By Bryan Janeczko
Having started businesses myself I know how costly it can be to start up. That’s why when I find a free entrepreneurial tool, I don’t hesitate to pass it along to those working to launch their own businesses. The five resources below are my absolute favorite free tools for small business marketing and I don’t even factor in the price when I make that judgment; some of these tools are so essential to my marketing strategies that, paid or not, I’d still recommend them!
The SBA had a great blog post last week about free market research tools from the U.S. federal government. Another free resource for industry statistics, national survey results, and demographical data is the Pew Research Center. Their fact tank focuses on public opinion polling, media content analysis, and social science research so it’s a great place if you’re looking for free, empirical data about what people think about certain topics (this can help you develop your “ideal customer”). Remember market research isn’t only valuable to your marketing research, statistics and data are also vital to business plans and investment pitch decks.
Eventbrite is great if you’re hosting any type of event. Last year, we hosted an entrepreneurial panel and we used Eventbrite to efficiently and easily sell tickets, keep track of our comprehensive guest list, market the event on social media, send out email invitations and by customizing an event page on Eventbrite we automatically had a link we could send to interested guests to check out before they signed up. This one is highly recommended!
There is such a thing as free PR (public relations). HARO works as a feed where reporters sign up their story ideas. If you’ve subscribed to HARO, you’ll get a daily email of journalists looking for sources, interview subjects and examples for their media pieces. If you’d like more publicity and want a reporter to write about your business, sign up for HARO and be on the lookout for journalists interested in covering your industry.
Before you put your new product out into the market, you have to make sure whether or not it stands a chance to be profitable. The Porter’s Five Forces Analysis is a powerful tool that can help you understand how strong your competitors are, how much influence buyers and material suppliers have on the future of your product, whether or not your product can be easily substituted by a competitor’s offering and designation of any potential threats of competitors coming to your market space. This business jargon sounds very “marketing 101” but these basics are important and combining these factors into a careful assessment will give you a foundational analysis which you can use to determine your most successful marketing strategy.
I strongly believe that almost all services, products and companies need a website. If you haven’t finalized your business yet, throw up a “splash page” which is a minimal site that lets the public know that your offering is “coming soon.” To do this fast, easily, effectively and for free, check out Google Sites. You can browse through eye pleasing templates and create your own URL in a matter of minutes.
Bryan has 15 years of financial and entrepreneurial experience including co-founding start-ups like Nu-Kitchen, an online food retailer. Bryan is an active board member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) and StartOut. He is dedicated to the success of all small businesses.