5 free (or cheap) marketing tools

If you ever spent time as a fly on the wall here at Fonality, you'd probably hear someone talk about "drinking our own champagne." We mean we have a lot in common with our customers – who tend to have between five to 250 employees, and we develop and use our products based on the needs of companies just like us. We act like our customers in other ways, too.

Even though we've been around for 10 years and have 300,000 users, we've never stopped stretching every dollar. We don't have an in-house graphic designer or billion dollar marketing budget. So for every other scrappy marketer out there, here's a list of my new favorite free and affordable marketing tools.

5 Free (or Cheap) Marketing Tools

1) Stock photos. I fell in love with Death to the Stock Photo after reading about the site in Guiding Tech's list of free photo sources. Just sign up for their email, and they'll drop you a free pack of photos at least once a month. And tell you a story.

They've since added a premium version, too. At $20/month, that's still way less than the big boys. (If you've got a bit more to spend and need a lot of photos like we do, Thinkstock has a great selection and the best search function I've found.)

2) Image editing. If all you need to do is resize an image, convert from PNG to JPG, or add a drop shadow...someone's built a web app for that. Speaking of apps, if you've got a site or app you want to show off on a phone screen for a presentation, check out Perfect Screen Shot (Android, Free to $1.99).

3) Infographic mania. If you don't mind a little branding, you'll find a ton of free options to help you create infographics ranging from showcasing a simple stat to more complex concepts. I recently used Piktochart to create an image to go along with this blog post.

Infogr.am and Easel.ly are two others worth checking out depending on your needs. All three are freemium with the option to add snazzy features for a reasonable cost.

4) Design basics. Canva makes basic tasks like putting together a blog post image (like the one above) or updating the Facebook cover for your business soooooooo easy. They've got templates from here to Timbuktu and great tutorials to help you get started.  

5) Professional help. I stumbled across Design Pickle through a Facebook ad last week. At $195/month it's the most expensive "cheap" resource on my list. But for getting slightly spendy you get virtually unlimited help with stuff like resizing an ad or designing a simple flyer. They specialize in the quick-turn stuff experienced designers don't want to do. I've done two projects already. Results are promising. Don't abuse the process, and they promise designs back within one business day. Be still my thrifty little heart.

These tools will never replace professional designers or talented marketers (at least I hope not!). But they are invaluable additions to my marketing toolbox. And now, maybe yours.

What are some of your favorite budget-friendly business tools? Leave a comment. If I start using your suggestion, I'll send you a Fonality tumbler!
NetFortris Team
About the author: NetFortris provides flexible, scalable, cloud-based voice and data communications customized with the exact security and compliance your business needs. Multi-level protection, cloud-based backup and bi-directional failover ensure business continuity while big data analytics with real-time service control improves your operational performance. NetFortris also serves its customers with carrier-grade networks, business and communications applications, and expert service. Our solution engineers work with you to design a fully managed and automated system tailored for your business.