve as a great client relationship building tool as well.

Central Desktop – I use this tool to collaborate with providers and clients alike. The set of features and flexibility from this tool is incredible. I was a hard core Basecamp fan, and still am, but Central Desktop just does so much more. You can manage projects, teams and schedules, but my favorite use is the built in WYSIWYG wiki editor. I use this to build web based operations manuals and document processes for my team.

Google Reader – I subscribe to and scan and read about 100 blogs and think you should too. I get some great ideas, hear about the next new thing, and find tools like I ‘ve listed here by adhering to this practice. Google Reader puts them all in one place and is very mobile browser friendly so I can jump on the site and read a few blogs any time I’m standing in line.

TweetDeck – This desktop application makes it very easy to keep up with what I want to follow on twitter. I create searches for key terms and form groups of people I want to follow closely. The tool also allows you to RT, tweet, DM, follow and unfollow directly from the interface. A mobile app is available as well.

Firefox – Firefox is, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, simply a browser, but it’s so much more due to the fact that you can extend its functionality through plug-ins and add-ons. I use it subscribe, blog, bookmark, filter and aggregate much of what I find online all day. I use it to help with web design, SEO and competitive analysis.

Flickr -In addition to optimizing and sharing images online I use the Creative Commons Licensing of images on Flickr to grab great photos for my daily blog posts. (I wrote about how to use Flickr for blog images here)

Snapz Pro X – This $29 software sits in the background and allows me to do screen grabs and video screencasts with the push of a few keys. There are free programs that can do some of this but the added editing and file format options of this program make it worth the money. I’m always adding screenshots in my blog posts and PowerPoint presentations.

Adium – I’m a pretty big fan of IM for internal office use as well as to use with my key collaborators. Adium is nice as it allows me to communicate with people using IM no matter if they are on Yahoo, AOL, Skype, or GTalk.

ScreenFlow Pro – Another paid program but this is simply the easiest, yet feature rich, video screen capture program I have ever used. I use it to turn many of my web and offline presentations into short movies to share on YouTube. – This is a my tool of choice for much of my tweeting. When I use to post a tweet with a link it shortens the link bu also sets up a rich set of tracking so that I can view how many view, retweets and mentions the tweet received. In addition, because the tool is part of the StumbleUpon network it gives me the opportunity to receive or send traffic from this network to the pages I link to.

Email Center Pro – This tool allows me to create mailboxes for departments of information, such as sales, service, media requests, etc. and then, if I choose, assign emails to those addresses to various internal and external resources to address. I can create responses to many common questions and allow anyone to interact from that department. In addition, I can see the entire archive of any of the discussion threads that might occur in any conversation from a dashboard. Great customer service tool.

Jott – This tool allows me to use my phone to “jott” a message that is transcribed and sent to my email. I use this all of the time when I am driving along and am hit with a thought for a blog post. Additionally, you can set-up groups and contacts on Jott so you can send anyone you set-up emails via your voice messages. You can post appointments to Google Calendar and, if you speak very slowly and use simple words, post tweets.

SimpleNote – Every morning I make a to-do list based on what I want to get done that day. I’ve been doing this for years and it keeps me productive. I started using note pads but now I use SimpleNote on my laptop because it is simple (duh) and it syncs to an online page and my phone so I can have access to my daily list no matter where and how I choose to access it.

WordPress – There are many ways to create web sites and blogs but I just love WordPress. In addition to being one of the simplest ways to create and manage all your web pages and content, the developer community that creates add-ons, themes and tutorials is hard to beat. I encourage most businesses to use it for their entire site, it’s that good.

Google Analytics – Tracking traffic, trends, searches and conversions is a necessary and basic marketing tactic if you want to grow your business. Google’s free analytics package is a no brainer and can give you so much feedback you’ll wonder how you lived without it. Take the time to read and understand everything it can do and you will get even more. Combine it with Site Optimizer and you can begin to do the slightly more sophisticated A/B split testing and find out how to really fine tune your web site.

InfusionSoft – I use Infusionsoft to run the CRM, ecommerce, email marketing and affiliate tracking aspects of my business. There are individual tools that do each of these functions quite well (In fact I also use ACT!, SwiftPage and Vertical Response), but Infusionsoft is the one tool that brings all of the functions under one roof. It’s not for everyone, but it is a nice tool that keeps getting better.

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21 7 Virtual Collaboration Tools I Use Daily

Drop BoxCollaboration, outsourcing and virtual workforces and offices are trends that are here to stay and getting even hotter as companies look for ways to work more efficiently and cut overhead costs.

Low overhead is one of the competitive advantages of small businesses and each new online technology that supports getting work done without employees makes this even more so.

Today I would like to share 7 of these tools that I use every day without fail. Some you may have used some may be new to you. Most are free, some I pay for. (Hint: I would pay for the free ones but they don’t ask me to)

Dropbox – online file storage and sharing. This is simply a high powered FTP site, but the interface and workflow is so great. I use a desktop application from dropbox and simply drag files there and they are stored online automatically. I can share folders with anyone and when they upload files they show up on my desktop. I can even set-up public folders so anyone can send large files without clogging email.

Basecamp – this is an online project management tool that allows you to set-up projects with collaborators and customers and manage all manner of communication, file and document sharing, and chat. I use this with the Duct Tape Marketing Coach network as a form of Intranet.

iLinc – virtual collaboration is great, but sometimes you need to work in real time, face to face (sort of) iLinc is web and video conferencing tool that really shines when it comes to online collaboration. You can work on documents together via the web, video chat, access files and programs off each others desktops and visit web sites together with a live browser – so you can take someone to a page and walk them through a real demo or sign-up process. Disclosure: iLinc sponsors my podcast.

SimpleEvent – this is a free conference call service, but it has a ridiculous amount of features. I love to put together meetings on the fly and have multiple folks join. I also use it to host my large web meetings for the audio portion. I can have up to 96 full talk to talk and 1000 talk to listen on at once. There’s no scheduling, it’s always on and always live.

GMail – this is just big, fat, free, email service, but I love the way it works and takes advantage of being fully online. You can run your own domain through GMail (I use it to send as I don’t have to worry about my local ISP quirks when I travel) and create multiple profiles for all your various rolls in life. I use Google Talk for IM and it’s built right into GMail.

Jott – Jott allows you to record voice memos that get turned into email text. You can set-up boxes for anyone you collaborate with and send notes as you wiz down the freeway. You can create groups for distribution, post appointments to Google Calendar, and even update your twitter feed all with voice messages.

Google Calendar – Another Google tool, I know, but I like setting up calendars and sharing them with collaborators and also tapping the fact that these calendars produce RSS feeds so I can publish them in cool ways to websites and have anyone I give access produce content for those sites. Also sync with desktop and phone calendars over the air.

I know there are lots of great tools out there to do everything I’ve mentioned above. So, what tools do you use for virtual collaboration.