Marketing is integral to your business. Without it, people wouldn’t hear about you, and you wouldn’t be able to grow your business. It’s essential then, but it does come at a cost. Marketing can be expensive, and chances are, much of your spending budget is used on this one aspect of your business.
Of course, there are free ways to market your business. From customer referral programmes to savvy social networking, you can push the word out at no cost to you. Hence this article. We have put together a number of ideas that you may not have tried yet, or possibly even considered. So, going against those ideas you will be familiar with, email marketing and the like, here are some (reasonably) innovative ways to market your business, with little or no expense.
Keep your employees happy. As we discussed in a previous article on this site, a happy employee is a winning employee. By creating a positive work environment, you can almost guarantee your employee will be a happy one, and this will prove helpful when they are talking to others about your business, be that on work time or personal time. Positive word-of-mouth is important, so look after your employees, and they will look after you. Of course, employee welfare is something you will have considered, but you may not have recognized their impact as a free marketing tool as a consequence.
Give your branded products to your employees. You will probably have branded products as part of your business. From pens to business cards, these are inexpensive ways to promote brand awareness. But don’t leave them lying around in your business offices. Encourage your team to carry them with them wherever they go, and ask your employees to leave these items in places where people are going to pick them up, such as a cafe or a library. These establishments can’t accuse you of advertising your business through their facilities if your employee ‘forgot’ to put that pen back in their pockets after using it. And ask your employee to hand these items out to others, whether they are people they meet on the daily commute, or to friends and family.
Another idea is branded clothing. Shop here for custom name patches, and people will also recognize your brand through the clothing you encourage your employees to wear. There is a small cost at the outset, but from them on this type of subliminal marketing is free!
Advertise your business on Yelp. Yelp can make or break a business. If a customer is unhappy with the service they have received, they can write a review that others can read when considering specific businesses. The reverse is true, so for good and bad, know that your customers may be using Yelp when doing business with you. The lesson for you is this: treat your customers well, and you will get good reviews. You can even encourage your customers to write reviews on Yelp too, but don’t be too pushy about that in case you’re accused of bribery. Still, Yelp isn’t all about reviews. You can also place free ads on the site, and considering the popularity of the website, it would be remiss of you not to.
List your business with Google. You will understand the importance of SEO and getting your business on page number one of search rankings on Google, but you may not have heard about Google My Business, another way to use this popular internet tool. It only takes a few minutes to set up, and once you’re listed, you can encourage your customers to give you a good review on the site. Not only is this an effective and free way to market your business, but it’s also an effective part of your SEO strategy too. What’s not to love?
Participate online. You will probably have an online presence, with a business website and a myriad of social networking groups set up to market your business. But you can extend word about your business through other avenues online. You might consider writing an article for a niche website, for example, somewhere that has a target audience that befits your business. Or you could use sites such as Quora and Reddit and become part of Q&A discussions to share your wisdom, and consequently word about your business. Or become a part of the other forums online, show your authority on particular subjects related to your business, and provide links back to your website or social media accounts.
Use free growth-hacking tools. A simple way to attract more people to your business website and content, the use of growth-hacking tools is becoming increasingly common amongst businesses, especially young start-ups. These tools use a variety of techniques to capture the attention of potential customers, and you can find out more by following the previous link. While there are tools worth paying for, our link also includes free tools if frugality is top of your agenda.
Share your blog posts. You may have written an excellent blog piece on your website, but you can get more readers (and potentially more customers) by sharing it across the various social media channels you use. This handy social media guide will tell you how to do this effectively, across a range of platforms. You should also encourage your employees to share these blog posts with their networks while encouraging their followers to spread the word further. In the end, your blog posts will be seen by more people than you could ever have imagined.
Work with other businesses. If you can provide a service to another business, then they may be willing to offer free advertising for your business as a trade-in. Alternatively, provided your business can be connected with what they do, they may be willing to place ads for your business and/or refer you to their customers, if you can do the same for them. It’s worth making friends with other businesses, and this is one of the reasons why.
These are our ideas, but you may have ideas of your own. If you have found a way to market your business at little or no cost, please share your thoughts with us. Let us know your opinions on the ideas we have mentioned here too. Have you tried any of them? Have they been effective? We would love to know what you think.
*This is a contributed post.