What impression does your business make on potential clients? Does your brand suit your target market? While you don’t need to spend thousands on branding your business in the early stages, you can still use these tools to give your company a professional image.
- Low cost professional image
As a start-up you want clients to believe that you are a trustworthy, legitimate business to work with. It is possible to use a professional design service without incurring major expenses. UnderR300 offers various services for (as the name suggests) under R300, including logos, letterheads, email signatures, domain registration, hosting services, WordPress setup, websites, website copy, setting up social media accounts, flyers, brochures, packaging and more.
Get it from: UnderR300 (www.underr300.biz)
Cost: Less than R300
- DIY logo design
Fancy yourself as a bit of designer? Well even if you answered ‘no’ Logomaker makes it so simple for you to design your own logo, and to do so for free, that you might just want to try your hand at it. There are more than 10 000 different icons to choose from, and once you have done so you can use the design tool to change the size, colours and font. When you are happy with the design you will be provided with an HTML code to paste into your website for free. If you want to use your logo for non-web applications you can purchase the high resolution file for $49.
Get it from: www.logomaker.com
- Free logo and stationery design
You can save a lot of money by designing your own logo for free, as well as matching business cards, envelopes and flyers. LogoSnap gives you the tools to create your own unique logo in a matter of minutes in three easy steps, with the option to create matching stationery. There are thousands of logo symbols and dozens of fonts to choose from.
Get it from: www.logosnap.com
- Business icon
Did you know that the icon you see in your links list and next to the address bar on many sites is called a favicon (short for favourites icon) — a small icon file which you can customise. It’s a great marketing tool to help your customers visually distinguish your website in their ‘favourites’ list and adds a professional touch. You can create one yourself with favicon. The site allows you to choose colours, click on squares to create your logo or image, and download the favicon when you are finished. You can then put the favicon.icon file into your webserver directory. And best of all? It’s free.
Get it from: www.favicon.cc
Your business’s survival will come down to sales. Before you even launch the business you need to plan how you will market your business to drive sales. Here are some low or no cost tools to help you.
- You’ve got mail
Got a message you want to get out there to potential clients? You can print thousands of pamphlets to distribute or you can use email and SMS marketing. GraphicMail lets you send out up to 5 000 email newsletters per month for free, but if you want more it costs only R69,95. You can design the newsletter yourself or use one of the 300 templates offered.
Get it from: www.graphicmail.co.za
- Easy email
MailChimp let’s you send 12 000 emails per month to a list of up to 2 000 subscribers for free, forever! The site lets you design the email newsletters, share them on social networks and track your results. But, unless you upgrade to a paid account, the MailChimp badge will appear on the footer of your newsletters.
Get it from: www.mailchimp.com
- Know your customers
Customer research is an important step in starting a business, as you need to determine your target market and its response to your product or service. PollDaddy lets you create customised surveys and view responses to them. The basic, free features include 200 survey responses per month, 10 questions per survey and basic reports for polls, surveys and quizzes. The surveys contain Polldaddy links.
Get it from: www.polldaddy.com
- Quiz your market
As your business grows, you need to make sure you are constantly listening to customer feedbank to make sure your product is always in line with their needs and preferences. You can conduct regular surveys for free through SurveyMonkey’s Basic package. It gives you 10 questions per survey, 100 responses per survey and real-time results. You will have access to 24/7 email customer support and can collect data via a weblink, email, Facebook or embed the survey on your site or blog.
Get it from: www.surveymonkey.com
- ‘Hear’ your customers
It’s important to know what your customers are thinking and saying about your product or service. With all the online tools at their disposal like email, Facebook, Twitter and more it can be a challenge to keep up with their feedback. Assistly is a service that collects all your customer service conversations into one place. Assistly helps you monitor what customers are saying on social networks and also helps you build a customer help centre for your site. While some of the features are only available with the higher packages, one person at your organisation will be able to use the service for free.
Get it from: www.assistly.com
- Make a plan
As it does with business plans, Palo Alto Software offers a site packed with marketing-plan advice, tools, and of course a collection of free sample marketing plans.
Get it from: www.mplans.com
- Spread the news
The Press Office
Getting media coverage for your new company can give the business a big boost, if it’s positive. Public relations is often overlooked in the early stages of a business, but it can be beneficial. You don’t need to hire a PR practitioner or appoint a professional agency. The Press Office offers a range of services to write and distribute press releases on your behalf. The most basic package is free and comprises a 350 word release which is distributed to its subscribers, but the higher packages are priced at R150, R450 and R600 and include longer releases and other features like images, statistics and SEO keywords.
Get it from: www.pressoffice.co.za
Cost: Free – R600