The Best Free iPad Apps for B2B Marketers

Now that Apple has sold 3 million iPads, the platform is worth looking at for B2B marketers. As I have written before about the iPad, in my initial use of the device, it is not a laptop replacement. It is much more of a consuming device, rather than a creating device. This post will focus on the best free apps to use on the iPad. A future post will look at paid apps. These apps take advantage of its compactness and portability and its touch screen. It is a great device for travel, providing you don’t have heavy duty document creation requirements on the trip. I am basing this on my personal experience with the iPad, even though I have talked to others who do more with their iPad than I do with mine.

Nothing below is so compelling that it will make you rush out and buy an iPad tomorrow, but there are some neat apps available, and when you start to consider the 2nd generation iPad (that’s the one that’s coming with a camera, maybe available this fall), you’ll have a head start on some free apps to look download.


Dropbox (iTunes link) is the best way to sync documents between multiple devices, not just a way to get files, photos and presentations on your iPad without using iTuens. It requires an online repository for your documents, which is free for up to 2GB of space. If you are using an iPad for sales presentations and to share other product materials, this is best way to make sure those out in the field always have the latest versions. Someone back at the office can manage the Dropbox account, which is loaded on each iPad, and each time the Dropbox app is opened, it syncs the latest documents. Other popular programs that sync documents on multiple devices are Evernote (iTunes link) and Box.net (iTunes link).


Feeddler RSS Reader (iTunes link) is the best approach to keeping up with your RSS reader. An important part of marketing today involves reading the latest blog posts and articles to stay current and share these finds with your network. Fill your Google Reader with blogs and fly through with the touch of your finger. This app won’t make you read faster, but it will help you navigate faster and easier. If you don’t currently use Google Reader, create an account just to add this list of 330 B2B Marketing and Sales Blogs and keep up with the latest ideas and trends. One complaint is that the free version does not allow you to post to Twitter. You need to upgrade to the Pro version for $4.99. That is definitely worth it if this keeps you on top of your reader.


If you are looking for a more magazine-like experience in your daily reading, try Flipboard (iTunes link). This new app is all the rage among iPad owners. It connects to your social graph and presents articles that those in your network have shared. There are lots of options for curated content as well. It has a very intuitive and touch friendly interface and content is sharable on Twitter and Facebook, depending on the source.


Dragon Dictation (iTunes link) is a well-known iPhone app that transcribes speech and lets you post updates to Twitter or send emails. If you speak slowly and clearly, it works pretty well. There is also a keyboard for correcting any mistakes before sending your messages.


Both WebEx (iTunes link) and GoToMeeting (iTunes link) have apps for the iPad, bringing the the most common, online collaboration platforms to this portable device. All the functions you are used to from both of them programs are included. It’s good that both platforms are available since most marketers do not pick which of these programs to use. As many webinars use these programs, you can easily join in from outside your office, or even from a conference room without your laptop. As companies continue to explore online options in place of travel, these types of programs will continue to grow in use.


Remote Desktop Lite (iTunes link) is a way to log in to your Windows desktop and access all your files directly from your iPad. I have not used this program, as I don’t have a Windows desktop, but now that Microsoft has released Windows 7, the remote desktop functionality is pretty mature, and the app is tapping into that. This is a good app if you are traveling without your laptop and you forgot to save files in a syncing folder. Bring them up just like you are sitting at your desk. You computer does need to on for these types of programs to work. There is also a full version available for $5.99, but even the developers encourage everyone to try the free version first.

If you have an iPad, what free apps have you found most helpful? If you are still looking at an iPad, what are functions that your would expect apps to provide?

My iPad for Business 1 Month Update

When I bought my iPad, I posted a review of Day 1 using an iPad for business. Reader Christine Thompson left a comment this week asking how it has been going and what other challenges I have run into.

Note Taking
I learned on the first day that I needed a program to take meeting notes and I settled on Pages ($9.99), which is Apple’s word processing program. This is a stripped down iPad version. If you are a whiz at Word and use lots of its nifty functionality, which most people don’t, you will be hampered by this programs. It has all the basics, but that’s it.

As I have continued to attend meetings and take notes in Pages, it has become a bit frustrating. If you are someone who takes copious notes at meetings and constantly refers to them, you would be supremely frustrated. If you want your iPad to be your note taking device, as I do, you want to keep your notes on the iPad in an organized fashion. That is not possible. After you create a new document, an image of it is created in the visual list that you can swipe across. The visual list, with large images of each document, is the only way to access the documents. These are shown in the order that they were created. There is no way to change the order or put documents into folders. To rename a document, click on the default name below the image and change it. Make sure you turn the iPad so it is in portrait mode, as that is the only way to bring up the visual list of documents. And don’t try to combine documents from different programs. Each programs’ documents (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) lives within that program.

The way I approach organization in this cumbersome scheme is to create one document for each client or project and add a date to it with each new set of notes. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always sync these documents to your computer using iTunes, or just email yourself and put the documents in folders as you normally would. This creates version control issues, and you can never be sure which version of your notes contains what you are looking for. The benefit of keeping your notes on your iPad is that you have all your notes together from previous meetings. Again, your frustration level with this is based on the volume of notes you take and how much you refer to them.

Others have used Evernote on their iPads, and this automatically syncs their notes across devices. You can also tag those notes for easy organization. What have your note experiences been on your iPad?

Travel
Last week I took a business trip armed with just my iPad. I agonized over not bringing my laptop, for fear that I would not be able to do certain things (like video editing on the plane), but since it was just a one day trip, I figured I would be fine. I had sent the presentation to the conference organizers, so I didn’t think I would need to present from my iPad, but I was ready anyway. I have Keynote ($9.99). I have the $30 iPad to VGA connector. I even uploaded the presentation to Slideshare as a back up.

The hotel lobby had wifi, so it was no problem connecting to email, Twitter, and even Skype to check-in on our perpetual group chat with folks back in the office. I had written several offline blog posts on the flight down, using Pages, and once I was connected, I wanted to publish one of them. This was a problem. It turns out that the WordPress iPad app does not recognize paste. You can only enter text into the post field. Seriously, no paste. I jumped over to my web browser to log in to WordPress and try it from the dashboard. But no luck. The main panel is not scrollable in the iPad version of Safari. I wound up having to get another blogging app (BlogPress $2.99) to post before I gave my presentation.

Even though I did not present from the iPad, it brought some oohs and ahhs from the attendees. They even joked about a drawing to win my iPad, but I rejected that.

On the flight home, I had wifi, so I tried to take advantage of the Netflix movie streaming app, but it was not to be. The service was not consistent enough for streaming. It was great for email and Twitter, so I went with that.

After using an iPad for business for nearly a month, I still like it’s portability and the ease with which you can carry it around, travel with it, and show others things on the screen. I am not really bothered by the lack of multitasking, because when I am using my iPad, I really don’t want programs running in the background to pop up alert of new messages. And no matter what Steve Jobs says, according to the TSA, when traveling with an iPad, it is just like a laptop and you have to put it in its own bin.

12 Networking Tips for B2B Conferences

In the B2B world, tradeshows and conferences are still a major part of our sales and marketing strategies. Once you have been to a few conferences, you know how similar they can all seem and oftentimes overwhelming. There is a lot of information to sort through, tradeshow booths to see and attendees to meet.

We all have read about the benefits of relationship building and taking online relationships offline, but we may not be ready to practice what we preach. Tradeshows are a great opportunity to meet your online connections in person and to meet people in person and then continue the relationship online.

Here are some simple tips to get the most out of your conference time and make sure you are spending your time well and connecting with the right people.

BEFORE THE CONFERENCE

1. Use LinkedIn to find people attending your conference – You can search for your conferences in the LinkedIn Events section and see who in your network is attending. LinkedIn Groups are also a great place to find people who are attending the same conference as you. Start a discussion in a group and make a plan to connect in person while you are there.

2. Find the Twitter Hashtag for the event – Many events now have a Twitter hashtag for their event so people can follow the stream of content being tweeted out about their event. If there isn’t a hastag, make one and alert your network about it.

3. Download mobile apps on your smartphone to collect contact information – Doing the ‘business card shuffle’ is stale. Most people I know have a whole drawer, cup, bowl, trashcan et al. of business cards from meetings and conferences. Find a better way to connect. Perhaps their business phone number isn’t what you need but you would connect better if you could get their Instant Messenger name, Twitter name or Google Buzz/Wave information.

I like to use Evernote for taking notes on the go (think: taking a photo of someone with an audio note of your conversation highlights). A fun way to exchange all of your contact information is with the Bump application. With a simple physical bump of your phone to the person you want to connect with, you can swap all of your contact information. Never underestimate the power of LinkedIn as they also have a great app to collect data on-the-go.

4. Tell your network you are going and find out what they want to know more about – Let your customers and network know you are attending this conference and ask them if there is anything they want you to make sure you bring back with you. Post a blog, a tweet or update your Facebook fans and you may get some great ideas from them on which sessions you should attend or who you should talk to.

DURING THE CONFERENCE

5. Try using Twitter DMs versus email – When we all leave for a conference, we set up a vacation email. Why? Because we don’t plan on (or want to be held accountable) for checking our email while we are on-the-go. If you want to send someone a message, try sending them a direct message on Twitter for a faster response.

6. Get content for later – Too many people are trying to “live document” events. Save your energy and make a plan to collect information for later. Use a sound or video recorder to capture an impromptu interview and save it for when you get back. Edit your content to make it have one quick point and share it with your network.

If you make a good connection with a thought leader in your industry get their contact information and make a plan to contact them later. Ask to interview them later, after the conference, via email or over the phone.

7. Be a part of the experience – We have probably all seen those people who are documenting every minute of an event either by live blogging, tweeting or recording it. You will get more out of your experience (and the dollars it took to get you there), if you spend your time being a part of the experience, meeting people and listening to speakers then you will documenting the whole process. Take home key points and relationships, not mountains of text, tweets, audio and video footage.

A FEW OTHER TIPS

8. Have a plan – There is so much content at conferences. Research speakers beforehand, if you can, and make a list of what you cannot miss and what you will fit in if you can. Set up meetings with business partners and potential clients before you go so you don’t get sidetracked.

9. Go with the flow – Yes you should have a plan, but you also need to leave some of your days up to chance and opportunity. You can’t do everything, so leave yourself some breaks in your days. Some of the best experiences I have had with conferences have been small groups meeting to the side of the conference or unplanned dinners with people I have met.

10. BYOP (Bring Your Own Power) – Bring your cell phone charger and computer power cord with you wherever you go. Want to make friends real fast? Bring a power strip with you and share the juice with your neighbors.

11. Make breakfast and dinner plans – Conferences keep you pretty busy all afternoon. Make plans with people you want some face time with before and after the sessions. I like to meet people for breakfast. Dinner can be tough after a long day.

12. Be friendly – This should go without saying but be friendly to everyone you meet or sit next to. You never know who is a professional blogger, your next sales lead, a Twitter celebrity or your next best friend.

Blackberry Apps for B2B Public Relations Pros

Building off last week’s BlackBerry apps for B2B marketers, we’re back with more BlackBerry apps for B2B public relations professionals.

As our society becomes more and more mobile, it’s even more important for a PR pro to effectively execute his or her main job responsibilities – press releases, speeches, media relations, social media, press conferences and event planning, to name just a few – on the go.

Many of the apps I wrote about for B2B marketers translate well into the PR industry: A host of Twitter clients help PR pros navigate between client accounts, keep an eye out for journalists looking for article sources and stay on top of industry news; mobile versions of WordPress and TypePad streamline live-blogging; and location-based apps such as Foursquare facilitate peer-to-peer networking and media relations.

Here are a few more BlackBerry apps that help PR pros reach the ultimate goal of connecting organizations and businesses with interested journalists and customers:

1. Evernote

Evernote – billed as an extension of your own mind – allows you to organize tasks and To Do lists, record voice memos and instantly synchronize everything from your phone to the Web to your desktop.

For PR pros, this translates into an easy way to keep up with press clips for clip books, manage inspiration for future blog, newsletter and Web content and organize notes from client meetings.

2. AP Mobile

Media monitoring is a key job function in PR, and AP Mobile makes searching content published by the Associated Press (as well as more than 1,000 outlets of its members) simple.

The app also has a local news option customizable by one or more zip codes, and integrates delicious bookmarks, Facebook and e-mail sharing features that let users send articles to clients and co-workers.

Beyond the Associated Press, BlackBerry users can also keep up with Time, Bloomberg, CBS News and Business Week through their mobile apps.

3. Dictionary.com

Just like a mechanic’s set of wrenches, a key part of a PR pro’s toolkit is a dictionary/thesaurus.

The Dictionary.com app, the only free dictionary app available for the BlackBerry, puts more than 500,000 words at your fingertips, and phonetic and audio pronunciations help to ensure a tricky word in that speech you just crafted for your CEO isn’t mangled beyond comprehension.

4. miTimesheet

For PR pros on the agency side, there is nothing more dreaded (beyond a 4 a.m. wake-up call alerting you to a breaking crisis) than keeping track of billable hours for a variety of clients. Enter the miTimesheet app ($3.99), which allows users to track clients by project, as well as export that info via email.

5. Qik Live Video Streaming

Social media tools have given PR pros more opportunities to disseminate content directly to the end-user. With the Qik app, you can live stream video content directly from your BlackBerry, automatically archive footage and instantly share on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This app would be especially handy for press conferences, tweetups, award shows and tradeshows.

What BlackBerry apps have helped you in your role as a public relations professional?