A number of years ago, when I was going through my cancer treatment, I needed a coding project to focus my mind and get me out of the morphine-induced brain addle that I was suffering from daily ...
I thought about the one thing that was lacking in my digital marketing platform and that was contact management, so I looked around at the mainstream CRM systems such as HubSpot and Zoho and decided there were far too many features I'd never use, the 'free' versions were very limited in functionality, and I could not even export my data if I chose to go elsewhere.
Although I liked it (why wouldn't I?), my clients who tested it found it to be a bit too complicated. The phrase, "spinning too many plates" was bandied about several times and as I was beginning to feel worse as my cancer treatment progressed, this version of the contact manager fell by the wayside.
But it was always there in the back of my mind. It was something that I was going to get around to one day ... but I never seemed to get around to it ... only the sense of disappointment I had about the project remained!
Until very early in 2021 when, knowing lockdown was going to end at some point, I decided I had to get out of the funk we were all feeling after Christmas, and so a programming project was needed. Guess what it was going to be? That's right, the definitive version of my contact manager. This time it would be a lot simpler than the previous version, and a lot more useful.
Originally, it was going to just be for my blogging clients. A value-added function that would get them to regularly log into their blog back-end and check out their visitor stats as well as have a repository for their business contacts.
One afternoon, as I was happily in the flow of coding, my best friend Kirsty Parris of Andromeda Business Consulting dropped in for a coffee and asked what I was working on. I told her I was creating a new contact manager for my clients and she asked for a demonstration.
Even at that early stage, she could see it was something useful and said, "I want that." to which I told her that as she was not a blogging client of mine she couldn't have it. With a look of consternation on her face, she replied, "I don't care, I want it ... make it work for me, and I'll pay you for it!"
So, that told me, didn't it? Got to listen to the marketing expert, haven't I? Of course, I could make it work for her with a little thought. The first thing I had to do was figure out how to allow people to log in which I did by creating a custom home page attached to a unique and individual domain name.
I implemented Google ReCAPTCHA, wildcard domains and SSL certificates on my servers and embedded SquarePay to handle the subscription payments. After a lot of debugging and additional coding for some final ideas I wanted to build in, it was ready for her to test.
Yes, there were a few bugs that she found that needed fixing and she also suggested some additional bits and pieces she'd like to use, but by the end of June 2021 it was pretty much finished. It was joyous watching her contact counter tick up as she added and organised everyone she knew in the business world.
I took what was then called The SLO Personal Contact Management to my BNI chapter and a number of my colleagues signed up too. More suggestions followed from them as well as my need for more functionality and so the Search and Mailer tools were built and refined.
And now, after realising that "the SLO personal contact manager" is a whole bunch of meaningless word spaghetti, I've rebranded it to YourPCM because, well, it's your personal contact manager, so the name makes sense.
I really don't want to overload it with stuff people will never use as the likes of HubSpot and its ilk suffer from. It's not going to be something that is all things to all people. It's designed for UK small business owners who need to search, organise and reach out to everyone they know.
And that's something it does that really, really well.