Need a better Internet presence but your 2009 budget looks more like 2002?

In Part 2 of this post, we’re reviewing FIVE MORE FREE TOOLS to help you cut the fat out of your online marketing budget.  We will also be demonstrating how to successfully use many of these tools at the AIM 2009 Conference, held in Denver from April 29-May 1, 2009. Register now for AIM 2009 and save money.


Web Pages and Sites

Get a no-cost web page in minutes with WordPress. It’s a hosted, free service blogging platform and a content management system for static websites.  It’s a flexible and powerful tool that can may be customized using dozens of free design templates, and hundreds of useful plugins that allow you to do just about anything.  WordPress is also search-engine optimized, and the content is automatically submitted to blog search engines.  While they are no substitute for custom pages that include industry-specific functionality and content, they’re great for limited purposes or to test ideas.  Or for landing pages for special offers.  Blogger and LiveJournal also offer free blogs, but have fewer options for managing a static website.  Consider setting one up in advance as part of a disaster recovery plan for staff and resident communications.  Register a separate domain name just for that purpose (“JoshuaTreeApartmentsRecovery.com”) and point it to your free blog page so you’re ready to go.

Email Auto-Responder with Custom Messages

Google’s free Gmail now provides a free email auto-responser that sends customized responses based on sender, recipient, email keywords and other factors.  Users can create a series of canned responses, and then pick which ones go out in reply to which keywords.  It’s not artificial intelligence, but then again, it’s free.  If email lead management is a trouble spot in one or two communities, setting up a Gmail response might bridge the gap until your budget comes back and you can seek out a more robust solution.

Video Uploading and Syndication

TubeMogul and VidMetrix are free services that distribute your videos to dozens of hosting sites, and provide a rich suite of analytics about user engagement – for free. TubeMogul uploads to Google Video, MetaCafe, MySpace, AOL, Yahoo!, Revver, YouTube and about 15 more.  Vidmetrix distributes to about the same video sites, plus about 40 more, but unless you want to be on Freevlog.hu, the Hungarian social video site, you’ll want to be selective.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management

Sugar CRM is the pre-eminent open source CRM software available. If you have considerable programming and implementation expertise, and not much money, you can use the free version of this software to track your prospect communication in your own hosted environment.  Starbucks and Honeywell use the same software.  But don’t say we didn’t warn you.  This is a major project.  And all of the stuff around the basic software isn’t free.  To add to your confusion, there are at least nine other open source CRM solutions available.  Click here to see the complete list.

Design Resources

Open Source Web Design is a portal containing pre-created web templates and web design elements that can be used by anyone for no cost, provided you comply with the terms of the creator’s license agreement.  Colourlovers.com is a social media site where designers upload color palettes – sets of colors that work well together – that users may freely adopt for use in their web sites, flyers, brochures and other visual media.  For those of us who like to be creative but can’t pick color combinations, Colourlovers can be a great design resource when you have to go it alone.

Missed the first five tips in Part 1 of this post?  Click here to see them. (Or just scroll down). 

Please share any resources of your own that may be useful to others, and consider using the money you save to register early for the AIM 2009 Conference: http://aimconf.com/register.


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