As an entrepreneur, you already know your to-do list is never-ending. And that there are never enough hours in a day. But if you want to be successful, you have to be able to do more than just put out fires and get the basics done.
You need to spend time working on strategy, creating new products or services, doing sales and marketing, and proactively managing your business.
So what do you do when you have no more time in the day, but still more to get done? Well, you could outsource. But maybe you don’t have the budget for that.
Luckily you do have another option: AUTOMATION!
These days there are oodles of awesome free and inexpensive options to help you automate everything from appointment scheduling to social networking. In fact, even if you have time to do this stuff manually (or the budget to hire it out), I highly recommend you still automate everything you can.
Why? Because automating using the latest low- and no-cost tools and services is going to save you time and money. Plus, you’re going to be able to get a whole lot more done, including working ON your business (not just in it). Or even take the afternoon off guilt-free. And all the while you’ll still be growing your business!
To get you started automating, below is a short list of tools, services, technologies, widgets and plugins any entrepreneur can afford. In most cases other services, software or tools exist that can do the same jobs, so be sure to ask your friends, colleagues and partners which tools they are using, as well. Or you can search on Google to see what might suit your needs best.
9 Ways to Automate so that You Market Your Business Better Faster Smarter
Stop wasting time going back and forth on email trying to set up meeting times. Instead, let clients and prospects schedule themselves on your calendar. Sites like Tungle.me, timetrade.com and Appointment-plus.com are good options that make it easy.
2. Blog Distribution
Have your blog posts automatically post to your Facebook pages or other social networks using Tweetmeme or another online tool, plugin or widget. Some social networking sites (like biznik.com), let you simply enter your RSS feed info right there.
3. Twitter Integration
Use a Twitter feed plugin to add your feed to your Website or blog. That way, your site visitors can also easily see what you’re up to and follow you on Twitter.
4. Twitter Distribution
Automatically forward your Twitter tweets or other status updates to all your social networks. Micro-blogging aggregators like hellotxt.com, ping.fm and hootsuite.com make this easy. You can even preset ‘em and forget ‘em. (While that isn’t totally automated, it’s the next best thing. And you can always outsource this very cheaply.)
5. On-Demand Print & Mail
Wanna offer print and/or audio products online without having to make endless trips to the post office? Let Vervante.com print and mail for you on demand. Just set your shopping cart or email system so they’re notified as soon as the order is processed.
6. Customer Relationship Management
Keep on top of all of your prospects using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. Salesforce.com is a powerful, easy-to-use cloud application, with different pricing tiers, starting at just $5/month. Salesforce.com can be integrated with your website to automatically capture the data from online form submissions and can also integrate seamlessly with other marketing applications (e.g., email marketing software). It can also send you reminders for each step in your sales or marketing process for each prospect.
7. Thank You Cards
Automate the sending of thank you cards, and follow up greeting and post cards with Sendoutcards.com. You can write and store unlimited cards and even set up multi-step mailing campaigns. While it does cost to join, it’s pretty reasonable. Best of all you can upload your own handwriting and each card is printed and mailed with a real stamp.
Crowdsource a new product idea or marketing campaign. You can leverage the brainpower of those you trust by creating secure remote groups on kluster.com to collaborate on innovation for your company. Even when you are busy working on something else, your remote team can be contributing new ideas and solutions, and moving your initiative forward.
Sales and marketing materials often include large, important files. Back up your hard drive automatically to cloud storage using mozy.com for free or mozypro.com if you need more storage. Then access your data from anywhere, anytime. Easy to use, priceless, and ensures that you always have the files you need to make the next sale.
While it isn’t really a way to automate, I couldn’t happily run my business without access to my main computer from my laptop. Logmein.com is a free to paid service, much like gotomypc.com (another great option) that lets you log in and use any computer remotely like you’re sitting in front of it. A wonderful way to access memory-hog programs when I’m out and about with my laptop.
Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of tools and technology for automating your marketing. And more new ones keep popping up every day. So just remember…it doesn’t really matter what or how you start automating. What matters most is that you do.