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Two Facebook Page Apps for Doing Business

Facebook pages are pretty hot right now as businesses strive to take advantage of the growing audience and influence that is Facebook. As with any gold rush, there are those that seek the gold and those that equip the miners. Today I would like to share a handful of tools, or apps, designed to make business use of Facebook easier and more profitable.

1) Storefront Social – The Storefront app makes it pretty darn simple to put a storefront of products on your Facebook pages. Storefront is not an ecommerce platform, it’s simply allows you to transfer product from a store you already have to your Facebook pages. The process is relatively painless. You can add products individually or import a CSV file or your Google Base listings. (Google Base is another place you should be listing your products by the way.)

Here’s an example of a very large General Store. As you can see other social features such as retweeting and sharing are added to each product, products can be grouped by category and, in this case, hundreds of products can be listed in the store. Since the products retain your original shopping cart links this could be a nice option for eBay and etsy sellers as well.

Storefront Social charges a monthly fee based on the number of products listed in your store. Starter programs that allow you to upload 36 items go for $4.95/mo and range up to 3000 items for $19.95. The ease of store set-up, particularly for someone with a large store and ability to export store listings, makes the potential exposure inside the Facebook walls well worth the monthly fee.

2) The second Facebook application I would like to showcase today is called Facebook Fanpage Engine. This tool allows you to easily create custom fan pages using pre-designed templates and the static FBML Facebook application.

Facebook Fanpage EngineEverything done by the template can be accomplished by someone that knows a bit of HTML or wants to use an HTML editor, like Dreamweaver, but for ease of use it’s tough to beat these templates and editor. Packages run from $37 all the way to $497 if you want customer header design help. If you’ve got your own custom graphics, or know how to create the precise sized graphics for the templates, you can get the entire package of templates for $67. Templates include various column and block layouts including templates for video and opt-in forms from services like Constant Contact and AWeber.

If you’re providing Facebook consulting or design services for clients you can use the templates over and over again for any pages you administer or are working on for clients once you purchase the license. I recommend this tool because it’s easy to use and a great time saver that allows you to create a custom branded feel for your Facebook pages.

Bonus: Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day – Mari Smith and Chris Treadaway show you step by step how to use Facebook as a Marketing tool in this just released new book.

Make Marketing a Data-Driven Habit

marketing timeMarketing, perhaps the most important function in a business, often gets pushed to the end of the to do list by whatever seemingly urgent needs that crop up during the day. To give marketing the attention it deserves you must make the practice a habit.

The New York Times Magazine published an intriguing piece by Wired contributing editor Gary Wolf titled The Data-Driven Life.

The article introduces individuals who track and measure every aspect of their life, sometimes using the data collected to break habits and achieve goals.

Take for example Robin Barooah — a 38-year-old self-employed software designer from England. A few months ago, Barooah began to wean himself from coffee. His method was precise. He made a large cup of coffee and removed 20 milliliters weekly. This went on for more than four months, until barely a sip remained in the cup. He drank it and called himself cured. Unlike his previous attempts to quit, this time there were no headaches, no extreme cravings. (You may also find Borooah’s own article, The Quantified Self, a fascinating read)

The story continues to introduce others who take the idea of logging their life activities to a freakish level, but I couldn’t help wonder if business owners should take a data-driven, although perhaps a bit more moderate than some of the folks in the Times article, approach to how they spend their time?

What if for the next two weeks you logged how you spent your time at work. You could track it on a spreadsheet or simply make up some paper forms from a calendar program that would allow you to jot what you did in 15-30 minute increments. If you take the two week challenge I think you’ll be blown away by how much time you waste doing things that are not very fruitful, including spending little or no time focused on marketing.

If fact, if you want to make this time measurement more meaningful add dollar value data. At the end of each day go back over your log and assign a value to the work you did. One of the easiest ways to do this is think about what you would need to pay someone else to do the work. So, making a sales call might be high dollar work, while getting and filling the copier toner might fall somewhere else on the scale.

Now, to make this all come together you’ve also got to peg your “Make What I Need Number.” This is essentially your goal income divided by 2080 (that’s 40/hr week for 52 weeks). This computation creates an hourly need to make number and just might help you better understand what work you should be focused on doing yourself and what work you need to find someone else to do. For example, if your goal income is $150,000, you hourly need number is around $75/hr. Double your goal income and your hourly number becomes $150/hr.

In my experience marketing work is some of the highest long-term work a business owner can do, even if that’s the work of managing others to do the tactical aspects such as design and implementation. When you get a baseline on how your actually spending your time you just might gain the insight and leverage to start focusing on and measuring time spent in the marketing department. You might begin the practice of scheduling daily marketing appointments with yourself and weekly marketing meeting with your entire team. This is how you achieve your goal income and this is how you build marketing momentum.

Image credit: Robbert van der Steeg

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