Episode #30 – Tools of the Trade: Marketing Made Easy

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On this episode of Marketing, Advertising, and Branding Your Christian school we share tools of the trade that will help streamline you marketing and advertising efforts so you can spend less time on the computer, and you can spend more time focusing on your school.

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Radio Announcer: The Reconstructionist Radio Podcast Network presents The Preschool Pioneers Podcast with Reverend Jeremy Walker where you will hear practical and biblical advice from a unique perspective on the subject of Christian education.

Commercial Ad: The Preschool Pioneers Podcast is brought to you by the GCS Apprenticeship Program. For more information visit gcsapprenticeship.com.

Aaron Slack: Welcome to another episode in the series on marketing advertising and branding your Christian school. I’m Reverend Aaron Slack here with Reverend Jeremy Walker. Today we’re going to talk all about tools. Specifically, tools for marketers. Now, this is by no means a comprehensive list. I’m only including tools here that I personally use now or I have used, or at least am pretty familiar with. It’s going to be biased towards my personal experiences with marketing. I think you’re going to find a few things that are useful in your endeavors. Some of these are explicitly marketing tools and others are just useful for marketing related tasks and quite a few of these can help you in ways that go far beyond marketing and advertising. Just real useful things to be able to use.

Also, most of these tools today fall into the category of what they call SAAS, which is software as a service. It used to be that you pay once for a program and probably install it off of a CD and then you would hypothetically be abl to use it forever. It sounded great, but then when your computer would crash and the install code wouldn’t work anymore or you get mad because they came out with a new version and you have to pay for the full price again. It really can become a real pain and I think the software as a service model overall is really a superior way of making software and services available to people.

What more and more companies are moving to, especially a lot of the stuff, most of the stuff I’m talking about today will be actually run in a browser. It’s just services that are going to run off of a server somewhere and you interact with them through your web browser is the subscription model. I actually really like this development. Even a lot of photo and video editing software now falls into the, it’s a web software that you use and you pay a subscription to use it.

Jeremy Walker: You’re talking about the concept where they used to have where you had pay hundreds of dollars. Sometimes $500 to put on the programs that you had. One that comes to mind, which we use a lot and I’m sure we’ll talk about it more later, but just the concept of subscription model versus purchase model and you get it just that one time. The install codes and all the rest which were a pain. What comes to mind is Adobe. Adobe upgraded their stuff because if your computer crashed on you, you literally could not use the same CD because you could not uninstall it.

Aaron Slack: Yeah.

Jeremy Walker: Now, of course, they’ve changed their model, so we’ll get into that more, I’m sure.

Aaron Slack: They’ve done the same thing with Microsoft Office now, as well.

Jeremy Walker: I think that the technology moving forward, they understand that these problems came up. I like the subscription model myself much better than it used to be.

Aaron Slack: If you decide down the road that you don’t want to use this software any more, particularly if you’re on a monthly billing, you just cancel it and you’re done. You’re not out whatever, $500 it cost to purchase it or whatever it was.

Jeremy Walker: Also, you have those people who like … We don’t do this because we utilize Adobe services throughout the year because we produce a lot of content. There are those people that, if you were a person who created a yearbook or whatever and it’s only one time a year, you could actually jump in, pay for the services for the month that you needed to utilize those programs and then with the months of the year that you’re not utilizing this program, you don’t have to pay for it. I think it’s a much better idea.

Aaron Slack: Yes. Typically, you just pay a monthly subscription to use the service software. A lot of these companies also offer a free trial as well. Quite a few of them actually will give you a discount if you decide to go to yearly billing with them. Say, instead of $12 a month, it works out to $9 a month if you pay for a year upfront. This kind of thing.

Without further ado, here’s my list of marketing tools here. With some comments on each and also some general pricing info. Of course, this is all subject to change. You’ll want to research any of these before paying for them. Almost all of these as well have different levels that depend on your needs and usage. Many of them will actually have limited free version and then you’ll pay for this level, this number of users and then it goes up from there as well. Of course, it’s an incomplete list, but I think you’re going to find at least a few things. A lot of cool toys that we get to use when you’re in marketing, particularly digital marketing here.

I’m going to start off with some paid services here. I like Trello, which is a project task management app. It’s a browser based app. They also have iOS and Android. Basically, you have lists with cards. These cards are pretty much note cards that you can write on. You can attach photos and documents and files, too. You can add due dates to them. If you’re using Trello with a team, people can comment. You can assign cards as tasks to particular people. Kind of like Evernote, except everything is organized by lists. It’s a lot more interactive for teams. The lists are made up of cards and the lists area also organized onto boards. You can have specific boards for specific projects. Move the cards back and forth between the lists, comment on the cards. It’s really good. I use it in particular for organizing project information. I like to be able to make lists and then have all these cards in each particular list. Really good way for that. There’s actually a really capable free version that might meet all of your needs. They have Trello Gold, which is $5 a month. Then they have Trello Business if you need multiple users. $12 per month, per user. That’s something worth checking out if you need a project management tool.

Next, we have Iconosquare. This is if you have an Instagram account for your business, your Christian school. It has Instagram analytics, comment management. You can also do post scheduling as well. Hashtag research. Meaning, you can put in a particular hashtag and see how many people used that hashtag or find a hashtag that would be applicable to your particular niche that you’re in. They start at about $80 a year for a one user, one account with Iconosquare. If you have Instagram, worth checking out there.

Cyfe is the next one on the list. I’ve been using Cyfe for several months now and I really, really like it a lot. It is basically a business dashboard. It’s a browser app, so you can use it on any platform with a browser. I can pull in information from Facebook, Twitter, Google Ad words, Google analytics, whole bunch of other stuff. I can see how all our ads are performing, how many people are visiting the website, how many people are downloading our enrollment application. You set up all these widgets on your dashboards. You can even do custom ones based on Google Sheets, where you put information into a Google Sheet and you’ll be able to see graphs and charts and tables based on what’s in there. It’s really becoming indispensable for what I do. I used to have to log into a whole bunch of places everyday to see just the basic information. So now being able to just go into this one program, flip through my dashboards each day saves me a lot of time and it’s really affordable. Just about $20 a month. I think that’s money very well spent, at least for what I do, managing marketing and social media for Grace Community.

Two very important apps next here are Hootsuite and Buffer. These are my two main social media tools which I use every day with managing social media for Grace Community School. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. They both have social media scheduling built in. Basically, you can queue up a post and have it go out a certain time of day. They also do a lot more. I like Hootsuite mostly for managing and watching social media. You can set up a custom dashboard. It’s a tab dashboard, basically, with widgets for all of the different aspects of each social networks. You can have Twitter feeds, keyword searches, and then you can have another one for your Instagram. LinkedIn. Basically, any social media platform is supported. Just click on the tab for that particular network and you can see information. If you want to see who is mentioning you online or be able to see your Twitter and Facebook inbox for your business page is right there. I do most of my managing social media there in Hootsuite. They also have a really great analytics dashboard. What you can do in Cyfe a little bit more in depth for each social network as well.

Again, you can schedule social posts in Hootsuite, but that’s what I use Buffer for. It is definitely my favorite scheduling app for social media. It can do everything. It can do LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. It’s really impressive and I also like how, it’s where they got the name, you set up basically time slots which can vary for each social media network. Then you just buffer up your queue. You write an update, select which network it goes out to and then you fill up the queue and it goes out at certain times so you’re not posting ten times within five minutes. You can space it out. Schedule days and weeks in advance as well, if something has got to go out on a particular day. You can also write an update for one network and then just drag it over to another network and put it in a queue there. Really cool. It also has some analytics, too, but not as good as Hootsuite’s for the most part.

Both of these are pretty affordable programs. Hootsuite starts at about $20 a month. $100 a month if you need teams, multiple users. Buffer is actually free if you only have just a couple social networks, only need the basic features. The Awesome Plan is $10 a month, which is a really good deal. That’ll work for most people actually. They do have a business plan with a few more advance features. $100 a month. Again, if you do a lot with social media, you’re going to want to use at least one of, if not both of these apps for your social media.

Jeremy Walker: If you’re taking it seriously, we’ve been talking about this quite a bit. If you’re running social media campaigns, if you’re going to do something, do it right. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mail list or if it’s a photo program or if it’s a social media page or website. To do it and do it correctly. If you’re going to have the right job, you need the right tools for the job. These concepts of Hootsuite and Buffer, a lot of the other ones we’re going to get to. I think they’re indispensable if you’re going to actually run it. You’re not going to spend all of your time in front of the computer trying to do update. These programs will facilitate and allow you to kind of set up a schedule. It frees you up but it allows you to run a really great social media campaign.

Aaron Slack: If you’re on more than one social media network, you definitely need to use one of these scheduling programs. There’s quite a few other ones out there that I haven’t used personally. I know Sprout Social is another one that’s highly recommended. Do some research. But, both of these, Hootsuite and Buffer, offer free trials and have some actually really affordable beginner plans, which probably will actually meet all of your needs until you get more advanced.

Now, a little bit similar but different is a program MeetEdgar.com, or Edgar. This is a fantastic program if you use it wisely and if you’re willing to put in the time to make it great. Like Hootsuite and Buffer, you schedule your updates and then it’s done. Now, Buffer has on some of their more premium plans, they have a re-buffer feature where you can go through and re-share content that you shared in the past and it performed well. For the most part, when you send out an update with Hootsuite or Buffer, that’s it. If you want to send that update again, a link to a particular blog post for instance, you got to go in and write a new update and put it in your schedule.

Now what Meet Edgar does, it basically keeps a content bank of material that you can schedule and post from over and over. You can either do it randomly, in sequence, by category.  You set up custom schedules. Say I want every Monday at 8:10 in the morning, Twitter to pick a random article from our blog and send it out. Meet Edgar will let you do that kind of thing. Or on Tuesday afternoon, I want to share one of our YouTube videos on our Facebook page. Meet Edgar lets you set that up. The trick is, of course, you got to fill up those content banks. You can’t just put five things in a category and then share those five things over and over and over. That’s not going to be interesting. Facebook is not going to show it. The algorithm is going to ding you for that. You want to be able to have those content banks really full of good material. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to do that is actually a really useful program. Now, it’s about $49 a month. If you have a whole lot of content like we do at Grace Community School, it is definitely valuable. Something worth checking out if you have a lot of content and are willing to put in the work to fill up those content banks.

Next on my list here, I’ve got If This Then That, which is IFTTT. This service connects services and apps and other things to each other automatically. They have a lot of, they used to call them recipes. Now they’re called applets, which you can either create or just use ones that they have made and you can search for on their website. For example, it’s for automation. For example, you can set it up so when you change your Facebook profile photo, it changes your Twitter profile photo to that same image. Or, when you share a photo on Instagram, it takes that photo and puts it in a Dropbox folder that you have designated for your Instagram backup. This kind of thing. A lot of other cool things, too, not just social media. It can interact with a lot of smart home devices as well. I have it set up on If This Then That, that when weather reports says it’s raining, my front porch lights come on. This kind of thing. A lot of cool things worth checking out. It is a free service. Unlike the next app which is called Zapier.

Zapier, we mentioned on the episode on email marketing. If you’ve used If This Then That, you pretty much have an idea what Zapier does. It basically does the same thing, except it is primarily for business. A lot of serious business apps use Zapier. It would take a long time to share even a small fraction of what it can do because it literally interacts and supports hundreds and even thousands of apps. It really lets you automate tasks that would be very time consuming to do manually. Or, basically almost impossible to do manually. In particular, using business software. I use it a lot for a lot of things. As I mentioned in the previous episode on email marketing, I use it to manage our lists, move people back and forth between our various email lists as well. A lot of other things. Do check it out. It starts at about $20 a month depending on how many zaps or how many processes you need it to run. The prices go up from there depending on your usage. Definitely worth checking out.

Next on my list, we’ve got MailChimp. I’m not going to say a whole lot about MailChimp. I’ll refer you back to our email marketing episode in which we went into MailChimp in detail. It is an email service provider, along with a whole bunch of other ones. AWeber, My Emma, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact. These are all email service providers for building, managing, and sending emails out to your email lists. You’re going to want one of those for your Christian school’s email lists. Check out MailChimp or one of these others on the list.

Next on my list I have Audiense. That’s Audiense.  This is a Twitter and Instagram follower management and analytics app. Basically, it makes it easier to follow people and unfollow people If you have more than a couple hundred Twitter or Instagram followers, it is useful. For example, say someone started following you on Twitter and you wanted to follow them back, as long as they kept following you, without a service like this, it would be pretty difficult to do. You can go in an filter your Twitter followers. For instance, you can sort it by people who are following you but you are not following them. Then you can see if you want to follow them. Same thing you can do with Instagram as well. It also has Audiense analysis. For instance, you could select from your Twitter followers or a certain group of your Twitter followers and see if they have any kind of aspects in common. Be able to find other people on Twitter similar to those people. You can get pretty in depth. Again, if you have more than a couple hundred followers, it’s worth having a tool like this just to be able to keep track. Particularly, if you’re trying to decide who to follow and unfollow. Having a service like this is very useful. It’s about $15 a month.

Another Twitter management service is called SocialOomph. It also has a few features similar to Audiense, but with a new thing that it can do, unlike Audiense. It lets you automatically send direct messages to people who follow you. When you follow the Grace Community School Twitter page, with SocialOomph, I have an automated direct message that goes out. Basically, it has a link to our email list and also to our website so they can check out those resources for them, get more information about Grace Community School, along with a welcome message. It has various plans. I just use the basic Twitter features which is $7 a month for that. They have a few other plans that can do a few other things. If you want to do direct message marketing, worth checking out there.

Canva is one of my favorite apps. Very indispensable for me. It is a web based graphic design program. That’s Canva. What’s really cool is it has built in stock media. I know Photoshop, I use Photoshop quite a bit, but Canva lets me put together social media graphics very quickly and I don’t have to go to a separate site to get stock media. Also, you can get stock media, stock photos for just $1 an image. Now, this is a per download fee, meaning if you want to use that stock image again, you have to pay the dollar. If you browse stock media sites at all, you realize this is very inexpensive. It also lets me create social medial graphics very quickly. Having appealing social media graphics is very important. However, I don’t want to spend an hour on Photoshop for something that people are going to look at for five seconds on Facebook and scroll past. Not a great use of my time. I use Photoshop when I get more in depth with ads and things like this. More higher priority graphic assets.

For most of my day to day image editing and content creation, I use Canva. It works all out of a web browser, but they do have an iPhone and iPad app. It actually has a free version. You just pay for the stock media. They have a few more advanced features. Canva for Work, I recommend. It’s $10 a month, plus again the $1 per stock image used. The Canva for Work one is, I should say $10 per user per month, is very useful because you can have your own stock media and logos uploaded that you can grab onto. I have all of our logos uploaded right in the app. Then I can just grab that real fast, stick it on the image. Most of the graphics that we use at Grace Community School is photos of our students and things. But, for our theme week signs and just general promotional images, having something like Canva is definitely useful. I used to spend a whole lot more time in Photoshop and stock media sites before it and I highly recommend this app. It’s really a fantastic deal just doing the $1 per image stock media in particular.

Next on my list, I’ve got Pablo. Pablo is actually put out by the same people who do Buffer. It’s similar to Canva but really can’t do as much. It is worth checking out. It is free if you have a Buffer plan. You can check out Pablo as well.

Mention is my next app. It is a service, web based and mobile app. It lets you keep track of anyone mentioning your business name or whatever keyword you set up to track. It is also phenomenal for  Facebook and Twitter comment tracking. Saves me a lot of time. Basically, I log into Mention everyday and I can go through and see every comment that anybody has left on our Facebook page. If you know how active Grace Community School is on Facebook, you realize that’s hundreds of comments every week. So, being able to scroll through that very quickly without having to go individual posts on Facebook saves me a lot of time. Also a great way to address customer complaints and internet trolls which do pop up from time to time.

Being able to see it all in one dashboard is really useful. If we ever come up in a news article, that will be also appearing in my Mention dashboard. That is a very important app that we use here at Grace Community School. It also has sentiment analysis. It will do its best based on the context and words that are used in a comment to tell you whether this is a positive, neutral or negative comment about whatever it is. Your business name or keyword that you’ve set up. They have various plans. Start at about $30 a month up to, they have some really high end enterprise plans. I believe for $500 a month, they will actually scan t.v. news for you as well.

Jeremy Walker: Wow. For mentions.  It sounds to me like this one right here, we’ve been going through a lot of different programs and they’re all extraordinarily helpful. I have a lot of experience with some of these. Saving time and what not. But, this one kind of jumps out at me. The Mention application here. If you’re going to do something right and you want to combat the positive and the negative with your PR campaigns that you’re doing, especially in the social media realm, especially when you’re dealing with the social media trolls that are out there and things like that, this one sounds like a real good interesting application to utilize in order to maintain that public presence as well. This one really jumps out to me as something that people should really pay attention a little bit more to than just some of the other ones in general. Keeping track of what is going on, what people are saying, positive or negative about you will also help you adjust your campaigns because, of course, if they’re mentioning that they’re receiving too many emails or they’re not receiving enough photos. All the various comments that come in to you can all be utilized to adjust your campaigns, to adjust your strategies.

Aaron Slack: A couple of other things.  Facebook, in particular, has a terrible notification system for comments on a business page. It’s not like a personal page where anybody does anything, you get some kind of notification. On a business page, you really don’t get, I wish there was some way that they had a Mention-type dashboard in Facebook where you could see everything real quickly. So, having this is really useful. Also, you can respond to Facebook comments directly from within Mention without having to actually click over to that post. It’s definitely a Facebook and Twitter best practice to pretty much respond to anybody who leaves a comment on your page. Positive or negative, in particular. Take some kind of action. Somebody leaves a comment. “Beautiful pictures of the children,” for instance. I’ll just, with Mention, it makes it easy. I’ll just type, “Thank you.” Reply directly back to them. Whereas before, I would have had to go to that individual post, scan to the comments, all this. I can do it all on one dashboard. Because we try to take it to that level with our social media at Grace Community School, it makes Mention one of my indispensable tools. I’ve been using it for two, three years now. It’s saved me a lot of hours over that time and helped us to have a much better social media presence as well.

Also interesting, we do occasionally come up in the news and it’s interesting to see what’s being said about us. I know one time we had an aligator across the street at our Golden Gate location. There was a news article, “Aligator Across the Street at Grace Community School,” which I never would have seen that article without it popping up in my Mention.

Jeremy Walker: Florida problems. You have alligators walking around the neighborhood.

Aaron Slack: Florida problems, for sure.

Jeremy Walker: That’s great stuff. I think this is definitely one of the, like I said, we’re going to mention a lot of applications and programs and things like that that people can use. This one right here, this Mention one definitely seems like one that I would say people should pay attention to. Let’s go ahead and go into some more, but I think this is one that deserves direct attention. But, go ahead.

Aaron Slack: Okay. Next on my list, Warble. It’s a pretty basic service. It’s free. Doesn’t do a whole lot, but it will send you once a day, if you sign up for it, once a day email letting you know anyone who mentions your business, just on Twitter. It’s free, so I use it. There you go.  Not much to say about it.

Slack is something we use a lot. Not because it’s also my name, but it is a really powerful business communication platform. This is another one of our indispensable apps that we use for management at Grace Community School. Management and our office staff. Almost all the stuff that we used to communicate with emails or even phone calls now, we used to do that, we now do in Slack. If you’ve used instant messaging programs like the chat on Skype or Facebook messenger, it’s a lot like that but better. You can organize everything into teams and chat rooms. You can share files. You can make video calls. They also started screen sharing now, is available on Slack. It also integrates with a lot of other apps and services, like Google Drive, for instance. If you share a link to a PDF in Google Drive, it will do a thumb nail once you’ve added your Google Drive account to it. Really useful program. Saves us a lot of time and not as many emails. They have a free program which is kind of limited. We do the standard plan which is $8 per user per month. For communication with managers and office staff, Slack is definitely the way to go.

There’s some other ones. I want to say Hip Chat is another one that is similar to Slack. Definitely worth checking out some of these features to make your communication easier and with fewer emails.

Jeremy Walker: This is a great program which we got introduced to some years ago, which we had utilized, I think Skype before.

Aaron Slack: We used Skype chat for a while, which it’s not nearly as good as Slack.

Jeremy Walker: It’s a really great program. If you haven’t been introduced to it yet, you should check it out. It’s just really improved communication, especially when you’re running an operation like ours. We have nine locations and lots of managers, lots of secretaries, lots of information that has to be going around and lots of different topics. So, this one right here is one that once again that I would say you should focus on if it’s something that you are having to do a lot of management or if you’re dealing with multiple managers or teams of people. Slack is really indispensable for that.

Aaron Slack: Next, we’ve got Evernote. Evernote is, for me personally, what keeps me organized. I’ve been using Evernote personally and professionally since 2009. That is eight years now. I have almost 24,000 notes in my Evernote. Basically, you set up notebooks and then notes go in the notebooks. You can tag the notebooks for making them easier to find. You can collect web pages, scan and upload PDF’s. With some of their premium plans, you can make those texts in those PDF’s searchable. You can now set reminders. It will remind you of certain notes on certain days and times. A whole bunch of other stuff. It is my favorite note taking application. Probably my one, if I had to pick any one of these tools today would probably be the one that I would go with. Free plan. They have what you sync between two devices. There’s a plus plan that’s $35 a year. Premium with more uploads, unlimited devices, all that stuff is $70 a year. I’ve been using the premium plan for quite a few years now. Really what keeps me organized.

Next I have the HelloBar. It’s Hello, like “hello.” Hello Bar is a service which I have used before. It lets you install on your blog or your website. Basically, you can have a little pop up. You can do a full page take over or you can do just like a little tiny thing in the corner. Basically, it’ll have a little message or you can put a link in it or an email sign up form, that kind of thing. You can change the style, size and colors on the pop up via their programming. Real easy to use. They have a free version which should work for most people. They also have a word press plug in for your blog or website. If you wanted to do something like that, worth checking out.

We will take a brief break here and be back in a moment.

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Aaron Slack: Next I have Yoast. That’s Yoast. Yoast is a Word Press plug in. It does several things. They have a free version. If you have a website or blog that uses Word Press, I recommend you install it.  Just a whole bunch of useful tools. I don’t use every feature of it for the Grace Community School blog. But, pretty cool things that it can do. You can customize how your blog post or web page will look when it’s shared on social media. That is a useful feature. For example, if you wanted to have one image show as the thumb nail on Facebook and a different one show as a thumb nail on Pinterest or Twitter, you can do that. You can also change the snippet of text. You know when you share something on Facebook, it will having something like a sentence or two from the article or whatever it is. You can actually change what that is to something more appropriate or succinct or whatever you want it to say on the social snippet. You can also put in for search engine optimization. It can analyze it for a particular key word. If you’re trying to rank a particular post like, “Daycare in Fort Meyers,” you could tell Yoast, “This page here is about daycare in Fort Meyers. I want to make sure that I use this key word often enough.” This kind of thing.

It also has an analysis of how hard or easy it is to read like a blog post. A lot of useful tools. Pretty neat program if you use a Word Press for your blog or website. I don’t see any reason not to use it. Yoast. You can find that in the Word Press plug in’s directory.

We have Adobe Creative Suite. Going into detail about this would be beyond the scope of this episode. Basically, everything that Adobe puts out, that’s Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Addition, all this stuff. This is really good for serious content creators. It used to be Adobe software was like strictly for professionals with a lot of money. You’re looking at $500, $600 just for instance, for Photoshop. If you wanted these others, you’re out thousands of dollars. Now, they’ve gone, like we discussed, to the software as a service subscription model. So, what used to cost hundreds of dollars for just one of these programs that you would have to upgrade every year or two, now it’s a subscription service and you can actually get every Adobe Creative Suite program, the whole thing for $50 a month. Or, like we have, $20 a month is what it costs for an educational discount. That lets you install it on two platforms, two computers per $50, or per the $20.

If you are seriously doing any kind of of content creation, or even if you just want to do Photoshop, I would easily spend $20 a month just to be able to use Photoshop, for instance. They made it much more usable by going to this subscription model.

Jeremy Walker: I think that this right here, the Adobe Creative Suite, when we heard that it had gone to the subscription model, I was very excited about that. I would definitely suggest anybody that hasn’t really looked into it yet, if you’re creating any kind of content what so ever, yearbooks, whatever it might be that you’re interested in doing, once again photo editing, pretty much anything, look into Adobe Creative Suite. The cost is well worth it for all the programs you get to use. Once again, because it’s a subscription model, all you have to do is use it for the time that you need it. When you don’t, you don’t have to pay for it. It’s really great.

Aaron Slack: Yeah. InDesign is the standard for desktop publishing and it’s what we use in our yearbooks. If you look at any kind … If you walk in the grocery store and you see all those magazines on the racks, those are designed in InDesign. That is the professional tool for desktop publishing. Of course, everyone knows about Photoshop. Basically, check that out. They’ve made it much more affordable. For content creation, it’s pretty much a must.

PageCloud. If you go back to our episode on websites for Christian schools, one of the services we mentioned is $24 a month. It is a simple and powerful website creation tool. In particular, if you wanted to create a website from scratch and design it so it looks exactly like you want it to without having to learn HTML, PageCloud is something to look into.

Megalytic is a marketing and website analytics report generating service. Things like Cyfe, it’s a dashboard where you just log in, you look at reports and this kind of thing. Megalytic is basically paper reports. You don’t have to print them out, of course. They can generate them on the PDF. You save a report and anytime you want that report again, just click on it. It will generate all the stats and everything that you set for the report to include. This is for Google Analytics, Facebook ads, Google Ad words primarily. There’s a couple other services that you can do. It starts at about $40 a month. This really useful if you’re doing marketing, for instance, for a Christian school or for a business and you need to generate regular reports to give to someone. Megalytic is worth checking out.

Statsbot is a fun program. Useful tool. It puts a little chat bot in your Slack account, which we mentioned Slack, that you can ask questions about your websites Google Analytic statistics. You can also have it to automatically send statistics of a certain day and time. For instance, I have every morning I have Statsbot on Slack sending me a Slack message that has our big website analytics reports from Google Analytics right in my Slack each morning. Even before I have to log into Cyfe or Google Analytics, I can get the basics of what happened on our website the previous day. I can also do Google Ad words as well. I can see, for instance, how many clicks, how much we spent on Google Ad words the previous day. This kind of stuff. It will also alert me if there is a sudden spike in website visitors to our webpage. $12 a month for that program. It’s a useful little thing to have.

Now, TextExpander is one of my favorite apps. It is primarily for Mac. I do understand that they have a Windows version. They also have an iOS app with a keyboard that you can use as well.  With TextExpander, you set up snippets, text selections, basically whatever you want. You activate by typing in a code or a short cut. For instance, if you typed out an address over and over and over as part of your work that you needed to type out this address, you can set up a little short cut. A text snippet in TextExpander. When you type a certain code, it fills it out with that address. That saves me a lot of time having this. If you send customer emails, for instance, you can have a variety of templates set up.

If you need to email similar information to people, you just put in your code, whatever you have it assigned and it will fill out the rest of your email with your template and then you just change the parts that you need to change. I have all of the Grace Community School website pages as short cuts in TextExpander. If I want to link, type out the URL to the info page or the karate page or whatever or the location to Minnie Springs page, I just type a couple of keys and fills out that URL. I don’t have to worry about remembering it or copying and pasting it. I have also the list of zip codes that we use when we run a Facebook ad or a Twitter ad. There’s a list of zip codes that we usually target for geo-targeting. If I just type ZIP, it will fill out with all the zip codes automatically in plain text for me. It saves me a lot of time. That’s $4 a month now. They’ve actually gone to a subscription service for that.

JotForm, which we mentioned before. JotForm is the form creation service we use on just about all our websites for the contact and request more info forms in particular. They have free plans and also paid plans starting at $19 a month, depending on your usage. If you need to create forms for websites, you really owe it to yourself to check that one out.

Jeremy Walker: This was a great one because years ago when we were getting into trying to create where somebody could go to the website, submit a question to us and we could get communication via the website, JotForm was one that came highly recommended. When we started using it, I was not disappointed. If you’re interested in adding a form to your website, which is very simple, customizable, and once again, we previously discussed a little bit how you can integrate it with other programs. JotForm is a great program to look into.

Aaron Slack: Yeah. It is fully supported by Zapier. For instance, you could have an email address or phone number, which then you send another program to be entered. It also integrates through Zapier to a lot of customer relationship management software CRM’s. You could have information from a JotForm automatically input if you’re using a certain CRM. Real useful for form creation.

Microsoft. Basically, they have Office 365.  Microsoft OneNote is another part of that, as well. That’s kind of like Microsoft’s version of Evernote. OneDrive is Microsoft’s version of Dropbox. Microsoft has basically done exactly what Adobe has done and they made their main product, of course Microsoft Office, make is subscription based. Again, I like this a lot. We used to have to worry about those upgrades and losing CD’s and CD codes and this sort of stuff. Now, we just do a subscription. They have a really fantastic educational discount as well. This is Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Power Point, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft OneDrive. Also, the mobile versions of these as well. You can use these on your iPhone and iPad, as well, as part of your 365 subscription. If you just need it for your home use, like one user, it’s $100 a year. Educational discount, which we use, it’s $8 per user per month. By user, pretty much if you have a small office, you can just have that one license work for your office. It lets you set it up on a couple different computers. Just $8 per user per month. Microsoft Office is still the standard for office software. Now that they’ve made it a subscription model, it’s I think a lot easier to use.

Jeremy Walker: These ones … You were talking about Adobe with InDesign and all the rest which is a bit more heavier content creator. Magazines, yearbooks, more professional type stuff. You can create just basic documents, which I actually do because I’m very familiar with InDesign. Also, you have Microsoft Office and these ones like Pages. Mac has Pages. These are for more like, you just want to sit down and create a basic document type stuff as well, for like your office and what not. Not getting into heavy document or book or magazine creation. These are great programs for that, as well.

Aaron Slack: Next on my list, I have Animoto. It is now one of my favorite video creation tools. I think it’s $22 a month for the professional version. Definitely worth it. Basically, it lets you do video and video slide shows from a web browser. You upload photos and videos to a browser, you select a theme. They got about, I think 50 different themes. Something like that. They have stock music which is included in your subscription price. You can change the order around, edit the photos, shorten the videos, all this stuff. It creates a beautiful video slide show. They also have a pretty neat video editing in general platform. I use some of the heavier duty video editing software, which I’m going to get to in a little bit, like Final Cut Pro. But, a lot of times I don’t need that level of work to put out a simple video. In particular, if it’s a slide show. You’ve got a lot of really cool, beautiful slide show templates. What used to take a lot of time in iMovie, or whatever, I can now do very quickly in Animoto.

Jeremy Walker: This right here, the Animoto, is kind of the Canva for video in a lot of ways. Before, you would use Photoshop for more professional stuff and now instead you use Canva. For this, you wouldn’t use Final Cut Pro or some heavy duty video editing software. You just use Animoto. We have these on our website and our YouTube channel, correct? The videos that we’ve done with these?

Aaron Slack: Yes.

Jeremy Walker: If you wanted to check some of these out, you can go to our website gracecommunityschools.com. I know on the home page there, there’s lots of different videos we’ve created and you’ll see some of the videos were created utilizing this program. You can also go to YouTube and search us there as well. Grace Community School, if you wanted to find more. This is a really great program as well.

Aaron Slack: When you get to our level and what we do, it’s more limited. We’re limited more by time than anything else. So, having tools like Animoto to be able to put out a slide show in 20% of the time it used to have to put it together is very useful.

Next on my list, I have AdEspresso. Espresso like the coffee. It is a third party Facebook ads creator and management tool. If you’ve ever worked in Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor, which are the official Facebook tools, it doesn’t take you long before you figure out it’s a little bit irritating sometimes. It’s a little bit clunky and freezes sometimes. AdEspresso is a third party tool that makes building and managing Facebook ads very easy. It also makes AB testing of ads extremely easy, which is a little bit harder to do in the native Facebook tools. It also has analytics built in so you can see how your ads are performing. Really useful tool there. The downsides are that it actually doesn’t do anything you can’t do in the native Facebook ads tools and they do charge you for it. It starts at $40 a month, but if you spend more than $3,000 a month, the price goes up pretty steeply after that. Still, if you are interested in doing Facebook ads, worth checking out. They do have a free trial as well.

We are nearing the end of our time here today. Actually have quite a few more tools here on the list that we’re going to hit in an upcoming episode of Preschool Pioneers series on marketing your Christian school. Before we go here today, I would like, since we mentioned a lot of software tools, I will mention a book which is, I recommend the book, “Get Scrappy. Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small,” by Nick Westergaard. It’s about doing better digital marketing without necessarily spending more. A lot of the tips and tools and things we’ve mentioned in this series on marketing, it goes very much along those lines. Taking the resources that you have and being able to, not necessarily spending more for marketing, because you can always spend more for marketing. But making the most of what you have with the resources, by working smarter. Check that out. “Get Scrappy. Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small,” by Nick Westergaard. We’ll see you on the next episode.

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