The thing about running a small or new business is that no matter how you good you are at what you do, you must also learn to be good at talking about it. Certain aspects of your work will speak for themselves — but planning for your future — really taking control of your growth over time means being strategic about how you talk about your business and what you share with the world. We also know how hard that can be when you're a small and nimble team wearing a lot of hats. Below is a short list of our favorite helpful marketing tools for staying in touch with your audience:
E-MAIL MARKETING - E-mail marketing might sound like old news, but studies continue to show its value and effectiveness for connecting personally with your audience. The gold standard for e-mail marketing is Mailchimp.
- Mailchimp - First of all, it's FREE (for up to 2,000 subscribers). You can easily add a sign up widget to your website or facebook page. You can use previously created templates or create your own in less than an hour. It's incredibly user friendly and their mascot is a monkey who gives you a digital high five when you send e-mails! Win win win, amiright?
- Pro Tip: Even if you're not ready to send newsletters, you can use a Mailchimp sign up widget to start gathering client and customer e-mail addresses. Once you're ready to send, you'll already have your list ready to go!
SOCIAL MEDIA - Again, it's free. You gotta do it. You don't have to do it ALL but you should probably do SOME. Our advice would be to pick two (maybe three) and be consistent and active. Think about your audiences when choosing platforms. Which ones are they using and interacting with? Go be active there. Once you're up and running, consistency is key. A handy trick for being consistent is to use a publisher! Check out two great ones below:
- HootSuite - Write, schedule, and push your posts to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Wordpress for the next few weeks all in one place.
- Latergram.me - Schedule posts for multiple Instagram accounts. (I really wish Instagram would make it easier to switch accounts on the app already!)
PRINTING - I'm usually really against paper in the workplace if you can avoid it, but sometimes you need to have something beautiful to hand someone to represent your business. Whether that's a business card, post card, sticker or poster... the following are great spots for printing paper goods:
- Zooom - Basic, affordable, quick, and local to RVA; they can print anything from business cards to banners, foam core boards and more. Customer service is great and you can upload your projects online.
- Moo - High quality printing for small projects (business cards, stickers, postcards). They offer unique sizes and really nice paper options. A little pricier but worth it.
- Jak Prints - A favorite of ours for standard size business cards with options for high quality paper, painted edges, and gold foil. Also a great resource for printing stickers.
- Minted - If you're in need of a predesigned templates with nice paper options, Minted has a ton of options to get you started before investing in a custom brand.
BLOGGING - Our good friend Rachel at The Content Chop Shop reminded us that (duh) blogging is an incredibly valuable marketing resource for small businesses. It's free (if you do it yourself) and helps build up visible expertise in your field. It's also a great way to support SEO! Having trouble starting or sticking with it? Creating an editorial calendar can be a helpful way to plan out your blogging so you stay on track and on target. Also try featuring other businesses (like we did above!) to get more exposure for your posts.
NETWORKING - Or as I like to call it, "making new friends who work for cool businesses and like to do rad things." Okay this point is technically a tease because I'm not going to share our awesome list of favorite Richmond networking events just yet. I merely wanted to point out that face to face marketing — meeting people, checking in with them, and creating relationships — is your MOST VALUABLE marketing tool forever and ever. It costs no money (just a little bit of your time) and when it's done authentically, it will benefit your business triple-fold. So, get out there and meet other cool peole you want to work with! (...and stay tuned to our blog for a list of places you can do that in Richmond and some tips on best practices!)
What else am I forgetting? Other useful marketing tools you use regularly? Tell is in the comments!