Small-Medium Business Toolkit

Large businesses usually set the industry standard for marketing professionalism. As a small-medium sized business, more so for a new small-medium sized business, it is often challenging to establish credibility and gain consumer confidence in a market dominated by large businesses with superior resources. Luckily, it is not the 1990s – there are now plenty of free/affordable tools available to small-medium businesses which helps put everyone on "equal" footing – all you need is a little research and know-how.


Flip PDF Pro

Flip Builder has a number of programs/utilities geared towards businesses, but the most useful for you is Flip PDF Pro. By nature, PDFs are boring… and little has changed since the format was first introduced almost 20 years ago. Flip PDF Pro however gives you the ability to convert standard PDF documents into eye-catching, interactive documents with realistic page flipping transitions and effects.

You might wonder though, is that it? Surely there are other providers. Well yes, there are, but the vast majority of the others lack many of the customisation options provided by Flip PDF Pro. Additionally, the others are based on an annual subscription, while Flip PDF Pro is a once-off software investment.

Check out some of the projects created with Flip PDF Pro: http://www.flipbuilder.com/show.html

PROs

  • Once-off investment – free updates
  • Output options: Flash, HTML5, WordPress plugin or Drupal module
  • Separate presentation options for mobile and desktop display
  • Full support of hyperlinks, hotspots, content sliders, videos and animations…etc.
  • Highly responsive customer service team
  • Windows and Mac versions available

CONs

  • Pricey if you are only interested in a once-off PDF conversion, but well worth it if you're gonna do it a few times
  • Toolbar positioning is fixed by your chosen template
  • Most of the templates do not permit button reordering

To download your trial version, go to: http://www.flipbuilder.com/flip-pdf-pro


BufferSMS

At one stage or another, you’d have received a text message from a business which included your name along with other personalised details such as appointment date/time. There are tons of service providers who can help businesses manage personalised bulk texting, however BufferSMS is my favourite for small-medium businesses!

Why? It’s FREE. There is a paid version which I strongly recommend given that it only costs a few dollars, but start off with the free version and see if it’s suitable for your purposes.

Unlikely many of the other service providers which are web-based, BufferSMS operates entirely on your phone. Which means, that’s right, it is a once-off software investment. The app works the same way mail merge does by pulling data from a spreadsheet to populate a text message template and then sending a personalized text message to each recipient.

PROs

  • Once-off investment – costs just $5.99 – free updates
  • Highly stable – did not crash once, even when we tested sending out 1000 text messages
  • Duplicate records are automatically prevented
  • Supports text scheduling – even if the app is closed
  • Intuitive interface – low learning curve
  • Full control of your data – your customer lists remain on your device

CONs

  • Does not currently support iOS
  • Does not have any reporting functions
  • Does not support virtual numbers or custom Sender IDs
  • Does not provide any way to automate messages
  • As this app relies on your phone’s texting facilities, it is not suitable for frequently large texting jobs as your mobile service provider may flag you for spam. If you do need to though, you can overcome network limitations by: (1) scheduling your messages in batches of 100 texts per hours; or (2) adjusting the delay between each message
  • Some phones have a security function which prompts the user for confirmation after sending more than 50 or so text messages – having to individually authorise each message can be annoying with big texting jobs
  • If your mobile plan does not include unlimited text messaging, you may end up paying more with his method than with web-based bulk texting providers
  • Supports .xls but not .xlsx

I’ve listed tons of cons, but BufferSMS really is a solid piece of software and should work admirably for most small-medium business needs.

Download the free version here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.buffersms&hl=en

Your PRO license can be purchased from within the app.


Prezi

Everyone… almost everyone… has used PowerPoint. Don’t get me wrong, PowerPoint is pretty great – but it is premised on the display concept created by the overhead projector – or the ‘vertical lantern’ as it was called in the 1880s… so it is pretty old school!

PowerPoint is great for putting together a quick slideshow, but if you want to really impress your audience, Prezi provides you with some nifty tools.

Unlike PowerPoint which displays information through the display of a series of slides, Prezi story-tells through motion and zoom transitions across a large canvas in order to create an engaging 3D effect. I find Prezi particularly useful when illustrating the relationship/interconnectivity of ideas.

Sounds complicated? Maybe a little… Check out some of the presentations created on Prezi for a better understanding: https://prezi.com/explore/staff-picks

PROs

  • There is a FREE web-version which has similar features/functions as paid versions – except that it’s publicly available, searchable and reusable
  • Supports offline display (USB, CD/DVD…etc.) with the PRO version (from $5/month)
  • Full support on both PCs and Macs

CONs

  • Takes a lot more time to prepare a presentation on Prezi than on PowerPoint as:
    • You will need to plan out the presentation flow in detail before starting; and
    • to maximise Prezi’s storytelling capabilities, you may need to spend quite a bit of time creating/editing images
  • Prezi offers a very limited range of image editing functions – which is fine if you have any external image editing programs which you can use to pre-process images before import
  • Limited library of transitions and effects
  • Does not support export as a movie

Get started with your FREE Prezi account here: https://prezi.com/signup/public


This is the first part of a series of articles which will be published on useful programs and apps for small-medium sized businesses.

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Michael Rodrigues BCom, MBA
Lecturer – Marketing & Communication