17 FREE WAYS TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
As any business owner knows, marketing is not cheap. From site design to hosting to hiring marketing gurus and finally paying to have ads placed here, there, and everywhere, the costs really add up. For a small business owner, finding the funds to cover all that can be nearly, if not totally, impossible. Even worse, you have competition, and those companies often have bigger wallets and more marketing funds than you do, so keeping up with their campaigns is also a consideration. What’s a business on a budget to do?
Never fear. There are a whole lot of ways to market your business for free, or for almost free. All you need is the time to implement them and a whole lot of drive. Familiarity with social networking sites is also helpful, so if you happen to be on the slow side in that arena, it’s time to get up to speed.
Here are 17 ways you can market your business without paying out the wazoo.
1. Give away free stuff on your social networking pages. Even better, give away free stuff on your social networking pages to the person who gets the most “likes” for the comment they wrote on your page. Doing so will send them in a frenzy of getting friends and family and friends of family to like your page just so they can also like the comment. Follow this up with more contests, some helpful tips, and really good products that these people might actually want to buy after the giveaways have ended.
2. Expand your network by answering questions on sites like LinkedIn and Google+. You’ll look smart and savvy, and other people will assume you’re the best of the best when it comes to whatever widgets you sell. Guess who they’ll buy from the next time they have a need?
3. Write an eBook and give it away to people who subscribe to your blog or social networking pages. Note: this is only free if you know how to write an eBook.
4. Join online forums and become an active member in the community. Answer questions, ask a few of your own, and make yourself seem like an awesome guy in general. Even if you aren’t interacting directly with people who can buy your products or services, you’d be surprised how many lurkers there are. Many service providers get hired just for talking and giving advice to other service providers. For instance, if you are a graphic designer, chat with other graphic designers about your work. When someone needs some design work, they might just stop buy the forum and see who knows what they’re talking about. That tip you gave a newbie designer may just land you a new gig.
5. Make phone calls to local businesses and ask about if they could use your services. Note: this only works with businesses, since it’s illegal to cold call residential phone numbers in the United States.
6. Don’t want to pay for an ad in the trade magazine your customers read? Write an article for them instead. This will put you right in front of them as someone who knows a little something about their industry. Plus, most articles will end with your name and website information so that interested parties can look you up.
7. Find blogs written by your customers (or bloggers your customers read), and leave thoughtful comments. Don’t give a sales pitch. Just build a relationship with them. Eventually, they guess that you are offering something, but by that time they’ll trust you enough to want to buy.
8. Write guest posts for popular blogs in your niche. This has the same effect as writing articles for magazines, but it is much easier to do. Most blogs accept guest posts, or pitches for guest posts. Shoot the owner an email and ask what it would take to write a blog post for him. It’s a good idea to have an article concept in mind.
9. Send emails. No, I don’t want you to spam businesses. There are ways to send online sales letters without resorting to spam. You can also get clever and forget the sales pitch altogether. How clever? Ask a question to get a real conversation started with the recipient. Congratulate them on a recent award or business accomplishment. Let them know if you found something on their website helpful. Anything that will get your foot in the door is fine. Just try not to sound like a stalker. Business professionals might frown upon that.
10. Optimize your LinkedIn page. If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, you are definitely missing out (and a little behind the times). It’s essentially the Facebook of the business world, and it’s where business professionals go to mingle, offer advice, and find new clients or service providers. Remember how business people used to meet for networking events in person? No? Never mind. Anyway, LinkedIn is sort of like that, only you can search for those job titles you need. Adding keywords to your profile can help people find you more easily, and will increase your chances of finding new clients/customers. So if you are a programmer, add that to your page. When someone searches for “programmer” they’ll be more likely to find you. Easy, right?
11. Offer to do a free conference or presentation for people in your area. Give them a bit of information, mention your own products or services, and then mingle with attendees after it’s over. For instance, if you sell real estate, you might present information on selling one’s house in a touch real estate climate. Homeowners will come, see that you’re awesome, and ask you to be their agent.
12. Join your local chamber of commerce. They often have business-building meetings, and as well as chances to network with other business owners.
13. Post your business in free classifieds such as Craigslist.org. How well this will work will largely depend on the type of business you have, but anything free is a good thing.
14. Donate your time, money, or products to a local charity, or sponsor a charity event. This may cost you a little, but the payoff can be huge. People love businesses that help others.
15. Carry business cards with you everywhere, and hand them out to anyone and everyone who seems even remotely interested.
16. Create a YouTube channel and make your own videos related. These could be tutorials for customers, or business presentations for others in your industry. Either way, it gets your name out there.
17. Offer to swap services with another business, and display your company name on their website (and vice versa). For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you may refer with a graphic designer, since clients may need both services at once. Basically, that means you’ll offer design work to your clients, and he’ll offer copywriting to his. That way, when he comes across a client who says “know of any good copywriters?” he can offer your services up front. This will also allow you to apply for jobs you normally couldn’t, since you’ll have an additional service to offer.