There are some fantastic tools we use to keep our business running smoothly that I want to publicly praise. Most of them are ridiculously cheap for how powerful they are. Another thing they have in common is that they are all being actively improved. These companies earn their keep every day and deserve to be noticed.

Support

Copilot from Fog Creek Software lets you remotely control someone else’s computer. We often use it to quickly fix customer problems rather than sending them long written instructions.

We use Snagit to quickly take screen shots, annotate them, and send them to customers. Trust me, Snagit is much better than the operating system’s screen shot pasted into Photoshop.

Zendesk keeps our entire history of tech support interactions in one place, lets us share them with each other, and ensures that we never forget about an outstanding problem. Zendesk also holds our library of help articles, so customers often find solutions on their own.

Marketing

Mailchimp handles all of our mass e-mails, like product announcements and newsletters. The interface is clear and the service is very full featured. If you need advanced integration with your internal systems, the programming API is powerful.

Google Analytics shows me how people are using our web site and where they are coming from.

WordPress runs our blog. It is easy to use and extremely configurable. The huge universe of plug-ins lets you extend it in a surprising number of ways. We use our own installation of WordPress, but the hosted free version at wordpress.com looks great too.

Development

Araxis Merge is the best way to compare two files (and selectively merge them if you want). The interface is beautiful and fast. I used it often when I was a programmer and surprisingly I still use it all the time as a marketer.

Notepad++ is a great free text editor on Windows. It is small, starts up blazingly fast, and intelligently handles special files such as HTML. BBEdit is fantastic for all the same reasons on the Macintosh.

Visual Assist from Whole Tomato fixes all the little user interface weaknesses of Visual Studio.