You’re launching a new business? Well then, major congratulations are in order!
Starting a business is no easy feat. Odds are that up until this point you’ve already been through your fair share of headaches but look at you! The ink hasn’t even dried on your LLC and you’re already considering all of the necessary steps for marketing and managing your new brand. Things like creating content, developing a sound marketing strategy, connecting with your customer, collaborating with your team, measuring ad and site performance, etc. are on your mind and for good reason!
After all, the decision to start a business is only the tip of the iceberg. After that decision come many many more.
So, what can a burgeoning new business do to get a preliminary leg up? Employing the best people and digital tools is a great place to start.
In this article, we’ll discuss a number of areas where tools and extra manpower will give you the competitive edge.
Read it top-to-bottom or jump to the section with the benefit for you!
We’re talking about:
- Time Management Tools
- Email Marketing Platforms
- Project Management & Team Collaboration Software
- Cloud-Storage & File-Sharing Systems
- Content Marketing Tools
- Photo & Video Resources
- Marketing Resource Management
Time Management Tools
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business selling a product or service, we all feel the weight of a disorganized calendar. Truth is, lack of clarity around what appointments we have, which have been changed, and those that were cancelled can create genuine confusion and unnecessary aggravation. Let’s start here, since proper time management may prove to be the most quintessential element of maintaining the structure [and sanity] of your business.
Appointment Plus is a fantastic resource for small, midsize, and large businesses that are experiencing the bottleneck that is inefficient scheduling. This cloud-based software allows users to access and update their schedules in real time, create and maintain individual or team calendars, and send and receive notifications and appointment reminders when a scheduled appointment is created, changed, or cancelled. Permission settings are also available for those who require only limited access. Plans start at $49/mo with added features and benefits that come with upper tier packages.
Harvest is a time-tracking software that allows users to do just that, track the time it takes for tasks to be completed. This keeps a finger on the pulse of your business by measuring output in terms of hours and expenses spent toward a particular project. Billable time and expenses are automatically generated into invoices that can be sent directly to your clients. The service integrates with many project management, collaboration, and financial management tools like Slack, Basecamp, Trello, Paypal, Quickbooks, and more. A free version of the software is available and depending on the size of your company and the projects you manage, plans start from $12/mo and steadily increase from there.
Email marketing is an important component of any customer growth and retention strategy. These days, the services available to streamline and even automate the process of sending emails are myriad, making your life easier and putting your business at the forefront of your audience’s inboxes. And considering the fact that by 2020 nearly half of the world’s population is projected to be engaged in email use, there’s really no reason that your business shouldn’t be utilizing this medium.
The self-proclaimed “world’s largest marketing automation platform”. There’s no denying the power of Mailchimp’s software. Founded in 2001 and originally regarded exclusively for its email marketing capabilities, the brand has since expanded into full-blown marketing automation as it integrates with a variety of e-commerce platforms to make the shopping and buying experience more intuitive for potential and existing customers. We think it’s playful and purposeful email templates, user interface, mobile app, analytics, and app integrations make it a great choice. Plans start free and go up to $10/mo and then $199/mo.
Another great email marketing option, Emma works as well for large businesses as it does small. Its customizable and templatized email layouts are very attractive and its customer support team is top-notch. With a starting plan at $89/mo, Emma may sound wildly more expensive than Mailchimp but when you consider that Mailchimp’s 10k+ subscriber plan puts you around $80/mo, it really then comes down to which platform you prefer.
Project Management & Collaboration
If office walls could talk, they’d probably lament over the endless miscommunications and mismanaged tasks that have taken place between them. These days, despite the best of intentions, in-office communications and task management can be supremely difficult to optimize, especially as businesses grow, full-time employees are swapped out for remote freelancers, and the turnaround times for projects and assignments become shorter. That’s why virtual systems for communicating with and organizing collective work tasks are so beneficial.
Founded in 2014, Slack is one of the newer online collaboration and project management tools created for better business management. Although known predominantly as a messaging tool, Slack’s capabilities range from group and one-on-one conversation threads and voice and video calls to file sharing with the option to provide feedback on files shared as well as third-party app integration with platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Salesforce to streamline work processes. The free version of Slack’s software is basic but still offers great functionality. And then when you’re ready, upgrading to a paid plan won’t break the bank if your team is on the smaller side.
If you’re looking for a true project management tool, more than just a collaboration software, strongly consider Zoho. With its self-proclaimed “all-in-one suite” and 40 app integrations that cover areas like sales, marketing, customer support, communication, collaboration, productivity, finance, human resources and more, it’s easy to see how this quickly can become a one-stop-shop for any business. The cost? $30/month per employee. Not too bad!
Cloud Storage & File Sharing
Having your strategies and documents squirreled away in notebooks and on your personal computer is a good way to make sure that at best, they’ll be difficult to share with colleagues, clients, etc. and at worst, they’ll have the potential to be lost forever if not managed correctly. Instead, turning your files over to a cloud-storage platform where you can share your documents securely and in real time, offers a profound benefit to your business.
This, once personal file storage cloud-based software, now has team plans making it a dynamic resource for individuals or businesses. Similar to other productivity tools but distinct in its own right, Dropbox offers a simplified system for storing and sharing documents, data, media files, etc. in a straightforward manner. Though this software won’t offer you chat functionality within the platform, Dropbox Paper, Dropbox’s rebuttal to Google Docs, integrates with Slack (listed above) bringing the power of both platforms together quite seamlessly. Plans start at $9.99/mo for 1,000TB of storage.
Is it any surprise that the brilliant minds behind Google created a complementary platform that would equip individuals and businesses with the ability to efficiently store and share data, documents, photos, and much more? This tried and true software has been an offering since spring 2012 and continues to be a reliable, responsive platform. And for those who already utilize Gmail and Google Photos, the integration and shareability between those services and Google Drive is seamless. Sign up with Google Drive and your first 15GB are free and then plans start at $1.99/mo for a 100GB of storage.
The demand for strong, quality content is ever-present and exponential. As consumers, being continuously entertained and advertised to in a way that is authentic and intuitive, is essential. The adage, “Time is money” could easily be amended to read, “Time is invaluable”. No one wants to spend their time perusing content that isn’t relevant to them. That makes perfect sense. However, these days, being able to create copious and consistent content that delivers is no easy task, especially for a small business that may not have the manpower to keep up with all the work required. Enter: content marketing tools…
This tool is all about removing the bottleneck and making the path to your ideal market a whole lot clearer. They’ve done the heavy lifting by creating a social search engine that qualifies content based on a range of criteria. For example, are you unsure of what topic you should write about for your business’s next blog article? Tap into the Buzzsumo database to see what topics are resonating most effectively with your target audience right now based on comprehensive, representative data. In addition to content recommendations, this tool also generates lists of social influencers so you can be sure that your marketing efforts are focused and your influencers are best aligned with your business mission. Plans start at $79/mo (or even as low as $39/mo for bloggers and freelancers).
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to secure a content creator, head over to Upwork.com. This virtual networking platform was one of the first to legitimize remote, freelance work by offering a strong structure and effective process for vetting employers and freelancers. Freelancers create profiles that outline their specialties and past experience, include their portfolios, and define their rates. Employers post specific job or “gig” descriptions which outline the type of work they need completed, their desired turnaround time, and the budget they’re working within. Built-in messaging and call features make communication simple while time-tracking – which is accompanied by intermittent screen grabs that the site takes automatically while a freelancer is working – keeps the work honest. Whether you sign up for the Free, Pro, or Enterprise versions, Upwork makes its money by skimming a percentage off of each job secured.
“Good copy is the turning point of a website.” We agree. Whether it’s a well-constructed website narrative or a succinct and effective call-to-action, having compelling copy is an essential element for any business marketing themselves. Copify simplifies the process of finding and hiring a copywriter by allowing users to select from a large network of vetted copywriters who specialize in myriad industries. The user interface is streamlined and intuitive and all work has a guaranteed turnaround of 48 hours. Plans start at $0.06/word or $89/mo depending on your business’s needs.
Photo & Video Resources
Did you know that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than they do text? Amazing, eh! When you consider that, it begins to make sense why blogs that incorporate strong imagery generate 94% more views. But not just blogs, most content across any media and medium performs better when visuals are attached. And because supporting an in-house photographer or videographer isn’t always a possibility, having outside means for accessing quality visual content is important. We recommend starting with these…
This photo service offers free imagery to its customers with nothing more than the morally thoughtful suggestion to offer credit where credit is due. Their library is chock full of 500k+ photos from over 70k contributing photographers and the quality of their copyright free images is undeniable. Did we mention it’s free?
Like Unsplash, Pexels offers free imagery. The site states very plainly on its licensing page that, “…all photos are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.” Jackpot! More exciting benefits are listed here. The photo database may not be as expansive as Unsplash and some other paid services but the photos submitted and accepted onto the site are an undoubted cut above stock imagery.
If you’re in the market for truly exciting, at times provocative, and always quality photos and video footage, look no further than Dissolve. The renegade-among-the-traditional brand has made a name for itself as a visionary and forward-thinker in the space, providing some bonafide versatility for any budding business looking to market themselves expressively. Plans begin at $10.
Marketing Resources Management
Media planning is one of the most quintessential tenets of a business’s advertising efforts. It’s the process of identifying and selecting the optimal media path a business should advertise through and then negotiating for the best and most cost-effective ad placements among those media channels. And while it will often be outsourced to an outside agency, at times, a company may choose to keep their advertising, and thus, media planning efforts, in-house. Regardless of which avenue your business chooses to take, it’s vital that you utilize the resources available for simplifying and streamlining this notoriously tedious and complex process. And naturally, we recommend…
Let’s be real – starting a new business is synonymous with being “new” to a great many things like not having pre-established best practices or much of a proven internal structure to follow. It can be lonely and overwhelming.
Mediatool seeks to simplify the process by offering best practices for marketing activities, managing budgets (so you know you’re not spending unnecessarily), assigning roles to define team member responsibilities, and a whole lot more. The tool brings all of your plans and media data into one, centralized hub. Input your data manually or upload excel or CSV files into our cloud-based system and then work directly within the tool to update plans, share data with anyone (in or out of house), set permissions for who can and can’t see or edit particular content, and glean insights with real-time report generation. Set and manage deadlines, keep a close eye on marketing actions, and learn which actions give the best return. Generally speaking, a good media planning software will demystify the antiquated and often error-laden process of emailing physical excel sheets back and forth. Dare we be cliché and assert that it’s a lot like hiring a Senior Marketing Director in your particular industry? All for a fraction of the cost of a salary (and a fraction of the emotional investment that comes with managing an additional personality)!
We recommend learning the ins and outs of the media planning process and then getting yourself set up with a software to help you execute your plan. Our Standard Plan starts at €49/mo while our Enterprise plan can be customized specifically for your brand’s needs. We’re happy to sync with you to walk through the features that make the most sense for your business.
Test It Out Free For 2 Weeks
When it comes to web analytics, waste no time setting up your Google Analytics account.
Seriously, do it quickly.
It’s easy, free, and offers invaluable insights about the traffic that’s coming to your site. Don’t be disillusioned either, it’s not just a resource for analyzing traffic. There are countless interesting insights you can glean about where traffic is coming from that will help inform your future marketing efforts.
Are there other tools available for streamlining your marketing and management efforts? No doubt about it. But we’re partial to these. Review them and then get out there and get crackin’!
Happy and wildly successful new business trails to you!