Creating quality organic traffic is no easy feat. Brian Meert, CEO of AdvertiseMint, shares,
"I started my advertising agency fresh off a failed business and with $150k in debt. This meant every step of my business' journey needed to be specific and planned out. I knew my agency was in the right space as Facebook was providing new levels of ad targeting that were previously unavailable to advertisers, but I could not afford a misstep if I wanted my business to survive."
Recently AdvertiseMint hit a milestone in their organic search results, coming up on page one for the search term "Facebook advertising agency." This huge success came after three years of diligent work. Regardless of the type of company you run, Meert shares 20 essential tools that businesses can use to minimize expenses, save time, and ensure success.
1. Google Suite
G Suite pricing: $5 or $10/mo
Because my agency is built on communication, I needed Google Suite to help me communicate with my clients as I managed their Facebook ads. Google Suite provides you access to several Google products and enterprise support. You can easily manage all employees and their access to Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Hangouts, etc.
Upwork pricing: varies
When I first started, I needed to build experience and grow my clientele. To do this I used Upwork, a website for freelancers looking for projects. I applied for every Facebook advertising position, quickly achieved a #1 ranking, and generated revenue along the way to grow my business.
WeWork pricing: $45+/mo
To obtain office space on a tight budget, I used a shared office space like WeWork, which provides co-working space for startups and small businesses. For a small monthly fee, you get access to a professional office building with high speed Wifi, printing, and board rooms ready for you to use. You are also able to network with others in the building or attend their frequent networking events.
Kabbage credit line: max. $100,000
With any small business, cash flow is hard to manage. It doesn't matter how many good months you have--all it takes is one bad month for everything to turn for the worse. To help manage cash flow variability, I used Kabbage. It was the easiest to use. You just enter the details for your banks and quickbooks, and Kabbage will let you know how much you're approved for within 24-48 hours.
5. Quickbooks Online
Quickboooks pricing: $10-40/mo
Managing your books can be a huge consumer of your time. To keep it simple, I used Quickbooks online, which can easily sync with all your bank accounts. Quickbooks imports all of your transactions, which you can then put in your categories. Quickbooks online can also handle payroll and merchant card processing. Although Quickbooks' rates were higher, having a single solution that solved three of my problems was worth it.
6. Bank of America
Bank of America pricing: free
There were two tools Bank of America provided that helped me grow and adapt my business quickly. The first is online bill pay, a fast and easy way to pay vendors, free of charge. You enter their information, and Bank of America will send a check in the mail. The other is mobile check deposits, which allows me to deposit checks using my mobile phone, saving me a trip to the ATM, and ensuring checks were deposited as quickly as possible.
Rebump pricing: $99
This is one of my favorite secrets that I originally learned from Vincent Dignan, a growth hacker and author. Rebump, a product of gmail, automatically sends short follow-up messages for you on day 3, 7, and 14 if a person doesn't respond.
Grasshopper pricing: $12-199/mo
As a startup, I needed a phone system that worked around my life, not the other way. Most corporate or VOIP phones are expensive and require a lot of set up. Grasshopper allows you to set up a maximum of six lines with all calls directed to a mobile phone. Users can also make outgoing calls from their cell phones with the guise of an 800 number.
ProsperWorks pricing: $19-199/mo
CRMs are expensive and often time consuming to implement, which is why you need ProsperWorks, a cloud-based, cross-platform CRM that seamlessly integrates with Gmail, Google Drive, and the rest of the Google Apps suite. With ProsperWorks, you can easily add the person who sent you an email as a lead with a click of a button, saving you time and ensuring you never miss a prospect.
Clarity pricing: varies per minute
I found that it's often essential to get advice from an expert in a specific field. Clarity is a micro consulting platform that allows you to speak with experts in the startup world, billed by the minute. Almost every call on Clarity ended up saving me far more than what I spent because the experts knew how to cut corners or reduce expensive processes in their respective areas.
EchoSign pricing: $10-30/mo
In an attempt to be 100 percent paperless, I relied on EchoSign, a tool that allows clients to easily sign our agency agreement online. After reviewing many alternatives, I found EchoSign to have the best price and service (although I later found that they were secretly charging me $1.99 per signature).
Doxie pricing: $139 - $299
The second tool I used to be 100 percent paperless was Doxie. This allowed me to quickly scan and save receipts, contracts, images, etc in a quick and efficient manner. I know most people opt for Evernote, but much of my information was confidential, and I simply needed a fast way to create a digital version for my records.
Indeed pricing: free
Finding great talent on a budget is both difficult and time consuming. Indeed, a job searching site, does the best job of respecting both the employers' and the applicants' time. Although there are paid versions of Indeed, I've always found success with the free version, which on average will get me 30-50 applicants per position.
99Designs pricing: $299-1299
99Designs is the best process for designing a logo, website or infographic. You build a design brief, set your prize amount and start a contest. Thousands of designers across the globe can submit their designs to win the prize. The upside is you get to see multiple designs during the process, not just one.
Wordpress pricing: Free - $25/mo
Your website, the most important investment you will make into your business, determines how people perceive or find your business. With thousands of developers in its open source community, WordPress powers roughly 19 percent of websites on the entire internet. This means you can save time and money because your desired features are already available to use for free or for a small price.
16. Facebook Ads
Facebook ads pricing: varies
I'm a bit biased on this one, but Facebook advertising allows you to target ads to users who are most likely interested in your business. You can use powerful features like Lead Ads, which allow you to easily collect data from targeted users that are interested in your corporate resources and/or guides. This provides you a steady stream of leads at a low cost. If you want to know your targeting options, check out our guide to Facebook targeting.
Trello pricing: free
Focusing on the most important task is key for any startup. Trello is the best to-do list I've ever used. It allows you to set up and arrange tasks in your to-do list. You can also share lists and boards with others working on the same project to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Slack pricing: $0-$12.50/mo
Slack is an instant messaging tool, an alternative to filling up your email inbox. You can organize communications by client or projects so that there is an ongoing record of what was uploaded and said. It's fast paced, and it contains all the records that you need.
Skype pricing: free
Skype has made becoming a global business very easy. One-hundred percent of the international clients that contacted me have a Skype account, which is FREE, widely accepted and superior than most other calling- or-video chat services.
20. Apple Refurbished
Apple pricing: varies
Computer equipment is expensive. Instead of buying low-cost computers that are slow and prone to problems, I purchase powerful Apple refurbished computers. Refurbished products instantly saves you 15 percent on an older model, and it is also eligible for 3 years of Applecare. If you sell your computers when they are two and a half years old, you'll get a higher price as buyers know they have six months on the warranty to resolve any issues.