Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to Michael Schneider, CEO of Service, about his customer service application and its role in a seemingly unchanging industry. Admittedly, I had originally intended to gain Michael’s insights on his favorite up-and-coming applications. But, after learning more about his new venture, I abandoned my initial idea and instead focused on how his app could help businesses.

This week, however, I am returning to my initial idea and revisiting the world of small business applications.

To do so, I enlisted the help of Jay Baer, a real life social media and content marketing Swiss Army Knife. Jay has been involved in digital marketing for longer than I’ve been alive – since 1994 – and has owned and operated numerous marketing professional services. He has written five books on a variety of marketing subjects and has given hundreds of speeches across the world. He is also the president of Convince & Convert, a digital marketing consulting group that specializes in influencer, content, and social marketing. The Convince & Convert team has published 2,500 blog posts on the aforementioned topics, and every year produces approximately 300 podcast episodes. Furthermore, Jay is an angel investor in about 15 different startup companies.

So, to summarize, Jay has spent a lot of time thinking about marketing, and he knows a thing or two about how applications can help make your small businesses more cost effective, productive, and innovative. Here’s what he recommends.

4 Apps Your Small Business Needs, According to Jay Baer Tweet This

App #1: Sococo

About the App:

Sococo is a web-based startup communication and productivity application that creates a virtual workspace, effectively connecting “remote workers by recreating the personal proximity and functionality of a physical office.” Sococo offers three main benefits to users: it reduces wasted time by making team members more accessible; it increases collaboration opportunities and encourages inclusiveness; and it catalyzes immediate interactions using real-time team member availability.

What Jay Says:

“With Sococo, you log in and enter a virtual office environment – so you have essentially a blueprint of an office and you have an actual sort of office space, at least in the virtual context. And Sococo allows you to chat with your coworkers, to message your co-workers, to do video calls or voice calls with your co-workers, share your screen, those kinds of things.

And [Convince & Convert] has a totally virtual organization – there are 13 of us all over the world, and we only have one meeting a year in person. So this tool does some of the things Slack does, some of the things Skype does – but does so in sort of this virtual office construct – and is really great. It gives you a sense of being closer together as a team and we use it constantly all day.

For small businesses that might either be virtual or have some virtual team members, it’s a really great way to take a far-flung team and make them feel more tied together and connected. So for us, we use it in many ways. Instead of email, instead of the phone, instead of Google hangouts, instead of Skype — it sort of does all those things.”

App #2: CoSchedule

About the App:

CoSchedule helps content marketers and bloggers plan and publish content on WordPress using an editorial calendar. The platform is ever-evolving, and currently allows content marketers to plan content using a drag-and-drop calendar, communicate effectively with team members, meet deadlines, and increase social media traffic – all in an attempt to save you time. According to their Website, “CoSchedule is the best way to plan your marketing and save a ton of time.”

What Jay Says:

“CoSchedule creates very easy to use content editorial calendars. Lots of businesses are interested in creating more content to let their customers and prospects know what they do and why it’s interesting. And a lot of times you’ve got blog posts, you’ve got twitter, you’ve got Facebook and you’ve got LinkedIn – and all this other stuff – and it’s all super crazy, and no one can figure out when it’s due and who’s in charge. So CoSchedule is a very easy-to-use calendaring solution that allows you to have the one version of truth in terms of what you’re creating, when you’re creating, and how you’re distributing content.

It works for blogs, it works for eBooks, and it also does automated social sharing. If you publish a new blog post, for example, it automatically shares that blog post on Facebook, on LinkedIn, etc. So if you don’t have a big team to handle social or content, it’s a really great way to save time and money.

And what’s nice about it, because it is truly a calendar, you can put other marketing stuff on there. So if you’re doing an event, or a direct mail piece, or flyer or whatever – you can put that stuff on there as well.”

App #3: Lesson.ly

About the App:

Lesson.ly is a startup that makes easy-to-use software designed to train employees and business partners alike. The platform incorporates tools that allow employers or organizations to build lessons and courses, add people and assign lessons, and track a company’s progress. Lesson.ly is aiming to change the compliance-based online training software field by focusing on the learner’s experience, helping companies to empower their people, rather than protect them. According to their site, Lesson.ly increases team productivity by 22%.

What Jay Says:

“Lesson.ly is a fast growing startup based in Indianapolis and they are the easiest-to-use learning management system out there.

The way we use it is to onboard new team members and also to train new clients. So, ‘here’s a video, here’s a webinar, here’s sort of a mini course on how to get up to speed, etc.’ And, it’s a great tool for small businesses that have new employees in particular. One of my friends owns a largish chain of brewpubs, and every time they have a new waiter or waitress come on board, or somebody on the brewing team, they go through lesson.ly courses to figure out how everything works.

There are lots and lots of tools out there than you can make courses on, of course – there are literally dozens of them – but this is by far the easiest. It is literally drag and drop. So you’ve got a Youtube video – boom, it’s in the course. You’ve got a photo gallery – you drag it, and boom, it’s in the course. You can create a really awesome course with no technical experience and no course building experience at all, and it’s really slick.”

App #4: Pana

About the App:

Pana aims to make traveling easy and fun. The app uses real people and smart technology in an attempt to make planning trips and traveling seamless, intelligent, and hassle free. The service creates personalized travel itineraries and also mitigates any potential hassles by solving any lost luggage, cancelled flights, or overbooked hotel problems you may have. Pana utilizes a three step process to make your trip as simple as possible: first you make a request, then you review the options, and ultimately you book with one tap.

What Jay Says:

“Pana is a new startup from Colorado that is primarily a mobile application. And what they provide is a travel concierge service. So if you’re going on a trip to wherever – say you’re going to Miami – they’ll find all of your flights for you, they’ll find the best flights and book them, they’ll book your hotel, they’ll find you things to do, they keep track of all your frequent flyer points, they send you notices if your flight is going to be late – it’s literally like having a full-time travel agent in your pocket, but it’s like fifty bucks a month. So if you travel very much at all, it is a really awesome tool. I had a halftime person doing essentially what this app does for me. Its cost effective, really cool, 24/7 – yeah, it’s great.”

Interested in startup apps like these and want to know more about how they raise capital to scale? Our startup funding page can help you out.

Image Credit: Sococo, App Store; CoSchedule, CoSchedule; Lesson.ly, Lesson.ly; Pana, App Store