I was recently in touch with past co-workers from Cisco Systems, and they asked about what tools I use to manage and market my home-based business. I love these kinds of questions, and couldn't wait to write it all down on a blog post. These platforms make up the majority of my daily experience running My Busy Kit and Moms With Apps. What am I missing, and what else do you recommend? Let's take a look:
Cisco's Web Ex to collaborate with my iPhone development team as we make more versions of the My Little Suitcase kids travel app.
Google Groups to moderate the 50+ members in Moms With Apps - a group of family-friendly mobile app developers who cross-market each other.
Google Docs for creating cloud-based, sharable documents for inventory tracking, marketing, and product development initiatives.
Facebook to link with customers about product updates, family travel tips, app recommendations and promotions.
Twitter to converse with industry peers. Twitter has become an effective way to cross-promote with other businesses and partnerships. I most commonly use the @reply function to specifically promote certain people. To shorten URLs, I use bit.ly because it comes with analytics.
Blogger and Wordpress for websites and blogging platforms. Blogger is Google's product, and feels less advanced than Wordpress which seems to do a better job at Search Engine Optimization.
HARO for PR and press opportunities. HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out, and is a free forum for journalist queries and media pitches. It's a powerful way to keep current with press opportunities in your field.
Apple's iPhone (and hopefully soon to be iPad) for computing and connecting on the go!
Meetup.com to find live local events relevant to almost any interest. My team has used Meetup for entrepreneur forums, and also for iPhone development gatherings.
Skype for impromptu and international conversations.
Google Alerts to monitor web mentions of any keywords or search terms I'd like to track, like "kids apps" or "family travel activities".
Google Analytics or Wordpress Plugin "StatPress" to look at web traffic and identify where traffic is coming from, who is referring our sites, and how the traffic is trending (which is hopefully upwards!).
Ecommerce by Google Checkout. We went with Google in 2008, betting that it would become a mainstream ecommerce solution. However, we still aren't generating the pull through sales we were hoping to based on our web traffic. At this point I'm considering adding PayPal, Amazon and eBay as alternatives.
USPS for shipping products to customers. Although the United States Postal Service seems to be fading fast, I've been happy with their Click N Ship and Carrier Pickup tools. I'm certain this is another area to revisit with competitors like UPS and FedEx.
My operating system is Windows 7, my phone is an Apple iPhone, my camcorder is a Flip Video, and my camera is a Nikon Coolpix. If I had any more devices, I would turn into a robot. Let's just hope I can keep it all real! If there is any latest and greatest advice out there to improve upon these tools, your insights would be most welcome in the comments.