Marketing Tools for Free That Startups Should Know About
Effective marketing for startups or small businesses looking to increase their brand’s presence online is hard, especially on a limited budget.
It’s important to market your business online, especially today when a business’ online presence determines its present and long-term success. To be able to have a distinct presence is difficult, considering that there are more than a million brands vying for the consumer’s attention, many of them competing within the same niche.
Among those brands, many of them fail due to brand obsolescence, which, according to designer Catherine Slade-Brooking in her book Creating A Brand Identity (an excerpt of which you can find on Creative Review), means: “a brand becomes irrelevant by failing to appreciate that new technology or changes in consumer habits can have a huge influence on their market share.”
Though the book caters to designers, Slade-Brooking has a point. Given that previous articles on Airrmedia have touched on current consumer trends and the markedly increasing rate at which people are turning to mobile apps for their consumption of entertainment, news, and, yes, brand research, its highly important for brands to invest their time and money in increasing their brand notoriety online.
For entrepreneurs and marketers, to have an effective online and social media marketing strategy is paramount. From seamless communication, content management and curation, or even the simple, yet highly integral act of organizing project notes and other documents, each of these factors are key to your brand’s success.
Luckily, there are numerous tools available at your disposal to conduct each task more effectively. And for entrepreneurs on a budget, many of these tools are free to use. The problem is, of all the tools available for your business to take advantage of, which ones are right for you?
For those starting out, here are some of the many tools available that are widely used by industry experts:
Use Slack to Communicate with Your Team
If you haven’t heard of Slack, you’re missing out. Labeled as one of the fastest-growing workplace tools to date, Slack (an acronym for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge), has over 4 million daily active users (2016). The tool, available for free and also at a premium price, is a cloud-based team collaboration tool used by the likes of NASA, Lush, Conde Nast, Samsung and other notable companies.
And while at first glance it may look like a glorified chatroom, there’s a reason why so many are turning to this platform for team-based communication. The goal of Slack is to increase productivity among teams, effectively reducing internal email by an average of 48.6 percent, reducing workplace meetings by 25.1 percent, as well as increasing workplace transparency by 80.4 percent.
Centralizing communication among teams, users can communicate through designated channels, direct messages, or through calls. Looking for a record of a past conversation? All messages are archived and immediately accessible. Looking to send a file? Cloud-based storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box are integrated with the platform.
And that’s not all that Slack can do. Users looking to further embellish and customize their team’s slack experience can integrate apps to further improve and centralize its file-sharing, office management, marketing capability and more.
Manage Your Projects More Efficiently with Trello
Much like Slack, Trello is a visual collaborative tool for teams that is aimed to improve productivity. What’s different is that Trello functions as a digital list where you can organize your projects, plans, or anything that needs sorting into boards.
Within the project boards are cards—or tasks—that can be easily re-arranged within a board or moved to another by simply dragging and dropping the card into a separate list. The tasks aren’t limited to text, though the ease of which project notes can be shared and organized is handy—cards can range from checklists, deadlines, images, and attachments. Trello boards are easily shareable, work great as weekly planners, and are a great option for businesses looking for a visual tool that can improve the ease at which individual or team-based projects can be organized.
What’s even better is that Trello can be integrated with Slack for free, so you don’t have to switch between tools to stay organized.
Or You Can Stay Organized with Evernote
While Slack may be the best service for team-based communication and is an excellent platform for collaboration, time-management, and file-sharing, sometimes it’s best to have a tool dedicated to digitally storing your notes and ideas. With Evernote, the tool exists as, essentially, your digital notebook, planner, and organizer with the ability to embed video, audio, images, and hyperlinks.
In fact, Slack and Evernote compliment each other greatly. The former being a great communication tool and the latter a fully-featured digital notebook that is great for sharing (or restricting) information through notebooks or through individual pages.
Manage Your Social Media with Buffer
Available to individual marketers for free or for teams at a tiered pricing point, Buffer allows you to create, draft, and schedule your posts for publishing at the appropriate time based on your publishing calendar.
Users can connect their social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, App.net and Google+— to one central dashboard and have the option to schedule their posts based on default time-slots that are based on the time of day where users on social media are the most active. The tool also comes integrated with Google Analytics so you can see how well your posts are engaging consumers
One caveat is that the free version allows only a maximum of 10 posts to be scheduled. And, it can only connect one account per social media network. However, if that doesn’t pose a problem for you, Buffer’s free version is a great tool for your team to use when first starting out, or if you have a low budget.
Make Your Posts Visually Appealing with Canva
Visual content for your brand’s marketing campaigns is a must when you want to stand out from your competition. However, employing a designer or soliciting work from a freelancer is costly. For businesses with a low budget, it’s hard to justify the cost. Fortunately, there are plenty of free services available for you to use—one of them being Canva.
Canva has a free library of fonts, illustrations, images, and templates for you to use to create aesthetically pleasing infographics, proposals, illustrations and more to further improve your brand’s marketing campaigns and, in turn, its presence online.
Use Feedly to Gain Insight on Your Competition
While your content marketing strategy may be on point, it’s always important to stay up-to-date with the latest news, ideas, and information that the top competitors in your industry may be sharing online. And let’s be honest, constantly coming up with unique and compelling strategies for your brand is hard, especially difficult when you’re out of the loop.
Ditch the tabs on your browser, because with Feedly, you can centralize and sort the information that you gather online with this news aggregating tool, available for free. The tool allows you obtain valuable insights from default lists aggregated by Feedly’s team, or you can create your own based on specific topics and top brand’s that you would want to glean information from.