New collection of 11 free online marketing tools.

New collection of 11 free online marketing tools.

Here are some of the latest in tools for accounting, social sharing, online portfolios, collaboration, creativity and content management. Subscribe to this blog and we’ll send along more as we find them for you. Rafflecopter—Facebook requires the use of a third-party app for contests, and this one is super-simple to use; takes about five minutes to install, including the iFrame app. Even non-technical folks will find it a breeze. Here’s a contest you can enter yourself if you’re logged into Facebook, created with Rafflecopter. Outright—We use Wave, but this one looks quite similar. What Do You Love—Type in any subject and watch what happens: instant inspiration for social media managers, bloggers, and newsletter writers. Cuttings.me—Writers of every stripe will love this online portfolio that is easy to share. Buffer—Turn the firehose of social media posts into a steady stream; your fans will appreciate it, and here’s why… Photosynth—Make and share panoramic photos; perfect for realtors, architects, travel agents and home remodelers. Gaconfig—If you find Google Analytics a baffling maze, you’re not alone. These folks help, a lot. Pearltrees—Yet another social sharing tool, but this one looks very simple and clean. Pinterest—Blows them all out of the water for collecting, collaborating, and sharing. Use it as an online portfolio, a way of curating blog information, all kinds of things. All it takes is an invitation. Animoto—Create videos and share in a snap with the free version; more features cost a little. Hoody—This one is in beta but creative types will want to watch it for a way to generate work. What are your favorite free online tools? Are any of these helpful to you? Comment, and share....

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Great websites that don't have to be.

Great websites that don't have to be.

If you’ve ever tried to do any of these things in person – renew your driver’s license, find income tax forms, or get information about doing a bulk mailing – you may have hit a wall of red tape and indifference. Doing these things online, and much more, can now be fast and pleasant. What is the motivation for government and quasi-government entities to build websites with such visual and functional elegance? You might say it’s to save money by reducing the need for actual humans to do the work, but they could do that with clunky websites and still hire less people. If you’ve ever been to the post office in the rest of the world, you may not have had a fast, pleasant experience. (I’m guessing Germany has an efficient postal system but have never tried it.) Here are three websites that are fabulous, whether or not they have to be. www.irs.gov | www.tennessee.gov | www.usps.com True, the post office now has competition, but can anyone really eliminate snail mail from their lives? What is your favorite great-but-doesn’t-have-to-be...

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Branding in poor taste.

Branding in poor taste.

Having spent my entire career creating, promoting and defending brands, I drank the branding Kool-Aid* long ago. In fact, when I worked in advertising for what became the second-largest bank in America, I was referred to as Logo Cop. A brand is an investment, and maintaining its integrity should be a zealous pursuit. There are lots of ways to damage a brand, even for those ostensibly in charge of protecting it. Here’s one: be a bully. Chick-fil-A, in its infinite and litigious wisdom, is muscling a tiny t-shirt shop for making shirts that say “Eat more kale,” maintaining that it infringes on the fast-food chain’s ubiquitous advertising campaign. Visit the t-shirt manufacturer’s website and you’ll see that the owner, Bo, is all about eating natural, close-to-the-ground food, clearly relating in no way to Chick-fil-A’s offerings. But Chick-fil-A can use their massive war chest to grind poor Bo into the dirt. Brand bullies aren’t limited to the corporate world. Susan G. Komen Foundation jumped on grassroots efforts to raise money for breast cancer research that included “for the Cure” in their name. Evidently, “Lemonade Stand for the Cure” will get you in hot water with the purveyors of pink-ribbon merchandise. Next time you buy a sanctioned pink product, realize that some of it will go to Komen, and some of that will go for legal expenses. Bullies beat up on littler guys because they can. That leaves a very poor taste in the mouths of the public that supports the brand. Steven Colbert says it best.    *For Kraft’s lawyers: I consider Kool-Aid to be a tasty, healthful and refreshing beverage that also makes an extremely effective hair dye. This is an opinion piece.   The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c Tip/Wag – Susan G. Komen Foundation & Spider-Man Musical<a> www.colbertnation.com Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> March to Keep Fear...

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5 great reasons to look at marketing outside your industry.

5 great reasons to look at marketing outside your industry.

For the most part, music industry marketers tend to look at what other music industry marketers are doing. Financial service marketers follow what other financial service marketers do. Same for nonprofit marketers, legal marketers, tourism marketers and so on. Whatever business you’re in, there are some excellent reasons to look at what marketers in other industries are doing. 1. Get outside your comfort zone. We tend to be happiest where we are and to resist change; that limits our thinking. 2. Look different. The primary objective of all marketing should be to stand out from the competition; if bicycle shop #1 markets itself the same way bicycle shop #2 does, it won’t be clear why bicycle shop #1 is a better choice. 3. Learn new techniques. If you are in a conservative industry, check out how the popular, more “out-there” businesses market themselves; see if there are methods you can apply to your own business. 4. Impress the boss. Show the head honcho that you’re a creative thinker. If you’re the boss, you may just impress yourself. 5. Take some risks. All great marketers do this. Try out some things; it’s okay to fail now and then. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. If you find yourself reading the same blogs, networking with the same people in your profession, attending the same rubber-chicken lunch-and-learn groups, step out. Find an industry that’s 180 degrees different from yours and go to their next meeting. It may just be what you need to re-energize your marketing. What are your ideas for getting outside your...

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Amazing Paper Artists

Amazing Paper Artists

In the flat, 2-D digital world, the tactile sense goes wanting; it’s impossible to experience art and illustration by touch. Paper has a warmth and depth that pixels lack. Color comes from the interplay of light and shadow with the material itself. These amazing paper artists are designers, craftsmen and women, engineers, builders, molders and painters in the natural world. With their hands, they coax images from organic stuff to tell us stories and to delight us in a way that a screen alone cannot.   To learn more about each artist, click on the image. If you enjoy this post, please subscribe....

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