Marketing is almost as much to do with technology as the nuts and bolts of communication. By all means use the old techniques but overlook the fact that they exist in a digitalised world and you overlook one of the biggest opportunities: the chance to collaborate.
Collaboration in marketing is helped by a number of excellent tools available around the web. Some of these are free to use, although be a little wary – if a company is offering free tools it has to have its payback sometime, and if it doesn’t it can withdraw the tool as quickly as it put it in place.
Here, however, is a handful of some of the easier-to-use collaboration tools available.
Smallbiztrends recommends this as will most people who want to store and share documents. Once installed hit “Save as…” instead of “save” when saving documents and you can save everything to the cloud where the rest of your team can get at it as well. The advantage is twofold: first, documents are in the cloud and not on your device. Second and more importantly, you eliminate “multiple version syndrome” and everyone works collaboratively on the latest version of a doc.
Project management is critical and Basecamp allows you to send out assignments across your organisation, comment, converse and submit work through this tool.
Another project management tool, this one is ideal for people with relatively simple needs. It allows you to make and share virtual boards and start lists on these boards, then move the items around. So for example a marketing company might have a board for “sales” which might have one list for prospects, which can then move to the next column when they’re confirmed, then to a third column when they’re in progress and a fourth when they’re ready to invoice, at which point finance can pick it up.
DropBox is often recognised as a consumer technology for sharing pictures, but here’s the secret. You can work on documents while they’re in DropBox quite easily, click “open” rather than “download” and it doesn’t matter what program you use or how big the files are as long as you have the right storage plan. Consider designing a marketing document or website in Adobe Indesign; it’s a large file so email isn’t going to work. So open it from DropBox and all of the changes and edits are saved, no matter who else opens it. Consider also Box and other similar services.
Virtual meetings and webinars
The Custom.show website also points to join.me for virtual meetings. One organiser and nine participants can share a screen and record. Consider also WebEx for larger webinars (although the screen sharing is more selective – it’s really for extended lectures with Q and A rather than for outright collaboration) and Gotomeeting. However any large organisation should really be considering a professional video conferencing system to connect internal teams, external stakeholders and clients.
Collaboration involves conversation and there are now many conversational and sharing systems available. LinkedIn offers groups in which you and colleagues can have discussions. If you prefer something a little more private then it is worth investigating chat and file sharing tools, though full-blown unified communications packages, in which voice, social, email and IM all come together as one, may be preferable.
Evernote and its Microsoft competitor OneNote are also excellent for working with other people. They start by taking notes for a single person, whether written, photographed, an audio recording or web clipped and they save them to notebooks for individual projects. These notebooks can be shared with individuals you select, so if you’re sourcing images for a creative project everyone can add their pictures to a particular notebook resource. Paid-for versions of these programs allow you to email content to them as well as saving to them, and the premium versions also allow you to make presentations from a document.
Mind mapping suits a large number of people as a means of brainstorming so it’s no surprise that there are collaborative alternatives out there. Mindmeister is one of them and collaborative features are available with the unpaid-for version. This uses the traditional mind mapping format; if you want to be a little more free-form then Scribblar is basically a shared whiteboard on which you can doodle and accept other doodles at will (you may want to invest in a pen tablet rather than try this one on a more traditional desktop or laptop screen).
Choose the right collaboration partner
Collaboration is key in marketing. More and more we find digital tools and channels at the heart of marketing – and this is only going to increase. However as always success will come from the successful adoption of this technology. Having the right collaboration partner can help!
- Enabling your team to collaborate with ease encourages brainstorming and innovation.
- The introduction of any collaboration software must not overlook the people using it.
- Collaboration tools are just the start, your team must be encouraged to make it part of their culture.