All purpose digital business tools for independent brands and small businesses

If you’re a small business owner, an employee who’s been tasked with marketing (although it’s not your primary job), a pre-funding start-up or a freelancer / solopreneur trying to keep an eye on the marketing without adequate time or budget, this post is for you.

It’s for you because tools and technology are the backbones of any holistic marketing effort in today’s fast passed business environment. And let’s face it, not having adequate time and budget to learn and pay for the right tools, doesn’t diminish the role these tools play in managing marketing initiatives.

So we’ve tried to save you a bit of time and budget by sharing some of the best tools around the web. Most of these tools are free, and none require a payment of more than $25 to $50.

Most of these tools can scale with your company once you’re ready to increase your marketing. Once your business plans to spend $100 a month or more on any tool, we recommend chatting with a marketing professional to make sure they’re a good fit for your goals, team size, employee skill-set and marketing budget.

Take a look, and feel free to ask us any questions about these tools. Have fun!

Business

Hubspot or Highrise – Your business needs a CRM regardless of its size and preferably one that will grow with the company over time to avoid a costly or time-consuming switch later on. Here are two tools that can help you, choose what you feel matches your needs best. We prefer Highrise for teams managing projects and current clients and HubSpot for teams managing accounts and sales.

Close – This CRM is for high volume sales teams that call need tracking and/or call recording integrated into the solution.

Google Alerts – Industry, competitors and your own business are generating information and data across the internet all the time. While many specialized tools can help you keep up with these mentions, this one is free and has been used for years to stay in the know about topics relevant to you.

Hemingway & Grammarly – While these tools aren’t specifically for marketers; they are essential to the quality of the communications leaving your business. Writing is still the foundation of most if not all well-done marketing. Yes, this includes video and photography as well, so being sure of your words is important. At CodeSwitch we prefer Grammarly, but they’re both great tools.

Rescue Time – Everyone is battling with productivity; at CodeSwitch we approach this problem the way we do all of our business and marketing problems, with strategy. To do so, we need data, and that’s where Rescue Time comes in. Knowing how much time your spending on social media, business sites, or client websites can give you some great ideas of what’s happening during the workday. We install this tool for many clients who are looking to have their staff manage pieces of their marketing, social media in particular. We do not advise this tool to be used to track employee computer usage.

Diigo – We prefer tools that hit the sweet spot between broad toolset with specific but dynamic purpose. Diigo fits this bill perfectly. It’s more than just bookmarks, they’ve anticipated that you sometimes bookmark websites for different reasons than booking marketing an article. They’ve also built in ways to share these things with your team and annotate them when you do. It’s a great general use tool.

Calendly or Doodle – While admittedly we still prefer to ask most of our clients for a time, we recommend both of these tools to quite a few of our clients. When you’re scheduling extremely busy people, large numbers of people or have very limited availability that should be filled quickly; these tools are indispensable. These tools are great for service professionals that provide appointment times on a regular basis.

Asana or Flow – Having a team means managing a team and that requires something more than an excel sheet if the plan is to stay on top of all the campaigns and initiatives a winning marketing approach will require. While there are many players with great offerings—we can vouch for Trello and Basecamp to name a few—Asan and flow are the two we recommend if you’re getting your feet wet with project management and want to learn, and hopefully, document your teams workflow before allocating a bit of budget for other tools. These tools will also scale with your company should you decide to stay with them.

Privnote – Passing along passwords and sensitive information to team members and vendors like CodeSwitch happens all the time. One of the first on-boarding tasks for our team is gathering logins and passwords so that we don’t get stuck not handling a task by not making the ask upfront. While high end security isn’t always warranted or available (we suggest 1Password if your budget allows), Privnote can be your go-to tool when sending private notes and passwords with some small amount of security is needed.