Tweets, emails, Facebook, custom graphics, online ads, viral videos, web design — it all sounds good when you draft a marketing plan. But when it comes time to put the plan into action, you realize something:
You have absolutely no idea how to manage all of this stuff.
You’re a small business, after all. You don’t have an expensive marketing department waiting to make your wish a reality.
What you do have, however, are the abundant resources of the Information Age. Here are a few of our favorites for small businesses that want to market like pros:
#1: Buffer for Social Media Management
Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter—a few years ago, you haven’t even heard of all of these, and now you’re supposed to manage them all like an orchestra conductor?
It’s easier to use Buffer, link all of your relevant social media accounts to one place, and use one dashboard for everything from analytics to post scheduling.
#2: Canva for Better Custom Graphics
At some point, you’re going to need custom graphics—whether that means slapping a "under construction" sign on your web page or putting a header at the top of a unique proposal. But you have the budget of, well, a small business.
Canva might not make you a professional designer, but it will allow you to fake your way to graphic design until you can hire a pro. Extra credit if you try out Pixlr—a free digital image editor—as well.
#3: MailChimp for Email Marketing
Most businesses these days stay in touch with old customers with email. If you’re not doing the same, then you’re missing out on a large chunk of your repeat business.
MailChimp isn’t only about turning old leads into new customers, however. It’s a complete email management system that makes managing a huge list of subscribers as easy as consulting a dashboard.
#4: Sniply for Calls to Action
Not enough follower engagement on social media? Have lots of eyes on your site but not enough sales?
Snip.ly enhances your calls to action so that they’re easy to manage, easy to share, and always direct your potential customers to the right place.
#5: Rapportive for Knowing to Whom You’re Pitching
This tool is also a Google Chrome extension, which means that you can add it right now and instantly receive the benefits.
What does it do? As the name suggests, it helps you build rapport with potential customers by better understanding who they are and what they need—integral for building a great pitch.
#6: HighRise for Contact and Task Management
Marketing for small businesses is a constant hustle, which means you’re going to stack loads of tasks and contacts as you try to find your customers.
HighRise is CRM software that simplifies all of these tasks and contacts so they’re easier to manage, save, and organize. The days of the Rolodex are over.
#7: SpyFu for Competitor Research
"Know thyself" might be important philosophically, but in the world of small business marketing, “know thy competition” is even more important.
SpyFu gives you a run down on what the competition is doing so that you know which market segments to exploit—and which ones are underserved.
#8: UserTesting to Improve Your Web Presence
Marketing isn’t only about what happens to get people to your website—it’s also about what happens once customers are there. UserTesting gives you the resources to find customer insights you didn’t know about before, pointing out any blind spots along the way.
If you’re a large business, much of this testing can be done in-house. But as a small business, UserTesting is an affordable way to do some sophisticated testing on your marketing efforts.
#9: HubSpot for Company Growth
Marketing, sales, CRM, growth—there are a lot of big words associated with HubSpot, and for good reason: it does a lot of big things even for small businesses.
Their "all-in-one marketing software" is a great one-stop tool for anyone who wants a website, wants to drive customers there, but has no idea where to start.
#10: BidSketch for Creating Sophisticated Proposals
Maybe your small business isn’t about driving the masses to your site. Maybe it’s a consultancy that thrives on large contracts.
If that’s the case, then you know the importance of a proper proposal. BidSketch is a way for you to build sophisticated, elegant proposals that look like they took hours and hours of design. Little do your potential customers know, the design was the easy part.
#11: Google Business for Looking Credible
The phone book is essentially dead; Google rules the day. That means you’ll want to look like a respectable business anytime someone decides to Google you.
Google wants to connect relevant businesses to its curious user base, which means they encourage small businesses like yours to fill out its information, announce its hours, and list all of its contact numbers. It’s a small step toward legitimacy—but an important one.
#12: Portent’s Content Title Generator for New Ideas
If you blog, then you’re eventually going to need new ideas. The content generator at Portent might not always be appropriate for your niche, but we’re willing to bet that typing in a relevant keyword and clicking the arrow will at least expand your concept of what’s next in line for your blog.
#13: Keyword.io for Keyword Research
What’s your aim? It’s a central question, and it usually begins online these days with simple keyword research. If you plan on doing any on-site optimizing, a handy keyword tool will be your best friend.
Keyword.io separates keywords by Google, YouTube, and even Amazon to help you make sales no matter what your chosen platform.
#14: Hotjar for On-Site Analytics
Where do customers go when they visit your site? Where are their eyes drawn? What are they most interested in finding out? The heatmaps, recordings, and conversion funnels at Hotjar show you exactly what’s going on at your site—and how to fix it.