How to Use Google Calendar for Project and Time Management

We all use Google Calendar here. In fact, many of our calendars are shared, so we know exactly who is working on what – and when – to keep workflow straight. But it wasn’t always that way…

We tried Zoho, we tried Salesforce.com, we tried Basecamp and Manymoon and probably half a dozen other systems before settling on the simple Google Calendar system – and here is how we do it.

This is written from a company director’s perspective, so if you do not have your own staff (or you are the staff) then obviously change to suit your needs.

First, you’ll need a few key calendars. One for each staff member, one for yourself, and one specifically for meetings.

Then, setup Google Tasks on your Google Calendar (just click on “Tasks” under “My calendars” and it will pop right up.)

Now, share each employee’s calendar with them. You can do this through your Calendar settings. This is a great way to keep things private as well, as your staff can only see their calendar – not everyone else’s. You can also choose to share your meetings calendar with all staff, so they know when you are available (this can be set to simply show “available” or “busy”.) This is optional.

When you set up your work flow, it is quite simple:

  1. Dedicate a name to each client or project that is descriptive and simple, such as their name (or an abbreviation of their name if it is long.)
  2. Delegate the work to your staff by creating the event called “Project Name – Specific Task” as an all-day event on their calendar, on the date it is due.
  3. Manage your own day by creating Google Tasks for things that need to be done during the day, that don’t necessarily have a specific time frame.
  4. Schedule all of your meetings – in person, by phone, or with other staff members – using your meetings calendar.

Voila! Now all of your work flow is easily accessible from anywhere with web access, can quickly be changed on the fly, and can be monitored frequently by micro-managing bosses or the assistants of the more hands-off style manager.

How do you use Google Calendar to manage company workflow?

The Desert Billboard Method

I would like to talk a bit today about a method of marketing that is currently being touted as “the next big thing”, “absolutely essential to doing business today”, and “the best investment your business will make this decade.”

Companies around the world are making a good living by telling businesses small and large that this one component will make the biggest difference to their marketing – far more than anything in the past.

Which is all completely true.

It is also only half the story.

You see, even right here where we are located there are talented web design companies ready and willing to create amazing websites for anyone who asks. There are also companies who “manufacture” websites – using templates, they create semi-custom websites that are functional and budget-friendly.

There are website hosting companies who provide amazing value, nearly 100% up-time, and great technical support.

You have domain registration companies like GoDaddy telling you that it is time to get your company online – that the future is on the internet.

Graphic designers offering to create innovative web graphics to make your website attractive.

Copywriters offer to create compelling offers on your website to get people to “Buy Now!”

They all tell you that getting a website is the answer to all of your marketing woes.

This method is what I affectionately call “The Desert Billboard Method”

You see, while they are all great at what they do, they are in essence creating you a billboard in the middle of the desert.

The web host and domain name registrars sell you the land…

The web designer builds the billboard…

The graphic designer makes it pretty…

The copywriter gives the billboard the right words…

And then you sit, and you wait for a return on your investment.

Meanwhile, because you have neglected to actually get traffic to drive by your billboard, there isn’t a single eyeball viewing your masterpiece.

Maybe you tell some potential customers about your website, get a few visitors who tell a few friends, and in short order turn it into a digital brochure.

But are you really getting what you were promised?

Is your website bringing you sales, or just helping close sales you would have already had? What if your website could actually be part of your marketing system, rather than a marketing piece?

It is time to make a shift. It is time to go from The Desert Billboard to integrating your online presence into everything you do, and turning it into a real steady stream of business for you. It is time for those hard working web designers, graphic artists, and copywriters to see their work actually generating the revenue they have always wanted it to.

It is time to stop thinking of the internet as an island.

The internet is not a “thing”, it is a medium for communication. A website is  not a brochure, it is a small part of a larger strategy.

For any business to succeed in the digital age, including web design and development companies, there must be a paradigm shift.

If you think your business might be ready for that shift, get a Free Business Analysis.

If you are a web designer or developer, graphic artist, copywriter, or other web professional, we are looking to align with strategic partners like you. We want to help you create something that benefits you, your clients, and the world in general while helping our own firm grow. Give us a call if that sounds interesting to you.

And to everyone else – remember, no man is an island. No website should be one, either.

We need a website – now what?

That is a question we get posed so often, we almost want to have a canned response. Or at least, we wish we could.

It usually starts with a potential client calling our offices and asking us a few questions about our services, our prices, how we work, etc. And then the question is posed:

“Well, we know we need a _____ (be it a website, a Facebook page, a social media strategy, a blog, or any other high-tech marketing apparatus) – Now what?”

See, most businesses identify the need for a website, blog, social media strategy or anything else by the fact that “so and so” told them to, or “everyone else” does. Most of you, honestly, don’t know exactly why you need it.

But that isn’t true, you say.

You know exactly why you  need that website linked with Twitter and Facebook, with a built in blog. Because it will bring you more customers.

GREAT! And how will it do that?

Uhh…

Exactly.

Websites and social media are part of “Inbound Marketing”.

Your old ways of marketing – TV and print ads, direct mail, flashing banners and tradeshows – those are “Outbound” forms of marketing. They work by disrupting the lives of those they come in contact with, forcing them to pay attention, and for a small number they get enough attention to actually sell a product.

The new way of marketing – using those websites, blogs, social media accounts, and more – are “Inbound” forms of marketing. Instead of interrupting, you’re inviting. You just go out and find where your ideal customers are already hanging out, provide them with some useful content (blog posts, articles, free reports, info) and ask them to come visit you.

When they do, you offer them even more content to link up with you – Follow, Tweet, Like, and subscribe. You get their trust, and their contact details. You send them more content – and then mention that you have paid resources available.

It is called a lead generation system, and every business should be using one.

I’m sure you’ve heard of lead generation before, maybe even using the internet – but it usually involved a form for a “free consultation” and some form of disruption marketing like banner ads, Pay Per Click, or direct mail. I’ll tell you…

Those leads will be 10x colder than those who found you on their own, in their “neighborhood”, and choose to give their information to you.

Want some proof before you start changing your strategy?

Let’s take a look at a report published by HubSpot.Some startling statistics for you :

Companies who allocate more than 50% of their lead generation budget to inbound marketing experience a 61% average lower cost-per-lead. The exact numbers? $84/lead for inbound vs. $220/lead for outbound. Can you afford to spend $220 per lead?

The same study found that for most businesses, even though marketing costs were lower for those who used inbound techniques, the inbound techniques accounted for more than 50% of all leads generated by all businesses (both inbound and outbound dominant.)

5 years ago, blogs were an easy tool to ignore. No one knew how to use the internet to generate leads and revenue aside from banner advertising (more outbound, disruptive advertising). MySpace and Facebook were competing for attention from individuals, and hadn’t yet figured out how to generate revenue from businesses effectively.

Today, ignoring the above statistics could mean a rocky road ahead for your business.

Even those of you who traditionally believe that social media is only for products geared towards young people are in for a real eye opener in the coming years. With smartphones permeating every last safe hold of society, small business owners are the fastest growing segment of Twitter users. The over 25 age group accounts for 50%+ of all Facebook users.

Think about this statistic from a recent Website Magazine advertisement : 20 million people visit WalMart stores around the world every day…

… and 250 million people visit Facebook in the same time period.

If you ignore a market that vast, that readily and willingly interacts with commercial interests – often seeking purchase information and reviews through those channels – then your business will eventually fall behind in “the new economy.”

So, we’ve described why you should pay attention to social media. We know why you need an online presence.

You know you need a website – now what?

Now you call us. We can take your business and develop a complete online branding and social media strategy, create a brand, website, blog, and social media presence based on those ideas, and help your business join the ranks of inbound-marketing dominated businesses.

The future of marketing is here, now. You need to stop trying to start your own conversation. People are already out there, talking about you and your business.

Join the conversation.

A small victory…

… for high tech!

We were just about to recycle the newspaper (who reads those things anymore, anyway?) when we noticed something really cool.

The Real Estate Weekly is now using QR codes.

And not just one linking to their own website, like most magazines do… We’re talking one for almost every realtor in the paper, linking to THEIR website. And I’m willing to bet that having a QR code costs a little bit extra, too.

So not only does REW get to step into high-tech, but they get a revenue boost, too!

And of course, we couldn’t be more proud!

Social Media Is Supposed to be Fun, People!

I always laugh quietly to myself when I hear of a social media marketing expert trying to advise clients on a corporate social media policy. Isn’t that more the realm of human resources and legal departments?

Of course, any other similar issue would be. But social media is scary. People and companies want to use it for their own purposes, while eliminating the possibility that your company could have fun with it. No fun on company time, after all.

The problem with this mentality is that I have seen it lead to far too many failed social media campaigns.

For your company to really find a place online, you have to use social media properly. Begrudgingly spamming thousands of twitter followers with your url while dying a little on the inside is not what I would consider”proper”.

Instead, when you’re developing a social media strategy, think of how you use social media in your personal life.

Okay, so you might spam your Facebook friends with photos of your kids/dog/cat/lizard/whatever sometimes, but that isn’t what we’re talking about today.

When you use social media in your personal life, you engage people.

You tweet them back when they mention you on twitter.

You “like” that picture of them at their company retreat last year (that no one was supposed to see).

You meet someone new and tell them to add you, be your friend, like you, and follow you.

You tweet, like, blog, comment, stumble, ping, and add your way through everything your friend put out in the world, and your friends do it right back.

And why?

Because they’re your friends, that’s why.

And if you apply that same mentality to your social media, you may find that you have a lot more fun – and your results will reflect that.

Yellow Page Advertising is DEAD…

… so please stop paying for it!

There is a rumor going around right now that spurred this post. A rumor in marketing circles, that AT&T – one of the biggest phone book providers in the US – is no longer going to publish a physical phone book.

While I can’t confirm the rumor, if this IS true I have two guesses as to why…

1) The number of people actually still paying to advertise in phonebooks is no longer justifying the cost of sending them out… OR

2) Google bought AT&T, and you can’t do Adwords in print. (This wouldn’t happen…)

I know which one I would put MY money on.

These days, the only real benefit to purchasing a listing in the yellow pages is getting an online listing. Unless of course your product ONLY serves techno-phobic senior citizens, in which case the yellow pages may in fact be the only way to reach them.

But I’m sure that even they have technologically savvy children and grandchildren who can look things up online for them.

What does this mean? The yellow pages are dying a slow and painful death. The phonebook will be no longer, very soon. In fact, I just received the 2011 phonebook – and it is *half* the thickness of the 2010 book.

Why? Because no one is advertising in it anymore.

They just aren’t getting the ROI that they used to. More and more businesses are just taking the free text listing that comes with their business phone line, and leaving it at that.

If your customers want more information, they can find it online – from places like Google Local, to your online Yellow Pages listings, and even your own website.

We almost lost newspapers. We almost lost television. We’re about to lose the phonebooks. Truly, the internet has changed the way we do business – the internet has changed the world.

Just something to consider next time that Yellow Pages sales rep sends you an email.