If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time trying different technology solutions, trying to find the Golden Ticket to better productivity in project management, sales, and marketing. Sometimes you find the right tools, while other times you simply come up empty-handed. Once I find something that works for me, though, I stick with it.
Here are a few of the tools that help me be more efficient running my inbound marketing firm:
Project Management: TeamworkPM
While I think there’s value in other project management platforms like Basecamp and Podio, I find that TeamworkPM works wonders for inbound marketing projects. We create templates for all our projects so that when we onboard a client, it’s very easy to simply add the templates we need and get rolling. We even have a template for onboarding tasks.
I also appreciate the time tracking feature. When you work with so many clients, it’s important to be able to log the time you spend on a given project. It’s easy for me to track both billable work and non-billable work. While I don’t charge my clients by time, it still helps me to understand how long particular tasks take and how much time is spent by my team on billable versus non-billable work such as education hours or reporting. It also helps me determine my profitability by client or project.
With TeamworkPM, I can also give my clients access so they have complete insight into the work being done for them. The client and team keeps all files centrally located and accessible, and emails and discussions are captured.
Speaking of my team: TeamworkPM makes it really easy to collaborate on a project, assign tasks, set milestones, and share files. I can’t possibly remember every single thing everyone’s working on, but with the right technology, I don’t have to.
Marketing, obviously, is kind of important to my business. The ability to easily attract, capture, nurture, and report on leads is critical to what we do – for our clients and our own business. We use many different solutions in our work with our clients – Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot but we are HubSpot partners. Why? Because it’s the best all-in-one solution for the small to midsized business that I’ve found.
HubSpot isn’t perfect. And it isn’t for everyone. But I’ve yet to find an easier to use platform at a price that small businesses can afford. There’s a fabulous integrated help and education system for users to learn on and grow their skills so they can grow their business.
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Admin: EchoSign/Google Apps for Work
I’m not one for having files and files of contracts and paperwork, so I love EchoSign because it helps me maintain my digital documents. I can send contracts to clients to review via email and sign, and then we both get a digital copy of the finalized document. I don’t have to wait for a client to print the contract, review, sign, then mail, scan, or fax it back to me.
Another fantastic productivity tool I love is Google Apps for Work. I’ve been using it long before Google started charging for the service (but hey, $5 a month is still really reasonable), and can’t imagine going back to desktop-based documents. I love Google Calendar for scheduling all my meetings and appointments, and Google Mail has some pretty nifty features for helping me organize my inbox. I can set up a little face-to-face time with clients through Google Hangouts, too.
Sales: HubSpot CRM
I used to use Salesforce.com, but found it to be a bit of overkill for my size business. Now, I’ve started recommending the new HubSpot CRM. It’s perfect for the small business market (especially with that $0 price tag) and integrates well with other HubSpot tools.
HubSpot CRM integrates with Gmail, Google Drive, and Calendar, which I use incessantly. It also lets you track contacts’ interactions on your site, which helps you tailor content and future interactions to increase sales conversions. If there’s one drawback, it’s simply not as robust a CRM platform than some of the others on the market, and its reporting features could be better.
As I said, when I find a tech tool that helps me work smarter, I stick to it. I find that, with the right tools, my business not only runs efficiently, but it also grows faster.
About Brenda Stoltz
Brenda S. Stoltz is the CEO and founder of Ariad Partners and has over 20 years of experience in helping companies of all size, from Fortune 100 to startup, generate leads, increase sales and accelerate value. Through Ariad Partners, Brenda provides creative, practical, sales-driven integrated inbound marketing and strategic planning services to software, technology, manufacturing, professional services firms, and other industries. Read her content about inbound marketing on her blog .