A weekly look at the latest products and services designed to help you run a better business.
A new partnership between Google and Salesforce.com seeks to provide small and midsize businesses with an integrated way to advertise online -- and then track the success of those campaigns.
With the Salesforce Group Edition package, announced this week, businesses can log into their Salesforce accounts, where they have access to both Google AdWords software and Salesforce's customer relationship management software, allowing them to buy and manage ads in one place.
In addition to generating new business leads, the service will allow business owners to track which keywords are most successful, along with other customer data, enabling them to refine their placements within Google based on these results.
Salesforce.com is offering a free one-week trial of its new service. Customers who sign up now will receive the promotional price of $600 a year.
If you're more concerned about television advertising, a new service makes it possible for business owners to step into the director's chair and oversee their own 30-second spots.
Mpower Media, a Kirkland, Wash.-based firm, already allowed businesses to create their own TV commercials through the Web using existing templates, for $500 per spot. The new Spot Builder tool allows customers to be more involved in the commercial production process. From the Mpower Media website, users will be able to make selections about everything from the words of the script and the sound of the voice-over, to the screenshots and the soundtrack. Once users check off what they want for each component of their commercials, a simple editing tool generates a rough cut directly on their screens.
Joe Mershon, Mpower Media's founder and president, cites the company's sales force as one advantage of its service. Customers have access to more than 600 media consultants who have knowledge of local TV markets and can assist business owners with the production process, beyond the do-it-yourself internet interface. Once customers have created their commercials, they can select a schedule for when and where their commercial will air.
"We felt like it was time to offer customers something beyond our phenomenal library of produced spots, and give them something totally custom-done that can really hammer home their businesses' core message," Mershon said in a statement.
While many entrepreneurs start businesses out of their home as a way to save on location costs, setting up and maintaining a computer network in the living room can be a challenge. Now entrepreneurs who purchase Lenovo-branded notebooks and desktops will have access to Network Magic, a software program from Pure Networks designed to assist entrepreneurs set up their home-office networks.
Seattle-based Pure Networks, which announced its partnership with Lenovo this week, will supply its flagship software, Network Magic, to Lenovo customers. All Lenovo 3000 series notebooks and desktops will be pre-loaded with Network Magic.
The software not only helps entrepreneurs set up home-office networks, but also makes it possible to add new PCs, printers and online devices. Network Magic runs on all major operating systems. The program also acts as an IT repair service, allowing business owners to troubleshoot and repair broken wireless connections without having to call outside help.
"Only a small percentage of home-office owners have the technical know-how to set a network up or resolve ongoing computing issues," Jeff Erwin, CEO of Pure Networks, said in a statement. "By shipping its computers with Network Magic, Lenovo makes it easier than any other PC laptop provider for these business owners to quickly and easily set up and maintain a reliable network."