Do you still think, marketing is always for big enterprise that has the resource to spend on to promote their brand? That is not always correct. They may have a department to look after the brand and promotion with huge budget, but that does mean you can start your promotion within a tight budget and limited resource and time.
Marketing is a multi-layered process in which your brand can be introduced and promoted to the potential customers. And that can surely be possible within a slim or non-existent marketing budget. Sounds good, right? So, let us not wait until you have more money flowing into your business.
Here I will share few free or nearly-free marketing ideas that can help you get your business growth strategy off the ground.
Check your online listing:
Hopefully, you have already listed your business on search engine local directories, as well as created pages on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and / or Twitter. If so, make sure that your information, such as your website, name of business owners, and contact information are correct and up to date.
Collect email addresses and send out a newsletter:
Initially you may not have it; but you must collect it. Because email is the most preferred communication method amongst customers.
How to collect email and grow your email list? Do not scramble your head. You can encourage your audience to sign up for eBooks, and many other downloads. If you have a scope to collect it offline from your brick-and-mortar store, that will also work. You just put a fishbowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in for a change to win git.
Not only collecting the emails, make sure that you are growing and nurturing your email lists. And for sending the newsletter you can use tools like MailChimp, SendinBlue etc. Consider creating a newsletter that has exclusive content that help your customers learn something to solve their problem.
Get involved with your community:
Marketing doesn’t always refer to large scale national campaigns. But sometimes you can do something in context with what is going on in your community. If there is any charity of non-profit activity, you can sponsor the event.
Ask for referrals, offer coupons:
Referrals are the most effective, and cost-effective, and sustainable way to generate new customers. Don’t be too desperate to ask for referrals. There are plenty of smart ways to ask for referrals. You can ask the same through email, website, invoice also. While asking, you can mention the offer of incentives like gift card, percentage of on next purchase, charitable donation in their name etc. You can ask them to follow your social media page / group.
Offer existing customers a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.
Join face-to-face networking group:
Focus on building meaningful relationships by face-to-face networking. It will surely help you grow your business. If you haven’t already, then you need to join local networking groups in your community. You can also use apps like Meetup to find upcoming networking events in your area.
Participate in local business mixer and trade fair:
Local organizations like the Chamber of Commerce frequently hold local business mixers and trade fairs. You can participate in those events. But remember that you must be prepared with your business pitch.
Apply for business award:
It’s common for industries and organizations to have business awards, such as “Best Restaurant of 2021” or “Best Customer Service.” This not only generates some free buzz for your business, if you win, you can place a badge on your site or storefront to boost your credibility.
Collaborate with other businesses:
Teaming up with a business related to your industry is a great way for you to introduce your business to a whole new audience. You can do this by collaborating online with a webinar or offline through an exclusive event. If partnering with a local business, you could simply place business cards, flyers or brochures at their physical location.
Go cold calling / emailing:
Believe it or not, cold calling or emailing are still effective ways to obtain new customers when you are a local business. It also doesn’t cost you anything but time.
Take advantage of social media:
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are the great platforms to visually tell your brand’s story. Best of all, it costs nothing since you can just use the camera on your phone — and maybe some time edit and upload. You can post about behind the scenes look at your business, memes, short educative videos, customer testimonials, images of ho customer use the product or service etc. You can use hashtag and geo-targeting features in your posts.
To manage your social media and digital media activities, you can use tools. There are plenty of affordable and easy to use tools which will help you optimize your marketing efforts and complete with your competitors.
Publish great content:
I think you can create it yourself, all the better (isn’t free always better?). Even if writing isn’t your strong point, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting someone on your team to crank out some articles for your blog. Try top 10 lists, tip collections, best practices for your industry, etc. You can start your own blog. It would be great if you can write SEO friendly content.
Get new life to old data:
Don’t worry if f you are not in a position to hire someone for producing fresh content. When you’re in a dry spell, instead of making something new, breathe new life into something that already exists on the web. There are a ton of data studies and stats available on the internet, which relates to your industry. You just find those study and polish it up with image, audio charts, etc. and make video with it by adding your own thoughts and predictions. You don’t need to be a master writer for this strategy – the data will do most of the heavy lifting for you. One man’s throwaway data is another man’s content success story!
Run online contest with give-away:
You can run contest on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. Ask your audience to participate in the contest to get a chance to win prize. Are you tight on budget? You don’t technically need a super expensive prize to get participants. Even a couple high-end water bottles or fancy backpacks might be enough of a draw for some users.
Use ad promo credit for digital advertisement:
You may not be able to run massive ad campaigns which is out of your budget. But why do you try with small amount, even you can get some discount, coupons, promo code floating around for paid Facebook and Google Ads. Sometime web hosting companies also offer promo code as part of their membership offerings.
People buy what they know and from people they trust. These people (2nd one) play a role as influencers in your customers’ life. They can appear as bloggers, Youtubers, any social media user with big fan followers. You need to find them first. Then make sure that you have picked those who are specific to your industry. You can offer them free products or service in exchange for a genuine product review. This is a very popular and proven strategy used with YouTube and Instagram influencers.
Leverage Guerrilla marketing:
Guerrilla marketing is something that focuses more on creativity than money. It is a great alternative to traditional marketing. It is always cheap to execute. You can try graffiti, Stencil graffiti, Reverse Graffiti, Stickers, Flash mob, publicity stunt, treasure hunt etc.
Write for industry publication:
You can reach out to industry blog and publications that accept guest writers. Just like you blog, you are demonstrating your expertise and knowledge related to your industry, product and service. More importantly, it gets you noticed by a larger audience.
Offer to speak:
There are plenty of opportunities for you to speak in front of an audience. In fact, industry conferences, volunteer organizations, local business group, community colleges and libraries are usually in need of speakers. As a result, you will get some name recognition, contacts, and publicity.
Host / Sponsor local event:
Plan an event / class to host / sponsor, then print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards (libraries, coffee shops, local colleges and adult education centres). While most community bulletin boards won’t let you post business advertisements, they’re often more than happy to post a flyer promoting an educational event or class.
Brand your vehicle:
Have a magnetic sign on your vehicle — make sure it has your business name and contact info on it. The next time you’re driving around you’re also spreading brand awareness. If you don’t want to be too obvious, try out bumper stickers and window decals. You can also give them out to friends, family, and existing customers to spread even more brand awareness.