The best digital tools and platforms for creating seamless consumer-direct solutions

There are countless digital tools and software platforms available for marketing, sales, planning, designing and creating content. Over time, and by trial and error, we’ve settled on a select assortment of tools and platforms that suit us best. These are our ‘weapons of choice’ for creating the best consumer-direct solutions.

Website development 

When it comes to website development, we work with WordPress and Wix, the choice of which is defined by our clients’ objectives and sometimes by budget.

WordPress is the ‘gold standard’ for website development; 40% of the web, and this website, is built on it! We use this content management system (CMS) for solutions needing more control and customisation and larger, more complicated websites and business solutions.

On the other hand, Wix, a drop and drag website builder, offers a wide range of options for more simplistic websites, particularly for small business owners looking for basic e-commerce or online booking solutions. Wix does a great job of marketing the idea that you can ‘build your own website’, but the reality is that it is harder than it looks, and irrespective of the CMS, great websites result from great design and a solid understanding of user behaviour… which is where we come in.

CRM Systems

For CRM (Customer relationship management) systems, there is only one,  Hubspot! The platform offers a free CRM module that includes excellent functionality for managing contacts, email integration, a basic sales pipeline, a marketing mail design module and a landing page design module. It’s paid versions offer almost limitless options for creating a fully integrated sales, marketing and client service ecosystem.

We’ve spent years designing solutions with this CRM, and although there are cheaper options out there, we believe there is none better.

Project management & planning

We love Asana. It’s one of the more established team and project management software platforms, and over the years, we’ve found it to be particularly powerful. Whether for managing day to day tasks and ‘to-do’ lists or managing large teams and projects. 

Asana integrates wonderfully with Instagantt for creating excellent visual project representation.

While there is some overlap with Asana, we also enjoy Trello for brainstorming and ‘idea dumps’; the card format offers an excellent visual display of ideas and thoughts. 

Design

Depending on the design requirement, we favour Adobe’s creative suite, particularly Indesign & Illustrator for graphic design.

That said, although some designers would disagree, we’re also a huge fan of Canva for producing quick, compelling designs for tasks such as the creative content required for social media campaigns.

Copywriting 

 

There’s little that can replace a truly gifted writer’s skill, but when it comes to creating or checking copy content, we’re a massive fan of Grammarly

The Direct Guru | Best digital tools and platforms | Adobe Premiere Pro
The Direct Guru | Best digital tools and platforms | Adobe Lightroom

Imagery

Part of Adobe’s impressive suite of creative tools and our choice for professional video editing and production is Premiere Pro, a powerful piece of software capable of doing just about anything with video. 

For still image reproduction, we use Adobe’s Lightroom, one of the best in the business.

By Gary Lotter

The Direct Guru's principal consultant, a veteran of the African travel industry who’s focused his attention towards consumer-direct marketing and sales over two decades.