app recommendations
August 20, 2018

App recommendations, ones that help me be a productive leader

By Paul Laughlin

Building on our series sharing lessons learnt by leaders, I thought it might also help to share app recommendations.

Working with leaders, training, coaching or mentoring, I find they often reference apps that help them be more productive. I am no different.

Since launching my own business and blog, just over 4 years ago, apps have helped me. From managing sales to scheduling content, today there are a host of apps to help leaders.

So, to complement past recommendations of books, blogs and podcasts – let’s turn our attention to apps.

App recommendations: (1) Buffer

First, let’s start with the challenge of scheduling regular social media content. As you’ve hopefully seen, Customer Insight Leader blog posts are shared regularly on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Plus, less frequently on Pinterest and Reddit.

With an already busy diary of meetings and tasks to achieve, it can feel daunting to fit in time for being active on social media. For that reason, most bloggers make use of a scheduling tool. Once that enables them to schedule posts for a day or more ahead. Buffer is my preferred app for that purpose.

I’ve previously recommended Platform as a useful book to guide those who are seeking to establish a new digital platform for their message. As well as useful advice on consistency, that book recommends ensuring you share a balanced diet (your own content and others). For that reason, it’s important to have an app that integrates easily with both your browser and any other apps you use for sourcing other relevant content.

Having previously used both HootSuite and CoSchedule, both of which have their benefits, I recommend Buffer as the easiest and most helpful to use. I say that for three main reasons:

  1. Simplicity of concept/use = fill your queue with content and set a schedule to publish it
  2. Portability = works seamlessly across MacBook, iPad and iPhone
  3. Integration with other tools = integrated with many other apps and useful browser plug-ins

If you aren’t already using the Buffer app, to establish your own personal brand, I’d recommend trying free version as a pilot:

Buffer Resources

Buffer’s social media marketing blog covers the latest social media tools, analytics, and strategies for Twitter, Facebook, and more…

App recommendations: (2) Feedly

Next, let’s turn to reading more widely. Scanning helpful blogs and keeping an eye on trends is regularly encouraged on this blog. But, how does a busy leader keep on top of all the sources out there? My next app recommendation helps me.

For months, I experimented with different solutions to achieve this. Options included using Safari as an RSS reader, having subscribed to RSS feeds of useful blogs. Newsletter subscriptions are another means many blogs offer for keeping up-to-date with their content. I’ve trialled subscribing to such newsletters using my Evernote email address, a solution that I still find useful.

Both those solutions have the limitation of blogs I have already discovered. To improve my own learning & sharing on social media, I was keen to discover an app that also suggested relevant content. Having experimented with FlipBoard and StumbleUpon for that purpose, I finally settled on Feedly.

It provides a tidy and time efficient solution for me. During my social media marketing time every morning, to help fill my Buffer queues, I use Feedly to review potential content for my readers. Here are three reasons I have also grown to love this app:

  1. Easy for organising content = it is quick to add your favourite sites and organise both ‘feeds’ and public ‘collections’
  2. Easy for discovering content = from saving searches to selecting ‘search beyond my feedly’
  3. Portability = works seamlessly across MacBook, iPad and iPhone (plus integrates well with Buffer)

If you aren’t already using the Feedly app, to keep up with new useful content, I’d recommend trying free version as a pilot:

Feedly Blog

Streamline your biopharma intelligence by adding custom feeds to your Feedly.

App recommendations: (3) Pipedrive

Many leaders establishing a digital platform, perhaps using Buffer & Feedly, are aiming at business growth. Others, without such a content focus, will still feel the need of a sales CRM tool. One that helps them keep track of their contacts, meetings and potential sales pipelines.

Now, this software territory is a road well travelled. Tech Giants like SalesForce and many many others offer solutions that are pitched as useful for businesses of all sizes. My own experience is that two key issues help identify which CRM apps will actually meet leaders needs. The first is cost of ownership (beware complex pricing models), the second is initial data entry.

When testing potential CRM apps for my own business, I trialled a number. Options like Elements for Mac and Really Simple Systems seemed viable, but eventually required too much data entry and needed me to adapt to the way they worked. From the first time I installed Pipedrive it felt intuitive and has grown with me, in terms of enhancements and integrations.

It probably depends how you perceive your CRM needs, but for me the analogy of sales pipelines works really well. Especially as these can be tailored to how you work (for instance I have pipelines for prospects, clients and events).

Here are three reasons I am an advocate of this CRM app:

  1. Ease of use = data entry can grow with usage and interface is intuitive
  2. Integration with other apps = for me the integration with MS Outlook is a key benefit
  3. Portability = works seamlessly across MacBook, iPad and iPhone (a theme for all my recommended apps, as I am so often travelling)

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App recommendations: Is this helpful & do you have tips?

I’m keen to hear whether or not you found this post helpful. It is a bit of a departure from our normal content, but I sensed an interest amongst leaders. Please let me know in the comments boxes below.

If you would value more app recommendations here, I have more to share and can ask all our guest bloggers for their recommendations.

Alternatively, if you have an app that has really helped you succeed as a Customer Insight Leader, please contact me. I’m happy to share recommendations from our readers.