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What Tools Do I Use to Run My Business? [24:17]

By ted sikkink | Entrepreneurship

Aug 23

Here’s a message from my good friend Charles Kirkland which I am sure you’ll like:

Welcome to Inside the Mind of an Entrepreneur with Charles Kirkland. You’re moments away from getting practical advice and tips for entrepreneurs who are looking to work less, get more done, be more productive and balance work and personal life. Each episode is designed to give you an inside look into the mind of a succesful entrepreneur.

Hey, this is Charles Kirkland. Welcome back to another exciting episode. Now, we’re going to be talking about the tools that I use to run my business. Now, I get this question all the time – what auto-responder to use, what check out to use, what shopping cart, what website, what theme, whatever you can imagine. I get the question all the time.

And it’s one of those things where I’m getting that question enough I figured, hey, let’s go ahead and do an episode on it. And I’m going to tell you why I use it, why it may be right or why it may not be right for you, and I think it’ll hopefully, give you a good jumpstart.

Now, let’s go ahead and talk about email auto-responder systems, because that seems to be one of the very popular ones. I’ve used AWeber, Get Response, Eye Contact, Constant Contact, Office Autopilot, ONTRAPORT, and I’m currenty using Active Campaign. The MBA business is currently using Office Autopilot just because it’s all integrated.

And I will tell you, from a deliverability standpoint, most of them would do about the same. A few of them will truly excel. Right now, Active Campaign is giving me the best delivery and best inbox placement, I’ve ever had. Period. So, keep that in mind. It’s a little on the pricey side. It’s not as bad as some of the systems out there. But it’s really not as easy and not as plug-and-play as AWeber or Get Response.

You know, you can get AWeber and Get Response on the phone and get support. Using Active Campaign, your support is really only through a chat ticket, which is really a pain in the behind. But, with that said, yeah. I do like Active Campaign. It’s more of a built-in CRM. It’s everything I wish ONTRAPORT was – very easy to create campaigns.

As an example, like in AWeber/Get Response, you know, you’re pretty much going in and creating a campaign by adding emails. In Active Campaign, it’s similar to Infusionsoft. Imagine dragging and dropping a flowchart. Same concept. I really like it. Very intuitive. Very easy to use.

There’s some quirks about it. But overall, it’s a really good system. We’re also utilizing the CRM. So, we know if we’re talking to a prospect about joining the coaching program, we can basically look at it and kind of determine if your quality score- are you clicking and gauging the emails? You know, we can tell if you’ve opted in and haven’t done anything. It’s really powerful and I like it a lot.

Now, is it right for you? I would probably say no. If you’re getting started, go with AWeber or go with Get Response, because you can get on the phone any time you want with those guys, and they can walk you through some of the technical things. You don’t have that option. And because of that, I would probably not recommend it, getting started. And it’s a little pricier than a lot of other products. So, definitely keep that in mind. I like it a lot.

One of the reasons I truly like it – like AWeber and like Get Response, these things integrate with everything under the sun. A lot of the email software products out there or email service providers really don’t do a great job with integration. So, you’re trying to make it work with the exit pop, your evergreen webinar system, anything like that – sometimes it can get a little on the wonky side. So, keep that in mind.

So, if you’re getting started – AWeber/Get Response, you’ll be fine. Either one. It doesn’t make a difference. A little more advance would be ONTRAPORT or Infusionsoft. And I would probably tell you to stay away from Infusionsoft. They’ll probably be sending me emails. “Charles, you can’t say these things.” I’m just really not an Infusionsoft fan. I’ve got buddies who can make it do everything under the sun. Don’t know why, I’ve just never really jumped on the Infusionsoft bandwagon.

I think the big thing to me, and probably, the big turn-off to me, is every time I call, it takes two or three thousand to get started. And I don’t have any problem paying two or three thousand. But you know, two or three thousand dollars to see if I even want it, if I like it – and they go, “Oh, it’s for the campaign for us to help you set it up.” If it’s that stinking complicated, I’m not sure I would use it anyway. So, keep that in mind. So, with that said, active campaign. If you’re a little more advanced, AWeber/Get Response.

Now, when it comes to themes, I’ve used every theme I could possibly think of. And somebody’s going to send me an email, “Charles, but you didn’t say x, y, z theme.” I’ve used Office Autopilot. From a theme standpoint, they actually have a built in, kind of like a plug-in. It does okay. But for the themes that we’re talking about, I use Avada. That‘s what I use on the Charles Kirkland coaching site – really simple, really easy to use.

I do like OptimizePress, version one and two. Both of them are great. I like both of them. The only problem I have with OptimizePress, I mean, I like it a lot. The only problem I have is a lot of times, the site- because everybody else is using Optimize Press – and also, you can customize it and do all kinds of cool things.

But for most people that’re not really going that extra mile and doing a lot of customization, because of that, I just don’t like it because I feel it looks a little too much like everybody else. I mean it integrates with everything. I do like it from that standpoint. It integrates with AWeber, Get Response, your email software, Go To Webinar – integrates with all those things. And I do have some sites that are still using Optimize Press. But for me, I really wanted to stand out and have a completely different look than everybody else in my space.

And we use one which we got a theme for us for like, $50 or $60. I think it’s Avada, maybe. I probably screwed the name up. Just go to theme [unclear – 06:19]. Look for the number one WordPress theme. Absolutely has made my life simple and easy.

Now, this is a big question. Would I use that over Optimize Press? Depends. I mean, it’s a little different. It’s a lot more complicated to initially set up, I think, than Optimize Press. But I think it gives a very clean, professional look that- not that Optimize Press isn’t clean and professional, but it makes me stand out in a crowd of other people.

And the question is if you’ve got Optimize Press and any other theme, do you need Leadpages, ClickFunnels, do you need any of these things? Even [unclear – 06:54] 5 Minute pages. I’m going to just tell you, I use LeadPages. I use ClickFunnels. And you say, “Wait a second Charles. But shouldn’t you only use one one or the other?” No.

I’m going to just tell you this, ClickFunnels absoutely rocks. I love it. I love it. I love it. I will give shouts out. I will go scream it to the top of my lungs. Russell Brunson rocks. ClickFunnels is just amazing in what it can do. But, there are a couple of things that it can’t do. That means Russell’s probably going to like, “Darn it Charles!” He’s going to go fix it.

But, you know, I use it for a lot of stuff. One thing I found out, and this is interesting enough. I like ClickFunnels. But there again, I have to customize the templates. You don’t want to look like anything else. The same thing with LeadPages. You kind of have to customize these templates because you just don’t want to look like everybody else in your market. So, keep that in mind.

But I use LeadPages mainly for the- well I’m getting ready to use them for the LeadDigits, because that’s really powerful. But I do use them for the LeadBoxes. Where you basically, you can make an image. They click the image. A box pops up. I will tell you, OptimizePress has that, but I am using Avada, the theme. And I have OptimizePress as a plug-in. So, it doesn’t really work that well.

But I do love LeadPages. They’re simple. They’re easy. You don’t have the flexibility you have in ClickFunnels, but I’m just going to tell you, some days flexibility is overrated. I spent basically, eight hours yesterday working on an opt-in page, a thank you page, and then a click link, and then, you know, the confirmation page. I spent a long time doing it.

I could’ve probably done it in ClickFunnels in probably about 20 or 30 minutes. LeadPages, probably about the same timeframe. I did it. I regret not using one of those two options. But, you know, I needed to really integrate it with my site and look like the rest of my site. So, that’s kind of why I did that. But I will tell you, OptimizePress would’ve made that a lot similar.

With that said, LeadPages or ClickFunnels – you’re not going to have any problems. And the big key is, if you’re using the subdomain, that standard, that everybody uses, that kind of gets into issues, and that’s why they allow you to basically have it as a stand alone page, as a plug-in on your site. I would recommend that. So, if you put it in Facebook, it doesn’t look like YourDomain.com/LeadPages.net, or something ClickFunnels.net. It’s very easy to use the plug-in and actually create your own pages, YourDomain.com/Landingpagexyz.

I’m going to tell you. I use both of them. If I only had to use one, I’d say flip a coin. They’re both good. I do like the LeadDigits a lot. And I really, really, really do like the LeadBoxes. So, with that said, keep that in mind. You know, either one of those products rock. Personal choice. Just throwing it out there, I’ll give you that.

This is interesting. When it comes to exit pop software, you know, the exit intent – I’m actually using two of them. One of them I’m using is OptinMonster. And I use that on one site. It works great. And I’m using another software called PicReel.com. And I like that. I’m just teting that on the Media Buyer Association right now. I like their designs better than OptinMonster. So, keep that in mind.

As of right now, OptinMonster seems to be giving me a bettter conversion rate. But, you know, I’ve had time to test that, where I’m just starting with PicReel. I can tell you – I think PicReel is like, I think, a monthly package. I want to say OpinMonster is $200 a year, or something like that. So, keep that in mind. Either one of those you will be fine with.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when it comes to evergreen software and evergreen webinars, there’s no shortage of it. I know that Andy and Mike just came out with a new evergreen software. I’ve looked at it. it seems to rock. But guess what? A lot of times we end up jumping on these tools that are brand new. I mean I’ve developed software before. It takes a while to work bugs out. I don’t think there’s anything as a “bug-free software.”

So, I’m going to let Andy and them have all the bugs worked out before I end up joining that. But the thing is, it’s not about joining the latest, greatest thing. It’s really about, and this is what it comes down to. Can you use what you’ve got? Just because it’s got a new bell and whistle, and that’s great. But guess what? If you’re not using all the bells and whistles you’ve got now, getting additional bells and whistles probably isn’t going to be the best use of your time.

And every time you jump on something brand new, there’s a learning curve, learning curve, learning curve, and learning curve. So, you’ve got to keep that in mind. These learning curves get nasty, fast. So, you know, that’s kind of the big deal there. I’m using Stealth Seminars. It’s like a hundred and something dollars a month.

The reason I like Stealth over any of the other ones currently on the market is basically, I give these guys my stuff. Their customer service is beyond anything I’ve ever seen, seriously. I basically say here’s the video uploaded. Here’s my landing page. They set up the timers, the countdown, the replay. They go into my email system.

Gosh, yes, I know. We give them our email password, username, and everything. They go in there and they set everything up. And pretty much, all I have to do is test it one time and then make sure that I add my own personal touches to the emails. You can’t beat that.

When Evergreen Business Systems first came out – and I’ve got an account with them – I like it. But you have to do it. I don’t know about you. But I don’t sit around going, yeah. I just don’t have enough to do today. I just should look around. Find me something else. To me, it’s worth it to have somebody else set those things up.

And I found that Stealth Seminar, from a conversion standpoint, converts better than any of the other evergreen systems I’ve seen out there. I know Casey Zeman has got one. I bought it. I’ve never used it, but I’ve bought it. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time just to sit down just to figure out how to use a piece of software. I’d rather them say, “Hey, Charles. You gave us the video and the landing page. We’ve done everything else.” For me, that’s worth it – that’s absolutely worth it. It’s just personal opinion.

I know that Evergreen Business Systems- I don’t know if it’s been updated. I know Mike and Andy have a couple of different ones out. But take it for what it’s worth. The reality is, whatever you’ve got will probably do the job. It just takes time to figure out how to use it. Stealth kind of shortens that timeframe.

Now when it comes to checkout pages, this is where we’re going to go back to ClickFunnels. Because I’m going to tell you, hands down, I love the checkouts in ClickFunnels. They’ve got the things where you can do the order form bump where you enter in your information and it goes, “Oh, would you like to add this to your order?”

“Yes. That sounds like a winner. Let’s add this to the order.” They’ve got that kind of stuff in place which makes it really, really nice. So, ClickFunnels is really more than just a landing page generator.

Same thing you know, like LeadPages. It does LeadDigits, which are SMS text messaging. LeadBoxes. Same thing with ClickFunnels. You know, they do the checkout pages. They do the upsells. They do the membership areas. And because of that, I really, really, really love ClickFunnels.

Now, I have not used SamCart. I’ve got a good buddy of mine that uses it. He loves it. I mean, but there again, it’s like every software you pick, or everything that you move is going to have- and you just heard a whistle there for Periscope. Gary Monroe is starting a Periscope – these things are really cool, by the way. You should jump on Periscope next time you have a chance to get on a one-on-one with me.

But going back to the checkout pages. I’ve used Nanocast. Nanocast is literally bulletproof. It’s amazing, what it can do. It’s just not user friendly. I know you can get on there. You can get the stuff knocked out. It took me awhile. I mean you can use their default shopping cart and all this. It will probably work for most people. I mean, it’s a pretty good system. It’s bulletproof. Nothing breaks on it. And these guys can fix anything. Little technical to set up, in my opinion.

I love One Shopping Cart for a lot of things. My woodworking business runs on One Shopping Cart. And they do the email, the checkouts, yeah. I don’t need a secure server page or anything [SSL – 15:22]. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s not glamorous, but guess what? It gets the job done. I think we often get so enamored with the latest, greatest thing. it’s about, can you get results? It’s not the latest, greatest thing.

And that seems to be a problem in the online marketing world. We seem to jump after, “Well, this is brand new. And nobody’s seen it before.” You know what? Forget the brand new, nobody’s seen it before. It comes down to, can you use what you have, which is what most people have some problems with. So definitely guys, keep that in mind.

I really do love the entrepreneur stuff. It’s probably just me, but I can never really make those one-click upsells work the way they should. Don’t necessaily know why. ONTRAPORT, Office Autopilot – I do love it. I just seem to not make those upsells work. It’s a little more technical because then you’ve got to enter in your pages. Where’s the next page? What to do? It’s a little more technical. Where ClickFunnels pretty much you drag and drop your pages. And it goes A, B, C, D, X, Y, Z.” And it’s all done. You’re good to go.

Now when it comes to setting up member sites, we’re using WishList member, we’re using the ONTRAPORT plug-in. I’m using ClickFunnels. They actually have their own membership site, which is pretty cool. It kind of rocks. And I’ve used a lot of other stuff before. I’ve used Nanocast. They’ve got their own built-in membership stuff. And like I say, it’s a little technical to set up. Bulletproof once you get it, but technical.

I like WishList Member, but boy! It’s asking me for all- you know, to set and configure things. And I don’t like that. And then, if they get a refund, it’s not necessarily tied to the shopping cart. So, you’ve got to refund them in the shopping cart. Go into the member’s area. Remove their access.

Where ONTRAPORT and Office AutoPilot, I can refund your access on one page, click a button and revoke your membership on the same page. I can even see how many pages. And this has come in handy. People will go in and download everything and they’ll want a refund 30 minutes later.

And they go “Oh, it just wasn’t right for me.” So well, gee. It looks here like you visited every page for about five and a half seconds, just long enough to click your download button on the video. So, do you really want a refund? From looking at our stat logs, it looks like you downloaded everything. That can come in extremely handy when people get stupid on you. And believe me, they do. People will absolutely get dumb on you. So, keep that in mind.

You know, there again, I do like the ClickFunnels membership sites. I will just tell you, hands down, it’s simple. It’s easy. It’s not really that complex. I mean, it gets the job done. I mean, it’s basic from the standpoint of like, I like a lot of features in my membership site. But hey, you know what? Speed rocks. I’m just going to tell you. At the end of the day, being able to get these products and turn them out fast is a huge, huge, huge advantage, because it’s really about speed.

So, you know, if you’re used to WishList Member, don’t go looking for something else. The one that I have not tried, that I’m thinking hard about trying very soon, would be something called Member Mouse. I know Kim Roach talked about it. And she absolutely loves Member Mouse. So definitely keep that in mind. Really solid piece of software from what I understand.

So what should you use? I’ll just tell you, if you’re using Aweber, get WishList Member. If you’ve got ClickFunnels, just use the one built into ClickFunnels. At the end of the day, it’s not about all the things the tool can do. It’s, does it do the thing you need? Like, give them a username and password. That’s it. That’s all we need to worry about. We don’t need to get hung up on a million other things. And I see so many people, “But Charles, this one does – insert whtever.” You know what? Don’t get hung up on it. Just don’t get hung up. It’s just a tool. Keep that in mind – just a tool.

Now when it comes to videos, we used to host a lot of videos on Amazon S3 – still do that. And we moved to Wistia. I’ll tell you, in a way, that’s been a mistake. The Wistia bill every month is staggering. I mean seriously, we’re using- I feel like I’m streaming CNN or something and I feel like I’m paying for CNN bandwidth.

One of the things you have to understand is any product you get, somebody else is going to figure some way to leech off of it, download it, steal it, copy it. We’re hitting probably- the last 500 gigs and maxed that out. So, we’re going to have to move to the higher priced tier. We’re getting ready to move everything back to Amazon S3 and use something called VUPlayer.

Now I’m going to tell you, I have not used this VUPlayer yet. Todd Brown told me about it, so I got it last night. I went thorugh. They had a zillion upsells. But I just wanted the VUPlayer. I’m really looking forward to getting to use that, a.) because it’s going to reduce my video bandwith cost – a lot. Second of all, in the video, while you’re watching the video, we can actually have our own ads appearing in the video, which to me is extremely powerful.

Now, I don’t have time to do this, but I think the next big thing will be a video ad network, where you basically have videos playing and you control the ads. You’re selling ads based on those videos. I think that’s going to be huge. You know, there again, I don’t have enough time to go after everything that I want. So, keep that in mind. It could be something for somebody.

But there again, I know there’s a lot of different players out there like the EasyS3 and all this. You know, a lot of times when I’m using stuff, I want simple and easy, because the real money isn’t made in setting all the technical aspects of the stuff up. The money is made in- what is the big idea? What is the marketing? And getting traffic to the offers. That’s really where your money’s made at. The money is not made in this technical stuff.

So, I’m going to tell you. Don’t get hung up on the technical thing because you could be fighting the shopping cart for a week, a member’s area for a few days, a WordPress theme. Before you know it, you’ve spent like two or three weeks fighting all this stuff and not getting any results. So, definitely, definitely keep that in mind. You don’t want to be that person. And I’ll tell you, believe me, quite often very simply, very easy, you can become that person.

Now, with that said, when you’re looking at all these, it’s really about just getting out there and trying to get that result. And I think that’s where so many people mess up. They’re looking at this stuff going, “Ooh! How fast can I do it?” Guys, the technical set up of this stuff can really be a pain. It can be a bear. And you just don’t want to spend all your time fighting the technical setup of it. You don’t want to do that. The real money is made, like I said, in the big ideas. So, keep that in mind.

Now when it comes to hosting, I’ve used HostGator. They’ve gone down on me. Really, when hosting, I’m looking for something that’s bulletproof – not going to go down. And I can call anytime and get support, and get somebody knowledgeable.

I despise GoDaddy. I’m not a GoDaddy fan in any way, shape or form. A few years ago they go, “We’ve got a spam planned against one of your domains.” The domain’s been there forever. And basically, they made me pay, I think $100 or something, saying I was a spammer. And then they would release the domain, so I could move it to a different host. That really left a very bad taste in my mouth. And you know, I mean it’s just really just a bad experience.

I do not recommend GoDaddy under any circumstances whatsoever. I prefer NameCheap. And at the end of the day, go with something like [unclear – 23:03] on demand. If you can get a VFS server, which is a Virtual Private Server. If you can upgrade, do better. Get a dedicated server. If you’re just starting out, get just a regular, shared server. I mean you can get something off HostGator that’s shared, that will probably- I still run a number of sites off of a HostGator-shared server. They don’t get a lot of traffic, but they just make a few thousand dollars a month.

So, it’s not a big deal. And at the end of the day guys, it’s really about taking action more than the actual, technical aspects of all these things. I see so many people getting all wrapped up into the technical aspects of this, and that, and the other. Guys, it’s not about the technical aspects. It’s about did you get a result. So, definitely, definitely keep that in mind.

So with that said, I’m going to go ahead and wrap this up. We’ll do another podcast about some more tools. But right now, just remember, use what works best for you. It’s not what I use, it’s what works best for you and what fits in your budget.

Anyway, this is Charles. Hope you enjoyed it. And talk to you later.

dvdI hope you enjoyed these tips. If you want to learn how to unlock your online success, let me send you the free DVD. You just pay for the shipping. Click here

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