Hi and welcome to episode 32 of Startup Marketing. Today we’re going to be talking about the tools I use to help make myself more efficient when it comes to marketing my business.
Managing your marketing takes time and energy, which is why having tools to help make it more efficient is critical to being successful. Without these tools, or ones like them because there are tons to choose from, you’ll be doing everything manually and you’ll quickly feel like you don’t have time to get everything done. Today’s episode will be pretty short and sweet, so let’s dive in.
The first tool I always recommend to my clients is Trello. Trello is a free organization tool, but has an upgraded option that allows you to add what they call “powerups” to your boards that take the tool to the next level. But, before we get into that, let me break down Trello. Trello’s my absolute favorite tool because it’s easy to learn and use. There are some organization tools out there that I’ve used that I found to be a little cumbersome or confusing to get the hang of and for me, that’s always a turn off. I don’t want to spend a lot of my time learning how to start using a tool, I want to spend my time learning how to make it work well for me.
My former boss recommended Trello to me when he started working at my old organization. Trello’s a way to keep track of projects and tasks that allows you to see the big picture and the minute details. With Trello, you can create these things called boards for projects. For example, I can create a board for all of my website projects and within that board, I can create lists of the tasks that need to get done and further break those tasks down into smaller to-do’s. I can assign the task to myself or other people I’m working with and assign a due date. In my corporate job, I used trello to keep everyone on track and campaign production on schedule. Today, as an entrepreneur, I use it to organize client projects, my ideas for my own projects and coordinate with vendors.
When I put together a marketing strategy for my clients, I like to put it all into a board so they can see their entire plan mapped out with small actionable steps that help them continue to make forward progress toward their goal. It also helps me keep all of my thoughts organized and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks when it comes to getting a project done. The biggest benefit to Trello is that, when you use it properly, it allows you to complete projects in an organized and timely manner, so you’re not scrambling to get things done.
With the free version of Trello, you can have ten different boards at any time and you can put one powerup on them. Power Ups are options you can place on boards that help you become more efficient. For example, you can put a calendar powerup on your board, so you can see every project’s due dates and milestones on a calendar. Or, you can add my new favorite powerup, Unito, on to boards and create automated workflows that are triggered at the push of the button, which saves you even more time when you’re working in Trello by doing things like sharing information between people or boards. Trello is the backbone of my marketing management process and for good reason. So, if you’re finding yourself unorganized or scattered on projects, you have to check it out.
The next tool I really like is my daily planner. Now, I’m kinda old school and I like having a physical paper planner and my favorite one is The Best Self Journal. The name is a bit of a misnomer because it’s not actually a journal, but it does help me be my best self. I like it because the dates aren’t on every page, you write them in, so if you’re out of the office for a week, you don’t waste seven days of the pages. And, it allows me to skip weekends when I’m not working. I use it to time block my day; mapping out when I’m going to work on certain projects. There’s a little space for notes and daily gratitude. But, the real wins come from the goal setting process. Each journal’s meant to be used on a quarterly basis, so it walks you through setting quarterly goals and a way to reward yourself. Then, it helps you break down those goals into monthly, weekly and daily to-dos, taking your goals from these big pie in the sky visualizations to actionable steps each day that keep you making forward progress. With the Best Self Journal’s system, I was able to take my idea of creating a podcast from ideation to launch in just a few weeks. Much shorter than if I had just thought about it and put it on a to-do list. I set the goal, used Trello to map out what it would take to get it done, and put those individual tasks into my daily goals in my journal. Boom. Done. It’s very satisfying to look back and chronicle the ideas and their process. But most importantly, using this daily planner keeps me laser focused on what has to get done.
Now, the one downfall is that there isn’t a spot to take daily notes. There are note pages in the back, but when I used it in the corporate world, I took far more meeting notes than there was space, so I did supplement with a notepad by Ink + Volt. It was a small notepad, which I liked, but it gave me space to note who was at the meeting, major objectives and tasks that were assigned to me, which I promptly transferred to my best self journal on my rolling to-do list.
Once you’re super organized, these next tools help you execute automatically.
My next recommendation is to get a social media scheduler. If you’re still posting your content to social media manually, it’s time to put a tool in place. Having a social media scheduler means your content automatically posts to your social media channels and you don’t have to worry about it. This is perfect because it keeps you posting consistently, which is really important to growing your social media followers and creating trust and authority among them, but you don’t have to stop and think each day about what you’re going to post. You take a little bit of time at the start of each week or month and get it all scheduled.
Today, the tool I use to post all of my content is called Buffer. It’s relatively inexpensive, like about $19/month, and is really easy to learn. So, if you’re intimidated by learning a new tool, Buffer is a great option. Their basic plan is a bit limited in functionality, but, I really do think that’s ok when you’re starting out. If you’re really ready to be all in on social media, including analyzing analytics, or, if you’re not sure how to craft high quality social media posts, my other recommendation is to use Loomly. Loomly allows you to sync more social accounts on their basic plan than Buffer will, but the real power comes from their fine-tuning steps. As you place your text into the scheduler, it highlights things like the best time to post, if you need to shorten your copy and other things you can do to make your post perform its best. I really like it because you learn a lot as you create your posts. It’s more expensive than Buffer, coming in at $25/month, but, you can create posts across channels more quickly with Loomly and you get that extra education, so could totally be worth it for you.
If you’re all in on Pinterest, I really recommend Tailwind. I did an entire episode on why I recommend TAilwind, so I’m not going to do a deep dive into it here, but Tailwind really gives you great options to get your pins out in front of more people than you can with other social media platforms. If you’re interested in why you should use Pinterest and Tailwind, hop back to episode 10.
The key with social media scheduling tools is to find the one that works for you. Think about what networks you want to post to and go from there. There are plenty of tools that post just to Instagram, there are others that post to several at the same time. Then it comes down to the bells and whistles. They all function the same at their core, it comes down to how easy they are for you to use, price point and what extra value they bring. My recommendation here is to research them, pick 2-3 of them and use the free trial for each of them so you can see which one you like best.
Alright, you’re getting organized, you’re getting your social media automated, now you need help making your social media look nice, or creating high quality advertising pieces for your business. If you’re not in a position where you can hire a graphic designer and you aren’t one yourself, or, even if you are and just want to save a little time, here’s where Canva comes in. Canva’s a drag and drop graphic design tool. They’ve got templates for everything from social media posts to presentations, infographics, posters, you name it. You can swap out colors and pictures in the templates to match your brand and quickly download them to use. It’s how I create all of my social media graphics. But, I’ve also used it to create elements for my website. If you need to print something like a postcard, Canva can even take care of printing for you. I think they might even allow you to upload addresses and they send them to you. I haven’t used that function before, but in a pinch, it’s definitely something to look into. Canva is free, but you can upgrade to a pro package for $10/month and I highly recommend it. It opens up tons more stock photography and gives you my favorite function, the magic resize button. In one click, it will automatically resize any design into the proper specs for another channel. For example, I can create an Instagram post, click the magic resize button, and boom, I’ve got Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest sized graphics.
I use each of these tools in a basic flow for feeding my content machine each week. I map out my podcasts in Trello, use canva to create graphics for them and then load them into Buffer. My Best Self Journal keeps me on track daily so I can get everything checked off my to-do list and keep up with my clients.
So, there you have it. Those are my four favorite tools to help make managing my marketing easy and efficient. You can find these and three more of my favorite tools by downloading my free marketing resource bundle at getauthenticbranding.com/resources. If you want to level up your marketing knowledge, you can download my content process with a one-time subscription to my marketing resource library. It’s $27, but startup marketing listeners can use the code sm20 to get $5 off at getauthenticbranding.com/resources.
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Until next time.