Cavemen had rocks tied to sticks, the Mesopotamians had tools hand-forged from bronze, medieval knights had swords, Shakespeare had a quill pen, and we…well, we have just about everything else. And in a world dominated by digital, some of our tools are (almost) as smart as we are.
It seems like every week, a new tool catches everyone’s attention and is considered a “must-have,” which can make it hard to tell which tools are actually capable of making business impact and which are only exciting because they’re new. To help cut through this noise, we ask all the startup marketing leaders who join us on FiredUp! the same question: What tool or gadget have you recently started using that you can’t do your job without?
Check out our list and see if any of these can be a must-have for your daily work:
Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room right away. No modern list of tools would be complete without some mention of Generative AI. Because it’s such an obvious choice, we usually ask our guests the question about their favorite tools under the condition that they are not allowed to say “ChatGPT.” But when EMOTIV CXO Nuri Djavit appeared on the podcast, he insisted that he could no longer do his work without the help of the popular LLM. While we would never recommend using it to write content from scratch, we know firsthand how much time it can save when you break already-written assets into shorter content elements, like email subject lines, social copy, SEO metadata, and executive bios.
But ChatGPT isn’t the only GenAI tool making waves. Our own Ian Lipner says his must-have tool is Midjourney. He described the image generator as a “daydream,” and if you’ve ever seen its outputs, it’s easy to understand why. It creates some truly stunning and dreamy-looking imagery, which creates loads of use cases for startups and scaleups — especially those who lack a full-time graphic designer. We recommend trying it out for your social media imagery, website graphics, or to spice up your marketing and sales enablement collateral.
How do you create great content if you don’t know who your audience is? MinIO’s Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Symonds recommended Wynter, a tool that can help businesses better understand their target customers. The B2B-focused market insights platform makes it easier to learn target customers’ needs and pain points, how they buy, and what resonates with them. We can definitely see the value in this for early-stage startup teams looking to establish their market fit and grow their customer base quickly.
Getting leads is only the beginning. After that, you need to nurture them. Tromzo VP of Marketing Chris Heggem emphasized just how important it is to have a good CRM platform. He mentioned Salesforce, but honestly, any CRM is better than no CRM so go ahead and pick the one that makes most sense for your business. Smaller startups are often just fine with HubSpot, while more advanced scaleups may need Salesforce or Marketo. And if you already have one, make sure you’re using it to its full potential.
Chris stressed that you shouldn’t just look at lead records or contact records, but use your CRM’s insights to truly understand the business soup to nuts. How many leads are being generated each week? How many of those are converting to first meetings, and how many of those are moving to second meetings? How many demos are turning into POCs? These are questions that you should know the answers to off the top of your head. Chris’s advice: “Close ChatGPT. Live in Salesforce. Know this stuff.”
Startups and scaleups move fast, which can make things chaotic even on their best day. That’s why startup marketing leaders love any tool that can bring even the slightest bit of organization to the madness. Kashif Mahbub, CMO at the customer experience automation company Ushur, uses the freemium productivity and note-taking web application Notion to keep organized. The tool blends your everyday work apps into an all-in-one workspace that includes task management, project tracking, to-do lists, and bookmarking. Kashif isn’t the only expert who loves Notion, as Tech News Founder Travis Van also applauded the tool when he sat down with us.
5. Keyboard Maestro
Notion wasn’t Travis’s only choice for boosting productivity. He recommends the hotkey and shortcut tool Keyboard Maestro to speed up mundane tasks with automation. Travis likes the efficiency and time savings it provides when switching between applications or inputting data into spreadsheets. Unfortunately for you Windows users out there, this tool is only available for MacOS.
There’s one tool available to everyone that almost seems too obvious to include here, but was named by both Ilona Hitel, Managing Director and Founder of CommsCo, and Kristine Newman, VP of Product Marketing at Shoreline.io, in their respective episodes: LinkedIn. The social networking site has long been the go-to for professional networking, and while some love it, others feel their time and efforts are better expended elsewhere. Kristine swears by its value for her team because it has been a source of strong conversion rates, successful communications, and valuable marketing and sales impact. Of course, simply having a LinkedIn profile isn’t enough to reap these benefits. If the platform isn’t performing well for your business right now, don’t give up on it just yet. Take a look at the content you’re sharing there (or if you’re not sharing, start). Bonus points for even more awareness: LinkedIn also offers one of the most targeted paid ad platforms for B2B businesses.
Sometimes, though, the best tools aren’t ones you can buy, download, or build. We were reminded of this when we posed our question to SIREN Co-Founder and Creative Director Kate Harris and she answered “inspiration.” No, that’s not the name of some flashy new AI tool or sleek SaaS platform. Just good old-fashioned inspiration. And what’s the best way to get it? For Kate, it’s by stepping away from all the tech. “The things I find most inspiring are getting outside and walking through a city, walking through a museum, or going into bookstores…Seeing the world around you is really informative on what the opportunities are and where you can be inspired, excited, and energized about the design.” We love our tech as much as the next guy, but even we can’t deny that sometimes the best solution is to get out and touch some grass.
8. The Human Mind
When PJX Media CEO Rick Robinson joined FiredUp!, he left us with this nugget of wisdom: While it’s easy to get swept up by technology that seemingly gets smarter every day, the best tool we have at our disposal is our own minds. It is our own intelligence and ingenuity that has guided us through history and created all these tools in the first place, and it is the one thing we will always have if all else fails. Rick put it beautifully: “Take away the internet, I’ll send smoke signals. I’ll come over to your house and knock on the door. I think the strongest tool is how your synapses fire and connect things in new ways. The thing I would never want to lose is my passion. What I value the most is that I get excited about things. I’m thrilled that I was blessed with that.”
For these full interviews and more great insights, tune into FiredUp! here or wherever you get your podcasts. Featuring interviews with marketing leaders, our take on the latest trends, and practical tips about PR, content marketing and growth marketing, each week we’ll walk through fresh strategies and tactics to build your brand and drive demand for your startup.