Saturday, April 22, 2006

Furl Gives Backflip Real Competition

I've previously posted about Backflip, an online service that enables you to bookmark Web pages, search them, and share them selectively. Backflip is great for research, as it allows you to categorize saved pages in folders or subfolders, add comments, and share them publicly, with only a select group of individuals (by email), or keep them private.

However, a new service called Furl has added some features that Backflip has always, annoyingly, been missing. Unfortunately, Furl isn't quite everything that Backflip is plus more, so the ultimate answer as to which service is better remains "it depends." But Furl does have several key advantages.

Commenting: Both Backflip and Furl allow you to add comments for a saved page, but Furl also lets you rate each page from 1-5 and add keywords (very helpful for searching) as well as prose comments.

Searching: Again, both Backflip and Furl allow you to search your saved pages, but Furl provides greater flexibility for search filtering, such as searching only pages saved within a specific folder.

Multi-browser support: Backflip works only with Internet Explorer. Furl works better and has more functionality with IE, but will work sufficiently well with Firefox. (I wasn't able to add Furl to the toolbar in Firefox after several attempts, but pages can be Furled by right-clicking on them.)

Backflip still has the advantage in a couple of other areas.

Folder nesting: Furl lets you create only one flat level of folders. Backflip allows folders within folders, for finer categorization.

Group research: One of the most powerful features of Backflip has always been its group functionality. When you set up a group within Backflip, any member of the group can add pages to a folder, and all members are notified automatically be email whenever a new page is added by another member. Furl doesn't appear to offer anything like this.

Overall, Furl wins based on commenting and search functionality, and its the only choice for Firefox users. For group research work, however, Backflip remains a better choice.

*****

Terms: Web research tools, Backflip, Furl, Web page archiving, online bookmarking tools

Web marketing news and resources: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Further Expansion at the Web Marketing Portal

Expansion continues at WebMarketCentral with the addition of a new Web marketing resources page for b2b lead generation, a new Web marketing tools page, additional listings for SEO services and ad agencies, and a bigger Web marketing books page.

The new lead generation services page highlights firms that provide teleprospecting, lead management, lead nurturing, appointment setting, lead qualification, and response management services for both b2b and b2c clients.

The Web marketing software tools page offers search engine optimization, e-commerce, Web site development, and Flash generation applications.

The search engine optimization and marketing page has been expanded and continues to get more worldy with several new listings including Fathom SEO in the U.S. (Ohio), Neutralize in the U.K., and RankUno in India.

Finally, WebMarketCentral's directory of marketing, creative, and advertising agencies has several new listings including Wellesley Hills Group, a Boston firm specializing in professional services marketing; KC Associates in Minneapolis (Kirsten Chapman rocks); and Sight Creative in St. Paul (Mark Galloway is putting a fascinating spin on one-to-one marketing; more about that another time).

And as always, the Web marketing news and e-commerce news pages are a convenient place to keep up with what's happening in the industry.

*****

Terms: professional services marketing, Web marketing software tools, top marketing books, creative agencies, marketing agencies, b2b lead generation services

The Web marketing and promotion portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

WMC Interviews: Mike Schultz


This week, I caught up with Mike Schultz, Publisher of RainToday.com, and co-founder of the Wellesley Hills Group. His organization helps professional services firms, such as law firms and accountants, market their services more effectively. In addition to direct consulting, the firm conducts primary research on best practices in marketing and selling professional services.


WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before RainToday.com?

Mike Schultz (MS): First, RainToday.com is a division of the Wellesley Hills Group, of which I am a founder and principal. Before that I was a Director with Linkage, Inc., a leadership development organizational development consulting firm, running a large P&L there.


WMC: How, when and why did you get started in this business?

MS: John Doerr and I founded the Wellesley Hills Group when we saw the need for professional leadership, marketing, and business development at services firms. Many services firms (accounting, consulting, law, IT services, etc.) are started by professionals who are experts in their fields, but not necessarily about running and growing a business. Many of them want to focus on their area of expertise. They realize that topics like business development, lead generation, branding, etc. are important to their firms, and they need experts and services in these areas to be successful.

We started RainToday.com because there was no outlet for easily accessible, top quality content and intellectual capital in the areas of marketing and selling professional services. Now there is, and we have 32,000 people who receive Rainmaker Report – our free weekly newsletter – every week.

Plus, at the Wellesley Hills Group we have been producing primary research in the areas of marketing and selling professional services, and having RainToday.com allows us to share that research with the broadest audience possible. It helps them because the get the best information available, and it helps us because it positions us as the market leaders in the area because we are leading the thinking and the field research.


WMC: Who is your ideal or typical client?

MS: Our typical client is in one of two areas:

1. A small to mid-sized professional services firm ($5 to $100 million in revenue) that needs help with strategy (i.e. what should we do to grow this firm), marketing and lead generation (i.e. what should we do to create new conversations, communicate our value, and improve our brand), and business development (i.e. we have all these people who should be selling more…how do we make that happen?)

2. Large service businesses ($100m to multi-billion) that need expert consulting in service business marketing and leadership. Even as a niche firm, we serve these large businesses because of our global research capabilities and because while a big 4 accounting firm might be a multi-billion dollar businesses, they still operate in “practices” that are, usually, much like our “profile #1” client above.


WMC: What sets you apart from your competition?

MS: We’re very good at helping service firms to grow their revenue. We focus all of our attention at our firm – services, staff, research – on this topic.

I'm sure there are other firms out there that might be good at this, but frankly, we don't spend a lot of time thinking about that. In the end, we do what we say we’re going to do for our clients; we do it reliably, and we do it well.


WMC: How do you market and promote your business?

MS: Relentlessly (as we suggest our clients should do). Here are just a few things going on at RainToday.com and the Wellesley Hills Group.

Besides doing a great job for our clients every day, and getting repeat business and referrals, we do:

Wellesley Hills Group:

* 30 speaking engagements per year
* 6 breakfast seminars run by us
* 12 public seminars (one- and two-day) run by us
* Partnerships with leading industry associations
* Over 10,000 people on our newsletter list, where we share original articles and research results
* Tens of thousands of pieces of direct mail.
* Direct telephone calling to clients and prospects.
* Publish original research and articles every quarter.
* Get PR in major magazines (e.g. 2 hours before doing this interview with you, I saw that I was quoted as an expert in Business Week)
* Search Engine Optimization – we have a number of very strong top 10 results in Google
* RainToday.com – 32,000 people reading our work every week and seeing us as experts
* More…

RainToday.com

* PR based on research reports
* Partnerships and affiliates online with associations and other industry leaders
* Search engine optimization
* Search engine marketing
* More…


WMC: What's the biggest or most important marketing lesson you've learned since you founded RainToday and the Wellesley Hills Group?

MS: Long term passion, energy, and enthusiasm are necessary, but not sufficient, for marketing and sales success at services firms. You need to have the right strategy, with the right tactics, with the right budget, in the right timeframes, to have success. And, especially in service businesses, you need strong leadership to make sure all the principals, partners, consultants, and professionals work with marketing and sales to allow them to succeed.

*****

Terms: professional services marketing, marketing and selling professional services, service business development, professional services research

The Web marketing and promotion portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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