We know that marketing activities can sometimes be a drag. It can often be hit and miss, all over the place and you occasionally don’t know what you’re doing.
It’s really important that you have a “Marketing Process” that is simple, effective and most importantly streamlined for efficiency.
This is even more important if you have a small business that doesn’t have its own marketing department or dedicated marketing person.
In a previous article, we’ve put together a guide to the best marketing tactics for 2019 – click to read.
To shed more light on how to improve your marketing efforts, let us tell you one of the marketing tactics we recommend at Strategy State.
Today we’re going to show you a VERY effective marketing tactic.
It’s called the Power 9 Marketing Tactic.
The goal of this marketing tactic is to spread your message as far and wide as possible and to squeeze as much value as possible from your marketing efforts.
This could be a chart, template, white paper, checklist, eBook, how to video, etc.
Insert an email opt-in to collect email addresses.
In that article, you need to add a link to the free tool or resource.
This helps drive traffic to your website.
Show people the benefits and how to use it. Add this to your YouTube channel and other platforms.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest & other social platforms you’re on.
This will give your content the maximum amount of exposure.
Identify as many other sites and platforms where you can share your content
I.e. 1 X Free tool + 1 X Free Download + 1 X article + 1 X Email Marketing + 1 X Video + Post on Social Accounts + Post 4 – 6 times per year+ Post on other platforms + Create additional resources
This is how it works:
Your free tool can be a chart, template, white paper, checklist, eBook, how to video, etc.
Free Tool example: Time Analysis Exercise
Now, what is the point in giving away free resources? Isn’t that what you are meant to be selling?
Well yes and no. Firstly, it’s important to know that you need to give away A LOT of value in order to receive value in return.
One of the goals of creating free content is that it helps brands you as an authority within the industry. If prospects go to your website or social page and see you have dozens of posts, content, articles, freebies, etc. They’re typically going to view you as someone who knows what they’re talking about. Especially if the content is good.
Many people think that if they give “free stuff” away, then prospects won’t buy their products or services. This is not true.
The people that just use your free tools and don’t convert, will most likely never be your customers. They may be time rich and cash poor. While those who are cash rich and time poor will consume your products.
What free resources should I create?
Well, that really depends on the type of business you have.
This will tell you how popular certain keywords are.
You’ll then know what free tools and resources people are searching for within your industry.
Here are a few examples of free resources that have worked well for others.
As discussed earlier in step 1 this tactic involves creating a free downloadable resource for prospects.
For this to work, we need to Insert an email opt-in to collect email addresses.
Email opt-in form example: Free download the Time Analysis Exercise
Once you have created your free downloadable resource and uploaded it to your website.
You can add a simple feature to your website that enables prospects to download the resource once they have entered their email and contact details.
The goal of this step in the process is to increase your email subscribers list. The reason being is that the backbone of many marketing initiatives revolves around email marketing, as email marketing can get the highest return on investment compared to other marketing initiatives.
When writing an article, you want to describe the issue and the solution you are offering with your free tool.
In that article, you’ll add a link to the free tool or resource.
Blog article example: The 5 Deadly Sins of Business
The benefits of writing an article are multifold.
Firstly, an article supports your SEO efforts. This helps you rank higher and makes it easier for prospects to find your products and services.
Secondly, an article will help educate your prospects on the benefits of your free tool and push them further down the sales funnel. It also helps build trust and your relationship.
For best results articles should be around 2,000 words in length, contain your main keywords and 3-5 high-quality images. Make sure you keep your paragraphs short and add subtitles and lists to make it more readable. Be sure to add a clear call to action.
For more details on how to write amazing articles, check out Neil Patel’s guide here.
We have now completed steps 1 through 3:
Step 1. You have created a free resource.
Step 2. You have added the free resource to your website.
Step 3. You have written an article that supports the resource.
Now we can move on to combining it with email marketing.
Email Marketing example
If you don’t use email marketing, it’s a good idea to consider it. As discussed, earlier, email marketing can be really effective and have a high return on investment. It’s a great way to keep prospects informed and help business owners and consumers stay connected.
There is a wide range of email marketing platforms available. Many of them are free up to a set number of subscribers. These free accounts will be more than enough to get you going if you’re starting out.
Some of the most popular include: MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, ConvertKit and GetResponse to name a few.
Keep your email marketing clean simple and to the point.
People are constantly bombarded with emails and are reluctant to read long-winded newsletters. To increase your open rates, use a title that will entice people to open the email. Like: “Free Tool”.
For this tactic to work, we suggest you make the email about the free tool.
Here is an example of one we have created.
Always ensure that it is super easy for your subscribers to share the free resource and or articles.
The next step is to create a video that will help you reach potential customers and drive traffic to your website. A video is a highly-engaged form of media that works well with your social initiatives.
Short Video example: Time Analysis Exercise Instructional Video
According to Animoto Video was consumers’ #1 favorite type of content to see from brands on social media in 2018.
To read the full article click on the link below: https://animoto.com
The video you create can be in a format of a “How to” video. It can showcase the article you’ve written about and introduce the benefits of your free tool.
Add your video to YouTube or any other video platform you use. You can also add the video to your website, as additional content to your landing page or article.
The goal of creating the short video is to use another form of media to help drive awareness and leads for your business.
Now it’s time to post your free tool or article on social accounts. The most popular platforms are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.
Social Media example: Instagram
The goal here is to spread your content as far and wide as possible and to engage with as many people across different platforms. You may not know which platforms your ideal customers are on, so you’ll need to test and measure to see which platforms work best.
When posting on social platforms, take into consideration: When you post, what day of the week and how you can create content that people want to engage with.
When posting on social platforms, quality and consistency is the key.
To maximize the effectiveness of this strategy, we recommend that you post your content 4 to 6 times per year.
This will give you the best chance for all your potential prospects to consume your content. Often people may need to see your content a number of times before they engage with you. Always ensure you’re adding value with your content. Don’t post for the sake of it. Quality is king!
For more information on this specific tactic check out your Neil Patel’s video here.
This should run in conjunction with your content marketing plan.
Ideally, you should automate your content marketing by using tools such as Hootsuite. This will enable you to preschedule and organize your social media in advance.
In this step, we will talk about two ways to create leverage using other people’s social accounts, sites, blogs.
The first way is to leverage your contents exposure is to use guest blogging. As the name suggests, you publish your content on other websites. It’s a common practice in digital marketing and is very helpful for SEO.
This involves identifying relevant sites and blogs where you can share your content. You need to find other sites that have a similar target audience to your own. Your content will need to compliment what that website is focused on.
Another way to leverage your content is to use social influencers. Influencers have a dedicated niche of followers who are passionate about a particular interest.
Influencers have built up trust and authority with their follows. If your product or service aligns with the influencer’s audience, it can be a great way to start a conversation and build a relationship with your brand.
To find influencers that might be useful to your business, try using tools like:
Social Blade.com. This tool enables you to search for popular influencers across many different platforms.
I.e. 1 X Free tool + 1 X article + 1 X Free Download + 1 X Email Marketing + 1 X Video + Post on Social Accounts + Post 4 – 6 times per year.
Now that you’ve gotten to the stage, you’re starting to become a real marketing Pro.
To make this marketing strategy fly you need to consistently create additional free tools, articles, email marketing, videos, etc. Then post them across all your different platforms, while leveraging off other platforms that get lots of traffic.
As time goes on, you’ll get much quicker at creating an organizing content.
This strategy does take effort but is designed to squeeze every last drop out of your marketing efforts. Over time you’ll see great results as your influence and brand grows.
Your ranking will improve, your inquiries will increase, and you’ll gain authority which will lead to additional sales.
Part of being in business means that we’re always testing new ideas, experimenting and yes – making mistakes.
As entrepreneurs and business owners, we all strive to buy a high learning curve position and to reduce the number of mistakes we make.
There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes; the only issue is if we don’t learn from them.
Mistakes will be made, and that’s ok, but there are a few critical sins in business that can and should be avoided if possible.
Below is a list of the five key sins that can be deadly for your business.
Recognizing and avoiding these sins will help you grow and develop your company, it will help you reduce your risk, increase your chances of success and most importantly enable you to have more fun while operating a business.
We all make assumptions on a day-to-day basis, and that’s human nature.
The issue arises when we make assumptions within a business context that can have disastrous results.
It’s essential that we continuously test our assumptions on a regular basis. What may have been true in the past may not be true in the future, and with technology moving at such a rapid rate, we need to be constantly adapting.
By not seeking feedback or validating our concepts, we can head down the path of mediocrity.
Case in point, I was working with a client one day, and we were identifying the top and bottom 20% of his customers.
I asked as I always do, how much does it cost to service each client? The response was “$400 per month”.
I said “fine, and how much do the smaller clients pay you each month?”
The response was “$250 per month”. I looked at the person puzzled and said, “Wait, you charge them $250 per month, but it costs you $400 to service them, is that right?”
He looked at me begrudgingly and said: “Yes, but the smaller clients turn into bigger clients!”
My response was “Okay,
Let’s check all the big clients and see how many of those started off as small clients.”
By this stage, the client was reeling and becoming very defensive.
Sure enough, when we checked, all of the big clients had started out as big clients, and none of the small clients had turned into big clients.
This means it would have been cheaper for the company just to write out a cheque for $150 per month to the smaller clients and have done none of the work!
This assumption had cost the company over 1 million dollars over a 10-year period.
No one had thought to check the assumption of whether or not small clients turn into large clients, or if in fact, it was worthwhile engaging with small clients in the first place.
As it turns out only 4% of companies have systems and in place.
Funnily enough, only 4% of businesses do over a million dollars a year and turn over.
This strong correlation indicates that business that have systems and processes in place do far better than those they don’t.
More evidence can be seen if we look at franchises and chain stores. These companies all have strong systems and processes in place. When someone buys a franchise, what they’re buying is a proven set of systems and processes that will ensure their business succeeds.
As a business owner, do you have systems and processes in place? Especially for the ten most common tasks in your company?
The reason why businesses and systems are so important for companies is that they provide accuracy and consistent outcomes.
This is great for managing customers’ expectations and experience, but it’s also valuable for your employees.
Employees need to know what the process is for each task, if they don’t have these systems and processes, then they’ll make it up themselves. A lack of systems and processes all result in low productivity, confusion, mistakes, errors, and generally low levels of workplace happiness.
As mentioned in an earlier article, many business owners spend more time than they should on tasks that will have little or no impact on growing their business.
In business, there are often only a few core tasks that will help drive growth. If you’re not focused on those tasks, you can end up been busy all day every day running around putting out fires and solving small issues.
As business owners, there are an endless array of distractions that can suck time from us. Controlling how we use our time is really important.
Business owners often like to engage themselves in tasks that are emotionally safe. These are frequent tasks that we are very familiar with or enjoy doing. Now there’s nothing wrong with doing things that you enjoy doing, but often the significant gains are made from doing things outside our comfort zone or tasks that are going to have a considerable impact to your business’s growth.
To outline this concept further, below is a table that illustrates the above example.
If you would like to improve how you use your time, follow this easy exercise.
Download the free Time Analysis Exercise.
Record the tasks that you are completing every 15 minutes.
For an 8-hour day, this will require you to fill in 32 slots, where you record what you have done.
This needs to be continued over one week.
In total, you should have 160 x 15-minute slots where you have recorded the tasks you were working on.
Break your tasks up into three sections.
Score each tasks using the key below:
Use the dropdown menu to add a score next to each of the 160 x 15-minute slots.
Once you have done that, you can now analyze how you use your time.
The template will automatically calculate your total score.
Check your results:
On completion of this, you’ll now have a much better understanding of how you use your time throughout the week, and how you can better use your time to grow and develop your company.
Many business owners and especially those that have started businesses from scratch, often have ideas that nobody can do the job as well as they can.
This is entirely not true and is a limiting belief. Often this belief becomes apparent when business owners micromanage their employees.
The role of the business owner is to think, plan and develop the company; it’s not to get involved and every minute aspect of the business.
As discussed earlier there are three types of tasks 1 Low Value, 2 Essential and 3 Growth.
All low level and essential tasks should ideally be done by employees or outsourced.
This gives you the best opportunity to work on high-value tasks that are going to have the greatest impact on your business.
Another issue that some business owners have is they like to do everything themselves.
If there are tasks that need to be actioned in the business, which require specific skill sets, rather than trying to break your head on it yourself, why not get someone in who is an expert in that area and has done it 100 times before.
Many times, I’ve seen business owners work on projects that have taken up months of their time when they could have gotten someone else to do the job and had it completed within a week, and with a much better result.
In business, speed is the key!
As discussed previously, the role of the business owner is to think, grow and develop the company. To do this, you need time to think and plan.
Whenever a new task comes into the business, the first question you need to ask yourself is ” who is going to do this task.”
I support the approach of bottom-up delegation. This means that all tasks and duties within the business are given to the lowest level of employees within the business. They do what they can with set and responsibility level, from there anything that they can’t do is pushed up to the person above them.
This means by the time tasks come across the owner’s desk, they are of the highest importance and value.
To make this easier, it begins with recruiting right, great employee inductions, and continuous staff training. This should be supported by KPI’s for each role.
Business owners sometimes fail to seek advice from those who will be honest with them. This is understandable as some entrepreneurs link their identity to the business, and by default critiquing their business is the same thing as criticizing them personally.
In order to grow, business owners must seek the truth; they must be open and honest about the business and themselves.
Becoming comfortable and surrounding yourself with people that will agree with you is the road to mediocrity. Business owners need to be continually challenging their ideas, thoughts, and assumptions.
Often, it’s front line staff and employees who have some of the best insight to give, but in order to give higherups advice, you usually have to ask them. Create an environment that promotes constant feedback in an honest and authentic way. Ensure employees at all levels can provide input that will help develop your company.
Developing a business is hard work. But by recognizing some of the five deadly sins of business, you can improve your company and avoid issues before they arise.
Business is about driving results. Park the ego at the door. Focus on what the goal is.
What are some mistakes you’ve made in business? Comment below.
The team at Strategy State have compiled a list of the Best Free Tools for Entrepreneurs.
We understand that growing a business can be tough at the best of times and managing cash flow is always a challenge.
That’s why we have compiled a list of free tools to help you keep growing. We’ve tried to find tools that are 100% free.
Read through the list, we hope you find some useful tools that you can use.
We’ve broken them up into sections for easier navigation.
The team at Strategy State have a great set of free business tools to help grow and develop your company. These tools cover business planning, marketing strategy, 100-day plans, KPI’s and much more.
Strategy State – Business Plan Template
Strategy State – Marketing Plan Template
Strategy State – Big 5 Business Growth Calculator
Strategy State – Productivity Calendar
Strategy State – Pain Points Chart
Strategy State – Essential Business KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)
Strategy State – 100 Day Business Development Plan Template
Strategy State – 70+ Free Chrome Extensions For Business
Strategy State – Candidate Interview Tool
Strategy State – Social Content Plan
Strategy State – Time Analysis Exercise
These tools will help you manage projects more effectively while working across teams. They’re great for keeping everyone on the same page.
Asana – https://asana.com
Trello – https://trello.com
Slack – https://slack.com
Airtable – https://airtable.com
Tools to help you manage your time more effectively. Some of these tools block specific website for defined periods of time.
RescueTime – https://www.rescuetime.com/plans
Airtable – https://airtable.com/
If you’re like most people and have dozens of different accounts across different platforms, then keeping track of usernames and passwords can be a challenge. These tools can help with that.
Dashlane – https://www.dashlane.com – Store passwords and personal information
StickyPassword – https://www.stickypassword.com – Password Manager
Tools to help you communicate via video. Enabling you to work with people out in the field and from around the world.
Skype – https://www.skype.com/en/
Google Hangout – https://hangouts.google.com/
TeamViewer – https://www.teamviewer.com/en/
Evernote – Free Note Taking, Organizing and Archiving App – https://evernote.com/
Appointlet – Free Online Appointment Scheduling – https://www.appointlet.com
These networking sites are great for meeting like-minded people.
You can find your target audience, create events or your own club to help support your endeavors.
Meetup – https://meetup.com/
Eventbrite – https://www.eventbrite.com/
Having a Client Relationship Management system is essential for all modern-day business.
Here is a list of some free CRM’s to get you started.
Streak – https://www.streak.com/
Hubspot CRM – https://www.hubspot.com
Workbooks.com – https://www.workbooks.com/
Zoho CRM – https://www.zoho.com
Zoho Contact Manager – https://www.zoho.com/contactmanager/
Really Simple Systems – https://www.reallysimplesystems.com/
Insightly – https://www.insightly.com
Apptivo – https://www.apptivo.com
Capsule CRM – https://capsulecrm.com/
These tools are great for collecting feedback from customers, testing and validating new ideas for products and services.
Survey Monkey – Free Survey Tool – https://www.surveymonkey.com/
Typeform – Data collection tool – https://www.typeform.com/
ClassMarker – Quiz Maker for Business & Education – https://www.classmarker.com/
Jotform – Form generator – https://www.jotform.com
Email marketing is the backbone for many small businesses.
It also boasts one of the highest ROI’s of any marketing initiative. Use these tools to maximize your email marketing.
MailChimp – https://mailchimp.com/
Mailerlite – https://www.mailerlite.com/
Send in Blue – https://www.sendinblue.com
Email Cloud HQ – https://www.cloudhq.net/
Google is always coming out with new products. Most of them are free, it’s just that many people don’t know about them.
Review what products google offers and see what is useful to your business.
Google My Business – https://www.google.com/business/
Think With Google – https://apac.thinkwithgoogle.com/index.html
Google Analytics – https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/
Google Search Console (Previously known as Webmaster Tools) – https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
Google Tag Manager – https://tagmanager.google.com/
Google Ads – https://ads.google.com/
Google AdSense – https://www.google.com/adsense/
Google Merchant Center – https://www.google.com/retail/solutions/merchant-center/
Google Trends – https://www.google.com/trends
Google Forms – http://www.google.com/forms/
Google Drive – https://www.google.com/drive/
Google Keyword Planner – http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Google Alerts – http://www.google.com/alerts
Google Books – https://books.google.com
Google Calendar – https://www.google.com/calendar/
Google Hangouts For Business – https://hangouts.google.com/
Google Scholar – https://scholar.google.com
Google Drawing – https://docs.google.com/drawings
Google PageSpeed Insights – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Google Mail (Gmail) – https://mail.google.com/
Google Translate – http://translate.google.com/
Google DataStudio – https://datastudio.google.com/
Here are a few platforms to help you build a free website, landing page or blog.
WordPress – https://wordpress.com
Wix – https://www.wix.com
Blogger – https://www.blogger.com
The free tools listed below will help you generate leads and convert more sales on your website.
WooCommerce – https://woocommerce.com/
Sumo – Free Tools to Automate Site Growth – https://sumo.com/
Hello Bar – https://www.hellobar.com/
Prove Source – Recent Sales pop up – https://provesrc.com/
Freshchat – Free Customer Live Chat Software – https://www.freshworks.com/
ManyChat – Visual bot builder for Facebook Messenger – https://manychat.com
Jotform – Form generator – https://www.jotform.com
Every website needs to be regularly audited to keep it healthy and up to date.
These tools will help you analyze your website and provide recommendations to help optimize it.
SEMrush – https://www.semrush.com/siteaudit
GTmetrix – https://gtmetrix.com
Google Analytics – https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web – Web analytics service
Google Search Console – https://search.google.com/search-console/about – Web service by Google for webmasters
Responsinator – https://www.responsinator.com – test responsive websites on different device resolutions.
SSL Checker (By Website Plant) – https://www.websiteplanet.com/ssl-checker – Check if your SSL certificate is installed properly & trusted by browsers
Ensuring your website speed is as fast as possible is vital to reducing your bounce rate.
Use these tools to test your website speed, then find out what needs to happen to improve it.
GTmetrix – https://gtmetrix.com
Google PageSpeed Insights – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights
Google Test your mobile speed – https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com
Here is a list of tools to help you with your Search Engine Optimization, including keyword research, competitor analysis, and many other useful tools.
SEO Spider Tool – https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/
Duplicate Content Tool – http://www.siteliner.com/
Free Moz Tools – https://moz.com/free-seo-tools
MOZ Tool Bar – https://moz.com
Moz Keyword Explorer: https://moz.com/explorer
Moz Link Explorer: https://moz.com/link-explorer
Moz Local Search Engine Tool – https://moz.com/local/search
Moz Permission Management for Google My Business – https://moz.com/local/mybusinessconsole
Moz Local Category Optimizer – https://moz.com/local/categories
Google Keyword Planner – https://ads.google.com/intl/en_au/home/tools/keyword-planner/ – Keyword Tool
Uber Suggest – https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/ – Keyword Tool
SEMrush Keyword Planner – https://www.semrush.com/lp/keyword-research/en/ – Keyword Tool
AnswerThePublic – https://answerthepublic.com – Keyword Tool
LSI Graph – https://lsigraph.com – LSI keywords Tool (Latent Semantic Indexing)
Subscribers – https://subscribers.com/ – Push browser notifications
HubSpot Blog Ideas Generator – https://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator – Gives you a year’s worth of blog post ideas
The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is used to transfer files between two computers over a network and Internet.
FileZilla – https://filezilla-project.org
Cyberduck – https://cyberduck.io
Code editor tools will help you edit text and source code easily. These tools support plain text and several programming languages.
Notepad++ – Text editor and source code editor – https://notepad-plus-plus.org
Atom – A free and open-source text and source code editor – https://atom.io
Visual Studio Code – https://code.visualstudio.com
Below are tools that help with your content creation. These tools analyze your content for plagiarism along with other quality measures.
Grammarly – https://www.grammarly.com – Grammar and spelling checker
CopyScape – https://www.copyscape.com – Plagiarism Checker: Is your content original or copied
Quetext – https://www.quetext.com
Dupli Checker – https://www.duplichecker.com
PaperRater – https://www.paperrater.com
Word Counter – https://wordcounttools.com – Word count tool to analyze content
Analyzing your competitors and gaining market insight is vital to remaining competitive.
Use these free tools to help you improve your performance and stay ahead of the pack.
SimilarWeb – https://www.similarweb.com/home – Online competitive intelligence tool
Buzzsumo – https://buzzsumo.com
BuiltWith – https://builtwith.com – Web technology lookup tool
SEMrush – https://www.semrush.com – SEO tool & competitors’ analysis
Alexa – https://www.alexa.com/find-similar-sites – Similar sites based on shared audience and keyword overlap
Below are tools that will help you with your Search Engine Marketing and PPC Ad management.
Google Ads Editor – https://ads.google.com – Google Ads application to work offline and make bulk changes
Broad Keyword Converter – http://tools.acquisio.com/AdwordsBroadKwConverter – Convert to Google’s Modified Broad Match format
TitleCap – http://titlecapitalization.com – Automatically capitalize your title
Here are the leading social media channels.
Target your relevant audience using the channels what work best for you.
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com.au/
Snapchat – https://www.snapchat.com/
WeChat – https://web.wechat.com/ – Chinese social media & messaging
Tumbler – https://www.tumblr.com/
Weibo – https://s.weibo.com/ – Chinese microblogging website
Qzone – https://qzone.qq.com/
Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/
Forums can be a great way to interact with your target market.
The below forums receive thousands of visitors each month.
Reddit – https://www.reddit.com/
Quora – https://www.quora.com/
Ask.fm – https://ask.fm/
These tools will help you manage and track your social media more efficiently and extract as much value from your social initiatives as possible.
SocialBlade – https://socialblade.com/
Ninjalitics – https://www.ninjalitics.com/
Buffer – https://buffer.com/
VSCO – https://vsco.co/
Crowdfire – https://www.crowdfireapp.com/
SMHack – https://smhack.io/
SocialOomph – https://www.socialoomph.com/
Tweetdeck – https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/
Friends+Me – https://friendsplus.me/
Dux Soup – https://www.dux-soup.com/ – LinkedIn connection generator
Free Web Automation App – Zapier – https://zapier.com/
Quote Cover – https://quotescover.com/ – Free Simple Quote Maker
Hootsuite – Manage all your social media accounts in one place – https://hootsuite.com
Freshchat – Free Customer Live Chat Software – https://www.freshworks.com/
ManyChat – Visual bot builder for Facebook Messenger – https://manychat.com
Zoho Social – Social media management platform – https://www.zoho.com/social
IG Audit – Evaluate an Instagram account’s followers and estimate if they are fake or not – https://igaudit.io
Before you spend your hard-earned money on stock images, check to see if there is something you can use that is royalty free.
These free sites offer thousands of royalty free images you can use.
Unsplash – https://unsplash.com/
Gratisography – https://gratisography.com/
Morguefile – https://morguefile.com/photos/morguefile/1/pop
Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/en/
Stockvault – https://www.stockvault.net/
Pexels – https://www.pexels.com/
Picjumbo – https://picjumbo.com/
Pikwizard – https://pikwizard.com/
Rawpixel – https://www.rawpixel.com/
Reshot – https://www.reshot.com/
For an in-depth and detailed review on the best Free Stock Photo Sites, read Stock Photo Secrets.
If you require photo editing tools, here are a few free options to get you started.
AutoDraw – https://www.autodraw.com/
Funnelytics – https://funnelytics.io/
Photopea – https://www.photopea.com/
Photoshop Express – https://www.photoshop.com/products/photoshopexpress
GIMP – https://www.gimp.org/ – Image Editing
Giphy – https://giphy.com – Gifs online database and search engine
Lightshot — Screenshot tool for Mac & Win – https://app.prntscr.com
Compress PNG/JPG (By Website Plant) – https://www.websiteplanet.com/imagecompressor – Compress jpeg or png image and allow you to keep the quality as is while decreasing the size.
Every marketer and business owner needs music for their promotional videos.
Try these free options before you open your wallet.
Bensound – https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music
Filmstro – https://filmstro.com/music
Here is a list of some free file sharing and storage platforms.
Google Drive – https://www.google.com/drive/
DropBox – https://www.dropbox.com/
We Transfer – https://wetransfer.com – Sharing big files
Maintaining computers free of malware and virus is important for all business owners.
These free tools will help you protect your computers and allow for a safer browsing experience.
McAfee WebAdvisor – https://www.mcafee.com/mcafee-web-
TotalAV – https://www.totalav.com/free-antivirus – Free Antivirus & Internet Security.
Dashlane – https://www.dashlane.com – Store passwords and personal information
StickyPassword – https://www.stickypassword.com – Password Manager
These tools will allow you to obtain free business cards, and provide an improved printing experience.
Vistaprint – https://www.vistaprint.com – Free Business Card (with their branding on the back)
PrintFriendly & PDF – https://www.printfriendly.com – Optimize webpages for Print and PDF
Convert your PDF files into word files with these free converters.
Online ORC – https://www.onlineocr.net
Uni PDF – http://unipdf.com
PDF Sam – https://pdfsam.org/download-pdfsam-basic – Split, merge or rotate PDF’s
Free File Convert – https://www.freefileconvert.com
Below are some useful tools to help you build and design infographics for your business.
Snappa – https://snappa.com
Google Charts – https://developers.google.com/chart
Infogram – https://infogram.com
If you need to edit video, then these free tools are a great place to start.
Some of the tools are basic and easy to use, while others like Davinci Resolve is incredibly advanced.
Shortcut – https://shotcut.org
FXhome – https://fxhome.com/express
Davinci Resolve 15 – https://www.blackmagicdesign.com (advanced)
VSDC – http://www.videosoftdev.com
Blender – https://www.blender.org
Openshot – https://www.openshot.org
If you found this article useful, sign up to our blog list for more awesome content.
What free tools do you think we should add to the list? Let us know?
The web moves at a tremendous pace if any of the above links have stopped working or are no longer free tools. Please contact us at email@example.com and let us know.
For many business owners, the challenge of growth is a big one.
Most business owners struggle with the actual tactics of how to grow business. But for those who have identified how they need to grow and develop, there never seems to be enough time or resources to make these things happen.
At the end of the day, you are measured by your results and what you actually do, rather than what you could do.
This is something that plagues many business owners as they strive to grow their business.
William S. Burroughs is credited with the quote, “When you stop growing, you start dying.”
But I hear you say…… I don’t have time for any of that!
In my business, I’m the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker.
As it turns out, we’re all busy and it just so happens that everyone has the same number of hours each day.
So why is it that some people achieve more each day than others?
Well in simple terms it comes down to focus and priorities. But that’s not really the issue; the issue is What you focus on and What you prioritize.
In business, if you don’t focus on the core activities that are going to drive growth, you can end up being busy being busy. We all know the saying “if you don’t control your day your day will control you.”
An example of this could be a business owner who runs around all day putting out fires within their business, i.e., he/she runs around correcting staff, yelling at people and making a general nuisance of themselves. Obviously, all of these things could be avoided if they had better recruitment policies, induction processes, training programs, staff monitoring, and KPI’s in place.
What I’ve found over the years working with clients is that they tend to focus on tasks that fall under the category of “emotionally safe.” These tasks tend to be activities that they have a high level of skill of experience in, enjoy doing or activities that offer low emotional vulnerability. The end result is that they tend to work long hours and generate little or no value for the entire day.
An example of this could be a business operator that has a technical background and spends his time “playing” with the technical aspects rather than making sales and chasing up new work.
As discussed earlier a lot of business owners, and in particular small business owners view all tasks as essential. This is because if they don’t do it, then no one else will. Thus everything becomes essential.
That’s not a problem per se, but one needs to understand the difference between Essential Tasks and Growth Tasks.
All essential tasks need to be done in order to keep the business running. However, growth tasks do not, and this is the reason why they happen to fall by the wayside.
The following chart below shows the difference between the three levels of tasks. One being tasks that somewhat helps the business, the next are essential tasks that need to be completed in order to keep a business running. The last is growth tasks that actually help grow and develop a company.
To grow any business, you have to really think about how you use your time.
Think about it this way, how do I produce a 10,000% return on my time?
What tasks can I do that continually produce value over time, i.e., the completed task has a reoccurring or residual value.
This graph shows the difference in growth between a company can experience when engaging in Essential tasks vs. Growth tasks.
One of the biggest lessons small business owners can take from corporates like venture capital and private equity firms is, they focus on the things that drive sales and growth.
There are a number of ways they do this, and it really depends on the business and the industry. But to keep things simple, they create KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and track and measure the MOST IMPORTANT tasks that will produce success.
All small and medium businesses can apply this growth principle. Find out what drives your industry, then apply some matrices to those tasks.
The 1% growth principle is just that. Strive to grow your business by 1% each and every day.
Let’s put some numbers behind the 1% growth rule.
Let’s assume you can grow your business by 1% each day (you can look at this on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis) which I might add isn’t very hard if you haven’t maximized all your potential growth channels.
On a 5-day working week, working 48-weeks per year, it’s possible to grow your business by 240% for the year.
Now some of you might be thinking that this example is not realistic, so let’s look at it from a more conservative approach.
What if you grew your business by 2% each week, on a 48-week working year, this would mean that your business would grow by 96% for the year.
Now, this is not entirely accurate because there would be a compounding effect that would take place.
An example as follows:
So, let’s say in January you revamped your website and added a few freebies (free downloads) for people to download. The goal of this was to collect email addresses.
Midway through January, you built an email sales funnel.
Now comes along February and you decided to give free initial consultations.
You also started using some software that cut down your administration time by 1 hour each day.
Now the obvious growth from this example is that your website has been improved, you’ve created a freebie, and now you’re collecting email addresses.
You’ve set up a CRM system and a sales funnel to engage with prospects.
You’re offering a free initial consultation, and you’ve increased your productivity by 12.5% each day. These are the obvious gains that you’ve made.
But it’s important to note that there’s been a compounding effect that is starting to take effect.
Because you have improved your website and are now offering freebies, your database of prospects has increased and continued to grow each month.
Because of that, you are now able to offer free consultations which has intern increased your conversion rate.
Additionally, because you have an extra hour each day, this gives you time to chase more sales.
With all things being equal this should continue throughout the rest of the year.
One tactic that can be used to garnish growth is to create a growth time each day. By creating space for growth, you’re giving yourself the best chance to engage in activities that are going to drive your business forward.
Set some time for growth each day/week, make it a priority, stick to it. Be disciplined.
When reflecting on what you have achieved each day or week.
Only count activities that are growth related. Never consider essential tasks as achievements for the day.
Identify and set up KPI’s that will drive success. This will create discipline and focus you on tasks that drive growth.
If you don’t achieve the KPI, ask yourself “how” or “what” needs to happen in order to achieve it.
One of the best ways to grow your business is to delegate, outsource, automate or eliminate tasks that are minimum wage or low value.
Many small business owners spend a disproportionate amount of their time on tasks that don’t directly drive value.
Again, these tasks are important, and they need to be done, but they add little in the way of value generation and prevent businesses from achieving growth.
If there are growth tasks that need to happen, and you don’t have the skills or expertise to do them, then outsource them to someone who can help you. The important thing is that they get done.
If you are committed to growing your business, the first step should be an in-depth business analysis to better understand your business’ potential.
Strategy States business evaluation tool is a great place to start. It provides the most comprehensive analysis of your business and creates a roadmap for growth.
Evaluating your business, auditing it, giving it a health check, popping the bonnet under the hood of your business, whatever you want to call it. All businesses need to be analyzed and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that they remain healthy, competitive, and heading in the direction that the owners intend.
Evaluating your business has often been a task that is overlooked by business owners as most of their time is spent working in the business and managing the daily tasks.
Not much has been written on the subject of business evaluations and the importance of business owners stepping back periodically and taking a good look at their business from the outside.
Below are the top seven reasons why evaluating your business is vital with business changing at such a rapid rate.
On average, over 60% of businesses are profitable before they go into receivership or bankruptcy. This means that some of these businesses are “good businesses,” but still manage to fail.
Most businesses that go under, don’t go under because of some catastrophic event, but because there have been many tasks that they have, or have not been doing over an extended period of time.
By completing an evaluation and taking the time to step back and have a look at your business, you can often identify problems and issues before they get out of control.
The old saying of “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” rings true. If you don’t evaluate your business, it can be hard to put the finger on what the issues are.
As the saying goes, you can’t proof your own work. It’s very hard for people to objectively look at their business and fairly recognize the holes and mistakes that they might have and inadequacy within the business. This is especially true if you have been involved in the industry or business for a very long time.
This is the main reason why people get business advisors and business coaches involved. They want someone from the outside to help them with their business that’s coming at it from a different angle.
As a business advisor, you come across many interesting people. I had a discussion with a guy one day, and I asked him a question, “How do you quote on your jobs?”
He proceeded to explain in great detail how he priced his jobs. To my amazement, he had been misquoting his work for the last 25 years. Now, I don’t mean he quoted differently, I mean incorrectly!
He was under-pricing his work substantially in relation to industry averages. He didn’t know what his competitors were charging; he was in a race to the bottom all by himself.This practice over a period of 25 years had him losing money (leaving money on the table) on every job.
Now, if we take a figure of $15,000 per year (loss), and we span that out over 25 years, we could say that this person lost $375,000 in revenue.
For a solo operator, that’s a chunk of change.
The lesson here is having a deep understanding of your industry, and make sure you know everything there is to know about it.
A solid evaluation should cover the following areas (see list below).
Examining these key areas will ensure the greatest chance of success and reduce your business risk.
Leadership & Wellbeing
Accounting & Finance
Most small businesses don’t have an endless supply of funds, time, and resources to achieve their goals.
This brings me to my next point of identifying and focusing on the key tasks that are going to drive your business forward. But in order to get to that point, you first have to understand your business; what’s going on and what are the things that are going to generate the greatest impact.
One lesson SME’s can learn from private equity and venture capital firms is; when working for a company, they identify what the industry’s 3-5 must-wins are.
They focus on the key things that drive a business forward. What this does is that it creates a laser-like focus on the activities that are going to produce the greatest results for the least amount of resources possible, thus maximizing their return.
What solo, small, and medium businesses can take from this is that once you have evaluated your business and you’ve identified your must-wins, you can then allocate the required resources to achieve those tasks and disregard other tasks that have little or no value.
Below is an example of a chart that shows the different pain points within the business. You can see which initiatives are the most important based on Impact and Priority.
In terms of business planning and strategy, as discussed earlier, businesses have limited resources for achieving initiatives.
Evaluating your business and identifying the areas that you need to work on helps with the business planning process. It enables business owners to focus on tasks that need to be completed over three months, six months, and 12-month periods.
This type of planning enables team members to concentrate on tasks that are going to have a direct impact on the profitability and competitiveness of the company.
Typically, after an evaluation has been completed, business owners can break tasks up into:
This can also be supplemented with monthly reporting and adjusting your KPI’s accordingly.
We should all strive to buy a high learning curve position; i.e., we want to gain the greatest amount of information in the shortest time possible so that we can make better-informed decisions.
This also applies when utilizing the resources of a business advisor. Business advisors, like many other service providers, want to provide the highest value possible to their clients.
To do this, they need to have a deep understanding of your business. The more they know about your business, the better, and higher value information they can provide. There is nothing worse for an advisor to find out several months after the initial engagement that crucial pieces of information have been undiscovered.
Do yourself and your advisor a favor by giving your business a full evaluation before you engage in their services. Give your advisor a strong starting point. You want your business advisor to be thinking of ways to double or triple your business in the next 12 months.
You want them to be focusing on things, such as scaling your product, creating leverage, joint ventures, and alliances. Things that are really going to grow your sales. You don’t want them working on tasks that are not going to directly drive growth.
No matter what stage or size of your business, by conducting a business evaluation you will better identify opportunities to create growth and sustainability.
After identifying these growth initiatives, you’ll reduce mistakes and gain a better return on your time.
Business evaluations give owners a helicopter view of the business that allows them to analyze key areas of their business in one concise document.
Below is an example of the overview page from the Strategy States Business Evaluation:
Like to find out more about how you can evaluate your business and take things to the next level? Read more about the product.