If a business wants to make money, it needs to first spend money. As often as entrepreneurs hear those words, though, it's impossible to spend money they don't have. Whether a business is just getting started or trying to scale to the next level, at least a small expense is necessary to get the word out and generate revenue.
In today's software-supported business world, the good news is that entrepreneurs can accomplish quite a bit with a limited amount of money. This is especially true of a business's marketing efforts, which can deplete a professional's time and budget. Here are a few tech tools that can help you stick to your budget while still building brand awareness.
Increasingly, small businesses are choosing loans to support their marketing efforts but for a new business, knowing where to turn to get those funds can be difficult. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a tool that matches small businesses with lenders who are approved by the SBA. Simply complete a questionnaire and wait to be matched with lenders who see that you meet their qualifications. Unfortunately, many startups find that lenders are hesitant to offer loans for marketing costs, so you may find that you need to expand your search or find an affordable way to manage your marketing campaign.
Social media can consume hours of your day. In an ideal situation, you would be able to pay an expert to manage your various profiles, but those costs add up. A budget-friendly solution is a free social media dashboard like HootSuite, which pulls multiple social media feeds into one place. The best feature for these tools, though, is the built-in ability to schedule posts. You can plan an entire media campaign weeks in advance, creating and scheduling posts for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and more. You'll no longer have to worry about your social media presence going dormant but best of all, you'll be able to set posts to deploy at optimum viewing times rather than relying on those times when you happen to be available to post.
Portent's Content Idea Generator
If you're marketing today, chances are content is a large part of your strategy. Yet coming up with ideas for blog posts can be challenging, especially if you're posting the recommended 16 or more blog posts each month. Portent's Content Idea Generator will do part of the work for you, generating interesting article and blog post titles based on keywords you provide. This site won't write the piece for you, but it will help you come up with fresh ideas when the well seems to have run dry.
At one time, if businesses wanted to reach news outlets, they were forced to contact each one separately with a news release. Tools like PRWeb.com specialize in pushing those releases to outlets across the web. This isn't a free solution, but the $99 plan will ensure the news release is picked up by search engines and online outlets. An upgraded fee of $159 will add more news media outlets to that push.
Open Site Explorer
Reaching today's customers means featuring prominently in search results. But keeping up with the always-changing rules of search engine optimization requires more resources than small businesses usually have. Moz's Open Site Explorer helps with SEO, analyzing the web for the damaging links that can hurt a business's Google ranking. You can also use the tool to find opportunities to place backlinks that could dramatically improve your search results.
Free Review Monitoring
If you aren't constantly monitoring your online reviews, you could be completely unaware that your brand is suffering reputation damage. Free Review Monitoring watches the web for new reviews about your brand, catching things that services like Google Alerts often miss. When a new review posts, you'll be alerted by email so that you can take quick action to resolve any problems. Combine this with a tool like Mention and you'll be able to stay on top of your online reputation.
Marketing may be an essential part of growing a business, but it can also be one of the most costly and time-consuming things you'll do. With the right tech tools in place, you can get more traction without emptying your bank account. Over time, you'll likely identify even more tools that work with these to give you a support system that helps you succeed.