Want to know the truth? Having a great product or service complete with all the bells and whistles isn’t enough to compete with the millions of other offerings available today. It’s simple: consumers need to know that your product or service exists in order to purchase it. Many businesses still overlook marketing, even though it should be an important component of every business plan. The main reason? The decision makers feel that marketing is very expensive, which is a common misconception among companies. There are numerous inexpensive strategies and avenues that exist—social media is one of them. You can easily spend a few dollars a week advertising directly to your target market on various social media platforms. The keys to being successful at marketing on social media are to create content that communicates a powerful offer to your audience, and to maintain an active presence on all platforms you choose to use. I have compiled a list of some of my favourite marketing tools that can help you get started:
HootSuite is a social media management tool designed to help you track and manage your various social media accounts. HootSuite allows you to easily monitor multiple social media streams in one place. You can schedule updates across all platforms in a matter of seconds. I sometimes schedule posts a week in advance, which puts hours back into my workweek! With HootSuite you can create custom, professional reports—complete with templates, logos and more —allowing you to monitor the success of your social media efforts. HootSuite has various plans available for different levels of use; small businesses can receive a 30 day free trial, and then expect to pay only $10 per month!
Twellow is an online directory for Twitter users—think of the Yellow Pages. You can easily browse categories or complete a simple search to find users to follow and engage with that are in your target market and vice versa; if you’re listed on Twellow, consumers who are interested in your products can find and follow you. The website also allows you to list categories that describe your business and create an extended biography, making it even easier for others to find your Twitter account. With Twellow you can search for Twitter lists to subscribe to, allowing you to view Tweets about keywords that relate to your business/industry. Twellow is free to use and becoming a member takes seconds.
I’m sure everyone has heard of Photoshop, the photo editing software. Many individuals believe that only experienced graphic artists can use this application. Wrong. There are many free tutorials available on the web for individuals of all skill-levels—that’s exactly how I learned how to use Photoshop years ago. The application may seem daunting at first, but with frequent practice you’ll be able to produce beautiful content in no time at all! Not only is it great for creating social media posts, it’s an excellent tool to create other marketing materials, such as logos, brochures, business cards and more. Businesses can expect to pay around $30 per month per license, or you can opt to purchase Creative Cloud Complete for approximately $100 per month per license, which gives you access to Photoshop, Illustrator, 10 stock images per month and more.
If you just don’t have the time to learn how to use Photoshop or you don’t want to commit to purchasing a license, then PicMonkey is a great alternative for you. PicMonkey is a photo editor that is extremely easy to use. The best part? There’s no need to download software or install pesky updates. With PicMonkey you can edit photos, create collages, and add frames, text, overlays, and more. The website also has great tutorials for virtually every feature it offers. The editor is free to use, but to access more of its features and to disable advertisements from appearing on the webpage, you can upgrade to become a pro user for less than $5 per month.
Canva is one of my favourite tools to use! It’s an online design platform where you can create marketing materials for web and print. I especially enjoy using Canva to create professional looking infographics in minutes. Its drag-and-drop method is extremely easy to use and their “Design School”—which features a variety of tutorials—can give you inspiration for your designs. It features beautiful pre-made text overlays, as well as thousands of illustrations, icons, charts, and photos. Canva also has thousands of stock images you can use; simply pay $1 per image and you are granted the rights to the image for 24 hours. You can use Canva for free for personal use, but businesses can pay $12.95 per month to access “Canva for Work”—an advanced platform that allows you to change your designs to different dimensions in seconds, create customizable templates that you can save and reuse, and create folders to keep your designs organized.
Pixabay is a website that features over 444,000 stock images that are free for commercial use. The images featured on their site are free from copyright restrictions, or licensed under “creative commons public domain”—a fancy way of saying that you can use and distribute the images for personal and commercial use. The website is very clean and easy to navigate. Simply search using a keyword and your results will be displayed. The images range in size from small (640 x 425 pixels) to extra-large (3008 x 2000 pixels), allowing you to use a size that will work best for your designs.
SlideShare is a web-based hosting service that allows you to share presentations, PDFs and more. Simply upload your file and have it viewed by those who are seeking your product or service. The majority of SlideShare users are companies that sell to other businesses (business-to-business). In fact, SlideShare receives over 60 million unique visitors per month! Using tags (keywords about your uploaded content) will allow you to easily reach your target market. You can get really creative with the content you host on SlideShare—how-to-videos, industry-related information, etcetera. You can even use some of the tools I mentioned earlier to create your content! Best of all? SlideShare is free to use.
What other tools would you add to this list? Add them as a comment below!