A guide to the latest trends, issues and insights affecting your fast-changing world.
Now let’s get down to business.
Geoffrey Patterson has turned his lifelong passion into a full-time career.Read his story
There are many ways to market your product or service to customers, and most of them cost a lot of money. To do it on the cheap is an art form, and takes a lot of skill. Thankfully, our team of experts have created a list of ideas for you so some of the work is done!
1. Publish or perish.
Publishing content that relates to your business—and that your customers want to know about—is one of the best ways to market yourself, and it's absolutely free. The principal behinds businesses publishing online make it a solid investment of your time. Publishing helps more people find you through search engines, and publishing useful content helps make you an expert in your given field. When people search for information, they read the content you have produced, and then it leads them back to you as a viable option for the sale. Have an opinion, a perspective. Don't be afraid to offend or make your voice heard.
2. Commune, create, prosper.
Find the aficionados. You can't be the only one, right? A strong community around advice, learning, and industry trends is a key way to promote yourself and your business. Connecting through blogging services, LinkedIn groups, Twitter, and Instagram. You can't just follow and like. To make this a good use of time, you need to participate. Retweet, comment, and discuss. Gaining a rapport with other industry insiders and people who successfully market their businesses online means exposure for you.
3. Cross Pollinate
When you've developed a rapport with people in your community, there are all kinds of ways to share with audience. A guest blog is a good opportunity to expose another blog's readers to your ideas, products, and more. The host blog gets good content for free, you get exposure. Link backs are helpful for your search engine purposes. Want to take it further? Offer a special promo to a blogger with a large audience. They get to offer a good deal to their fans, and you get to gain exposure, and if you design the promotion correctly, you'll bring in profits.
3. Learn Your Social Graces
You can spin your wheels on social media. Don't. If you want success here, then you need to analyze what works. Looking across the items that you share for patterns, what posts are garnering the most likes, shares, and new followers. Social media can be a great, free addition to your marketing mix. Just make sure that you are spending your time wisely by putting effort into posts that have the most return for your business. If you have a business Facebook page, check the Insights tab for detailed info on what people are engaging with and sharing.
4: Make the news
We're not talking frontage of The Times, here, but people forget that there are lots of places that people go for news and information, and getting your story told on these sources is a smart, free way to market. Are you writing press releases for local publications? Are you pitching news sources online? Even something as simple as creating a Wikipedia page for your business can be free marketing. Start a discussion on Reddit. Do an AMA (ask me anything.) Share all the news coverage you can get over social, blogs, and email to amplify the results. You can also subscribe to Help a Reporter Out.com (HARO) Each day you will get solicitations to be a part of press articles and you can respond to them if you have insight in areas they are seeking.
Email gets overlooked. But if you do it right, it's incredibly effective. Especially when measured against cost. The challenge is collecting email addresses. To get people to sign up, you need to give something away for free. It doesn't need to be a physical item. Plenty of people will sign up for marketing emails, if you make the content valuable for them. A very successful realty collective highlights local businesses and attractions every week in their emails. A designer does a trend watch piece similar to what is seen in magazines. Offering information in exchange for peoples' attention is a great way to market without spending money. There are a lot of services like Constant Contact that offer free trials for email services if you don't yet have one.
Engaging your customers through photo and videos is the number one way to get attention. People don't read anymore, they consume media in sound bytes, video or beautiful imagery. Make sure you have a Pinterest page to highlight your products, or images within articles you are writing. Get your happy customers to send a photo of them with their new product that you can post to social. You can even pull all of this into a platform called Crushpath which lets businesses create free “pitch” sites to promote their small businesses in under 2 minutes. Once a pitch is created, you can send it to other Crushpath users, share it on social networks, or send it out as an html email. All of these things drive engagement with existing and potential customers and allow you to show off your business better than ever.
Try one or try them all, there are many ways to experiment getting your business out there, and all for free. So go for it! As we move into the busy holiday season, there has never been a better time to start trying some of these tactics. So, what are you doing to promote your business that costs nothing?