Accelerate and maximize the ROI of your company's marketing and communications with affordable options for automation and outsourcing.
Whether you have a one-day-old startup with a single founding member or a ten-year-old operation with an established team, you need to maximize the productivity and efficiency of your marketing and communications. In this article, we’ll explore affordable tools, services, and resources that your startup might leverage to augment the capabilities of your team through automation, outsourcing, and a combination of both.
Accelerating Your Written Content Creation
Words matter. First impressions count. Yes, these are cliches, but that’s because they are true. Your company and its offerings will be judged by the way you present them. While creating compelling visuals (photography, graphic design, and videos) can be relatively technically demanding, time-consuming, and costly, written content is much quicker and cheaper to produce. Saying the right things to the right people at the right time in the right way can bring high ROI.
The written content your startup publishes online will likely grow to include blog posts, white papers, and support documentation - all of which will gradually boost your website’s search result rankings. You may also choose to publish a newsletter or have a collection of email templates for different situations. These all need to be well written. Not only should they be easy to understand and in the right tone/style for your target audience, but they should be error free.
If you are writing in-depth blog posts or white papers, it can help to have your most essential statements backed up with references credible sources. Freelancer websites such as Conyac allow you to post research projects, including those that require foreign language abilities and have qualified freelancers bid to take them on.
Translation & Localization
At some stage, you may want to consider targeting non-English-speaking markets with your offerings. Let’s look at ways to streamline this.
Crowdsourcing: Freelance job marketplace platforms such as Conyac allow you to post translation projects of any size and have human freelancers apply to take them on. This is best for text which requires subjectivity and creativity to render a natural-sounding translation in the target language.
Most startups set up a blog but struggle to produce original content regularly. One solution is to interview people whom your target audience will find interesting. This way, you only have to come up with the questions. You can then take the audio recording or video of the interview and have it transcribed.
Transcription is one area where AI will eventually replace humans, but for now, it tends to perform best with clearly spoken US English in a high-quality recording (no background noise).
If you prefer to let AI do the transcription and then edit it yourself, free options include GBoard (Google Keyboard) or YouTube (for videos). Paid services that do a great job using a hybrid of AI and humans behind the scenes include Rev and TranscribeMe.
Another option for creating original blog content is to hire a freelance writer who can produce high-quality posts that will capture the attention of your target audience. Some blogs are so good that they attract a strong fan following, which naturally leads to people becoming curious about the company behind the blog and what it offers.
Start by writing up a brief that clearly defines precisely the kind of content you want, the length of each article, and frequency. Be specific about the knowledge, expertise, or experience the writer should have. Also, note if you expect them to do research for each article. Sites such as Conyac are a great place to source such writers.
Proofreading, Editing, and Rewriting
If you have a particularly sophisticated or specialized offering, it could be that only one of your team members understands enough to write content such as blog posts or a white paper. However, they may not be experienced writers, or perhaps English isn’t their first language.
Automated tools such as Grammarly and Hemmingway can augment the capabilities of a talented writer to catch mistakes they might otherwise miss. However, they won’t help someone who struggles with English or is only just beginning their journey as a writer.
Qualified editors can be hired easily via crowdsourcing sites such as Conyac, but be sure to specify the scope of work and required expertise. Note that there is a big difference between hiring someone to simply proofread and correct errors versus heavy editing to make a poorly written piece into something that people will want to read.
Showing Your Value Proposition Visually
For items such as blog and social media posts, you can find free-to-use photos via sites such as Pexels, Pixabay, or Unsplash. The latter is my favorite, but Pixabay has better search functionality.
Having high-quality photos of your team members and office will help establish credibility with customers, partners, and prospective recruits. If nobody on your team is an accomplished photographer, you can use platforms such as Snappr to find pre-vetted pro photographers at affordable fixed prices. Another option is a classified site such as CraigsList.
There may be times when you have taken photos of your team or events. If the picture is just a casual snap taken with someone’s phone, then it might be worthwhile taking the time to do a bit of editing before sharing it online.
If you don’t have a Photoshop expert in-house, here are a few convenient and low-cost options:
Photo Managers: The likes of Google Photos and Apple Photos have simple but effective editing tools.
Automated Editors: Affordable and easy to use automated photo editing tools such as Photolemur can breathe some life into a poorly lit photo.
Touch Ups: TouchRetouch is an easy way to remove unwanted items from a photo. You can take out anything from overhead power lines, skin blemishes, to stains on a shirt.
Freelancers: If you require professional level photo editing skills, then consider hiring a Photoshop guru on a freelancer marketplace such as Conyac.
If your startup is relatively established, then you probably have a branding system in place including your logo, color scheme, and fonts. You then applied this to items such as your website, business cards, and brochures.
Building on your branding system, further items you may need a designer to assist with could include infographics, custom graphics, or art for posting on your blog and social media.
Design competition sites are generally frowned upon by professional designers because they exploit the labor of the competition participants. Here are some more ethical alternatives:
Subscription: You can hire crowdsourced design resources on a recurring monthly fee from crowdsourcing services such as Design Pickle.
Ad-Hoc: For one-off projects, post a design brief on a marketplace such as Conyac.
Examples of video content your startup may want to consider include:
Explainer Videos: If any of your services or products require an explanation for the value proposition to be understood, consider having an explainer video made.
Interview Videos: Starting a video channel and regularly publishing videos of interviews with people of interest to your target market is a tried and true way to generate content. If you’re unsure of how to set up for a high-quality shoot, consider having a local videographer consult. They can teach you what gear you will need and how to set it up. After that, you can probably do it yourself. Streaming the video live is a popular approach these days. Later, you can have a copy of the footage edited into segments.
Event Videos: If one of your team members speaks at an event, try to get a video of it. If your team has the capacity to organize your own events, then the speaker sessions can be great content for your video channel.
Resources to look into include:
DIY Tools: For videos, entry-level tools include iMovie (Mac) and Filmora (multi-platform). For animations such as explainer videos, look into tools such as SimpleShow and Wideo.
Videographers: For finding local video professionals, 90Seconds is an excellent great service. To have a pro do ad-hoc editing remotely, consider Conyac.
Animators: When creating an explainer video, it’s best to go with a specialist in the genre such as Video Cubix or Video Explainerz.
Expanding Your Reach and Influence
Most startups struggle to stay active on social media and regularly post content that their target audience finds interesting. If you are unable to hire someone to do it in-house, there are various options available.
Management Tools: Buffer and HootSuite are popular social media management tools that allow you to prepare posts in advance and schedule them to be sent out later to multiple platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. They can also help with consolidating your analytics, monitoring mentions, and managing your community.
Curation Tools: An alternative to producing original content is the curation of content that your target audience would find interesting. Quuu is a service that automates this process. Be sure to add your own unique commentary to each post and use hashtags effectively for more reach.
Freelancers: Hiring a local creative agency is likely to be out of your budget, but skilled individuals can be sourced via freelance marketplaces such as Conyac.
Depending on your niche, influencers (including micro and nano-influencers) may be a high ROI channel for attracting new customers or users. However, there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. Let’s examine some options.
DIY Tools: Upfluence can help with both the research phase (selecting influencers), management of your campaign (helpful if you’re using more than one influencer), and analyzing results. Heepsy also aids in finding influencers and evaluating the quality of their followers.
Freelancers: Depending on the approach you would like to follow, influencer marketing can be quite labor intensive - even if you have specialized tools. If hiring an agency to help is out of your budget, consider posting a brief to sites such as Conyac to find a freelancer with experience in this kind of work.
If marketing isn’t your field of specialization, success can seem quick and easy. Reading the promotional materials on the various solutions available can often reinforce this delusion. Success in marketing is found by having the right strategy, choosing the right tools or resources for the job, and dogged persistence. Getting started and reviewing all the available options can be overwhelming, so feel free to post any questions below.
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Written by DLKR
Photo by BBH Singapore from Unsplash + edits