Traditionally small and medium businesses rely on word of mouth and some printed flyers to promote their business. When I researched, I found out that 1 in every 10 small businesses does not invest in any form of marketing, and 1 in every 5 small businesses does not utilize digital marketing for growing their business (Source). This is not good news as even shoppers rely on reviews before purchasing from brick & mortar stores and 74% of customers rely on social media for guiding their purchase decisions.
I believe no small and medium business should ignore marketing in today's business environment and doing it smartly can bring in huge rewards for them. Well, SMB marketing has its pros and cons and you can hear this first hand if you ask any SMB owner. While pros include lesser bureaucracy leading to faster decisions, a loyal customer base for supporting their efforts, cons include shoestring budgets, lack of tools, and time.
So I want to introduce every SMB owner to some "free" or "almost free" marketing tools which they can leverage for promoting their business and grow. So here are the top 10 tools which business owners can adopt easily to save time and be the "marketer" for their venture:
Every SMB owner may not have the liberty of hiring a graphic designer for their creative works. Most of the business owners depend on small marketing agencies and freelancers found on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork to get their job done. The issue with these arrangements includes higher costs, delays in delivery, and erratic use of the creatives.
For SMB owners to run a smooth content marketing program, they need to have a more dependable system in place. Enter Canva. Canva is a DIY graphic designing tool that will empower every SMB owner with design skills. With built-in templates across categories, this tool can help every SMB owner to design their collaterals. It can help you create your daily social media posts, infographics, social media videos, company presentations, and more.
With Canva, you can design all your social media content and other creatives using your smartphone via their mobile apps. It is available both for iOS and Android.
P.S: They also have a Pro version which will open up more features like additional templates, a wider range of stock images, etc.
Crello is another tool like Canva which can help you design your creatives via your phone. This tool is currently free for Android users and has a good collection of templates for its users. Now you can easily create your social media graphics, brochures, and flyers on the go using this tool. This tool can eliminate every business owner's dependency on agencies and other freelancers for design support.
One of the best categories of designs on Crello is social media videos. The collection of social media videos will blow your mind and now you can easily use them for kicking off your video marketing.
One of the biggest challenges faced by small & medium business owners face is executing a solid content marketing plan. I have seen lots of SMB owners kicking off their blogging strategy and snoozing off after 3-4 posts on their blog. The same happens with social media channels. You will be surprised to see the amount of SMB social media channels with the last post being posted a year ago or so. This is not beneficial for these businesses and their owners.
A couple of ways SMB owners can tackle this challenge are content repurposing or content curation. Content repurposing helps business owners to use their existing pieces of content and transform them into different formats for different audiences. For example, a blog post can be made into an infographic or a video so that the reach of the same content can be boosted.
My next tool will help you do the same. Lumen5 helps you create videos easily using a link or via a simple copy-paste of the content. So now you can use your existing blog posts and create aesthetic videos with catchy music for your social media videos. This tool also helps in creating all sorts of marketing videos like YouTube intros, Instagram videos, LinkedIn videos, and more.
P.S: Their free plan gives you 5 videos per month with their watermark and that should help you kick off your video marketing.
As a business owner, you might have to don multiple roles like sales, marketing, or even customer service. So having the right tool by your side can be a boon for handling all the duties as an owner. Sometimes you might have to give a sales demo to your prospects, help your customer with the usage of the product, or troubleshoot some challenges with your team.
Enter Loom. Loom is a video tool that can help you with most of these challenges for your business. You can use this tool to record high-quality videos for giving demos to your prospects, handling common customer queries, and troubleshooting issues that pop up as well.
P.S: Their free version is packed with enough features for you to take it for a spin and utilize it for your marketing.
One of the biggest challenge every SMB owner face is managing their social media channels amid their busy schedule. Managing multiple social media channels, scheduling posts for these channels, managing the conversations, and measuring the important metrics can be overwhelming for business owners.
Don't worry, I want to introduce Crowdfire to you. With this tool and its free plan, you can manage up to 10 social media channels easily. The free version allows you to schedule 10 posts for each social channel at a time. And one of the best features of this tool is the content curation capabilities. You can always curate the ideal content for your audience and keep your social media content pipeline full.
When it comes to content marketing efforts, the biggest challenge faced by the SMB owners is maintaining a steady flow of content. Be it blog posts, or social media content, many entrepreneurs give up on this after trying for some time. The best solution for tackling this challenge for SMB owners is Content Curation.
What is Content Curation? Content curation is the process of collecting, annotating, and disseminating useful content for an audience who has a similar interest. Content curation can help SMB owners to keep their content calendar filled and keep their audience engaged via the sharing of relevant content. Having said that, it is not an easy task to accomplish for SMB owners who wear multiple hats while running their show.
Enter Feedly. This tool can be your trusted partner for all your content curation needs. A super easy to use tool with a wide variety of categories and sources at your disposal. You can install their mobile apps and ensure that your content pipeline never goes dry and is filled with all the useful content for your audience.
Did you know? Almost 36% of small businesses do not have a website for their customers. With every consumer relying on online reviews and content, it is almost a sin for a small and medium business to function without a website. But we cannot blame these SMB owners also as most of them find it cumbersome to build and manage a business website.
Many business owners rely on developers or freelancers who charge exorbitantly due to their lack of coding knowledge. Some of them outsource this work due to the time constraints they face due to their hectic schedule. This is a tricky situation as this creates a dependency on the developer or the freelancer all the time.
Enter Wix. Wix is a user-friendly website builder that every SMB owner can make use of for building their business website. It comes with a good collection of templates that you can use based on your industry. It also brings features like online store, website chat, blog, newsletter subscription, and email marketing for your business.
P.S: While their free version might not allow you to connect your domain, their cheapest plan costs around $5 for a year.
Every brand these days have adopted video as part of their content strategy. This trend has resulted in every social platform to incorporate live streaming as part of their platform. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even YouTube has this feature in-built now. It is one of the best tactics every SMB owner can also adopt for promoting their business.
However, managing your live streams is not an easy task, and here is a tool that can make that easy for you - Streamyard. This tool can help you schedule, go live, and download the videos of your live streams easily. Their free version allows you to schedule your live streams on one channel. If you want to multistream, you need to upgrade your plan.
P.S: This tool also allows you to run live streams with multiple guests on and your branding including logo, brand colors, etc.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is one of the areas where SMB owners struggle and spend a ton of money hiring consultants and agencies. Every business owner now understands the importance of ranking well on search engines like Google and Bing for the right keywords and so on. But SEO is still that one marketing tactic that is overwhelming for business owners.
One of the most important steps in SEO is keyword research. Identifying the right keyword and understanding their search volumes is critical in incorporating the same into your SEO plan. I would like to introduce Ubersuggest, a tool developed by Neil Patel, one of the leading marketers around.
This tool can help you identify the right keywords, their search volumes, and more based on geographies. This tool also throws insights like keyword ideas and content ideas for the keywords of your interest. It also shows the webpages that are currently ranking for those keywords right now.
P.S: The free plan (logged in) of Ubersuggest is powerful enough for your keyword research and more. For more features, I recommend upgrading your plan.
With content marketing gaining tremendous importance in building a brand, it is difficult for small and medium business owners to stay away. Every business owner realizes the importance of good content to promote their brand and grow their business. Be it long-form blog posts or social media content or email content, every entrepreneur is relying on content to deliver their value proposition to their audience.
That's why Grammarly has gained a place in this article. This is one of the best writing assistants which every entrepreneur can fall back on. This is a free tool (with paid options with additional features) which can help you produce error-free and good written content. This allows you to set your preferred writing language and it corrects the grammatical and formatting errors as you write.
P.S: This article was edited in real-time using Grammarly.