1. The Next Generation in Online Lead Management Software

    January 14, 2013


    As a web development company, it’s no surprise that we attract clients primarily through our website and other social media channels. Very early on in my business, I researched CRM providers in attempt to find the best lead management software for our kind of business. After trying out a few services, I was left feeling pretty underwhelmed with what was on the market, which was mostly convoluted software that threatened to eat more time than it would save, or half-cooked websites with truly atrocious user interfaces. The answer was simple, build my own.

    In a few weeks we created our first version of RainLeads, an online lead manager that streamlined inquiries from our website and various targeted microsites. No manual data entry, all the details were right there to set lead statuses, check off milestones and assign to my sales staff. Over the years new CRMs have come onto the market, but our home-brewed CRM has stayed the test of time for our business. Never having to rely on my staff to manually enter the many online inquiries we receive from prospective clients ensured that no lead was misplaced and that I would have an accurate view of what was happening in our sales pipeline.

    This year we followed through with a long-time goal, to adapt our lead management system and offer it to other businesses at an affordable price point. This month we launched www.rainleads.com as the first cloud-based lead management software that provides custom form creation and integration, bringing website, microsite, blog and social media leads into one central location. We were careful to include all the features that have been most vital to our own sales process as well as several more that our clients have requested over the years, including lead and user statistics to track progress, an interactive sales calendar with reminders and iCal/Google calendar syncing,  proposal management and pipeline tracking, just to name a few!

    One of the most complex and exciting features about this version of RainLeads is the form builder. You don’t need to be a developer to create simple or lengthy contact forms to collect all the information you need to convert a lead to a client. Account holders can generate interactive forms, style them to match their existing website or branding, and easily embed them onto their website, microsites, blog or Facebook page. This brings online inquiries directly into your RainLeads dashboard, but also tracks valuable information about where the form was submitted so you can gauge the success of your various online channels.

    We are just scratching the surface with cool features that we plan to roll out to our RainLeads customers, and I’m excited to keep enhancing our packages, which range from $9 to $49 per month. If you’re looking for a CRM change, or simply looking to start organizing your sales process with a simple but smart lead management software, I encourage you to sign up for a free, no commitment 30-day trial and decide if RainLeads could work for you. We also welcome any feedback and suggestions, so let us know what you’d like to see as well!

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  2. Why Marissa Mayer Deserves “New Mom” Kudos, Not Criticism

    October 8, 2012

    Last Friday, amidst the morning shuffle of getting kids dressed and packed for school, I caught a clip on the news about new mom and Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer. I had to turn the volume up so high my neighbors could probably hear it, just to drown out the noise of my family. I’m glad I did because I was able to learn that Mayer had just landed the cover for Fortune magazine as one of their “50 Most Powerful Women.” Good for her, right?! No, the news was that she was catching flack for not posing pregnant on the cover. Right. Because she’s in the spotlight for being an extremely successful young executive who happened to just have a baby, she should automatically become an unofficial spokesperson for working mothers by letting this nine-month pregnancy wholly define who she is as a person and a professional. Makes total sense.

    Now, I am one to talk, since I’ve had three children over the lifetime of my business, and this story just really rattles me. The wrath of these female critics is so completely the opposite of what should be happening right now! Instead of celebrating her big moments (brand new baby and the cover of Fortune in one week, whoa!), let’s take this person who’s broken through that glass ceiling, a woman being hired as CEO of a high tech company, and let’s ostracize her. Now I don’t hide the fact that I’m a mother, but it’s only one part of who I am, and it doesn’t have much bearing on the daily operations of my business. Most of my clients never even knew I was pregnant, let alone had a baby. Not because I was ashamed, but because it was irrelevant. Why shout it off the rooftops if I didn’t feel like it?

    Oh, and Mayer plans to go back to work after a couple weeks? Shame on her! I could be wrong, but I think you’ll have a hard time finding a group of CEOs or business owners who can justify taking more than two weeks off for any reason. Obviously I don’t think that pregnant women should be discriminated against, and I agree with Mayer that employees (mothers and fathers) should get plenty of time off to enjoy this very special time with their newborn babies. But I would be shocked if the CEO of a large corporation took three months off to be a mother. Did I want three months to recuperate and bond with my babies? Sure. How much time was I able to take? Three weeks, max. While it’s one of the most gratifying moments in life, having a child does not release us from all other responsibilities in life, whether that is looking after younger siblings and maintaining a household, or running a business that represents many other people’s livelihoods. Life goes on, and we do our best.

    There’s a great debate about whether or not women can “have it all,” personally and professionally. YES. They can. But there are sacrifices that must be made in order to really have it all. The fact that Marissa Mayer landed the Yahoo gig with a bun in the oven is amazing, in and of itself. The fact that at her level of success, she felt confident enough that she could both start a family and maintain a career is also great! The fact that crabby bloggers are criticizing her for not bearing all the the cover of Fortune Demi Moore-style is a disservice to her accomplishments and the great example that she’s already set for young women. Let’s be realistic and give Mayer the credit she deserves.

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  3. Have No Fear, Depend on No One

    August 8, 2012

    Photo by James Jordan

    “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one.” –Gotama Buddha

    Wow, it has been a busy summer. I’ve spent the past few months enjoying some much-needed downtime with the family, and between the usual work stuff, I’ve seen through many new plans for the handmade jewelry business. A friend recently told me, “I think you start businesses as a form of stress relief.” I had to laugh, because it’s a pretty absurd thought. Sadly, it’s true, but it’s not exactly stress-free.

    While I’ve achieved several milestones, including creating the Miladee brand, designing an e-commerce website and product packaging, and even hosting my first jewelry party, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. There have been a few moments where I’ve very much felt like throwing my hands up and reverting my jewelry business back to an expensive hobby. It’s such a small venture compared to my web development business at Pearse Street, that I frequently question how I can justify spending any time on it at all. After seven years, Pearse Street is now a well-oiled machine, with client demand, systems, and a great team making each step of the process happen. By comparison, Miladee is a little dinghy in a big ocean, and I’m figuring out how to row all by myself again. (more…)

  4. Start Up Gumption

    April 5, 2012

    “A good goal should scare you a little, and excite you a lot!” – Joe Vitale

    I hate when people talk in hypotheticals, so I’ll spare you the mystery of my new little venture, which is actually more of a hobby. I’ve been making jewelry for a little over a year, for a creative outlet that doesn’t require a computer screen. I enjoy it and it saves me buying a lot of poorly made jewelry to match my wardrobe when I can make my own. And they make great gifts!

    I started getting a little more serious about it last month, taking some nice photos of my pieces and posting them on Etsy just to see if there might be any interest. Immediately I realized that the process of staging the pieces, photographing and editing the photos, and then describing each piece was incredibly time consuming… and hard. How do I become my own ear model for photos? How do I name these beads? They’re blue, and I made earrings out of them! What else can be said? I felt so… inadequate. After working at the top of my work pyramid for so long, I felt strangely vulnerable not knowing more about this craft, especially if I had any hope of monetizing from it. When my cousin said she connected with a local shop owner about possibly selling my jewelry, which should have been really exciting news, I was petrified. No! I’m not ready! I’m not sure if my stuff is good enough! Why do our brains tell us these things? Perhaps a little bit of self-criticism can drive us to do our best, but in a lot of cases, it can leave us stuck in the mud going no where.


  5. How to Pick a Winning Domain Name

    January 20, 2012

    On our social network development travels, we are occasionally tasked with helping our clients research and choose a domain name. This is a serious effort, as it will represent not only the website but the over-arching business brand as well. Below are some quick guidelines on how to start this process and our general rules of thumb.

    Business & Domain Name Compatibility

    When choosing a business name, with very few exceptions, it’s very important to make sure that you are picking a name that can be represented well as a domain as well, ideally a .com. It’s not like putting your name on a business card anymore. Most businesses now require a web presence, and easily locating that URL should be considered. An example would be our own business name, Pearse Street Consulting, Inc. Thankfully Dublin’s Pearse Street was still pretty underdeveloped when I took my first entrepreneurship plunge, so the domain www.pearsestreet.com was available. If it hadn’t been, I would have likely looked elsewhere for name inspiration.

    Short and Sweet

    The next challenge of course is finding a viable domain that is easy to remember, i.e., short and sweet. For example, www.pearsestreetconsultinginc.com is not what I would consider short and sweet, so you won’t find our website there. Finding catchy domains is easier said than done with dwindling free domains, and you may find better luck purchasing domains from sites like Afternic and BuyDomains, but expect to pay more than a few dollars for them. When recommending names, I try to go with two words or less, words that are not commonly misspelled and combinations that roll of the tongue easily.

    Get Even Shorter with Extensions

    It’s always a good idea to buy up the common extensions to your domain, including the .net, .org and if you are feeling ambitious, the .us and .biz. It ensures that someone else won’t snatch it up and try to sell it to you when you start making your millions. Another cool trend is to explore tiny URLs as secondary domains, utilizing international extensions. For example, we have pearse.st, which we haven’t done anything ingenious with yet (wait for it!). The .st is the Internet country code top-level domain for São Tomé and Príncipe. Go figure! A few things to consider here is that these domains are typically a little more expensive than regular .coms and .nets per year, they take longer to purchase and activate, and there is always a level of uncertainty with how reliable or stable the country of origin is, which is why it’s good policy to have his as a secondary versus primary domain.

    Here are some helpful sites for your domain name search, and I’ll add to these as I come across more:

    -Yahoo Small Business: Great site for researching available domain and related suggestions and purchasing domains in bulk at good prices

    -Panabee.com: This is a fun site to find unusual names using word combinations

    -Afternic.com: My go-to spot to find premium domains

    -101domain.com: One of many sites that sell international extensions

    Happy hunting!

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  6. Getting Back to Basics

    November 4, 2011

    Photo courtesy of Therese Kay Photography

    No matter who you are, it’s hard not to feel a personal transition each time you witness summer fade away and start preparing for the impending cold weather. I remember sitting on my front stoop in Florida in the middle of October and having a “whoa” moment as I realized that it was autumn. My favorite season had become unrecognizable to me, drenched in the persistent heat and humidity of the south.

    Experiencing the seasons was something that our family was looking forward to coming home to when we moved back to Massachusetts, and every year I find myself appreciating the opportunity it gives me to note the passing of time, thinking about where the last three months have taken us and contemplating what the next few (or six, in the case of winter) months will bring. With winter staring us down after our Halloween Nor’easter, I’m already finding myself anxious about Christmas plans, New Year’s Resolutions (both business and personal), and strategies to survive the long winter.


  7. Operation Indecision

    October 17, 2011

    Not long after my stomach declared war on my two old friends, stress and spicy food, I started to think about how I could potentially alleviate some stressors at work by adding to our team. If you’ve ever grown a small business, you know that you start out typically by yourself, wearing all the hats, and slowing but surely begin to delegate those hats to others who can be trusted with those responsibilities. I’ve managed to make really good progress with this over the past year, so I decided to continue the trend and dive into the interviewing process to fill a new position.

    This was the first time that I had interviewed for an entirely new position in a long time. I am used to hiring designers and developers, which I have down to an exact science at this point. Interviewing for a management role forced me to assess different backgrounds and qualities in the candidates, and with each interview I found myself forming the position around that person for the moment, imagining each person’s potential for growth in our small, growing company. (more…)

  8. The Perfect Client

    October 8, 2011

    One thing that makes our industry very unique is that our clients are also that, very unique. Unlike some service providers, we don’t work with the same type of vendor or business owner or consumer demographic time after time. We work with a broad range of clients, from accredited universities to established businesses to start-ups. I would say that start-ups are our most frequent type of client, but among those, we have doctors, military members, college students and small business owners to name a few. Whether this is a first website endeavor or if the client has plenty of entrepreneurial experience, there are certain qualities that we love to see in the people that we work with! (more…)

  9. My Stress Intervention

    October 1, 2011

    As the blur of summer comes to a close, I have been getting ready for the fourth quarter rush. This is typically our busiest time of the year. New business is steady, but we are under pressure to launch most of our in-development projects by the end of the year. As a result I’ve reinserted myself more heavily into our processes, which I periodically do to see how we can optimize what we do and how we do it.

    With my summer commitments safely in the past, this seemed like a great time to jump back into the thick of things. Then I got sick for a month. After a few weeks of feeling horrible, I did some WebMD’ing and decided to go to the doctor with my findings. I met with him and his army of medical interns to discuss my symptoms, and following a barrage of tests, my findings were confirmed, mostly. I had started to suspect that I had a stomach ulcer, when in fact it is only inflammation. It is what I refer to as a “baby ulcer” because telling people you have duodenitis sounds scary. (more…)

  10. Settle down, Facebook. Google+ can smell fear.

    September 21, 2011

    That was the quote of the day.

    I read this among a host of other critical comments on my Facebook feed this morning. Yet another wave of negative reactions to Facebook rolling out new features. It seems like Facebook usually does this in smaller doses, but I have to admit that today I was even a little overwhelmed.

    Over the past few days Facebook users have been met with new friend grouping features, profile subscriptions, notifications galore and a new feed layout. There are also rumors circulating that Facebook will be rolling out a new profile layout within the week. After trying to absorb all of this with the news that I would otherwise be looking for within my friend feed, I was feeling not so open to change.