marketing tools cartoon

1. Design - Canva.com

Crucial to any Creatives marketing efforts are materials which look great, after all we've got exacting standards and an eye for detail.  That said, we don't all have access to Photoshop and other professional design software.

However, tools such as Canva.com mean that their not necessary.  You can start using Canva straight away with a FREE account and get access to the ability to create great marketing elements.  

Why we love it:

It lets you create social media posts which are the perfect fit.  You can also create leaflets, flyers,  brochures, business cards and social media headers.  As well as the ability to upload your own images you can also pick from a vast volume of images which start at $0 to $1.

If you're lacking inspiration, Canva have a large number of templates that you can customise for yourself.

And if you thought it couldn't get better than that - brace yourself, they've also got a great app which syncs beautifully with the online version.  This means you can make you designs on the move.

With all these amazing features there is no reason for design to be a reason for you to procrastinate.

Other design tools worth checking out are: Snappa (https://snappa.io/), Piktochart (www.piktochart.com) and Pixlr (www.Pixlr.com)

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn Logo

Yip, that's right, LinkedIn.

Bet you didn't expect LinkedIn to be listed as a free marketing tool.  The thing is often as a creative startup you and your business are one of the same.  LinkedIn is a very underutilised resource.  Often one's LinkedIn Profile will rank long before their websites do.

When someone is considering if they should do business with an "unknown" name, they'll do their due diligence to find out a bit more about them.  A great starting point for this is the internet, and LinkedIn is often the first to appear.  It's a real lost opportunity to have a poorly constructed profile.

LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to easily capture publicly visible recommendations.  As a business tool, there are a number of groups where you can demonstrate your expertise and build a following.

Quick wins on LinkedIn:

Essentially this comes down to having a complete profile first and foremost.  It's worth investing a little time in doing this properly

  •  Add a great headshot.  Take the time to select a great photo as it's what people are most likely going to find when they search for you
  • Request "recommendations"
  • Add relevant videos and photographs 
  • Describe each of your roles and your business

3. Email Tools - MailChimp

Mailchimp logo with monkey

Email marketing is a brilliant way to build an audience and increase sales.  Email marketing done right, needs a tool to enable you to deliver emails in bulk to large audiences.

Our favourite is MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com)​, it's highly intuitive to use and if you do happen to get stuck there are a huge raft of videos and articles to help you.  You can get started with Mailchimp with an email address.  

On the free plan, the MailChimp logo will appear at the bottom of every email that you send.  The free plan also does not enable you to created automated emails (for example an automatic welcome email for new subscribers.  However you can get access to these for as little as $12 a month, so it's very affordable.

​Other email marketing tools worth considering include AWeber (www.AWeber.com), ConstantContact (www.ConstantContact.com) and GetResponse (www.GetResponse.com)

4. Royalty Free Images - PixaBay

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​The temptation is to download images from the web, after all, Google has them in abundance.

WRONG!!!  

That's how startups get themselves into trouble.​

This approach can land you into a lot of trouble and be very costly.  Especially if you are using the images for commercial purposes.  If you currently have images on your website that aren't owned by you or "Royalty Free" take them down immediately.

But, don't dispair, there is no need to have a budget of £1,000's to be effective and get your idea off the ground.  There are a number a brilliant royalty free websites with a great selection of images to get you started.

Our favourite is Pixabay (www.Pixabay.com).  The images are of great quality and can be downloaded in different sizes.  You do not need an account to access the images, however, if you aren't logged in then they like to check that you aren't a robot.

It is worth having a few of these websites in mind, as sometimes you need the variety.

Other sites worth also checking out are: Pexels (www.pexels.com) , Raw Pixel (www.rawpixel.com), Free Images (www.freeimages.com).  Though many of the images on these sites are approved for commercial use, make sure you check the terms for each image before using them for commercial purposes.

Pexels

www.Pexels.com

Free Stock images you can use everywhere for both personal and commercial use.  

Raw Pixel Logo

Raw Pixel

www.rawpixel.com

Your home for inspirational design and beautiful images

free images logo

Free Images

www.freeimages.com

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​Note:

Often the images that you download from these sites are high resolution.  Whilst this is great for print marketing, you may find that for your website and other forms of digital marketing they take a long time to load.

Tools like Canva automatically compress these images if you save them as jepg's.  However, there are also dedicated image compression tools which allow you to make sure that these images don't crash your website.  Our favourite is Image Optimizer.

5. Finding a Professional Team

People  working around a table

Sometime the best tool to use is great people.

Let's face it, when we are honest with ourselves, we simply can't be the best at everything. As the saying goes "a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing".

As creatives, we are the worst for the "do it ALL ourselves" attitude.  Losing time and effort to create something which is mediocore at best.  Professional resources don't need to cost the earth.

There are great tools for finding brilliant expert talent at affordable rates.  Our favourites are Fiverr (www.fiverr.com) -  (where everything starts from just $5) and Upwork (www.upwork.com) where you can name your price or pay by the hour.

Use these services to find copywriters, social media experts, technical expertise or just someone to do a tonne of research for you.

If the thought of finding and managing freelance talent terrifies you (or you've given it a go before and it hasn't worked) - Listen to this great show I did on.

6. Social Media Distribution - Hootsuite and Post Planner

​Social Media can be a great free marketing platform.  Especially if you are able to build an active community of followers who spread your message.

That said, the very nature of social media is that it's social.  That means committing to regularly posting on multiple platforms.  That can quickly start to become overwhelming, in fact if you aren't careful you can find yourself loosing hours a day to social media.

That is, unless you look into some social media distribution tools.  These tools allow you to schedule posts and to post to multiple platforms from one location simultaneously.  There are quite a few out there many of which you can start using with no budget at all.

Our favourites are Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com), Buffer (www.buffer.com) and Post Planner (www.postplanner.com). In some respects, they are all very similar to each other.  All have free options and you'll need to evaluate them all for yourself

Buffer enables you to post into both Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, which is really handy if that is part of your strategy.  

Post Planner searches the web and gives you great ideas for content to post.  It also has a really helpful "recycle" function which is incredibly useful if you happen to have quite a bit of evergreen content.  Schedule it once and post planner re-posts regularly to keep resurfacing content.

Hootsuite good for posting on the go as it comes with an App.

7. Google Analytics

Google Analytics should be a basic starting point.  It's 100% free, and lets you know where the traffic to your website is coming from.

As exciting as that is, that's not the half of it.  Google Analytics, also allows you to understand the demographics of your website traffic.  Including their hobbies and other sites they visit.

Website traffic is great, however, if your messaging is attracting the wrong sort of person, that would be useful to know.  It would also be useful to know if there is a particular piece of content that your audience are more attracted to than others.

Google Analytics Snapshot

Google analytics on your website is a must.  As the saying goes "You can't manage, what you can't measure".​

​8. Printing - Instaprint & SoloPress, VistaPrint

With all of these digital mechanisms for marketing, it's easy to forget the traditional mechanisms which are also very effective.  Business cards, Banner stands or leaflets.

The cost of printing these items is now far more affordable than you'd think .  Our 3 favourites (all of which have been tested for quality) are InstaPrint (www.instaprint.co.uk), SoloPress (www.solopress.com) and VistaPrint (www.vistaprint.co.uk).

VistaPrint often have, insane deals for printing business cards, especially if you aren't in a rush.  Keep an eye out, a quite often you can pick up 250 business cards for the cost of shipping.

If you're looking for quick turn around, great quality and affordable prices both Instaprint and SoloPress are great options.  You can pick up a roller banner stand from £35, which is great if you do a lot of events.  They will normally be delivered within 3 days (in fact Instaprint promises to dispatch within 24hrs and Solopress can do next day delivery if ordered before 1pm)  as well for no additional cost.

​Gone are the days where the only way you could get a great deal on print was to plan it months in advance.

9. Buzz Sumo

buzzsumo logo

This a brilliant search tool that'll help you understand what content is currently ranking for your search terms.  It's free and easy to use.

Essentially Buzz Sumo (www.appbuzzsumo.com) it tracks how different pieces of content shared on all different social media networks are ranking.  On the free version it'll limit the number of search results that you can see, however you'll get lots of data to help you generate new ideas for content.

​10. Headline Analyzer

Got an idea for great content but keep getting stuck on a title?

This nifty tool (coschedule.com/headline-analyzer) helps you identify great headlines for your content.  It scores your headline out of 100 and let's you know how you can improve it.

No more blindly guessing, hoping you'll get inspiration for a great headline. Use this tool to add some science to process of creating a great headline.

11. SEO Site Checkup

​We love this website for a FREE, techie free check up on the overall Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) friendliness of your website.

It's incredibly simple to use - just drop your website URL in and start your analysis.  It's complete within minutes.  And the best bit - the report is in simple English.  Not only does it highlight what's wrong, it also tells you hot to fix it.

You can improve the SEO of your website in very little time with no need for expertise.  Check it out for yourself - www.seositecheckup.com

An extra bonus that we love, is that it'll give you an indication of the keywords which are most prevalent on your website.  

12. Website Heatmaps - SumoMe

​So, you manage to get people to your website - but what on earth are they doing when they get there?  That's where SumoMe comes in.

"Heat Maps" allow you to see where people click when they land on your website.  The reason we love SumoMe is because it's not just heat maps.  They've got a wonderful suite of tools for list building and tracking activity on your website.

Our favourite products in the SumoMe suite are:

Welcome Mat - This is essentially a large scroll down that takes over the whole screen when someone comes to your website.  Use it to offer a freebie in exchange for an email address, make sure it's something that people will find valuable.  It's possible to A/B test this functionality as well to see what sorts of give-aways your audience likes.

List Builder (Popups) - We are familiar with popups, so this is as it says on the tin.  Why we love the SumoMe pop-up functionality is cause it's easy to use and brand.  You can also play with the timings of your popups.  It's worth testing both pop-up and Welcome Mats to see which work best for your audience.

Content Analytics - This functionality gives you insight into how much of your page people are reading.  If your visitors aren't reading all your content it's useful to know. Perhaps, they aren't interested in the content.

HeatMaps - As mentioned above, heat maps let you know what people are clicking on your website.  You can track each page individually which is a really nifty feature.

​13. Knowem.com

If you thought that finding a name for your business, where the URL is available, was difficult.  Wait till you go to secure a social media handle across multiple platforms.  Many will settle for different handles for each platform.

That is of course unless they've discovered Knowem.com (www.knowem.com).  This amazing website can instantly check over 500 popular social networks, over 150 domain names and the entire USPTO Trademark Database to instantly secure your brand on the internet.

Yes, you heard right.

Essentially, this means you don't have to check each network separately.  Using this tool you can check them simultaneously to find a social media handle that can be consistent across all networks.

14. Yoast SEO Plugin

yaost logo

You've probably heard the term SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) bounded about.  It's essentially the things that you do with your website to help Google and the other search engines find and rank your content.

The more search engine optimised your website, the higher ranked you are for key terms that people will search for you with.  If you ever wondered why your website doesn't show up when you search for it on google, then it's probably because it's not well optimised.

It can all get rather complicated very quickly, in fact there is a whole industry built around this.

So, how do I get better rankings I hear you cry!

A great, non-technical partner in crime is a brilliant little plug-in called Yoast (www.yoast.com) .  Essentially it's a plugin for your WordPress website.  They have a free version and a premium version, the free version will be more than sufficient for a novice.

Once loaded to your website, the Yoast SEO Plugin enables you to gain a good indicator of how your content of a particular page or post will fair for a chosen keyword.  It will even give you pointers on how to improve it.

With no SEO expertise, the Yoast SEO Plugin, enables you to create better-optimised content on your website with very little additional effort,  the prompts also mean that you'll learn as you go.

​15. Grammarly

grammarly logo

​If spelling and grammar are not your strong suits this tool is for you.  We would go so far as to say that it's essential, written word is key.

Grammarly (www.app.grammarly.com) is essentially a proof-reading plug-in.  Unlike Microsofts built-in grammar tools, Grammarly has a far more sophisticated algorithm to detect errors Microsoft would over-look.  

Plus the Microsoft spell checker only works in Microsoft applications.  You can use Grammarly by uploading documents for review, using their chrome Plugin for all web applications or downloading the native app to your computer.

Once you've started using it, you'll wonder why you hadn't before.  The best bit is that you can start using it today for FREE.  If English wasn't your subject, it's an essential.​

BONUS:  CliClap

cliClap logo

Well the list was pretty much complete and then we stumbled across this new entrant to the market!

Sharing our own content is of course a great way to drive traffic and generate sales, however, content creation takes time, and sharing other great content we've found is also useful. The big challenge with this is whilst you grow your authority you are effectively sending people to other people's websites.

Big Problem, right?  

So initially we were going to take some time to test this before sharing it widely, but when the CEO of the company adds you on LinkedIn when you register, we thought why wait to share this great tool. So here's what he says about it:

ClipClap helps marketers generate more leads and grow their brand awareness by adding a personalized Call-To-Action to ANY content, even when sharing stuff from around the web (curated content).

Key Benefits:-
- Generate more leads by increasing traffic to your owned content
-Boost brand awereneess
- Increase ROI by driving more traffic to each piece of content you produce

The solution takes less than 5 minutes to setup, seamlessly intergrates with almost all web-based marketing platforms.

- Yonatan Snir (Co-Founder and CEO of CliClap)

Having registered ourselves and sent a few shares, we can confirm it is incredibly simple to use and pretty.  They've made it very easy for you to create a call to action in your own brand colours.

And they track - so you get to test which call-to-actions work most effectively for your target audience.  Now you can generate leads by sharing other people's content.

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Tools are great, but sometimes what's needed is a person to talks through to practically apply these.  Check out our next Collaborative Masterclass event where we bring you hands on tailored workshops delivered by experts