Marketing is a critical component to growing your business, no matter what size your company is.  As a small business, finding the right tools to manage your marketing effective can make a big difference in how well your marketing attracts prospective clients. Here are a few great marketing programs, resources, and tools to manage your small business marketing.

Tools for Creating a Marketing Plan

When you start a business, you need a business plan.  Within that plan, there are certain aspects of marketing covered, but when you’re ready to really focus on marketing, it’s time for a small business marketing plan. Most marketing plans cover the basic aspects of target audience, ideal client, unique value proposition, competitors, etc., you can likely use a template document, or you can use software programs that can help you build more comprehensive plans.  Here’s a few:

  • MPlans – this is a great little site because it provides examples of marketing plans by industry. You still have to basically type in all the information yourself, but these provide some good guidelines on what a plan for your industry might look like.
  • Marketing and Sales Pro – this is a decent software because it allows you to make your marketing plan as simple or comprehensive as you’d like. It guides you through the process and provides examples to better understand what that section of the plan is supposed to illustrate.

Tools for Managing Your Social Media

If social media marketing is part of your marketing efforts, you’ll save a lot of time by using one of the many tools out there that will help you manage your online presence:

  • Hootsuite – the basic Hootsuite program is free, but you can upgrade to get more features. This dashboard allows you to manage your social messaging across several social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn and even YouTube. You can schedule, add images, and more. A great all-in-one tool to manage your social media.
  • LikeableHub –  they have a free version or paid options, so check out the chart to see which version is right for you. It’s a comprehensive social solution for SMBs.
  • MavSocial – this program helps manage your social media content. It’s great if you have multiple people working on content for your social channels by streamlining the approval process.

Tools for Managing Video

There are lots of great resources on how small businesses can use video for their marketing efforts. If you’re looking at video, here’s three to check out:

  • YouTube – as with most other tools, there’s a paid version and a free version. You can upload videos and music, create libraries, and follow other companies and people for inspiration. This global video-sharing website was bought by Google in 2006. It’s easy to use and well-known by most video watching people, including your prospects.
  • Vimeo – not nearly as well-known as YouTube, this video-sharing site is catching on fast and gaining users every day. Curious about the pros and cons of YouTube vs. Vimeo? Here’s a great little article comparing YouTube to Vimeo.
  • Slideshare – OK, not really a video site, more for sharing presentations but still, check it out. It offers a feature where you can collect leads by getting alerted when someone downloads your PowerPoint presentation.

Resources for Using Images

Do you have a visual product as part of your business offerings?  There are a few great places to get those images posted and drive traffic to your website:

  • Instagram – Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing service that allows users to take pictures and videos and share them on the app or through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. It acts like a social network and is a must-use if you offer products or anything that has a visual aspect to it.
  • Pinterest – Pinterest allows users to visually share images by posting, also known as “pinning” images or videos to their own or others’ boards. Once considered for end users only, businesses are using this social network to illustrate their businesses visually to the world.

Here’s a quick list of other marketing tools and resources out there, most of them free or at little cost per month:

Press releases – PR Web

Content Marketing Calendar – Vertical Measures

Email marketing – Constant Contact or MailChimp

Website monitoring – Google Analytics

Be sure to take advantage of the many free or inexpensive tools out there to manage your small business marketing.

Patty Hughes
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