8 Essential Marketing Tools You Need to Start Using Today

There never seems to be enough time in the day for a professional services marketer. In my constant battle to get more things done in less time I have learned to leverage an extensive arsenal of tools to improve my efficiency.  These are not tools most all of us have heard of, such as Google Alerts, OneNote, and Hootsuite but rather others I have discovered over years of trial and exploration. The key behind using any of these types of tools is to ensure that the value gained far exceeds the effort spent using the tool.  With time I have found that some tools simply are not worth the effort, while others have become vital to my job and to our firms’ success. While there are dozens of tools we could look at, I wanted to share with you 8 tools that you are probably not using today that I believe will make you a more effective marketer:

Media tracking and monitoring – mention.com

In my role I need to know immediately when our firm’s name is in the news or in an online publication. As many of you know Google changed their formula for the popular Google Alerts several years ago and it is no longer sending you every mention in the news, rather it now only shows sources that generally show up in the top 100 search results. I spent months looking for a tool that would send me up-to-the-minute updates whenever Timmons Group was mentioned on the web to replace Google Alerts and found it with the tracking and monitoring service mention.com. If you search the site long enough you will find a basic version of the service that is free. With Mention you will get an email, usually within minutes, whenever your firm’s name has been posted online, ensuring that you are the first to see your name in the news.

Title Capitalization – titlecapitalization.com

I know what you are thinking: what type of marketer doesn’t remember how to perfectly utilize AP style or Chicago Manual formatting on titles? The answer is me. It might be simple, but titlecapitalization.com easy a fast and easy way to copy-cut-past in a title and copy-cut-paste it back to Power Point, Word, Prezi, InDesign, or anywhere else you want.

Google PageSpeed – developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Your website is running slow, and Google knows why (Google knows everything). Google has hundreds of tools for web developers, that anyone can use, and one of my favorites is PageSpeed. It is buried under the speed optimization tools in their developer’s toolbox so just search for it or use the link above. What you’ll find is a measure of your websites page load speed and specific actions you can take to speed it up if it is running slow.

Camtasia – camtasia.com

It was bound to happen, I was going to share a tool with you that costs money (all of them up to now have free options). There are hundreds of video editing software platforms available, but this one is easy, affordable, and can do just about everything without switching between multiple products to get your video completed. It does all of the normal video editing things you would expect, but is also provides screen capturing, it has a cell phone app for capturing video, allows for editing multiple tracks, and even has advanced volume leveling capabilities to balance out voices that always seem too loud or too quiet.

Website page monitoring: visualping.io

If you have ever checked a website every day for weeks waiting for an RFP to come out then you need Visualping. The website monitors webpages for you and will send you an email whenever there is a change on the page. I have found this to be especially helpful for websites that only publish RFPs once or twice a year, but that we have to check weekly to make certain nothing is missed. Simply set up an alert and get an email whenever a procurement webpage has updated or changed. Try it out, trust me this website can save you an extra 30 minutes of time every week, and yes it works for any type of webpage.

Graphic Design: canva.com

It’s true, we do not have a graphic designer on our marketing team, but give us some amazing templates and software that is easy to use and you’d be impressed what we come up with. Canva is not a replacement for InDesign or Photoshop, but what is does is give you the tools and templates to ensure that your marketing looks great. Give Canva a try if you are not a graphic designer but want to ensure that what you create looks great.

Website monitoring service: montastic.com

Websites go down and Montastic will ensure that you are the first to know so that you can do something about it before anyone else knows it is down. I have used several services over the years for website monitoring but finally stuck with Montastic because it is free, allows multiple people to be notified, and even sends SMS text alerts. Just be forewarned, Montastic is great at website monitoring, but they are not great at designing the layout of their own website, it is ugly.

Website link checker: cloudtrawl.com

Once a year I have gotten into the habit of cleaning up our corporate website. Over the course of a year you would be amazed how many links on your website get broken and how many images are no longer available. These broken links impact your Google ranking. Most of the time this occurs with links to external websites, but it also happens when someone inadvertently makes changes inside the website. Cloudtrawl sends web crawlers throughout your website to check every link and every image on your website. About an hour after you start the process Cloudtrawl will send you a report identifying every broken link on your website. You can pay for an annual subscription, but I typically just sign up for the free trial once a year. In two weeks you can get just about everything fixed and then you can sign up for a free trial again the next year.

I hope that some of these tools help you get more done with less effort as well, and if you have another tool to share please be certain to share them with me on LinkedIn.


Top 10 Presentation Tips

I recently did some in-house training on presentation skills thought you might enjoy reading the Top 10 presentation tips that came out of our discussion:

  1. Know your content – This is the #1 differentiator between a great presentation and a lousy one.
  2. Eye Contact – Make eye contact with your audience.
  3. Paint a picture with your words – Explain your points through short stories. Great speakers use stories to create an emotional connection between ideas and their audience.
  4. Stick to your topic – Remember what type of presentation you are giving and be certain you are focused on achieving the desired result.
    1. Informative Tell others about something they should know about
    2. Instructional – Teach others something they don’t know
    3. Arousing – Make them think, change their thought process (a great example would be the Monica Lewinsky TED talk)
    4. Persuasive – Talk them in to taking an action. Tell the audience what to do, how to do it, what happens if they don’t take the action.
  5. Slow Down – Nervous and inexperienced speakers tend to talk way to fast, slow your speech down and add pauses for emphasis.
  6. Don’t Read –If you don’t know your speech without cues it shows you don’t really understand your message.
  7. Good Questions – Use statements like, “that’s a really good question,” to encourage more questions.
  8. Show up Early – Show up early, check out the room, and run through your slideshow if at all possible.
  9. Practice – The secret to becoming a great speaker is to practice, speak, then speak some more.  The more you speak the better you will become.
  10. Have Fun – Enthusiasm is contagious, so is a complete lack of passion for your topic.

Marketing Reports

The more I have become addicted to marketing metrics the more I find that it is important to step back and take a big picture look at the reports I am running.  When I first began developing marketing metrics many years ago it seemed that I was generating great data, but it was not always actionable data.  Over time I have learned how to focus on developing data and metrics that drive better decisions and revenue. This past week I have been thinking about the reports that I will be running over the next 12 months with a focus on producing data that can be acted on to help drive profits. Below is a listing of some of those reports and I hope many of you will find the list beneficial. I would love to hear if you have additional reports that you are running to help drive top line growth.

Monthly Reports

  • Revenue Forecasting
    • Lead Reporting
    • Pipeline Reports (Fee proposals and  qualification based proposals)
    • New Business Reports (New work signed by month)
    • Backlog Report  (Volume of contracts signed but not yet billed)

Quarterly Reports

  • Marketing/BD Costs by group, division, and companywide
    • Marketing Labor Costs (Marketing personnel Only)
    • Marketing Labor Costs (Non-marketing personnel)
    • Business Development Labor Costs
    • Marketing/BD Non-Labor Costs
  • Hit Rates by group, division, companywide, and most importantly by opportunity owner
    • Proposal to Awarded
    • Shortlisted to Awarded

Bi-Annual Reports (1/1 and 7/1)

  • Revenue Comparison Report (Compare revenues for Top 100 clients to prior 3 years revenues from those same clients)
    • Identify growth and losses for top clients
      • Reversible or Inevitable?
  • Identify Client Managers and set meetings regarding relationships that are losing ground

Annual Reports

  • Project Size Report
    • Project profitability by project size and as portion of total profitability
    • Project size as portion of total revenue
    • Repeat Clientele Percentage (percentage of clients that are New vs. Repeat)

What will a CRM do for me?

One of the primary goals of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system should be Increasing Revenue. This is accomplished by leveraging many aspects of the system, the most important of which are: Communication, Collaboration, Follow-up, Reporting, and Forecasting.  I was recently asked what we should expect from our corporate CRM (Deltek Vision) and I thought that you might find the list helpful as well.

A Good CRM should:

  • Be the corporate Client Database
  • Measure Business Development outreach efforts
  • Remind you to follow-up in a couple of days, weeks, or years
  • Become a central repository for notes and information on a given client or lead
  • Manage qualified leads and keeping them from falling off the radar
  • Manage and track outstanding fee proposals, including forecasting revenue
  • Manage and track outstanding Statements of Qualifications, including forecasting revenue
  • Track customer interactions
  • Identify Business Development Tasks that need to happen
  • Identify if those Business Development tasks are actually happening
  • Notify Client Managers about interactions everyone else the company is having with their client
  • Provide feedback on projected revenues and actual revenues
  • Report projected revenues by group/division/ company
  • Increase collaboration between groups and divisions through information sharing
  • Flag Client Managers and management when revenue is declining for a given client
  • Provide a historic record of project files prior to the award of a project
  • Identify money pits (people we’ve been pursuing for years to no avail)
  • Be a central repository of information on winning firms (ex: Architects that are winning Higher Ed, Local Gov, K12, work that we can team with to pursue future work)
  • Report on Business Development activities: “That which is measured is improved”
  • Manage conferences – costs, exhibiting, attending – and relate it back to specific employees
  • Track and measure Master Contracts (term contacts) to ensure they are being leveraged fully
  • Answer the question: What happens to someone’s contacts when they leave?
  • Provide historic Information on pursuits, lunches, relationships, and more

A Great CRM should:

  • Integrate with existing project and client data, allowing for cross reporting related to current revenues and past revenues and how these relate to future revenues
  • Identify “Stuck Opportunities”
  • Report on the effectiveness of the Business Development staff
  • Identify who and what efforts result in new work
  • Integrate with a Client Retention Program (ex: survey feedback loop to measure success)
  • Become a measurable part of the employee review process


Corporate Character

“Corporate Character is the intellectual and moral qualities that distinguish one company from another.” If you were to look at a ‘best value’ bid in Arlington County, VA you would find the following evaluation criteria used to award contracts: “(the County considers) the character, integrity, reputation, judgment, experience, and efficiency of the bidder.” Did you catch that, your clients are interested in the character of your company, not just your fee. They want to know the quintessence of who you are, your reputation, and why you’re the best; they want to understand your Corporate Character.

Inside and Out
Your Corporate Character is made up of hundreds of things that can be separated into two categories: how you are viewed (external) and who you are (internal). The external attributes of your Corporate Character are easy to understand and easy to change, they include your brand, public relations, reputation, sales, and customer service. The internal attributes of your Corporate Character are much more complicated, they include your corporate culture, integrity, honesty, judgment, moral standard, and experience.

Wrapping Paper on a Bad Gift
The external attributes of your Corporate Character are easy to change, but like wrapping paper on a bad gift, they only cover the underlying problem temporarily. To truly change how your company is viewed in the marketplace you must start by changing the internal attributes of your Corporate Character.

Your Corporate Character
It is the inside out approach to changing Corporate Character that builds a company which your clients will want to work with, one that has the “character, integrity, reputation, judgment, experience, and efficiency” to be trusted.

Geographic Expansion Lessons Learned

CharlotteSkylineBelow is a summary I wrote after interviewing multiple partners at design firms related to their thoughts on what makes a branch office (geographic expansion) successful.  No rocket science here, just the summary of conversations with firm owners about what the keys are to a successful branch office.  What would you add to the list?  Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Geographic Expansion Lessons Learned

Based on interviews with partners at design firms pertaining to office expansions.

Lessons Learned:

  1. The right person leading the charge is the most important factor in the success of a new branch office.
  2. Two key people are needed for a geographic expansion, a Rainmaker (someone that can bring new work in the door) and a Principal Designer.
  3. An expansion needs to be viewed in a positive light both from the new office, as well as the existing offices.  A geographic expansion should provide multiple people with opportunity for growth throughout the company.
  4. The right combination of people is the key ingredient to a successful geographic expansion.
  5. When a new office opens it is not “business as usual,” individuals opening a new office must be prepared to work 2-3 nights per week becoming involved in the local community and in the industry.
  6. Responsibility and autonomy for the new office must be given.  The individuals in that office need to feel as if it is their actions that will result in the success or failure of the office.
  7. Support staff is not critical for the establishment of a new office.

#1 Best Seller, Thank You!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone here at Cofebuz for your help making the launch of “Network Like an Introvert” such an amazing success.  I was truly humbled this past month as the book rocketed to being a #1 Best Seller in the Sales and Selling category on Amazon and became the #1 Hot New Release in the Marketing and Sales category!  I am even more excited about the stories of people changing how they act as they have learned about networking from a new perspective, after all, that is how I will define the true success or failure of the book.  I’ll keep you posted as things unfold, but Thank You again!

Network Like an Introvert – My New Book!

My new book Network Like an Introvert is finally here!  I can honestly say that I had no idea just how much work goes into writing a book, so I am extra excited to announce the launch today.  Special thanks go out to everyone that was involved in the project over the past two years, especially Richard Klabunde (that’s my Dad) and Matt Handal.  I am proud to say that Network Like an Introvert is being published by Mark Buckshon and Asset Beam Publishing Ltd.  Please take a moment to order a copy, marvel at the new things you learn, and write an amazing review on Amazon.

About Network Like an Introvert:

For years introverts have been told that in order to succeed at networking they should follow extroverted and sales-driven tactics that are counter to their personalities. Network Like an Introvert takes on these false assumptions and looks at the lives of introverts that have succeeded at networking without trying to be someone they are not. Written by an introvert, for introverts, this book will give you a refreshing approach to networking that will leave you with the tools and plan to build a successful network.

To find out more about this book and to read what others are saying please check it out on Amazon.

The Key to Great Conversations

Great conversations start when people have something in common. For my second video in this series I wanted to share with you a little secret I use to help ensure that I can find common ground quickly when I meet someone new.  Not only is it simple, but you’ll find it is fun to implement as well!

For those that subscribe to CofeBuz via email here is a link to the video: http://youtu.be/225wZaf8f2A

Proposal Development Secrets

It isn’t every day that I promote a book here on CofeBuz, but I believe I have found a great book worth sharing. Several weeks ago AEC marketing guru Matt Handal published the book “Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home On Time” as an Amazon Whispernet exclusive book. It quickly moved up the ranks to a “Top 100” Marketing book, even rising as high as the Top 10 for a period of time. After reading it I know why, in it Matt provides a comprehensive overview how to win proposals while providing anecdotal “secrets” that are easy to understand and even easier to implement. This engaging book was a win for me, providing far more value than many other much more expensive books. (It only costs $3.99) Be certain to check it out, and also keep an eye out for my latest video set to release on Monday here at CofeBuz!