As a small business owner, your day-to-day activities require wearing many hats. One of the most important, but overlooked, hats that you wear is marketing your product or service. Limited staff, budget and time can cause restrictions and roadblocks for small business owners, so it is easy to let marketing efforts fall through the cracks. There are so many high-quality free tools available on the internet to keep any small business growing. With the right tools, you can connect with customers, build your brand and see a return on your investment.
So, how do you know if you are spending your time and money on the best tools that are going to maximize your marketing efforts? Easy. Our experts at Ironistic compiled a helpful list of marketing tools for entrepreneurs and business owners that are cost-effective, trackable, and can help grow your business over time.
Below are five digital marketing tools that are guaranteed to help you jump-start your marketing efforts:
Are you design-challenged? Canva is so easy to use that you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create high-end images for your social media posts and websites. Yet, Canva can do so much more than creating images. You can use it to develop presentations, create digital ads, print materials and more. You can even compile and import important data and use it to build custom charts. The best part of all, Canva is 100% free to use. Here are some social media post examples.
Website Analytics: Google Analytics
The best tool out there to measure traffic on your site is the leading search engine itself – Google. Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track where your website gets its traffic. Once installed on your website, you will be able to find out which marketing tactics are generating the most leads and sales conversion, how many visitors come to your site, and what content on your site they prefer.
Need some help reading through your Analytics data? Contact one of our experts today!
Social Media: AgoraPulse
With so many social media tools out there, it can be challenging to figure out which ones are best suited for your business needs. Agorapulse is considered the all in one solution for managing social media posts, comments, and messages. This tool helps with managing your content, conversations, and analytics in a clean, user-friendly dashboard. Not only are you able to connect to multiple social media accounts, but you are also able to collaborate with team members and schedule content for approval.
Moz has a collection of online tools available that really goes above and beyond for its users. A tool like Moz Pro helps you research and manage the popular keywords for your business. It includes an on-page grader that will give you recommendations for making sure you are optimized for a specific keyword on any page of your site. Another feature loved about Moz is Moz local. This tool is built specifically to help businesses improve local SEO listings. It aggregates all of your local listings in one place and ensures that your business listings are correct, consistent and visible online.
Email Marketing: Emma
Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that allows small businesses to build their brand and effectively reach out to their customer base. Emma offers a variety of features and visually stunning email templates. You can build email campaigns easily with a drag and drop editor, real-time analytics, audience segmentation, subject-line testing, and automated email workflows. What makes Emma stand out is their robust dashboard with detailed email analytics to help improve performance.
Now that we’ve introduced you to some of the must-have marketing tools for your small business, the fun can start! Dive into these platforms and start developing your killer marketing strategy. It may take some time to see your marketing efforts comes to fruition, but once you get some people interested, you’re on a straight path to success.
To say the United States has many small businesses would be an understatement — according to JP Morgan Chase & Co., more than 99% of America’s businesses are included in this category. Collectively, they contribute $5.9 trillion dollars to the economy every year.
Small business appeals to a lot of people, but it takes hard work and drive to succeed. During more than 37 years in small business and franchise environments, I have seen more successes than failures, but near all of those failures could have been easily avoided if the business owners had conducted the extensive planning and preparation required to thrive.
Make Sure You’re Ready
To prepare themselves for the unexpected, startups should secure sufficient working capital and have a reserve source ready should things not go as planned. Creating multiple growth scenarios that each consider differing expense, revenue and growth capital levels can help prepare for the future no matter what growth trajectory the business takes
Be prepared for the unexpected. Here are three common mistakes that catch most small business owners by surprise:
1. Not Knowing Your Partners
Most small business failure stems from disagreements in leadership. Make sure you trust the people you’re starting the business with and have a written buyout formula that you both agree on. The biggest mistake small business owners can make is assuming issues won’t occur as the business grows.
2. Not Having a Business Plan
Your business needs a plan to most effectively manage your revenue, expense and working capital projections that doesn’t exhaust your funding or your staff. Don’t try to wing it, because this rarely works. Instead, develop a plan to effectively manage the resources of your business and your working capital and know exactly where it goes.
Many business owners also rush to hire employees without considering their qualifications, which can lead to management issues. Surrounding yourself with quality employees, especially early on, can make a huge difference in your long-term success.
3. Expecting Instant Success
Despite the image we get from shows like Shark Tank, success won’t come easily to most small business owners, and it will be hard-won. Many small businesses struggle to become profitable, or deliver the kind of wealth their owners expect in the first few months. But being in business for yourself has the potential to be extremely rewarding as long as you have a plan. Stick with it and see it through. Manage for long term success and expect short term wins as you go.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Small business owners should be prepared to work harder than they’ve ever worked for anyone else, because there’s often nobody else to do the work for them. Mistakes will happen, but they don’t have to be the failure of your company. When you do make a mistake, remember to take the time to think through what happened, and thoroughly review the mistake so you can avoid it in the future. Don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes, and know that you will learn from them if you keep trying and pushing forward.
Heat up your business
The restaurant industry is expected to reach $863 billion in sales in 2019 and it’s up to individual operators to determine how big their slice of the pie is. Providing quality food and service creates invaluable word-of-mouth marketing, but there’s something many restaurants owners and marketers overlook when it comes to driving business: signage. When potential patrons are considering where to eat, they need to first find the restaurant, and then be drawn indoors with appealing signage.
From fast food to fast casual, the right signs and visual graphics can help heat up business. Here are some tips for determining the right signage for your restaurant, both inside and out.
Communicate who you are
The first thing to do is to determine the messaging and visual branding style. A contemporary restaurant has a very different feel than an older, historical establishment, and the signs and graphics seen throughout typically reflect that. Whether planning signage for a new restaurant or rebranding an established concept, ensure that the signs and graphics reflect the personality of the brand by using a typestyle, colors, photographs and words in ways that represent the restaurant. Exterior signage should give diners an idea of what to expect inside.
Start with the outside
Put the restaurant name or logo on the building or space and, if in a shopping center, on the pylon sign. Use appealing graphics in the windows. If the restaurant is off the beaten path, like in the back of a shopping plaza or a down a flight of stairs, utilize signage to help customers find the entrance. Customers care about findability and will choose to go somewhere else if they can’t easily locate a business. Use clear language and arrows, and don’t be afraid to ask for customer feedback and make changes if the original solution isn’t working.
Add illumination to stand out at night
The right lighting in and on the building, and on the signs, can help customers quickly know which establishments are open for business and help draw them in, whether the restaurant is in a downtown area, shopping plaza, or off an exit on the highway. Illuminated lighting can be placed on the exterior of the building or at the entrance to the parking lot. Digital signs, window lighting and backlit frames can also be used to add an extra eye-catching element.
Continue the customer experience indoors
When customers are in the restaurant, the signs and graphics in place can help enhance their overall experience. To reduce perceived waiting time in a fast-casual setting, digital menu boards and kiosks located near waiting areas can promote specials, show off menu items and entice viewers to try new offerings. Frosted vinyl or graphics on glass partitions and half-walls help create privacy between booths and tables. Wall graphics and murals extend the branding to the interior decor. For a unique touch, consider wrapping table tops. While patrons are waiting for their food at their tables or drinks at the bar, printed table tents can list upcoming holiday hours, promote special events, or advertise day-of-the-week specials.
Taking the Message to the Street
Promoting a restaurant outside of its four walls is equally important. Having branded catering vehicles and wearables including shirts and hats, and participating in off-premise community events with a booth or a food truck are just a few of the ways to take your message and your food to the street. One of the most visual tactics is using vehicle graphics to provide a professional look that helps restaurants reach new and existing customers on-the-go with branded graphics.
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