Launching a business is tough. Promoting it is even harder. Luckily, the emergence of social media and search engines have thrown open a variety of low-cost, high impact marketing techniques that can help you market your business even on a tight budget. Here are 6 ways to promote your business that won’t pinch your pocket:
1. Cover the basics
Business cards are still one of the most effective ways to build your professional network and spread the word about your business at networking events, startup meets, industry conferences and expo’s. Since there are so many people like you trying to grow their business, ensure that your business card is modern and memorable.
For example, you can try a square or mini card to make yours stand apart from the rest. Luckily, there are many online card makers like Moo, Vistaprint and Instaprint that allow to you design & print custom cards for very low prices.
Build an email list to regularly stay in touch with your target audience through newsletters, promotions & offers, and valuable content. There are multiple ways to build an email list. For example, you can create a blog that regularly publishes interesting and useful articles and allows people to subscribe to your newsletters. Or you can provide highly specialized content like infographics, white papers and case studies in exchange for users’ emails.
Use an email marketing platform that allows you to gather email addresses from your website, blog or social media profiles and create email campaigns to reach them. You can start with MailChimp which is really easy to use, highly customizable and free for businesses with less than 2,000 subscribers.
2. Target your local market
Become a part of your local business community by networking with business owners in your area and hosting events to increase awareness about your business. Reach out to the business owners’ association in your area to see what kind of activities they’re hosting, and if you can be a part of them. Also, check out online forums like Meetup.com and LinkedIn groups to find local business events nearby.
Participate in local shopping events such as sidewalk sales, seasonal festivals, and holiday shopping festivals to boost your visibility in the local community.
Look out for local shops whom you can partner with, or business owners whose products complement yours, to host contests and promotional events. Share the cost, work and clients, as long as you get good coverage in the local newspaper.
Offer free classes about your industry to attract people to your business and increase awareness. For example, if you sell gardening equipments, then conduct classes teaching people about gardening tips and organize workshops around different types of gardening.
3. Leverage social media
With more than 2.46 billion users, social media is one of the best free marketing tool available to promote your business. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest allow you to build a large audience by simply posting attractive photos about your business, its products & services.
Join Facebook groups that other local business owners and your target customers are a part of and participate in the various discussions. You can also create your own Facebook group centered around your business, or industry, and regularly post updates and opportunities for the members.
For example, if you provide tutoring service, then you can start a group called Tutoring help for parents, and post useful study tips couple of times every week. This will increase visibility of your business, and attract potential customers, at no cost.
Similarly, you can also join a host of LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry, to connect with business experts and professionals.
You can also post comments on blogs, online forums and news sites that are related to your business, or that your potential customers might be reading.
Every time someone shares a post or update about your business on Facebook or LinkedIn, it’s free advertising. So, when you’re on these platforms, offer useful tips, advice and insights that help solve people’s problems or educate them about latest trends. This will make users interested in your business.
4. Share valuable information
You have tons of knowledge & expertise about your business at your disposal, for free. Use it to share timely information with your target audience to build brand awareness and customer loyalty.
A blog is the most important marketing asset for every small business. Create a blog and regularly post amazing content that readers love to share with their social networks. Blogs are also a great way to talk about your products & services, and keep your readers informed about the latest updates in your business.
Make sure your blog focuses on providing interesting content that is related to your business as well as useful to your audience.
You can also offer a free information product such as an ebook on your website or blog in exchange for an email address. This will allow you to gather user information, generate interest and build brand awareness. Also, include a coupon or offer with it to ensure that users return to your business.
5. Become an expert
When your business is new, it’s difficult to be covered by major publications and local newspapers. It’s also expensive to place ads on these mediums. However, it’s free and easy to contribute a guest article to them.
Guest posts provide an opportunity to promote your business in the author bio of your post. So find other blogs that write about topics that are relevant to your business, and offer to write a guest article for their readers. It will allow you to put your business in front of a new audience.
Teach a class related to your product or service at a community college, library or community centre. Even if it’s not a direct sales pitch, it will pique the interest of your students who’ll check out your website and potentially become your clients.
Also, sign up for services like Journolink that helps journalists find small businesses relevant to their articles, which in turn allows you to get free PR in popular media outlets.
6. Submit your business to local directories
Whether you run an online business or an offline store, submit your business to the major online business directories such as Google My Business. This will ensure that your business appears in local search results, and in Google Maps when people are nearby and checking what’s in the local area.
Also, list your business on Yelp. It has a growing user base and is becoming the go-to destination for mobile users looking for local businesses.
If your town or county’s web page lists local businesses, ensure that yours is listed.
Wrapping it up
The key is to share your expertise with others through various online channels. Call it education-based marketing, if you will. The key is to generate content that not only showcases your knowledge but is also useful to others. If your content can help solve people’s problems, they’ll remember your business for it, and even recommend it to others. This will enable you to grow awareness about your business, and attract potential customers.