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.
Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget
Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.
As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.
First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.
For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.
3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter
Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)
1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns
It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.
2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly
(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.
3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe
Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.
Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.
Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.
Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.
Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template
Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:
Recommended Marketing Reads:
- Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Mega Guide to Online Marketing
- Marketing Toolbox for the Entrepreneur
- The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs
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