CRM for an Advertising business, with some production tracking
July 19, 2011 9:56 PM   Subscribe

CRM plus something more for a small office?

We have a relatively new advertising business, and client management has now moved beyond email reminders and handwritten notes by salespeople. Here's what I'm looking for:

1. Client information - The basics, nothing too complex. I'm fairly sure any normal CRM will be fine for what we need.

2. Schedule tracking - Ideally, the system will handle a start and end date for their contracted schedule, and post reminders for both.

3. Production scheduling - This is the unsure element. If there was a way to schedule and track production elements (script written, approval, shoot date, etc). I know it is probably better suited to another system, so if you have a suggestion outside of CRM I will take that as well.

In a perfect world - Google Apps integrated. Our business email is currently set up through Google Apps, and our management and salespeople have a fairly good understanding of that system.

I've already looked into a couple of the Google Apps Marketplace offerings (Insightly, Zoho), but any first-hand knowledge is appreciated. I know Salesforce is the standard for the industry, but know little about it as a system, or its Google integration.
posted by shinynewnick to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know too much about salesforce, but I tried it a little, and found it to be too robust to handle the bare data that I had to deal with. I ended up doing everything in Google docs; spreadsheets for the client data, shared calendars for the scheduling, etc. The only problem is getting people to actually update their own info, or check in to the docs for info rather than just picking up the phone. YMMV.
posted by Gilbert at 10:07 PM on July 19, 2011

So the big gorilla is SalesForce. I have never attempted to integrate it with Google apps, but it does anything you could ever want a CRM to do.

At the other end of the spectrum is HighRise from 37 Signals (
I chose to use this for my own small business. Its targeted, easy to use, simple, and
not really extendible like salesforce is.

There is an application available from the Google App Application store for direct
integration into Google apps. (Gmail).

You can also use a third party application called OneSaas for integrating contacts from
Google into Highrise.

On the free side there is an open source application called SugarCRM, that you can have hosted
on the LAMP Stack, they also have a hosted version now.
posted by digividal at 10:11 PM on July 19, 2011

There is a financial services CRM out of Utah called Gorilla, Bill Good is the head/owner of the company. The system was designed for financial services but is highly configurable on-site with keywords and other assignables to track nearly anything you might want to. I was the db administrator for a small office with this system and it was used for nearly every office function, client info, client contact records, large client mailings, when to do what for which client, assignments or projects can be created and tracked for employees as well as clients. The company has great customer service (on Utah time) with quick resolution for most problems. There was some email integration with Outlook, Google may be stretching a bit though it has been a year and a half since I was involved with the system.
posted by Talia Devane at 10:36 PM on July 19, 2011

The Highrise CRM from 37 Signals if quite good if your needs are modest (although, as far as I know, it has no Google Apps integration).

If Google Apps integration is very important to you, you might look at the TimeToNote CRM. It's a simple CRM specifically designed around integration with Google's services (including Apps). One downside is that it's run by a one man shop.

If you'd like something locally installed and you (or someone you work with) knows their way around a server, an alternative way to go is install an extensible project management package along with a CRM plugin. This gets you project management features you want (i.e. project tracking, scheduling, etc.) plus some lightweight CRM features. An open source example of this would be something like the Redmine project manager with the Contacts plugin (pretty much a clone of the 37 Signals Highrise CRM).
posted by RichardP at 10:50 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just to mention that if you use Highrise, there are good services that will sync with your Google Apps for Domains account. Actually, the one I use is so good that I have no idea what it is called! I signed up for it one day and it has worked ever since. It might have been
posted by michaelh at 11:56 PM on July 19, 2011

Hi there, just to let you know that I asked about CRM a couple of weeks back and got this response. I'm going to give Salesforce a try...
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2011

Thanks for the feedback so far. I'd looked at your earlier question about CRM, HopStopDon'tShop, and completely understand the overwhelming nature of these packages - not so much for me, as a tech-head, but for people who would be using them daily ("This is the icon to open your email...").

I'll dig into Salesforce a little more, and our partner company is actually having a CRM rep (don't know the company) come in for a presentation at the end of the week, so I might give that a listen. At the moment, Highrise is looking good; I'd overlooked it previously because of the lack of Google integration, but will check it out again. The clean interface is a big plus for me, and I know for certain we won't scale significantly larger than we are now.

Any other thoughts are appreciated!
posted by shinynewnick at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2011

I use Zoho CRM everyday. It's basically a clone of Salesforce, but I find Zoho to be more usable, and the pricing certainly is much more favorable for a small business.
posted by COD at 12:05 PM on July 20, 2011

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