One of the most challenging aspects of being a small business owner is marketing. You know you have to do it, but with all of the day to day operations, it can sometimes become difficult. And if you don’t have a budget to hire a consultant, you pretty much have to figure it out for yourself, which sometimes results in costly mistakes.
Here are a few favorite tried, tested and true FREE marketing tools.
Need a graphic and need it in a hurry, but don’t have it in the budget to hire a graphic designer? Canva is a great go-to source. It provides templates for posters, postcards, social media and blog posts, ebook and more. Use the free templates or purchase an inexpensive one. You can also upload pictures and company logos to be included in the design. Canva is very user friendly. Even the most artistically challenged small business owner can use it and come out looking like a pro!
2. Mail Chimp
Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to stay in contact with your clients or customers. Mail Chimp’s easy to use system allows for 2000 subscribers and you can send 12,000 emails per month for FREE. It also provides templates or you can build your own. Upload unlimited number of photos and graphics; customize the colors to match your brand identity; link to social media platforms. But one of the most important features is the analytics which allows you to see who opened your emails, where they are located and which links they clicked on.
Having a website helps to put your business in the global marketplace, but websites can cost thousands of dollars. In some cases, that could drain a small business’s marketing budget. Wix has great designs and is easy to use. Some of the features include optimization for mobile devices, which is very important; pre-designed templates for various industries like restaurants, e-commerce and even photography, just to name a few. Templates can be spiced up with one of the numerous apps available from the Wix App Market. Wix is available for free, but for a nominal fee you can add features like your own domain name.
4. Survey Monkey
Feedback from your audience is the best marketing tool any company can have. Finding out likes, needs and wants prior to starting a business can save you major cash and keep you in business. Survey Monkey is one of the most reasonable tools for gauging an audience. Features include nearly 200 templates for most topics, real time graphic results and the ability to compare results to similar businesses or organizations. The free version only allows for 10 questions and 100 responses.
Videos are some of the most shared content on the internet, especially social media. And it doesn’t have to be professionally created either. Phones and tablets take amazing footage that can easily be edited in an online editor like WeVideo. WeVideo makes it easy to capture, create, view and share your movies. The free version includes five minutes a month, one gig of cloud storage, 480p video resolution and 22 songs.
Ripl is an mobile app that is great for creating animated social media posts. As the app’s description suggest, tell your story, market your business, or promote your website with eye-catching animated video posts that capture the attention of your audience. Ripl combines text, pictures, and links into customized animated digital content that stands out on social media. It also tracks how your social media Likes, Follows and Comments are boosted with each Ripl-created post.
7. Google Alert
Keep track of how often your company is mentioned online with Google Alert. It also helps to give insight on your competitors and emerging or new industry trends.
Managing multiple social media platforms can be exhausting, especially when you are a one person shop. Hootsuite manages multiple networks, schedules posts and engages with your followers. The free version allows you to manage three different social media accounts, track growth and offers free social media courses as one of its benefits.
9. Social Media
Social media is a broad suggestion when there are so many platforms to choose from. However, if you are not taking advantage of some form of social media, you are missing out in a big way. While it can be overwhelming, figure out which platforms are best for you and use them. For small businesses it is difficult to manage more than one or two platforms at a time. Schedule your posts with a content management software. Keep it light and authentic to your brand. Share more branded pictures and video, versus writing a lot of copy. Starting off, if you don’t have enough content to post everyday, post at peak times (morning, lunch and afternoon) a few times a week and be engaging. By all means, don’t sell.
What are some of your favorite FREE or inexpensive marketing tools that you are using to grow your business? Share them with us!
Shameka Reed is the CEO of Savvy Inc. Pr, Marketing & Media Group. Follow her on Instagram or @AllThingsSavvy, or email her at Shameka@savvyincpr.com.