Small business marketing tools that won’t bust your budget
I tell small business that they do need to spend money on their marketing. It’s met with big sighs all the time.
Here’s what they don’t know:
Whilst some marketing activities cost more, and are worth spending the money on, there’s a lot you can do that is low cost, or entirely free. Here’s my list.
Are you planning to fail?
Here’s the thing:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Planning is THE one thing you need to do before you spend your hard-earned cash and precious time on any marketing activities. There are several tools you can use to plan your marketing.
- Marketing success plan. This is a one-page plan (don’t be scared) that will give your marketing focus and a real purpose. It will help you find your potential customers and help you understand how to reach them with your message. I know you don’t have time to create one, so I made one for you. Download it for FREE here.
- Research. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to take you long. Use an online survey tool to help you find out what your customers think about you, want to learn from you, and why they buy from you. This is going to help you understand how to market to other people like them: your potential customers.
- Sticky notes, a felt tip pen and a large expanse of wall. Once you’ve filled in your marketing success plan, you can get on with planning out your marketing activities. Use different coloured sticky notes to represent each marketing activity type, i.e. social media, email, blogging, and so on. To speed things up for you, read how I created my marketing activity plan for a year in 2.5 hours!
- Online tools. There are lots of online planning tools. One that I’ve used is called Trello. It will help you to organise your sticky notes into a plan so that you know what you’re going to do each day, week and month for your marketing. If, like me, you put everything into your calendar, you can use that to help you organise when you’ll carry out the tasks to get your marketing done.
Achieve your marketing goals without spending an arm and a leg
Most small businesses think they need a massive marketing budget to do their marketing. Yes, you do have spend SOME money, but it needn’t be as much as you think.
Here are the low-cost marketing tools I believe every small business should be using (some are even free):
- Email marketing. This is a great tool that will help you keep in touch with existing customers, and find new ones. Done in the right way, with the right email marketing software, you can achieve your business goals without splashing the cash. My recommendation? Constant Contact because it lets you do so much more than email marketing, e.g. online surveys, which I’ve already mentioned.
- Social media. You knew this would be on the list! Using social media will help your message get to a wider group of people. What’s more, all the major platforms are free to use. What will cost you money is advertising. Again, this doesn’t have to be a massive amount. The only way you’ll know what works for you is to try it. Set yourself some goals before you do, so you know whether it worked or not. As time is as big an issue for small businesses as money, remember to use some automation to help you post your updates. I like Hootsuite and Buffer. Both have free plans.
- Images. Images get interest. It’s as simple as that. But, you may not be able to pay a graphic designer each time you need an image. So, learn to do it yourself. There are three great tools I use to create images for my blog and social media accounts. You may have heard me talk about them before. Here they are again:
- Canva. Create lovely images using your brand colours and add your logo.
- PicMonkey. I love to use this tool to resize images, such as photos I’ve taken. But there’s so much more you can do with it.
- Piktochart. My new fave! Easily create your own infographics with this software. Check out the one I created here.
- Email capture. This is a must. You need to grow your email list. There’s one tool that’s been successful for me. Privy. You install it on your website and it pops up a box for visitors to join your email list in return for a gift.
- Content sharing. How do you get your blog posts seen more often? I use Start a Fire. For everything I tweet or share on Facebook, I create a unique URL, which then adds my ‘badge’ to the content I share. When a person clicks on it, they see a pop-up box with recommended content from me. What’s that content? My blog posts, of course!
- Blogging. I know: it’s scary. You think you can’t write, but you can! If you’ve done the planning bit, you’ll have come up with plenty of topics you can write about. Remember, you’re the person who knows your business the best. You’re the expert, and your customers will appreciate you sharing your expertise. Blogging in the right way shows you know your industry, it helps build your credibility, and, most importantly, builds trust with your readers. What’s more, it’s free to do. All it costs you is time.
Now give your marketing a turbo boost!
Here’s the science bit:
You need to measure and track what you do. Not just to see if it worked, but also to figure out how to make it better. Here are the tools to help you do that:
- Google Analytics. This is a must for your website. You need to know which pages get the most traffic. You need to know how long people are spending on your website. You need to know the content visitors like best. There are lots of other things too. All the information you can get will tell you how well your marketing is performing, and what you need to change to make it work better.
- Quill Engage. For me, this is Google Analytics made simple. Each week, it breaks down the important bits of information about my website into bite-sized chunks. I know exactly what’s been happening. For example, I know that my infographic about the digital tools I’ve used in my first year of business has been THE most popular post I’ve written this year. So, guess what? Using that nugget of information has led me to write this post!
- Social media insights. All the major social media platforms come with their own analytics tools. Use these to help you understand the best times to post for you. You can also start to understand the type of content that goes over well with your audience. Is it images, videos, or something entirely different? Use this information to share your content in the way your audience likes best.
So, now you know:
Marketing your business doesn’t have to cost lots of money. There are plenty of marketing tools out there that every small business can afford. What you need to weigh up is where you spend your money and whether you’re the best person to do the marketing. After all, aren’t you wearing lots of other hats too?
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Also published on Medium.