December 2009
Copywriting Curiosities
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Top 9 Finds in '09 for Small Businesses
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Dear Robyn,

Radio stations are airing the year's top hits. NYC is dusting off that big shiny ball. Ice sculptors are chiseling away like mad. And everyone seems to have a top 10 list. I wanted to put my own spin on the list thingy, which is why I've come up with my "Top 9 Finds in '09 for Small Businesses."

Enjoy, and Happy New Year! Here's to a kick-ass 2010.

Top 9 Finds in '09 for Small Businesses 

9. Character & Word Counter. When it comes to email campaigns, shorter subject lines get higher open rates. That concept is easy enough to understand, but when you look at industry best practices, the recommendations suddenly talk in "characters," as in "make sure your subject line is fewer than 45 characters." Easier said than done, right? I mean, have you ever written a subject line and wondered about the number of characters? Enter this free super-handy counter. Simply copy and paste your phrase, and it'll tell you not only the number of words, but also the number of characters--accurately (note: software like MS Word is not always accurate).

8. Twitterfeed. Feed your blog posts directly to Twitter and Facebook. Twitterfeed automatically shortens the URL with and lets you monitor how many clicks you get. It's a free service with some of the best customer service I've seen. When there's a bug, the Twitterfeed guys are on it, and they communicate with users so we know what's up.

7. Twuffer. Do you want to be active on Twitter, but you're afraid you're going to be sucked into the dark hole of Procastinatorville? Or do you have a bunch of great ideas to share, but you don't want to bombard your followers with tweet vomit (my term for endless back-to-back tweets from the same person)? Schedule your tweets in Twuffer. It's free. It's easy. It's a tool that'll make you look as if you never sleep (okay, so that last "benefit" is questionable, but you get the idea).

6. Color Cop. I learned about Color Cop from Constant Contact's Zak Barron. I sometimes design newsletter templates for my email-marketing clients, and this free, downloadable tool makes getting a color's hex values (also known as RGB) an absolute breeze.

5. Ask500People. Wouldn't it be great if you could "test" your new logo or tagline on real people and get feedback? Now you can, and quite economically with Ask500People.

4. Animoto. The future is video: video for websites, Facebook, blogs, etc. Video engages. Video will help convey your message in a fresh way. And Animoto is a great tool for creating professional looking videos with only a few clicks of your mouse. It's free for personal use. And the commercial-use license is quite reasonable. I use it for one of my retail clients, and this holiday season I created gift guides and product videos that added flair to the client's Facebook page.

3. The HubSpot blog. As a smart and savvy business owner, you should follow the HubSpot blog (yes, even if you're happy with your website, your CMS, and your marketing team). It'll keep you up-to-date on the ever-changing world of social media, PR 2.0, SEO, Web 3.0 and a million other acronyms that I don't have the room to list here.

2. Seth Godin's blog. I didn't start following Seth Godin's blog until this year. Shame on me. His daily doses of wisdom are always practical, right on, and easy to implement, if you set your mind to it. Most of the blogs I follow get dumped into my email inbox. Godin's is the one email I'll click on and read the moment it comes in.

1. HubSpot. Hands down, the number one spot goes to this brilliant, on-fire, homegrown company in Cambridge, Mass. Whether you simply follow the genius of HubSpot's blog and its inbound marketing philosophy or you're using the full-blown software, HubSpot is a company you should follow and keep tabs on in 2010.

Got any great finds from 2009 that I missed? I'd love to hear about them. Email me your thoughts:
Don't forget to Rent My Noggin. The 1.5-hour package is perfect to start: only $100. These prices will be going up in 2010, so get 'em while you can.
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