2 Tools That Will Improve your Effectiveness as a Marketer

Every year I try to learn something new – be it a skill, a tool or just some facts. 2018 has been a time of great learning, thanks to my daughter, I wanted to share two tools that I’ve learned about from her and since put to good use for myself and customers.

  • Canva, as my primary online visual design tool – from making Twitter or web post headers, webinar announcements to trifold brochures and even eBook cover design, this has been an amazing tool where every day I’m discovering more. Here are some examples

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Tableau as my data visualization tool has similarly been a much used for not just number crunching, but being able to create excellent visualizations as well as insights that aren’t always self-evident from staring at the data in Excel.
    Here are two examples

Visualization of Girls Toilets Availability


The kicker is, both of them are available online, easy-to-use and you can get started for free. They also have great online communities that can help you get up the learning curve fast. So give them a spin today and share your own favorite tools in the comments.

Top 5 Online tools – Life on the cloud!

Last month, I wrote of my Top 5 utilities that I can’t live with. Guess the computer gods were watching and about five days ago my laptop gave up its ghost (of course tossing it on my bed and watching it slip down to the floor may have had something to do with it!). The loss was all the more untimely, as the first half of an overdue article was on the HDD! Frantic calls for sysadmin help, safe mode log on as admin and scraping the ascii text on to Zoho writer resulted in my getting the article out an hour after my Friday 6PM deadline! You can read it (“Selling Every Moment“) at Hindu Business Line here .

The good news is that even a couple of weeks before this tragic moment, I had made a beginning to go completely on-line, as in render my laptop a mere client and operate solely on the net — yep, store my data on the net and use apps on the net. So here’s my report from life on the cloud!

GMail & Google Apps pretty much the bulk of my time is spent with GMail and more frequently with Google Apps, as we try to get our new business (still in stealth) on-line. When I first began using GMail (from being a Yahoo! mail user and Eudora client) it seemed outright strange not being able to do folders. My current use pattern leads me to pray each day that Google actually means its “Do no evil” pledge. Pretty much sticking to mail and chat in Google Apps and only kicking tires with their Docs and Sites utilities.

Skype – and now with video. Skype is the only utility that gives gmail a run for the first place in my working life. Between chats, international calls, peer2peer file transfers and now video chat it gets a great deal of use. For several years we ran most of our internal business on AIM and Skype has pretty much replaced this for both intracompany as well as across company (and country boundaries). Now with utilities with the ability to record (not a feature I have used yet) it promises only to get more important.

Zoho (http://www.zoho.com/) pretty much replaces the MS Office suite and my experience is that ZohoWriter particularly kicks butt. Am using Zoho Project and as a power user of Microsoft Excel I am amazed at Zoho Sheet (though miss the work offline feature). Not having used Office Office, I found both Zoho and Google presentation tools not as productive as good old PowerPoint on the local HDD. Got my neighbor using Zoho CRM (free for up to 3 users). Personally found the CRM feature, even for a motivated user like me, a bit heavy! Likely switch to

BaseCamp – was using this as my primary project management, planning, newsgroup tool for the last six months with other conspirators as we prepare for our next startup. Simplicity thy name is BaseCamp! I must admit though I have, since writing this first, switched to Zoho projects, as I needed to be able to track a whole slew of tasks, milestones that are overwhelming BaseCamp’s simple(r) lists.

Blogger, Twitter and WordPress
For a while there, I had to physically abandon my computer, so that I could get over my growing addiction with trolling blogs. Now even without a self-help group, am doing better though Blogger probably gets more use than it should; planning to move this and other blogs over to wordpress eventually and so spending time there in installation and learning about it. Twitter, though my own contributions are bite sized, a fair amount of time is spent reading/tracking others posts & leads. The jury is still out on it utility beyond serendipity.

GMail Drive – in addition to using of course Google mail and their news alerts, I just learnt how to use GMail as a virtual Hard Disk Drive on which I can store my files. Of course this requires installing a Win Shell extension. But 2GB of storage on a virtual drive is not bad! There is a Firefox plug-in gSpace that does the same thing as well. As many of you pointed out this is not a lot of space – but I got my mom (yep, mom) to use it, so simplicity trumps all else (again!). In my case I also have a 500Gb Seagate drive on my desk, so I don’t pretend 2Gb is all I’ll ever need. But its pretty good to start with.

I realized that there are a whole lot more tools I use including RememberTheMilk and LibraryThing, but the first three above hog 80% of my time and effort. If like me you are poor at backing up, it might not be a bad idea to check these out.

Five utilities that I can’t live without

When I read Marshall Kirkpatrick’s post Five Tools Everyone Working Online Should Have (IMHO) this morning on ReadWriteWeb, it triggered the thought about the five tools (ok call ’em utilities) that I can’t do without, especially when off line. This is somewhat ironical as I have over the last thirty days tried to move my entire electronic content on-line – basically trying to use my (now borrowed) laptop as a thin client. But that’s for another day, another post.

Yesterday my wife finally got her Dell Inspiron 1525 (in a truly inspiring blue) that your’s truly volunteered to set up and I realized that even without thought I loaded the following utilities first, so that her (and therefore my) off line experience stayed blissful (ok, maybe that’s stretching it). So without much ado, here are the five utilities without which I cannot get through my offline work day:

WordWeb its hard to say which was the chicken and which was the egg. That fact that I had WordWeb made me the local authority (not just to my two kids, but to colleagues) on words from the (not always) Queen’s language or that I positioned myself as the LA and found I could not maintain it without the help of WordWeb. Nevertheless, this tiny little program is an incredible dictionary and thesaurus, when offline and even better when you are off line. Get it today!

Gadwin ScreenPrint – for whatever reason I seem to need screenshots at the most inopportune moments and that too without the cursor, or with it and a delay built-in, or I need only portion of the screen/dialog box, want to save it file, clipboard or printer – you get the picture. Gadwin ScreenPrint is that it-slices-dices-makes-breakfast screen printing tool that doesn’t need even a high school diploma to operate.

Google Desktop is likely the second most used combo on my keyboard. This is one of those tools that make me wonder how we ever made do without it. Sure I hear muttering out there about how someone’s system got crawling after they installed GoogleDesktop but having installed this on five computers at last count, including my parents, I know that I’d install this in a moment’s notice again in my next computer as well. Never had much use for the sidebar but primarily use the quick search. I have probably improved my file naming protocols but am likely overly dependent on this utility to find that document I created last year on Why mushrooms don’t get their due credit or the scanned copy of my father-in-law’s passport.

Picassa – I’d have thought I’d have picked IrfanView as the utility of choice – but it turns out that I don’t do a whole lot of image gimmickry besides, storing, sorting and acting as the family image repository manager. And truth is we presently have far too much vested in Picassa, with location tagging as well as comments. Also I love the time based viewing of (searched) images so for instance, I can view a slide show of all pictures of my daughter Roz taken in Singapore in chronological order (don’t even ask why!)

iTunes – I am just spoilt. Despite its reluctance to easily convert my wife’s 300+ cassettes into digital music, iTunes is the music player of choice in our household and so it’s got to be there. This is particularly weird since none of the three (I can’t even find that original Shuffle) iPods we have in our house are actually used. But I never said this made sense.

Special mention (the only not-for-free app in my top list)

David RM’s Journal – journaling and practically most of my writing is done in this. You gotta experience it. Comes with an addictive free to use for forty five days trial period.

Even putting this list down helped me gain some insight on how I work – do most of my work with words (hence The Journal, WordWeb, Google Desktop), use pictures reasonably (Gadwin Screenshot, Picassa and IrfanView) and actually listen to music (even though moving all our content on to the 500Gb HDD remains a dream) from the computer (iTunes).

What gems do you have to work off line?