Knowing how to work smarter and faster is going to put you on the fast track to success so having the right tools at your disposal is a major benefit.
The beauty of the 21st century is that there are a myriad of tools available to entrepreneurs, many of which you won’t even have to budget for. Bonus! Get your marketing and sales to pick up speed by widening your marketing arsenal with the below list of online, content and general marketing tools.
Online Marketing Tools
There are very few businesses that don’t see the opportunity in having an online presence for their business and with the wide variety of marketing tools available to help you implement your strategy it’s easier than ever to spread your branding message online.
Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
Here are some online marketing tools that you might find useful:
- Hootsuite. If you have social media accounts then this tool will help you save time by managing your daily, weekly and monthly posts all in one place. Create new posts for any of your social media pages, respond to questions from followers and track when your brand is mentioned. Run reports on your accounts to see which posts are working and what you should rather stop talking about on your platforms. This tool is free but the paid version does offer more advanced options.
- Google Analytics. This is one of the best free tools available to track the success of your website. By inserting a few lines of code into the HTML of your site you will be able to see who is visiting your site, what content they are reading or products they are interested in and how much time they are spending on your site. Google will also know that they can track and index your website in order to add it to search engine results. This online program can be used free of charge and could be the most valuable online tool that you can invest in.
- ClicktoTweet. Make it super simple for your website visitors to share your content online. ClicktoTweet allows you to create shareable posts within your website copy that users can simple click on to share it with their Twitter followers. You can use this tool on your website or you can download a WordPress plugin.
- Google Adwords. This is a paid for tool that will not only help you boost your website traffic stats but your sales too. Ever wondered where the adverts at the top and to the right of your search engine results come from? Well that would be Google Adwords. Basically brands can bid on keywords that they would like to both affiliate with their business and show up in search results for and then Google displays them to potential customers depending on what the business bid as well as the competition around that keyword.
- Unbounce. So your website is up and running but you just aren’t seeing the results and the sales aren’t rushing in as expected. This has happened to countless of online businesses and most only find out too late that it was their website’s landing page that was causing the loss of sales. Unbounce is a tool that allows you to setup different versions of your website’s landing page to see what works.]
- Tweroid. If social media is an important part of your strategy then knowing when your followers are online will make it that more effective. This online marketing tool will tell you exactly when your followers are online so that you can post your best content at the right time.
- Marketing Grader. Want to find out how you are doing with your online marketing? Marketing Grader will do just that. Type in your website address to get a full report on your blogging, social media, SEO, mobile and lead generation efforts so that you know what you need to improve on.
- WordPress. This online website development platform has become on the easiest ways to build your own website. There are tons of free templates for you to use and it’s simple to setup. If development isn’t one of your strong points then you might want to get some extra help, especially if you want to pay for a more advanced theme.
- Kuler. If design is not your forte then Kuler is a great tool to use to decide on the colours to use on your website. All colours have different meanings and create certain emotions so make sure that your online marketing is creating the right impression.
- Crowdbooster. Looking to increase your Facebook page likes? Crowdbooster is the ideal tool for this. This marketing tool will analyse your posts to provide you with the best times to post content on your page as well as what content works best according to the types of followers you have.
- Rafflecopter. Running competitions on your social media pages is no longer the only option available to you. This tool allows you to create an embed a giveaway anywhere on your website.
Content Marketing Tools
Many marketers have come to realise the benefits of incorporating content marketing into their overall strategy. Customers are drawn to brands that have something extra to offer them and providing interesting and relevant content is a sure fire way to engage with your users and get them coming back to your website.
Below are some hot content marketing tools that can assist you in creating a valuable experience for your readers.
- Trend Spotter. This tool assists organisations in spotting trends and topics that they can capitalise on way before they are being talked about. You can take advantage of their trial version first to see if it’s a tool you want to invest in on a monthly basis.
- HubSpot Stock Images. Jazz up your online content with this offer of 160 free business stock images. Simply fill in a short form to gain access to royalty free images for your marketing material. Some other sites that you can use for free stock images are freerange, stock.xchng and Wikimedia Commons.
- Haiku Deck. This content marketing tool gives you the chance to go beyond PowerPoint and create killer presentations. Haiku gives you the option to use their web platform or download their iPad app.
- Infogram. The way users engage with content is changing and visual elements are becoming very important making a tool such as Infogram so useful. This content marketing tool is free and allows you to create vibrant infographics and charts to use on your site or in your marketing material.
- PressBooks. This online platform offers a simple and effective solution to creating ebooks for your business. Choose from a variety of customisable templates and export it to your PC. You can even use one of their partners to distribute the ebook for you.
- Free Content Calendar Template. A good content strategy requires planning so having an editorial calendar will ensure that you always have fresh and exciting content on your website. Download a free calendar template by Jamie Griffiths of Manifesto here.
- Meme Generator. Meme’s have taken over a large part of the online space and people love them so why not get in on the action. This content marketing tool allows you to add a fun twist to your content by creating your very own memes for free.
General Marketing Tools
When it comes to marketing you should never stop searching for new opportunities to stand out as a brand. It’s when you stop being innovative and growing that your business and especially sales slows down.
Give your customers a reason to keep coming back and make them proud to be associated with your brands. The below tools can help you along the way:
- Evernote. Had a light bulb moment or saw something that you could use in your own business? Jot it down before you forget! By downloading the Evernote app you can write down and find your notes quickly and easily. There are free and paid for versions of this app.
- Free Marketing Plan Template. Get your ducks in a row and know exactly how you are going to achieve your marketing and sales goals. Download Entrepreneur’s free marketing plan template to gain insights into your market, decide on your goals and develop an effective marketing strategy. Click Here.
- LogoMaker. Choose from thousands of icons and design a logo that’s unique to your business. The low resolution versions of your logo are free but you will need to pay for the high resolution files. A logo is critical as a business so get it done at the start.
- Target Market Worksheet. Build a demographic, geographic and psychographic picture of your target market by answering the questions in this worksheet. Click Here.
- Mail Chimp. Personalise messages to your customers by creating an email marketing campaign and Mail Chimp is one of the easiest platforms to use for this. Their Entrepreneur plan allows you to send up to 12 000 emails to 2 000 subscribers without having to pay anything for it. Their templates are eye-catching and responsive so your mobile users won’t feel left out.
- MindNode. A great brainstorming session can last hours but can generate some profitable ideas so it’s important to make notes of as much as possible. MindNode maps out your ideas from start to finish and allows you to store your session for reference later on.
- blogtalkradio. Ever wanted your own radio station? Well here’s your chance. When you sign up on the blogtalkradio site, all you need is a phone and a browser to get chatting with your listeners. There’s also the option of taking it up a notch with their paid packages.
- SurveyMonkey. Get the answers to important research questions by using this popular marketing tool. Choose a template to build a survey that’s unique to your business. Distribute the link to your marketing list, get your answers and take action accordingly. Simple as that.
How to Use Marketing Tools in Your Strategy
Once you have completed your marketing plan and strategy you’re going to have a good idea of where your brand is going and what you need to do to get it there.
The marketing tools that you decide to use should fit in with the implementation of your strategy and the goals that you have set out for your business. The great thing about knowing where to turn for marketing tools is that if something isn’t working you can change it and take a new direction.
The most important thing to keep in mind however is that your strategy is what’s going to make or break your business, not the tools that you use, so try not to place too much emphasis on having a tool for everything. They are only there to assist you and make the process a little easier.
Your 3 Big Marketing Plays For 2018
Consumers want to know who you are. Enter content marketing.
I’m a firm believer in content marketing. It’s a long play, but the results speak for themselves if you invest and keep plugging away.
Businesses that have invested in content marketing in recent years are reporting dividends from those investments. For example, more than 60% of B2B marketers reported more effective content marketing strategies than a year ago, showing that constant flow and activity within content marketing will increase ROI.
Factors contributing to that success include better quality content, strategy development, more time spent on content marketing, and better targeting in content distribution.
To maintain this growth, marketers need to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of content marketing.
Here are my three big marketing plays for 2018.
1. Great content is expert-driven
Content marketing is moving beyond blog ideas and articles. There is a move towards a trend in which ideas are constantly improved upon, customised for different audiences, and adapted to new formats consumers are using.
Just hiring writers won’t cut it anymore. The content team will need to grow and adapt for the next year and should include people who are talented in:
- Video production and editing (think TV commercials tailored for Facebook)
- Graphic design, illustration, and editing (think infographics, animation and ebooks)
- Audio editing and production (audio articles and podcasts)
- Content distribution and promotion (Where to place it and how to promote it).
So, invest in your content team, consider outsourcing to specialist agencies and provide constant quality content for your customer base.
2. Influencer marketing keeps yielding results
In 2018 it’s not about whether you include influencer marketing in your marketing mix, but the percentage of your marketing budget you put towards it.
- 70% of millennials trust influencer and peer opinions over traditional celebrities
- 51% of marketers say video produces the best ROI
- 86% of women turn to social networks before purchasing
- 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on a social media reference.
If you are in a niche sector, working with micro influencers who have a smaller but higher engagement rate than traditional celebrities might work well for your brand. The key to influencer marketing is someone who is trusted and respected by your target audience.
3. Live video is exploding
Marketers and brands are jumping on the train to embrace live video content. Facebook video sees an average of 135% more organic reach than images. The engagement goes through the roof for live video. According to Facebook, users spent three times more time watching live videos than a video that’s no longer live. They also comment ten times more during live videos.
If that doesn’t convince you that you need to adopt live video for 2018, this may:
- 80% of social media users aged 18 to 35 said they would rather tune into a live video than read a blog post.
- 82% of those users were more interested in watching live video from a brand than reading social media posts.
- Start working with live video now — before your competitors do — to engage your audience.
IN YOUR TOOLKIT
Create engaging content
Here are three tools you can use to easily make all kinds of interactive content for your marketing campaigns.
Apester is a tool that allows you to easily create polls, surveys, personality tests, video quizzes, and a whole lot more to engage with your audience. Embed your creations into your regular blog content to create a truly interactive experience.
Go to: apester.com
Engageform is a super intuitive tool to create quizzes, surveys, and polls. The platform offers an impressive array of visual customisation options to make your content really stand out.
You can also easily embed and share your quiz, survey, or poll on your website or social media. Once people start interacting, you’ll get detailed reports of audience feedback, stats, and lead information.
Go to: 4screens.net/engageform/
Video is probably the most powerful content type marketers can use. But use a tool like Vizia, and you can take it to the next level. Vizia helps you create more engaging videos by adding questions and quizzes to collect feedback while people watch.
The tool makes it easy to quickly add multiple choice questions, polls, and short answer questions into your videos. Vizia videos integrate everywhere, including blogging platforms, e-commerce stores, and site builders. And the best part? It’s 100% free.
Go to: vizia.co
How Laughter Can Be Your Gateway To New Business
If you want to make sales, you need to connect with your clients. This is the secret sauce that great marketing gets right, and it has nothing to do with how big (or small) your budget is.
Like most kids, in my final year of high school I had to make a decision about my future; make a call about my career path. My head proclaimed: ‘Law!’ My guts rebelled: ‘Acting, yeah!’
My folks shrieked: ‘Acting? Do you intend on having a mortgage in your own name in your lifetime? You’ll never be able to afford a medical aid.’ Aside, but purposefully audible: ‘He’s never going to move out of home. Is he?’
So, I made a compromise. I studied a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in marketing communication and when I completed that formality, I chose ‘acting, yeah!’
Google: ‘Acting school Los Angeles’.
Result: TVI Actor’s Studio just outside Hollywood, paid my deposit, packed a large, hard-coated Delsey suitcase and moved to The Valley for six months, to ensure that Future Mike couldn’t resent the decisions made by Past Mike.
Those six months comprised: Drinking sake and barbecuing with Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz while he orchestrated acoustic magic on his guitar; eating home-made chocolate chip cookies baked by the sweet hands of Teri Hatcher when Desperate Housewives was the most popular TV series on the planet; smashing Grey Goose on the rocks during road trips to Vegas, ululating: ‘The Goose is looooooooose’, with my housemate Chris; ordering Animal Style Double Doubles from In-N-Out Burger but, most importantly, falling in love with the natural narcotic of stand-up comedy.
What. A. Rush. Pit of your stomach sickness, churning from line delivery, converting into convulsions of laughter, or the agony of the opposite side of the spectrum — the silent onstage assassination. Hopefully it’s the former.
Connecting with your clients
Stand-up and marketing are inextricably linked. This premise is how I live my career.
Every meeting is an opportunity to leverage humour in order to make an impact. Laughter is my gateway drug to new business. Also, the road to branded content creation is paved and then signposted in the fork of either ‘Emotion’ or ‘Humour’.
A decently written story — TV or YouTube commercial — with a quality DOP at the helm, accompanied by an orchestral score, can elevate a mediocre concept to Cannes Bronze status. The line between funny and farcical, however, is so fine.
Consider a comedian standing on stage at a club, squinting out into the blinding lights and judgemental faces of a multi-demographic audience, about to open his mouth and croak on stage for the very first time.
This also happens to be an analogy for the scenario facing the rookie social media community manager before he posts a hashtag-TBT, hashtag-blessed, hashtag-yawn piece of unoriginal content from a calendar, signed off by a marketing manager who doesn’t think their target market is on Twitter because they ‘definitely aren’t’.
Judy Carter, author of The Comedy Bible, simplifies the writing of comedic material into two components:
It sounds too simplistic. It isn’t. We like to complicate things in the world and business, in particular, to make us seem more impressive, smarter, to elevate ourselves. It’s about being a big dick, or as someone far more eloquent than I described it — Ego. **Hat tip to Freud.**
Comedy and communication
Back to comedy and communication. In both settings — whether you are looking to connect with an audience in a comedy club environment or engage with a target market in your next advertising campaign — it is imperative that you determine the key insight, truth or premise of your material.
When I started doing stand-up in US venues, I would open on the topic of accents, as my accent was my obvious USP or differentiator when communicating to an American audience.
‘Hi. My name is Mike and I’m from South Africa. That’s why I have an accent. And, what’s weird about accents is chicks LOVE accents’ — truth (premise). Regardless of the background of my audience — age, sex, location, creed, or affluence — they identify with the statement that I have an accent and consciously or subconsciously they agree with my words or copy (if we are referring to a campaign).
The second part pertains to the acting-out of the funny; the crafting of the humour. This requires a slick delivery and commitment to the idea in order to generate audience laughter.
So, we have the premise, then we transition — immediately — into the act-out to connect the dots between truth and funny within the audience members’ minds. Comedy is dependent on what you first tell, then show your audience, and eventually how your performance becomes a catalyst for their own imagination to carry the chuckle to its limits. When we package these elements together, the execution becomes:
- Premise: ‘Hi my name is Mike and I’m from South Africa. That’s why I have an accent. What’s weird about accents is chicks LOVE accents.’
- Premise part two: ‘You can be Shrek, but if you’re packing an accent, you’re getting some ass!’
Act-out. Left hand behind head. Pelvic thrusts while speaking seductively into the microphone with a Scottish accent á la Shrek, simulating a movement synonymous with making sexy time: ‘Oooooh, that’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do.’
Finding a connection
There are few things more powerful in this world than words that disrupt the audience thought process. Donkey-ass puns, turning Shrek’s line of affirmation for Donkey — from its intended feature film usage — on its head, by making it smartly sexual; generating mass hysteria from a group of previously disconnected individuals, now connected through the universal language of laughter.
The best advertising in the world does exactly this. It takes an insight (premise) that connects with you as an individual, forces you to nod your head in agreement, and then leverages a powerfully constructed set of copy lines or imagery to emotionally move you.
Laughter, goosebumps, or the development of a lump in your throat. Effective communication is something that facilitates catching feelings. Whether you are on stage delivering lines, or at your keyboard posting snaps, tweets or status updates, every character that comprises a word of each phrase needs to be a purposeful paragraph composition — not just a tick box on a to do list of monthly KPIs.
We will delve into real experiences throughout this collection of personal anecdotes, because nothing doth a bigger dick make than an ‘expert’ who has all of the theory and none of the practice.
This article is an excerpt from The Best Dick: A Candid Account of Building a $1 million business by Mike Sharman.
In this his debut business book, The Best Dick, Mike Sharman invites you to share in the hustle. From the enthusiastic, entrepreneurial beginnings of a bootstrapped start-up founder — a relatively inexperienced 26-year old — to a seasoned, professional storyteller, who has built a boutique social media advertising agency that has made more brands go viral, globally, than any other studio in Africa.
Find it at all good book stores for R250.
Get your copy today
Email Tracey McDonald at email@example.com and quote ‘Entrepreneur’ to buy your copy for R200 plus free shipping.
How Content Marketing Adds Real Value To Your Customers’ Lives
If you’re marketing on a budget, content marketing is a great way to reach your audience, add real value and gain brand traction – without breaking the bank.
Content marketing is a relatively new type of marketing that most businesses are still trying to get their heads around. Unlike traditional media advertising, which interrupts customers to get noticed, content marketing provides content that customers want in exchange for permission to market a product or service.
There’s a saying, fish where the fish are. Marketing is the same. You need your message to appear where your audience’s attention lies. I don’t believe billboards or even TV adverts hold consumer attention anymore. People aren’t looking at billboards as they drive past; most aren’t even looking at the road, they’re so busy staring at their mobile device or listening to a podcast.
The traditional advertising model creates ad content that interrupts consumers. Billboards, TV commercials and radio advertisements momentarily disrupt what you actually want to be doing — watching your favourite TV show or listening to a song or chat show.
These ads don’t provide any real value to the customer and they don’t offer an immediate reason to even be viewed or engaged with. Instead, they rely on good placement, clever wording and brilliant creativity to capture your attention for a brief period of time.
The rise of content marketing
In response to these problems and restrictions, content marketing is on the rise. As a marketing alternative, it’s not only more cost effective, but it doesn’t aim to interrupt your customer. Instead, it aims to add real value to their lives and businesses by plugging directly into their interests, problems and challenges.
So how does content marketing work? Companies and marketers create content in the form of blog posts, podcast recordings, downloadable guides and infographics, video content and articles that don’t push products, but offer interesting advice, tips and opinions.
The value to consumers is provided in two ways: As educational content and as entertainment content. In both cases, access to this content is free, heightening its value.
Get the most out of content marketing
Here are three ways to get the most out of your content marketing efforts:
- Provide content that your customers want. Don’t make the mistake of writing your blog posts about your business. Lesson number one is that people don’t care about your business. Provide valuable content that customers want and need in exchange for their attention. This content can be educational or entertaining. It can be a ‘How to Guide’, an in-depth stats-driven article or an entertaining video. Just make sure it’s about them, and not you.
- Focus on content for the customer’s benefit and only occasionally promote or push your product. This is the rule most brands and companies struggle to understand. If you’re going to provide value to your customers, you need to mostly write content for the customer’s benefit and only occasionally promote your products within the content. People are interested in articles and posts that benefit them, not ad posts touting how awesome your products are. Give your customers content that they want, and nine times out of ten you’ll be rewarded with engaged and targeted audiences.
- Write cornerstone content. Cornerstone content is content that can be easily found by your ideal customers. It’s content that provides incredible value to customers over a long period of time. How-To Guides, resources, 101 content and instructional videos all fall into this category. It should be content that customers can refer back to, and which has a long lifespan. This also immediately increases the ROI of your content production, as you only need to create the content once, but it will continue to bring returns.
Bringing it all together
As you make your final marketing push for the year and gear up for next year, make sure content marketing forms a vital part of your strategy. Learn to write engaging blog posts, invest in a podcast setup and push video content. No one is expecting your content to be perfect — you are the expert in your area, and have great advice to share. That’s what will keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
Just remember that this is a long play. Success won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build momentum — but over time, you will notice increased traffic, more leads and more sales.
- Do you know what your clients are interested in, concerned with or challenged by?
- Are you offering advice, tips or opinions that tap into these areas?
- Does your content mostly focus on your clients and not you?
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