Affordable tools for you to use as you plan your marketing strategy budget.

By Darcy Cudmore

When I think of small businesses and marketing, that old saying comes to mind: “You have to spend money to make money”.

But how much money do you need to spend to get ahead as a business? Money is tight to begin with, so how does spending a large percentage of your budget on marketing make sense? And how do you decide on the best approach?

Just thinking about it in a hypothetical scenario is maddening!

Email marketing, Facebook ads, Influencer outreach, SEO, tons of other marketing strategies. Do you spend a little here, and a little there? Go all in on one strategy? Hire someone to completely take over your marketing? I NEED HELP!

Luckily, there are a ton of great articles online to help small business owners focus their efforts in a way that will be beneficial to them, their budget and their business. I am hoping that this article will be another valuable asset for those small business owners on how they can still focus on their digital marketing efforts, while not breaking the bank.

I hope this article can present some affordable tools for you to use as you plan your marketing strategy:

Reposting Your Content

This tool is one of my favorites. Repost by Elokenz is a smart content marketing distribution tool that analyzes your content and decides what to share next on each social media platform. Just input your piece of content, select what social media accounts you want to post on, sit back and watch what posts do the best.

While this may not be an actual digital marketing strategy, Repost is an affordable tool that helps you consistently pump out content on social media without spending hours and hours of your time analyzing and scheduling.

Marketing Apprentices

Here’s a platform that impacts two sides – student marketers and small business owners.

Small business owners can get affordable digital marketing help when they sign up to GenM. For a monthly fee, you get access to a marketplace of students to hire from for a 3-month apprenticeship. You then work with these eager students to create a strategy and execute it.

As your business gains from the additional hands-on help, you are also helping out a student marketer who is able to get some real-life work experience.

This is a Win-Win for you and your business. Affordable and impactful.

If you are interested in learning on your own, be sure to check out GenM’s free online marketing courses.

Create Great Looking Content

On social media, content is everything. And it needs to look GREAT.

Publishing something that stands out on someone’s feed will increase the chances that they engage with the post in one way or another. So, one tip I have for the small business owners is to spend some money on creating appealing content.

This could be the creation of very cool graphics using a graphic designer, or taking awesome pictures from around your office, or the creation of great marketing videos using a tool like Lumen5. Another great tool for this is Visually, a content creation tool that will put together infographics, ebooks, reports, and more. These will be things that your competitors are not doing. Stock images just don’t grab your attention on social media anymore.

If you’re going to be posting content regularly on social media, and you want to get the most out of it, spending some time and money on the visuals is well worth it.

Drumming Up Content

There are a ton of tools out there, so finding affordable but helpful ones is key. I enjoyed this content marketing tool called DrumUp that doubles as a social media post scheduling app. This tool will help you discover content topics that your audience may enjoy and maybe even engage with. It also works as a content research and recommendation tool, schedules curated content across all accounts and provides insights about your regular social media activity.

If you happen to be focusing more on your Instagram presence, a free Instagram tool like Social Rank can help you connect better with your followers. If you want to focus on your Twitter account, a free Twitter tool like Followerwonk can help.

These tools will give you an idea behind the type of content your followers like without having to break the budget on analysis.

Free Online Guides

My final piece of advice is aimed at those small business owners who are going to be handling their marketing efforts all on their own. It’s completely free except for the time it will take out of your other tasks:

Read free online guides created by other small business owners who have been in the same spot as you.

There is a ton of content out there. Whether it is right here on SmallBizDaily, or on other websites that are publishing quality content for business owners, you can learn a ton from taking an hour or so out of each day to read a few articles.

We live in a time where excellent content that was only accessible through university classes just a few years ago, is searchable on Google for your learning pleasure. It’s amazing!

And while many people read these articles and sift through the advice, not enough people really research and put the tips into action. So, find an article that connects with you, print it off, pin it up in your office and execute on some of the great advice that has been handed to you.

DO IT! And good luck.

Darcy Cudmore is a Journalism graduate working in PR with GenM. In the past, he gained experience in Communications, Digital Marketing, and Broadcast. Find him wearing an Ottawa Senators jersey with a Stephen King book in his hands! Follow him on Twitter to talk PR and hockey.

Budget stock photo by Sammby/Shutterstock