Nifty Clicks: Free Customer Surveys, Conference Calls

Andrew Lock
I’m always on the lookout for useful Web sites, tools, software and products that benefit you. My friends consider me their trusted secret source for the latest and greatest productivity tools and resources. Without further ado, peruse my latest batch of Web gems.


MindMeister: The key to productivity is all in your mind.

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Firstly, if you haven’t tried mind-mapping yet, it’s a must. Like me, you might have heard about creating mind maps, but perhaps you haven’t tried it for yourself. That changed earlier this year when I tried out MindJet. It blew my mind how drawing circles on a page could enable me to be so much more productive in my business.

It’s a difficult concept to describe with words, but mind-mapping is a way to develop projects or plans. The problem with MindJet, the industry standard software, is that it doesn’t allow collaboration. If I want to work on a mind map with someone in another city, state or even country, there was no way to do that.

Now, a new tool called ‘mindmeister’ which is free, allows you to do just that, and it’s a breeze to setup and use. I love it. I urge you to try this amazing tool. Mind mapping will be a big breakthrough for you, I promise, and when you add the ability to collaborate, it’ll open up a lot of possibilities for you and your business.


If you’re familiar with Camtasia, the software that lets you record actions on your computer screen, you’ll love Jing.

If you’re not familiar with Camtasia, it’s a piece of software that captures everything you do on your computer screen for a specified time. It’s like a digital video recorder for your computer screen. If you’ve ever bought a software tutorial, chances are it was created using Camtasia.

Jing: It’s like Tivo for your PC.

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Now, the downside with Camtasia is that it’s not really fast or easy to use. There’s a learning curve to it that puts a lot of people off. Also, it’s not really suitable if you want to just record something quickly to send to someone else, perhaps to show them a new feature on your computer, or to send instructions to an outsourced staff member.

This is where Jing enters the frame. Jing is a software app by Techsmith, the same company that makes Camtasia. They’ve produced a quick-and-dirty type software that’s really amazing.

This software barely needs instructions; it’s so easy to use. You simply drag a rectangle around the area you want to capture on the screen, click start, and it’ll record your movements on screen, as well as your voice through a microphone connected to your computer.

As soon as you stop the recording, it’ll upload the video to TechSmith’s own network and copy the URL of the finished video onto your clipboard: ready for you to paste into an e-mail, for example. You have to see it to believe how useful this tool is, everyone I’ve shown it to has fallen in love with it instantly.

SurveyMonkey: Find out what your customers want with this free survey tool.

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Survey Monkey

One of the big mistakes that many business owners make is in selling what they think customers want rather than asking what customers want. You are not your customer and the only way to really understand their needs is to ask them.

Fortunately, there’s an easy to use, free tool called Survey Monkey that makes it a breeze to create an online questionnaire for your customers.

If you’re thinking of selling something new and you’ve got some ideas, don’t hesitate to use this tool to survey your customers before creating the product. You’ll save a lot of unnecessary time, you’ll save money, and you’ll ultimately get a lot more orders as a result.

Basement Ventures

Basement Ventures
Basement Ventures: Free conference calling for your small business.

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As your business grows, there are times when you need to speak with a bunch of people at the same time, and this free service is the ideal way to do it. Conference calling services are a dime a dozen but what separates this one is the fact that it’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s reliable.

Within five minutes of visiting the Web site you can get set up with your own free conference call telephone number, which is very cool (note that it’s not a toll-free number so call charges still apply).

Up to 250 people can get on the call for a maximum of six hours, so there’s really no catch.

I can’t understand how this company makes money other than perhaps a share of the call revenue. Oh well, I guess we shouldn’t worry about that.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks,a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses “get more done and have more fun.”

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