There are so many ways technology accessed through computers, tablets and phones can help with your business, it can be difficult to know where to start in figuring out which services or programs would be the best ones to help you build your business and manage it effectively. This article is part one of a two-part series on websites and apps that can contribute to the success of your small business.
This first article will cover various web-based tools. The second article, which will appear in the next issue of Mobile Beat, will cover apps for both smartphones and tablets.
I have saved so much time on contracts since I started using Echosign about a year ago. Now I make a PDF of my contract, upload it to Echosign, and send it to the client. Once they’ve signed it, it automatically emails both parties a fully executed copy. This saves tons of time in mailing contracts back and forth, as well as scanning or faxing signed contracts. Some nice features include a dashboard which shows when someone looked at the contract you sent them, and an easy way to send a reminder when a contract needs to be signed. Cost: There’s a free option for up to five contracts a month (or 10 if you link to your Twitter) so you can try it out for a while. Paid version starts at $15 a month.
Since you’re handling your contracts electronically with Echosign, why not also take your payments online too? Intuit IPN allows you to accept checks electronically so clients don’t have to mail a check. The best part is the fee is only $.50 per check payment received. I have gotten a contract and payment back from a client in less than an hour after I sent it to them, since they could easily do everything online. Intuit IPN can also accept credit card payments at a rate of 3.25%. This option can be turned on or off. So I leave mine off unless I have someone ask to pay with a card. I have saved a lot of credit card processing fees and tons of time with IPN. Cost: $.50 per check payment received. 3.25% for credit or debit card payments.
Bananatag is a tool to track emails you send. I use it as a plug-in with Outlook, but it also integrates with Gmail too. Bananatag is completely transparent— the person you’re sending the email to doesn’t know it is being tracked. It is a good resource to see if someone is reading your emails and to track the effectiveness of your emails. For instance, if you put links in your emails, you can see if they were clicked. Also, every time someone opens the email, you can choose to get a notification. It is fun to see someone open an email you sent a couple months ago and start to click on the links. I’ve had that happen several times and have used it as an opportunity to follow up, since I knew that they were re-checking out what I had to offer. Cost: Free for up to 5 emails tracked per day. Paid option is $5 a month for up to 100 emails a day.
WEDDING WIRE / EVENT WIRE
If you do weddings, you should have a profile on Wedding Wire by now. Even with a free profile, you can solicit reviews from past clients. We’re living in a time where people want to read reviews on third-party websites, so building up reviews on a site like Wedding Wire can be instrumental in getting more bookings. They also have Event Wire, which is for people planning other types of parties and events. There are so many different websites where you can ask clients to leave reviews ( Wedding Wire/Event Wire, The Knot, Yelp, Google Places, Facebook), that I recommend choosing one website for all your reviews. It looks a lot more impressive to have 50 reviews on one website than 5 reviews 10 different websites. Cost: Varies based on a variety of factors.
Even if you don’t solicit reviews on your Google Places profile, it’s still a good idea to have one. It can help send more business your way if your Google Places profile shows up in searches when clients are looking for a DJ. Plus, even though you choose one website to focus the bulk of your reviews, you could still ask some of your best clients to leave reviews on Google Places too. Just be forewarned that Google is known for removing reviews if they think they’re fraudulent. To avoid that, just ask individual clients after their event to review you. If you send a mass email to all your clients and get a lot of reviews at once, they may get flagged as fraudulent. Cost: Free.
This might seem like an obvious one, but not having a business page on Facebook is almost like not having a web presence at all. Potential clients will check out your Facebook page for pictures from recent events and just to see what you’ve posted recently in general. It can be a good way to build confidence if potential clients see you are providing your DJ services every weekend. You can also build your business through personally networking with other vendors and past clients on Facebook. However, if you are friends with past clients and other wedding vendors, you should create lists to segregate who sees what you post. You wouldn’t want another vendor deciding not to refer you because you make a lot of controversial posts that offend them. But if you have them in a special list just for wedding vendors, you can select which status updates they see when you post them.
Jim Weisz has been a DJ since 1999, primarily serving the wedding and school markets. Originally from Chicago, he relocated his thriving DJ business to Dallas in 2003. He used his company’s web presence to effectively to re-establish his client base within a just a few months. Jim is a seminar speaker and also writes for MobileBeat.com on web issues. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Filed Under: Business, Digital DJ, Issue #149
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