We’re in day two of social distancing in Mississippi due to the Coronavirus. Most of the country is ahead of us. As boredom and potential job losses press against us, many small businesses will sprout up either out of creativity or necessity, maybe even both. Whether you’re reading this article trying to figure out how to market your business as the economy crashes and people stay home, or you’re reading this sometime in the future when Coronavirus is a distant memory, we’re providing a few free or nearly free resources start-ups can use to launch and grow their business whatever the economic climate.
Facebook/Instagram Ad Manager
A large number of small businesses start with a free Facebook page. If you’ve already set that up, now’s the time to move your paid advertising from boosting a post to creating ads. Facebook Ads Manager allows businesses to create and test multiple ads without clogging their social media timeline with promotional posts. You may also choose more targeted audiences, retarget to specific audiences, and choose objectives that aline better with your goals.
Why focus so much on Facebook? It’s the giant in the room when it comes to social media. It also offers some of the most sophisticated tools available for ad creation. Not sure how to use ads manager or the best way to create social media ads for your business? Facebook offers free courses with their Facebook Blueprint.
We love the ease of creating social media and email marketing images with Canva. They offer basic backgrounds, images, fonts, and more for free. For a monthly fee you can upload your brand fonts, save brand colors, and create templates to use over and over. While Canva is our favorite graphics app, it’s not the only one. Check out these options for free graphics and video creation tools you don’t have to be an art wiz to use. (As a side note, you’ll want to spend some money having a graphic designer create your logo and business card. As your business grows, you’ll also want to use professionals to create custom designs for specific projects as well.)
We’re not fans of website builders. Your website is too important to slap together a freebie and expect to compete with companies who’ve paid thousands for website design with top-line customer experience. If you’re starting a new business and need a website fast, Wix.com is our go-to for temporary websites. The drag-and-drop website options make it easy for a novice to launch a website quickly. (Don’t launch too quickly though. Make sure someone proofreads your copy first!) As your business grows you’ll want to graduate to a custom-designed website that meets the functionality needs of your business. These websites will involve a financial investment, but it will be well worth the money in increased site visits and business.
We’ve said it a hundred times. Everyone loves social media because it’s easy and cheap, but you don’t own your social media profiles. Some people say we’re renters, but that’s not true either. Renting means you’re paying something. Social media profiles are still free, which means we’re all squatters and can be kicked out at any time. Don’t pour all your time and resources into something you don’t own. Your website and email lists are yours. As a start-up, you have an opportunity to implement processes to make gathering customer information easy from the beginning. Mailchimp offers marketing automation and marketing emails as well as a CRM where you can gather and track customer data. You may want to use an industry-specific CRM later as your business grows, but Mailchimp is a great place to start. Their basic plan for customers with fewer than 2,000 contacts is free.
Google My Business
You’ll find many services that will claim all your listings for a fee. We find most of these unnecessary. Start by claiming your free Google My Business listing, which is attached to the maps listing. Then move to sites like Yelp, Yahoo, and Bing. If your industry has a specific directory make sure to claim your listing there too. Most people who search for your business online will find it either through your website, social media, or one of these top directories. By claiming these directory listings, you can respond to reviews and ensure your business information is correct.
Starting a new business, whether we’re in the middle of a pandemic or a bull market, is always a little scary. We know. Momentum Consulting started in the midst of the 2008 recession. We had nowhere to go but up. We love helping small and mid-sized businesses attract and delight new customers. If we can answer any of your marketing questions, email us or reach out to us on social media.