The Marketer’s Toolbox
Finding exceptional tools to market your business can be challenging, to say the least. The list below represents the best tools and resources we use in our business. Be certain to check back here often. We’re constantly trying out new products. We’re pretty fussy—but if something new makes the cut, we’ll add it to our list of exceptional tools.
Tools For Building Your Website:
- WordPress.org: This is the best blogging platform to use and should not be confused with WordPress.com, which we do not recommend using. Make sure it’s .ORG
- WordPress Plugin Library: coming soon!
- Thesis Theme: This is the theme/framework The Marketer’s Apprentice is built upon. I absolutely LOVE Thesis (even tho it can require a bit of geek-speak) because of it’s flexibility and simplicity. Regardless of what I want my site to do, I pretty much know I can do it with Thesis. But more than that, using Thesis means your wordpress blog requires far fewer “plugins”, which translates to faster load time and far fewer update errors. If you’re not already using Thesis, I highly recommend you make the upgrade.
- OptimizePress Theme: This is an excellent theme to use for product launches. It allows automated launch sequences, also known as “evergreen launches”. OptimizePress offers capture page and sales page templates you can edit and use on the fly. (One downside to OptimizePress…the templates have a definite “make money online” style to them. So the tool is powerful, but the template style may not suit your business.) I definitely recommended OptimizePress over DIY product launches, because DIY can be deceptively time-consuming.
Your Home on the Web—Hosting:
- Hostgator: I used Bluehost for years for smaller-volume hosting…but it went downhill last year, in my opinion. Too much downtime, and outsourced (read: hit or miss) customer service staff. I also left VPS.net for the same reasons. Hostgator is a breath of fresh air. Truly. Top notch customer support (full time USA based employees who understand the technology) and they’re just an all around better hosting service. If you love seeing your website load (who doesn’t!) and love receiving customer service with a smile, you’ll LOVE Hostgator. I do!
- Zel Creative: Paul Suntup creates hand-crafted, top-of-the-line custom wordpress themes, using the Thesis framework. If you’re ready to create a Rolls Royce for your brand, Paul is your guy. Paul is also a coder (which means he does the site programming)—so you can expect the best.
- 99Designs: With 99Designs, you submit your design proposal with a set price and multiple designers will submit their work in an attempt to win your contest. The key to getting good results with 99Designs contest is to provide LOTS of feedback to the designers and submit a competitive price for the project (don’t be stingy). We’ve had some decent results with 99Designs, especially with logo design.
- Odesk: Finding your own designer is absolutely doable on Odesk. BUT, it’s important to realize that you will need to invest your time to find the gems. Our recommendation is to steer clear of designers from India and focus entirely on the Philippines and Eastern Europe where, in our experience, there is better communication…and design.
- Aweber: Having used: GetResponse, Constant Contact, Office Autopilot, & iContact—we heartily recommend Aweber for it’s excellent deliverability rates and easy-to-use interface.
- Google’s Free Keyword Tool: Does the job, everytime :) All you really need unless you want to swan dive into keyword research.
- Market Samurai: If you want to nerd out on keyword research, Market Samurai is a tool worth checking out, especially for the training “dojo” that goes along with the product. You’ll learn a ton about keyword research. The software itself is slow, and more than you’ll need if you’re not building niche sites… or generally geeking out on SEO.
- Google Analytics: A free tool from Google which is easily installed to any website and allows you to track visitors and goal conversions.
- Google Website Optimizer: Split test capture pages and optimize your marketing with another free tool from Google.
- The Marketer’s Apprentice: Seriously. Take a good look through our library of “How To” videos. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, leave a comment with your question and we’ll do our best to shoot a response.
- oDesk: We firmly believe everyone marketing online should have their own “go-to” geek—a guy (or gal) who knows enough to be dangerous… and can help you with quick fixes on the fly. A good “go-to” geek is worth their weight in gold and is guaranteed to spare you a LOT of grief. We recommend you look for a coder familiar with the WordPress platform and your chosen theme/framework (like Thesis). We’ve had great success finding our “go-to” geeks in the Phillipines on oDesk.
- iPhone 4S as video camera: Yep, your read that right! Recently I switched to my iPhone exclusively for online videos. It’s so easy, the, the quality is great, and the total investment is less than other decent quality HD cameras. You’ll need a few small pieces of equipment, so I put together a blog post to guide you on iPhone videos.
- Screenflow: THE top screencasting tool for Mac-users. We use it for all our “how-to” videos. Excellent software.
- Camtasia: We don’t recommend Camtasia for Mac, because Screenflow is superior. However, Camtasia for PC is a great tool for creating stunning screencasts. (NOTE: we don’t use Camtasia, because we’re 100% MAC-powered)
- Omnidazzle: Super slick tool we use with the Bamboo tablet (listed below). Omnidazzle let’s you draw on your computer screen to make your screencasts more engaging and fun!
- Bamboo: Combined with Omnidazzle, you can create screencasts that feature YOU writing on your screen. It’s a physical product that you connect to your computer via USB cable. Bamboo comes with a “pen” of sorts and you actually “write” on the tablet.
“Must-Have” Time Savers:
- Jing: Our favorite tool for taking quick screencapture images and writing on them—perfect for shooting an image (or video under 5 minutes) to send off to your designer or coder. Jing takes digital communication to the next level and we’d almost consider this an ESSENTIAL tool. Best of all, there’s a very workable FREE version :)
- Google Docs: We use ‘em all the time for organizing our business—consider Google docs your online version of Excel, Microsoft Office Word, etc.
- Gmail: Our favorite, free email service. ’Nuff said.
- Basecamp: While we don’t use Basecamp any longer, we thought to include it here in case you have a business that requires managing many clients/staff. Basecamp allows for collaborative space, multiple accounts (perfect for giving clients their own space to login), multiple “projects” for organizing your, uh… projects, and… “To Do’s” that can be scheduled and commented on. Very cool tool IF you’re committed to learning and using it. Otherwise, pretty much useless. From my (Jenn) experience, I love the tool when I’m working with people who are also committed to using it. However, most people will not take the time to learn Basecamp and/or sporadically use it, which is… no bueno.
- Deep Forest Mint Chocolate : The Marketer’s Apprentice is run on this flavor of chocolate. Since eating my first piece (many, many bars ago) I’ve become a better marketer. Correlation? You be the judge.
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