How to Market Your Small Business for Free
Marketing your business for free and marketing it within a budget are two very different things. As an entrepreneur, when you launch your startup, there’s only so much budget that you can invest into marketing. Some portion of it will go to building a good business website, a business logo, some you’ll need to put aside for necessary social media ads, and by the time you’re done, you won’t be left with a lot of room to stretch.
Therefore, in this post we are going to focus on marketing areas that don’t need a lot of money – only some serious hard work.
Blog is the number one website driving force. If you are serious about making your business a success and gain following as an entrepreneur, consider creating a blog on your website. Be sure to update your branding with a distinctive business logo like these, as well as user friendly web design before you start this because it is the first impression that visitors will have of your business.
Business insights, market trends, case studies, analysis posts, trending topics, and similar areas are few of the subjects that people are usually interested in. Such topics not only attract customers but also peers.
In addition to running your own blog, you can also do guest posts on other relevant, well-established blogs and create your following. Regularly commenting on other people’s blogs also works in your favor.
Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Twitter are some of the most famous social media tools both for businesses and customers. Find our which social media your target audience is already most active in, and then try to establish your presence there. Posting regularly on social media, being actively engaged with the audience, and using specific hashtags can help your brand gain much visibility. You can also create challenges and contests to encourage lots of User Generated Content. UGC is free content that you can use to draw in more traffic and create more brand awareness.
Join An Online Community
Many social media channels offer closed and private groups, communities within communities that are created to cater to specific niches. Find out groups relevant to yours and become a regular contributor. The more expert knowledge you can share or helpful tips that you can disperse, the quicker you’ll gain reputation as an industry pro.
Remember to not actively promote your business there. Offer valuable information and knowledge first, and only share links to your business when the topic absolutely demands it. This passive form of marketing creates deeper and more loyal connections and a stronger following.
To make your brand known and tell people that you’ve launched a business, consider registering with online listings such as Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing. Research shows that people who visit a business for the first time, first look up the location at Google. Having a presence there that people can look for and find, makes your brand more trustworthy.
Send Press Releases
Every time your business does something great or newsworthy, don’t hang about and make sure the world knows it. Market it to your niche and larger audience through well-written press releases using online PR services like PR Log, Globe News Wire, and Cision. These services will require registration and a bit of filing work, but the amount of exposure it can give you is worth the paperwork.
Submit Your Website’s Links To Google
When you submit your website’s links to Google, it indexes them so they can be included in the results when someone searches for a relevant keyword. But do not confuse it with the rank of your page on search results as that’s a SEO thing. For that you’ll need a bit of budget or some expertise.
Simply submitting your page links to Google, Bing and other search engines is a way of telling them that you are also in business. Submitting the XML sitemap to Google also helps.
If you have some data containing email addresses of your customers, bring it into the marketing mix. Start crafting regular (but useful!) newsletters that you can send to those addresses as regular updates regarding your business. You can also use email marketing to launch new products/features/services.
If you do not have a lot of data to go on with, try installing a Sign Up form on your website where visitors can drop their email addresses to receive regular updates. Depending on the web development package you’ve used to build your website, the Sign Up form can be free or may require an installation charge.
There’s no way you can ignore YouTube on a list of free marketing tools. You can create really amazing, sharp and fun videos on your iPhone and upload on YouTube for free. The topic range on which to create videos can be as niche-oriented or as diverse as your brand message allows.
Majority of people love watching videos (especially interactive ones) than they like reading blogs. So capitalize on that and open your camera app. You can even do a video on Ways to Market a Small Business For Free. What say?
Happy customers usually like to share their positive experience with you, the owner. Ask them if they’d like to convert this private review into a testimonial on your website or Facebook page. If they are willing to do so, you can use all such positive reviews as social proofs. Potential customers, especially people buying online, put much stock in customer reviews to determine if they want to deal with a certain business or not. So, promote the positive ones, and engage with the negative ones with sincere empathy and as opportunities to learn how you can be better. Don’t worry. At the start of any venture, there’re bound to be ups and downs. Take the downs as learning curves and keep moving on.
Support a Local Charity
Nothing beats free marketing like supporting local community. But don’t do it just for the sake of marketing. Pick a local charity that you authentically care about and want to learn more of. Customers of the digital age can smell a marketing gimmick more quickly than you can say nonprofit. So be sensitive and mindful of how you align your brand to a local cause and find genuine ways in which you can make a difference.
Before you go
Keep in mind that not every marketing approach works for every business. So you’ll be in a much better position to try these free methods into batches of 4s and 5s and see which works and which don’t. You will need some time before you can see any concrete data on which you can draw inferences about success and failure. Once you have the data, you’ll know which methods to drop and which to invest on. Use these finding as the first sketch of your marketing strategy, and see where it takes you. And remember, not all plans fit all so select a strategy that works best for your business.
Andrew Hoffman is a creative freelance writer who specializes in topics related to small business and startups, digital marketing and branding.