Tech Tip: 10 Free Tools for Platinum Marketing and PR

Have you heard the story about Jackson Kayak, a small manufacturer that aimed to sell out a run of $1,600 whitewater kayaks, on a lean marketing budget? Their plan: a free web application that incorporates photos, video, and info pre-formatted for posting on blogs and other social media.

Ultimately, their press release was viewed 7,000 times, as delivered the punch in their punch line!

be like superman with 10 free tools

Yes guys, with these free tools, you'll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Top 10 tools for smart marketing without the swag

I’m not against hosting swag events or working big name media contacts. But when your marketing and PR budget is near zero, and the stakes are high, you’ve got to reach the creme de la creme without heading in the wrong direction. So here’s our top ten list.

1. Jigsaw, a free tool to reveal direct contact details, to write or call leads

A VP of North American Sales for an Indian mobile app developer shared this nugget. What’s the number one way his firm reaches prospects? Jigsaw, which is 100% free and can be easily integrated with any marketing database.

I tried it and wham, instant response from every single C-level exec that I emailed. (Note that emailing contacts individually or sending an e-blast to a permission-based list is legal, but some promotional activities are not. See The Can-Spam Act.)

Jigsaw operates on a points system. When you create an account for yourself, you start with 10 points. You can redeem those points for the contact details of another executive you seek.

Spend half an hour adding business card details that update or add to their database, and you’ll rack up a sizable points bank. Then, go after the contact details of bigwigs at firms you target.

2. HARO, a free digital channel for connecting reporters and experts, to be quoted in the media

Vikram Rajan knows what it’s like to help accountants and financial professionals, and get favorable publicity from mainstream reporters. He has successfully used HARO to acquire relationships with journalists for his own business as well as his clients’ firms, and has been featured in articles from CPA Insider to The Wall Street Journal.

The home page of Help A Reporter Out separates the process for becoming a reporter, and becoming a source. If you are a small business, go to the section on the right side and hit the “Become a Source” button. Create a profile for yourself (or your business) that spells out your area of expertise. You can then receive alerts and be contacted as an authority when journalists seek to pinpoint sources.

3. PitchEngine, a press release service that includes rich media

Sending a big “thank you” to a favorite online marketer for this tip, PitchEngine provides an alternative to the traditional press release-and-push distribution system, at the right price.

PRWeb has some serious competition; PitchEngine makes it easy to publish news, promotions, and announcements that ooze class, with embedded video and rich images. Their interactive Pitch Builder offers features that enable you to create mobile-friendly, location-based, and tagged press releases. Use their analytics platform to see who has been reading your press releases and other insights, to get smarter in your marketing.

4. Topsy, a social search engine to listen in on digital conversations, and discover your brand evangelists

Beyond you shouting your own message, marketers need to know who else ranks your business as the Tiffany’s of its niche. That’s the idea behind Topsy.

I learned from Google Analytics that my brand evangelists — those who think a Mojo40 post is really worthwhile — were not fully visible.

picture from art history

I said brand evangelist, not Luke the Evangelist.

I noticed that was a top referral site for us. When I typed Mojo40 into this social search engine, out popped a new list of evangelists who were re-tweeting my content.

Discover your partners and figure out a way to mutually scratch their back.

5. Followerwonk, the quickest way to find whom to follow

Put in any search terms and Followerwonk scans the biographies of all Twitterers, showing who is dishing in your niche. Eyeball the data to see how many followers they have, how many tweets they’ve put out there, etc.

Once you’ve selected a strategic set of pundits, go old school and copy down their Twitter handles, search for them on Twitter, and hit the follow button. It used to be free and easy to follow people right in the Followerwonk screen, but as they’ve found their sweet spot, they started charging for that. The workaround is acceptable; after all, its free!

6. SEOmoz or SEObook, two places to learn about SEO

My friends, chicas, become familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so that you’re not wasting time and money working from a dinosaur site.

I’m much obliged to Byrne Hobart for this tip, but I’ll add a tiny warning. The free beginner’s guide on SEOmoz will take time to read and even longer to digest. Yet as a small business person, you can’t afford to overlook SEO even though it’s technical. It will reinforce your marketing and PR efforts and enable your business to:

  • get found online, as well as
  • increase your stickiness.

So steel yourself, and possibly attack it early in the day or lay out a carrot at the end of the task.

seo comic strip

Is SEO funny business? Matt Cutts, the SEO guru of Google, would not think so.

As an alternative to SEOmoz, there’s SEObook. With their 7-day beginner’s course, 7 separate emails come right to your inbox. So pick your poison: one large meal, or seven snacks.

The real candy of SEObook are the 3 free toolbars you can download. I use the SEO Toolbar regularly to take the personalization factor out of Google search results. See [].

After digesting, you could choose to forge on yourself or hire an SEO consultant, who is not free. But at least you’ll be better educated for writing strategic copy, making you a quicker study if you opt for additional in-house training.

7. YouTube for creating digital stories, and adding video to your communications to better engage your audience

Research shows that having video on your site and in your communications is absolutely huge in garnering readers’ interest. One CEO of a top agency quantified that “huge.” Video on a page makes it:

  • 53 times more likely to rise in rankings in search results, and
  • drops the likelihood of visitors shutting down the window (when they get to your site/ Facebook page/ press release) by 72%.

Last week, I saw an announcement of a section within YouTube that allows a small business to create digital stories with professional-quality video, replete with graphics, editing, and sound. Sponsored by Google and American Express, check out this tool and get crackin’.

8. Zoho CRM, to manage your CRM masterfully, in the cloud

You haven’t been sleeping through the revolutionary changes that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has brought, have you? If you aren’t hip with any CRM database yet, there’s no excuse. Look at Zoho’s video demo to appreciate this workhorse.

Although there are several free CRM systems, this one gets my endorsement: I value the advantages of working in the cloud, keeping details organized, and following a process for moving prospects through the funnel.

the sales funnel

The sales funnel.

(Techno-speak for getting them to buy from you.) And, as a veteran of, I like the similarity of the user-interface.

There are three editions, but for three users, the lowest edition is totally free. If your business requires more seats, you may be looking at a paid version.

9. Alltop tells you which blogs you should be reading

Your mission is to know what’s happening in relevant areas, but where are the best sources? That’s been figured out by Guy Kawasaki and friends. Alltop aggregates the top blogs. (Thanks to my network, for the suggestion!) Alphabetically, search for them by subject on the upper right-hand side, above the Search bar. For example, Mojo40 is under ‘C’, and tucked in there, under ‘Careers’.  As you build mojo, consider submitting your own blog.

10. It’s basic, but I’ve seen some pretty great results for business-to-business marketing using LinkedIn Answers (under More -> Answers)

Want to know why some folks answer hundreds of questions? Because it generates a ton of visibility and solid leads. In the screen shot below, look how many people have answered hundreds of questions THIS WEEK.


Top experts, seen in LinkedIn Answers.

How about that guy who has over 1,000 BEST Answers? Does he need to get a life? Or does he see gold?

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, cenz, Art History Project, dewaldp, Christopher S. Penn

Which tool are you most eager to try? Let me know in the comments.

MuCash lets you make donations quicky in increments as small as a single penny. By leaving a small donation every time you find something of value on Mojo40, you can help me (Diane) keep creating content like this for you to enjoy.
Did you enjoy this post?
  • Sharon O’Day

    Diane, this is a treasure trove! Thank you for putting it all in one big wooden chest. There are several I didn’t know about. Now I need to find the discipline and focus to not “go play” immediately, but to introduce myself to applicable ones as I can … It’ll be tough! ;-)

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Good on you… moving forward always, Sharon!

  • Rhea Drysdale

    Thanks for mentioning us and really solid list here! I haven’t played with Jigsaw before, will definitely take a look.

  • Izzy W

    An awesome set of resources – jam-packed with usefulness (as always!)

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Thank you, feeling an inch taller already!

  • Lynne Hasluck

    Thanks for the great resources – I’ll definitely be putting some of these to the test. One of my favorite freebies is Google alerts. You can receive alerts any time your keywords/phrases are mentioned in online media (including blogs). Use it to monitor your company’s mentions in the news, a competitor’s news coverage or simply to follow a topic of interest. Alerts are super easy to set up. Try it!

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Lynne, that’s a great tip– using Google Alerts. There’s a funny thing about the alert I set for the brand Mojo40… there’s a model airplane out there with a similar name… and it pulls in those mentions, too!

  • Joe

    Outstanding – good info w/ the right amount of content. To the point & useful.

  • Charlotte Lundberg

    Wow, this is great! many valuable tips – I’ll go and check out the Zoho CRM – to get better organised!

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Okay Charlotte, you get on that! And I’m going to test you next week (just joking)!

  • Nancy bee

    Great ideas, thanks

  • Wendy Hanlan

    Diane – thank you for the wonderful resources! I recently started a “resource library” to house all of the excellent tips and tools I come across. Your article will be included for sure!

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      I appreciate that, Wendy. I am always glad to share what has been freely offered to me, through my network!

  • robin

    Very interesting. I am not sure if I understand all of the tips, but the list is quite thorough!

  • Judy Fried Siegel MD

    Easy to read, easy to follow. Thanks for outlining and detailing what a small business woman has no time to investigate personally! JFS

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Hey, I know that time-crunched feeling! Glad to be of help.

  • Debra Lerner

    Great information clearly and considely put together. Thanks

  • Danielle Black

    Great read! Who doesn’t need SEO/SEM? AND, even if you can afford to outsource it, if you don’t know these basics.. how are you going to manage them? Printing this now!

  • MktgMaven

    Great compilation of many useful sites, especially as the online landscape is evolving so quickly! If you can get a jump on the competition by being “in the know,” more targeted, or more effective in your marketing efforts, your chances of success are much greater.

    PR is one of the most effective and low cost tactics for driving brand awareness, and it is great to see that PRWeb has competition in PitchEngine which not only distributes news releases, but also allows you to embed rich media. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and delivers a complete story for easy pickup and distribution. Remember content is king and media is always looking for new news.

    Love the list format! Keep the tips coming!! They are really helpful!!

  • Rekha Shukla

    Thanks for this list! So helpful

  • Lenka Ticha

    The list is excellent, but… what online survey? Is it not important?

    • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

      Yes, online surveys are really important, but I haven’t found one that rocks. I have used Surveymonkey, but didn’t like it. Do you have a suggestion?

  • Bruce

    This is a great list, Diane. One thing to consider is overload with using too many tools too thinly. Readers may wish to consider “picking and choosing,” becoming expert in LinkedIn for example and using its multiple opportunities for visibility and community.

    Keep up the great work with the blog in 2012. Happy New Year to all!

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