Essential tools for every part of your startup marketing plan.

Finding focus is the key to great marketing and business growth.

Day-to-day, we help companies to work out what’s most important. Then use simple strategy and tools to do more with less. Today we’re going to show you some of our favourite tools to make your marketing efforts easier, cheaper and more effective.

Understand your market and its influencers

You can uncover great competitive advantages by building an understanding of a market’s trends, customers and influencers. We’ve found that the startups who engage in this activity before building products or even websites have a far higher success rate. Even if you’re up-and-running, this activity can uncover valuable and unexpected insights.

Luckily, it’s not difficult. There are great tools that can help you gain an understanding quickly and simply.

Typeform: A simple way to create a survey and the free version includes unlimited questions. It isn’t a new concept: they provide online forms to capture information quickly. What makes them better is that they do it beautifully. Online forms are a great way to understand what your customers value most. A pithy, effectively designed set of questions will give you incredible value if done right. Drop me a line for a little free advice on designing surveys that get results.

BuzzSumo is a tool that allow you to understand and analyse what influencers are saying in your market. It helps you identify the best content, the key issues and trends. Combine insight from trend-setters with good insight, and you’ll have solid foundations for a growth strategy. Pat Flynn uses influencers as a cornerstone of a lean marketing plan in ‘Will it Fly’. Not only are these influencers great for understanding, they can be powerful later on. Build a list and consider reaching out in your engagement activity later on too.

Narrow helps you to build an audience around a niche. Feed it keywords, influencers and hashtags for your industry. Give it a week and it will build a following from people and accounts that talk about the same things you do. A great tool to understand a market and embed yourself within it.

Find what works, test and improve.


To improve, you need to understand your customer. We’re big believers in face-to-face conversations, but data is important too. As you build, keep an eye on the metrics that matter: where your traffic is coming from; what your customers are searching for and what your competitors are outranking you at. There are some great analytics packages out there to measure everything: from websites to social media, CRM to email campaigns.

Your website is a great place to start. It can tell you really valuable things about your audience that can be fed back into your strategy and your marketing to improve and grow your customer base.

Moz is a service that helps you to understand how your site ranks. To look at the keywords that are driving traffic to you and your competitors, and who’s talking about who. It has a limited free trial that’s definitely worth a look.

Google Analytics is a free, easy(ish) to use platform to measure the performance of your web assets. It’s simple to add and provides some great data on how visitors are finding your site. If you’re new to data analytics, the ‘general’ dashboard is the place to start: but it’s also a platform to grow with, helping you to dive deeper into SEO and track referrals and paid advertising campaigns as time goes on. Our top tip: use Campaign Url Builder to track clicks from email signatures, campaigns and forums. Learn more about how to hone your campaigns with lean marketing techniques here.

Write beautiful things.


Everyone strives to produce pithy, punchy and valuable content. But it’s tough to research and even tougher to write. Luckily, there are a few tools that can help you on your way. We use them every day at Think Plan Thrive: not just for posts like this, but in the strategies, proposals and pitches we create for likes too.

Hemingway helps you to simplify your writing. Paste your text into the app and it gives you an analysis of what you’re doing wrong. It’s slightly depressing to see your long sentences, unnecessary adverbs and meandering prose highlighted, but it’ll improve your writing no end.

Grammarly is Hemingway for grammar. This little chrome extension double checks syntax to catch your mistakes before you publish on a blog or even Twitter. Use it with Hemmingway to build better content on every platform.

Create beautiful things.


Content marketing relies on great content and beautiful imagery. It’s the key to click-throughs, developing a look and feel and an identity to the content you create for your customers.

Unsplash is an incredible photo-sharing site. Not only are the pictures beautiful, but they’re rights-free, so you can use them on a blog or a social feed without the costs or worry of usage from the usual suspects. Make sure to say ‘thanks’ to the photographers, and try to use unusual search terms to stand out from the crowd.

Canva is a simple, easy way to create beautiful custom graphics. Its templates give you an easy way to create stand-out content and its social media formats make sure that content is the right size and resolution for Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If your getting started and want the quality of a professional design job without the price tag, Canva is the tool for you.

Share your stories.


If you’re posting your content onto more than one platform, it can quickly become a full-time job to keep the channels updated and keep track of the conversations most relevant to your customers. Day-to-day, we use two great tools at Think Plan Thrive to keep track of those conversations; engage with great people and make sure that our content is up to date and posted at the right times.

Buffer is a simple queuing application for your social challenge. It allows you to schedule content across a number of social networks — from LinkedIn to Twitter, and analyse the success of that content. Feed the results of the analysis back into your marketing plan to focus and get better, more cost-effective results.

Hootsuite is a dashboard to monitor and engage with the major social networks. There are a few choices of social media dashboard — but we chose Hootsuite for it’s simplicity, nice UI and ability to integrate with a range of popular social media platforms. We use it to monitor lists of Twitter influencers, key hashtags based on trends in our area and the topics our customers are talking about. Set up an account today for free — you won’t regret it.

A few last thoughts.

This is just a start. We know that building a business can be overwhelming — and marketing can take up more brain space than almost any other activity. Our advice: start small. Start simple. Test things, and iterate. If you get into trouble, give us a call.


Let’s chat.

Drop me a line with your questions, or book a free advice session at

Jared is a partner at Think Plan Thrive, a London based Strategy company. We help organisations to build from strong foundations, seize opportunities and get results, fast.

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Jared Ruddy