Category Archives: Reviews

Apps for Business I Could Not Live Without

With thousands of apps at your fingertips it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  Most people quickly realize they have no use for 9 out of 10 apps available in the marketplace.  In this complex world of productivity tools, social media, reminders, and mobile access, each of us discovers a select group of apps that become a key component in our lives and life without them seems unbearable.

 

mobile business appWhen you’re not scrolling through pictures of your ex on Facebook or begging friends to help harvest your farm, there is a wide selection of apps for business, productivity, and organization.  It’s time to get down to business and there are different apps for different chaps, so my favorites won’t suit everyone but I encourage you to test them and share your own favorites below.

 

Organization:

  1. Dropbox – store pictures, phone/security backups, passwords, team files, you name it.  I have to rank Dropbox over Evernote because of all the bonus space I’ve earned. (50 Gigs – boom!)
  2. Evernote – keep notes organized, tag/label items you’ll need in the future, or bookmark articles to read later.  View/Edit/Save material to your Evernote account while logged-in using any browser or access the same material while you’re away from your desk using a phone or tablet. Evernote

Communication: 

  1. Skype – inexpensive international calling from anywhere you have an internet connection.
  2. Google VoiceGoogle Voice – can’t get messages while you’re out of the office?  Use Google Voice to have voicemails transcribed and delivered to your email inbox.  Similar to Skype, Google Voice also offers inexpensive international calls.
  3. Whats App Messenger – send text messages to any phone anywhere across the globe for free!

Travel:

  1. TripIt – email flight, hotel, car rental, or any other confirmation to TripIt and the information will be neatly organized into a trip itinerary.  Stop carrying copies of your confirmations everywhere you go.  Download the TripIt app and have your itinerary at your fingertips.
  2. Kayak – my favorite app and website for searching flights.  Easily select your criteria and within seconds you have a list of all flights from most major airlines.
  3. Uber – refuse to fight for a cab?  Limited budget but want to show up for your meeting in style?  Go Uber!  Uber will signal a cab, towncar, or van (set your own preferences) and using the magic of GPS your ride will pick you up at your current location for a small surcharge.  You’ll never hail a taxi again! Uber

 

There are several other apps that help me get through the work day, but the aforementioned list should be part of everyone’s bag of tricks.  Commit to using a couple of the apps on my list for the next week and let me know how it goes.  Is there an app I need in my life?  Let me know in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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Filed under Marketing, Productivity, Reviews

What Was Poppin’ at the Sweets and Snacks Expo?

Original Gourmet Lollipop Queen

Photo Credit: http://www.candyindustry.com/ ; Amanda Gajdosik & Crystal Lindell

Landing in Chicago at 7:00 Monday morning on the red-eye from Las Vegas sounded like the worst idea in the world.  Tack on a 90-minute rush hour taxi communte from O’Hare to the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown Chicago and one may think I was intentionally torturing myself.  Fast forward to Monday afternoon and my travel nightmare seemed like a distant memory thanks to the buzz surrounding the Original Gourmet booth at McCormick Place for the NCA Sweets and Snacks Expo.

Guests posed for pictures with the Lollipop Queen.  The OGFC team redefined perceptions of the lollipop category for thousands of visitors that stopped by booth #571.  Guests left with an understanding why Original Gourmet Lollipops truly are the “World’s Best Lollipops”!

 

Original Gourmet Sweets and Snacks

Original Gourmet Food Co. booth at NCA Sweets and Snacks Expo

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Filed under Branding, Marketing, Personal, Reviews

What is Boston Strong?

Mascots Wrong City

B Strong Boston Strong

Keep WickedWatertown

Memorial

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Filed under Motivation & Inspiration, Personal, Reviews

20 Review Sites That Will Expand Your Influence

Social influence peopleAmazon, Epinions, and Yelp were pioneers of the user feedback and rating movement.  A recent “Review Boom” lead to dozens of new feedback platforms, rating scales, and opinion forums.  Consumers can’t determine the best source for reliable content, let alone understand how the different rating systems work.  To become a trusted-source of information you must know where your voice will be heard.  If you leave a review where nobody will see it, does anyone care what you think?

 

There are only a handful of sites that will help you reach a large and diverse audience.  Many review sites are merely aggregators that pull content from affiliate websites and use strategic partnerships to provide visitors with user-generated feedback collected from a variety of online platforms.  Start with the most prominent platforms then re-post your material on 2-3 smaller sites that may reach a different audience.  A carefully crafted, constructive review is more valuable than a handful of generic posts that offer no substance.

 

The list below is separated into three tiers that will help prioritize your efforts, build credibility, and monitor  how your social influence impacts the community.  Tier I reaches the largest audiences and your content will be broadcast across the web through affiliate sites and other feeds.  Tier II includes content aggregators, sites that reach smaller audiences, and platforms that are overlooked because their primary focus is not reviews or user-generated feedback.  Lastly, Tier III lists niche pages that cater to a specific audience, such as service providers, restaurants-only, or traveler planners.

 

20 User-Generated Review and Rating Sites You Need To Expand Your Influence:

 

Dan Leavitt Yelp ReviewsTier I

  1. Google Local – create a profile on Google+ so your page is displayed on the SERP next to your reviews.  Let’s not start about the SEO benefits that stem from being an active user within the Google community (Google+, maps, etc)
  2. Yelp – it’s more than just reviews.  Check-in at your favorite locations, mark reviews as “funny” or “cool” to interact with other Yelpers, “like” other user’s activity to stay visible under ‘Recent Activity’.
  3. Amazon.com – participate in the largest collection of reviews, make wish lists, and mark “useful” reviews from other members.
  4. Foursquare – often overlooked, yet very easy to utilize.  Post tips when you check-in (include recommendations, advice for newcomers, or fun facts) and don’t forget to note the tips you’ve completed at each check-in.
  5. Facebook – most feedback posted to company and brand pages is visible to less than 20% of your friends, but companies and brands take notice.  Tag pages, leave comments, and “like” content.  “Likes” are a sign of approval and the equivalent of a positive review in Facebook World.  Your friends, friends of friends, and others see comments you leave and posts you “like”.

 

Tier II

  1. Citysearch.com – one of many sites similar to Yelp, yet reaches a smaller audience with a very simple feedback form and rating system that compares total up/down votes to offer the percentage of CitySearch members that recommend a particular business.
  2. Bing Local – see “Google Local” with smaller market share.
  3. Yahoo! Local – ditto
  4. Epinions.com – site includes reviews but links consumers to online retailers that offer the product.  Users do not complete transactions on the Epinions website.
  5. Local.com
  6. MerchantCircle – business listings, similar to Yellowpages, with an element that encourages users to provide a basic review of the business.
  7. InsiderPages.com
  8. LinkedIn – in addition to personal recommendations, company pages allow users to comment on “Recent Updates” and recommend items that companies include under “Products”.
  9. Judy’s Book 

 

Tier III

  1. RipoffReport.com – an alternative to legal action, RipOffReport is a public record of company complaints that can destroy a businesses reputation.  Similar to the BBB, companies can respond to allegations and attempt to resolve each consumer complaint.
  2. Angie’s List – members pay a monthly fee to access reviews.  Only members can post feedback.  Meaningful content and more accountability make Angie’s list a reliable for reviews.
  3. Zagat.com – the gold standard for restaurant ratings.
  4. TripAdvisor.com – the gold standard for travel and accommodations feedback.
  5. OpenTable.com 
  6. UrbanSpoon.com 

 

Don’t post on RipOffReport every time you have a bad consumer experience.  It happens.  Plus, it’s just as easy to damage your own reputation if you’re quick to post complaints.  Nobody likes a cynic who never has anything positive to say.  People are quick to post their negative experiences and overlook the routine displays of exceptional service and professionalism they encounter on a daily basis.   I follow a “3-1 Rule” – offer 3 positive reviews for every substandard review.  My 3-1 Rule also helps me stay positive throughout the day.

 

Reviews and user-generated feedback are an essential component of your social influence.  Celebrity status is not achieved overnight but establishing a solid presence on each Tier 1 site, combined with an effective social media strategy, will expand your social influence exponentially after just a few weeks.  Within a couple months you’ll have more influence than Joan Rivers at a red carpet fashion special!

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Why Klout Is More Important Than Street Cred

Word on the street is that your “street cred” may be on the decline because there’s a new player on the block: Klout

Street Cred Klout

Klout.com started gaining steam in the second half of 2011 and an algorithm update in August 2012 helped silence some of their critics.  Why should you care?  Your reputation precedes you.  Street cred measures your outside influence on peers and their acquaintances, but Klout places a value on your influence across the entire worldwide web.  You can forget being a big fish in a little pond when it comes to measuring your Klout.

speech bubbles people talkingOnline reputation management and monitoring social influence are growing trends.  Employers, competitors, friends, and even potential dates are diving deep into your online archives and judging you based on the material they find.  The occasional Google search is not a sufficient approach to monitor your online reputation and relevance in the online community.   Your Klout score is a great first step to measure your influence across various social networks.  However, nobody is promising a squeaky clean and positive influence.  Start with your Klout score and work backwards to uncover what material you are associated with on the web.

Popularity and street cred were different when you were an awkward teen on MySpace so those kissy-face pictures in the mirror won’t save your online image even if your Klout rivals President Obama.  A respectable Klout score is a good start but you need an effective social networking strategy that helps your score and protects your online reputation.  With your own identity under control, you can pay it forward by helping your friend that suffers from verbal diarrhea on her public Twitter feed.

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Filed under Branding, Marketing, Reviews, Social Media & SEO

Evernote changed my life

Evernote logoPost-Its, written lists, bookmarking, color-coding, email reminders – I’ve tried them all.  An early lesson on productivity taught me the importance of using a system.  Whether it’s losing a Post-It, too many lists, or disorganized bookmarks, every system has its pitfalls.  Evernote is my savior.

I’m still an amateur ‘Evernoter’ so the veterans may know more tricks to maximize the effectiveness of this application.  Share your great ideas in the comment section below!  For starters, it takes 2 minutes to download the app and set up a new account.  Start a new ‘note’ and you’ll see that you can ‘tag’ each item you save.  Tags are a great way to link notes that share a common thread.  Consistently using tags will help you find the information you’re looking for among all your notes.  Take organization a step further with ‘notebooks’ that group notes under a single topic or project.  The functionality is limitless, but my basic uses include:

  • Food shopping lists
  • Saving websites to visit later
  • A notepad for my occasional strokes of genius
  • Consolidating content and materials that I plan to use in the near future
  • Project management – using different notebooks for each

I’ve even started using IFTTT to backup my notes in Dropbox and take advantage of all that free storage I own.  With everything organized, tagged, and backed up, now I can devote more time to managing my fantasy football team that is in a tie for 1st place.  Who knew a couples fantasy football league could be so fun?

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Filed under Productivity, Reviews

Why you need the iPhone5

iPhone addictsYou can provide me with a list of reasons, “bigger screen, it’s thinner, new colors, or 4G,” but we know the truth: you’re an Apple addict!  What does that even mean Dan?  You know exactly what it means.  Before you can test the product or read reviews you’ll wait in line for hours to pre-order the new iPhone5 because you need it.  Apple does an exceptional job protecting it’s brand and keeps loyal customers begging for more.

I am the proud new owner of a Samsung Galaxy S3.  Friends with iPhones see my phone and ask, “what phone is that?”  Part of them feels guilty if they like a product that doesn’t bear the signature Apple logo.  It’s like going to the beach, you don’t want to look but everyone is curious.  It’s time for Apple addicts to stop denying their addiction.  Acknowledging the problem is the first step!  Maybe I’ll start a 12-step “Apple Recovery Program”.  It should be easy to find new members – they’re swarming every Apple store right now.

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Filed under Personal, Reviews