Even if your desk is a kitchen table and business casual means PJs, your company’s communications can still impress like Madison Avenue. Technology has made this the age of the entrepreneur. Whether you are a small business or association or just anyone trying to use their budget wisely, you can take advantage of an array of free or inexpensive software designed to give a dowdy marketing program a Hollywood make-over.
I have used many of these low-cost options both in my work as a consultant with .orgSource and in my passion project .orgCommunity. Some of these tools have helped me to grow businesses beyond what I imagined was possible.
Get Your Brand Moving
Do you dream about your brand going viral (Who doesn’t)? Then, these are stats that you should memorize:
- YouTube has more than 1 billion viewers. They represent almost one-third of all internet users.
- Marketers who use video grow their revenue 49 percent faster
- And—here are some really significant numbers: VIEWERS RETAIN 95% OF A MESSAGE WHEN THEY WATCH VIDEO COMPARED TO 10% WHEN READING.
If these facts make you feel like you’ve met the enemy, and it’s you because your plate is already overloaded, relax. You can introduce video into your communications without hiring a production company or even one new employee. These apps are designed to put your brand in pictures with ease.
Animoto allows you to create professional quality marketing videos in three easy steps. You start by selecting a predesigned storyboard or adjustable video template. Next, drop and drag your own content or clips into the mix. You can even select music from a licensed library and play with fonts, transitions, and colors. Finally, share your masterpiece to social media, all from one platform. Promo, Final Cut, and Lumen 5 offer similar concepts. With RawShorts you can create a free animated message.
You don’t need an artist, or even a drawing board, to produce images that demand a second look. Canva turns a klutz who can’t draw a stick figure into a designer of anything from banners and flyers to social media posts or even wedding invitations. Stencil and Snappaoffer similar features. Snappa, with limited use, is free.
When you need pictures for those amazing brochures that you’re going to create with Canva, check out Every Pixel, a stock image search engine with more than 50 sources. Your email is a brand representative, too. It should put your best foot forward. BEE is a free email editor with an attractive template to suit every message.
If your website needs an update, Envato can teach you the skills to do it yourself or help you find a freelancer.
Manage Social Media
Unless you are living in a yurt on the Mongolian Steppe (Actually, I’m pretty sure Facebook has come to Ulaanbaatar), you understand the power of social media. These statistics emphasize why you need to get it right.
- 2/3 of all Americans are on social media
- 67% of all Americans get their news from social media
- 91% of users access social channels with a mobile device
Take this little quiz and see whether you’re a social media maven. Find the answers at the bottom of this article.
When is the best time to post?
a) Saturday at noon
b) Monday through Friday from noon-2 p.m.
c) 1-4 p.m. late in the week or on weekends
a) 5-6 p.m. midweek
b) Tuesday or Wednesday 7:30-8:30 a.m.
c) Thursday noon and 5-6 p.m.
Managing multiple social platforms can be as challenging as herding cats. Hootsuite will help you create a schedule and ensure that your content is posted exactly where and when you want it. Then, check out Leadpages to create a landing site with enough impact to turn the lurkers into followers.
Know When it’s too Big To Be Social
Facebook and Instagram aren’t right for every message. If you have something really big to share, you might want to feature your news in a magazine. ISSUU provides you with tools to give your brand its own glossy journal. Flipboard allows you to aggregate news of interest into a personal publication. For sharing your story with others in a presentation or report Sway is a great option. You can easily integrate a variety of media and content into one proposal, training document or sales tool.
Keep Your Team on Track
When you’ve done everything right and your brand takes off, you might need to add employees. .orgSource and .orgCommunity are virtual operations. Our team works online almost 100 percent of the time. These are some of the tools that keep us efficient and on the same page.
Hubspot is an intuitive, cloud-based CRM that can help you keep track of membership, sales, or fundraising leads and cultivate them until they become customers. It comes with built-in reporting and analytic capabilities. We use it in both of our businesses. Office 365 and Microsoft Teams are work-sharing programs that allow employees to access the group’s files and schedules. When you want to track progress on multiple projects Asana and Monday could be your best friends. For those times when the group really does need to talk, Meeting Mogul and Zoom offer inexpensive video and audio conferencing software.
Lastly, If you’re not organized, you can’t lead the team. These are a few apps that go long way to enhancing personal efficiency. Notability and Google Keep make sure you capture what happened in the last meeting. You can write, sketch or annotate a PDF. Google Keep will even transcribe voice recordings and filter notes by color and other attributes. Calendly takes the pain out of scheduling meetings. It also saves you time with automatic reminders and confirmations.
The best part about these technological helpers is that they’re easy and entertaining to use. While you’re gaining recognition and building your brand, you and your team will also have a great time looking slick on a shoestring.