There is a new type of entrepreneur emerging: an owner who is the master of his or her “domain.”  That is, someone who can do just about everything you need to do to attract traffic, engage people wherever they may be and convert them into customers.  So, instead of doing things for clients, more and more, I’m teach clients how to do it for themselves.  And I am surprised at how regularly my sessions drift to the tools I use.

I’m happy to share what I use and why, because they make me a better marketing consultant and marketer. . .and they can make you better at what you do.

Some are obvious, some, not so much.  Some have a hugely positive effect, but it’s hard to describe in words.  You’ll see.  In all but one case, there’s no risk to you to try these tools.  So, try them.  If something doesn’t work, all you’ve lost is your time.

Web meeting and conferencing tools

Marketing is moving away from the magazine ad, brochure, trade show booth and face-to-face sales call and toward the computer screen.  Like it or not, your computer screen is becoming your new “stage.”  It is rare when I’m on the phone with a client that I’m not also sharing my screen so we can see what we’re talking about.  It’s rare when I’m on the phone or in an IM chat with a prospect that I’m not sharing my screen with video.  People can see me earlier in the selling cycle.  This builds comfort and comfort builds confidence.  There is a day-and-night difference when I share my screen.  I don’t talk about how I manage sponsored search campaigns, I show them.

To fully engage people today you need to share your screen and allow others to share their screen with you.  It adds a second dimension — visual– to interacting with you.  And when appropriate, it adds you (via a video window).  I’ve experimented with Gotomeeting, and’s Connectnow and ConnectPro.  Gotomeeting ($49/mo for up to 15 participants, no video) offers a 30-day free trial.   The other two offer free versions.

What I’ve learned:

If you are going to use this tool for sales, it’s important participants don’t have to download software to join your meeting.

The tool has to be easy to use and intuitive.  You will have plenty on your mind, figuring out how to use the tool shouldn’t be one of them.

Having the capacity to include a video window so the person at the other end can see you is important.

You’ll want to practice using the tool a handful of times to get comfortable using it.

Right now, I use the $55.00/mo version of ConnectPro.  It offers video, does not require people download software to participate and is reasonably easy to use.

Google Analytics

Before you skip over this, saying “Oh yeah, we have Analytics installed,” give me a minute.  There is so much you can learn from Analytics, and most people don’t even scratch the surface.  For those of you who don’t know, this is the website visitor tracking software Google bought and gives away now free.  Companies used to pay tens of thousands of dollars per month to use it.  It gives you good, basic information: what pages have the most traffic, what pages your traffic comes in on and leaves from, what key words bring you traffic, the number of pages and minutes people view/spend when visiting your site and which key words bring you the people who spend the most time and visit the most pages.  If you set up goals, and you should, you can also track which key words are bringing you the people who take the actions you want them to take.

It’s free and easy to install.  Spend at least one hour per week working with Analytics and your website will get better.

Wireless Telephone Headset

This is one of those tools that has a hugely positive impact but is hard to describe exactly how that happens.  This has had the most positive impact on my business of all the tools in this post.  You heard me, and I don’t even spend that much time on the phone.  The time I spend is important, and my wireless headset lets me keyboard, take notes, work with files, walk around, gesture and just basically make the most of my time on the phone.  Again folks, you simply have to use one for a month to know what I’m talking about.  Full disclosure: the headset I recommend here is sold by a client of mine; and I’m going to recommend you buy from them.  However, I was a wireless headset nut before Headsets Direct became a client, and you should buy from them because of their expertise, customer service and 60-day exchange policy.

I use the Savi WO200.  I paid $290 and it’s the best money I’ve spent in years.  I also bought a headset lifter ($68).  It lets me move between landline calls and VoIP (computer) calls and net meetings by pressing one button.  People don’t know you’re on a headset and it’s comfortable.  Buy one and try it for 30 days.  If it isn’t one of the smartest things you’ve done, send it back.  It is and you won’t.

Two Computer Monitors

I use two computer monitors.  I keep my email or reference information in the left-hand monitor and the thing I’m working on in the monitor directly in front of me.  No going back and forth, in and out of windows.  It’s all in front of me.  I probably expend 20% less energy doing what I do because of it.  Most newer desktop and laptop computers can drive two screens.  Ask your computer guy to make sure.  Then go buy a 22″ screen at Fry’s or Best Buy, or order online.  You shouldn’t have to spend more than $200.  This is another one people sort of look at me funny when I talk about how different it is using two monitors.  Trust me, it changes things!

Google’s Webmaster Tools

Another free tool from Google that is either way under-utilized or ignored. . .perhaps because it’s free.  Google it.  You put a bit of code on your home page or create a page Google recognizes and you’re in business.  I use it to identify search terms my organic ranking is just off page one.  Think about it.  Is it smarter to work SEO on a term you “don’t exist” on, or one you appear on page 2 or 3 on?  It’ much easier, obviously, to move from page 3 to page 1 than page 6,000 to page 200.  And, just as obviously, being on page 200 isn’t doing you any good anyway.  I’ve bumped my monthly traffic by 30% by getting a term from page 2 to page 1.  The difference is dramatic.