Running a small business, limited budgets can often put a damper on marketing efforts. Assumptions of high costs and low ROI can make it easy to let your marketing effort take a bake seat to seemingly more pressing day to day business operations. But before you toss your marketing plan by the wayside you should know that there are effective ways out there to market yourself without spending loads money. In fact, there are ways of marketing yourself without spending any money! Got your attention? Good. Here’s 10 of our top free marketing ideas:
1. Social Media Engagement:
It goes without saying that social media has become an invaluable communicating tool for marketers. When used properly, your social media efforts will actively engage your target market as opposed to merely talking at them. It all starts with cross-promoting and ensuring that your business is represented on a variety of major social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest). Next, engage your audience. Hold social media contests where entrants share your page or status, provide discounts for followers and subscribers, ask your audience for their opinion and perhaps most importantly, stay consistently active and responsive to your audience.
Seek out market influencers and those who have the attention of a larger audience. When you hold an event or a unique promotion, or even if you are introducing a new product or service, write to local newspapers, magazines or popular industry related bloggers. Perhaps invite them to do a review of your product or service, or offer to write a guest post in their publication. Of course, make sure you do your research to ensure you are reaching out to influencers and media that pertains to your business and the audience you are trying to reach.
3. Visual Content:
Who said creating a video needs a huge production budget? With smartphone technology and the basic image editing that many social media platforms offer, all that you need to take photos and shoot video is in your pocket! Utilize visual content in social media posts, blog posts and in your website to catch your customers’ eyes. You can also use videos to add value to your online presence. For example, by making an instructional video or tutorial about your product or service, customers aren’t simply being told to make a purchase. Instead, they are learning and gaining knowledge. In creating content that adds value to your online presence, your audience will begin to seek you out!
4. Create a blog:
How could we write a blog listing off the best ways to market yourself without including, you guessed it, a blog! Having a consistent stream of digital content is key to making your online presence visible. Try writing your blog series about interesting content related to your business that will intrigue and engage your audience. By keeping the content interesting you will not only engage your audience, but you’ll also drive more traffic to your website thus boosting your SEO. Best of all, blog posts shouldn’t be excessively long, meaning it won’t cost you too much time to write up either. We recommend keeping your blog posts short and sweet. Leave your readers wanting more!
5. Take advantage of Word-of-Mouth:
In the world of small business, word-of-mouth is oftentimes an underappreciated yet invaluable marketing tool. Multiple studies have shown that consumers are more likely to purchase an item or service based on the word of a friend over the word of advertisements. Invite and encourage your friends, family and employees to share company posts on their own social media with their personal contacts. Tag your friends and family in company posts you think they might have interest in. Create and host a unique event and ask your employees to invite their friends and families to attend.
6. Host an event:
Sales promotions and discounts are one way to try to get your target market into your place of business, but that often comes at the cost of the value of your products or services. Instead, invite your customers to see your business in action. Teach a class about your industry, offer a product menu sampling, or give a tour of your facility. Whatever the case, there are infinite creative and affordable event ideas that can give your target market a great excuse to visit your business.
Take advantage of web conferencing platforms, like GoToMeeting, to broadcast your webinar with ease. Even massive social media giant Facebook is getting in on the webinar action by recently introducing Facebook Live. With these powerful and affordable to free tools you can broadcast engaging and educational content about your business directly to your audience, and even respond on the spot to questions or thoughts from your audience. Make sure you promote your webinar in advance (1-2 weeks) by posting on social media platforms to up build excitement.
8. Email Marketing:
Send email blasts and digital newsletters as an efficient way of communicating your message to a specific and large audience. Of course, a major challenge that comes with email marketing is figuring out how to obtain email addresses. Perhaps you can offer a discount or a rewards program for those who provide their email addresses, or hold a social media contest where entrants must message their email address to your business which then enters them in to win a prize, or in more concrete fashion, hold a business card drawing where customers drop their business cards into a bowl and the winner can win a prize of your choosing.
9. Industry Events:
Attend industry related conferences and trade shows to network with similar-minded people who are involved with similar industries. By attending, you open the door for establish new business to business contacts as well as learning new tricks-of-the-trade to help you better run your business. Learn from your peers. What are you doing right? Where can you improve?
Partner up with another business to tap into their customer base and their network of contacts. Whether it’s offering a sales promotion, or co-hosting an event, by collaborating with a related business or organization you’ll put your brand in front of the eyes of a new customer base. For example: if you ran a local ice cream shop, perhaps you could offer a small discount on ice-cream for a recreational or children’s soccer league. When the players show up in their soccer jerseys they get 10% off of their ice-cream cone purchase.
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