Are you starting a business by Boot-Strapping or need ways to stretch your small business marketing budget? Marketing a business doesn’t have to cost a lot. Here are 52 low-cost / high–impact methods to Advertise & Promote your business.
Determining how to promote your business can be an ongoing challenge. If your business is new, you may not know how to market/promote your business to get your name known. If you’ve been in business for years, you may be wondering how to market your business effectively when the promotional methods you’ve always used aren’t working very well. The way customers look for what you provide may have changed, their needs may be different, or you are missing younger, new customers with your outreach efforts.
TOPICS: A: Intro: ID Prospects,
B: Plan Promo: Website, Blog, SEO, Listing, Profile, Social Media, Email Mktg, Ads, Webinar, PPC,
C: Traditional Ads: Biz Cards, Pro Groups, Trade Shows, Publicity, Demos, Govt Aid, Cold Calls, Referrals, Partner.
Whatever your business circumstances, you need proven Advertising & Marketing tactics to find new customers without spending a small fortune. These need to include a mix of traditional & digital marketing.
A. 52 Ways to Promote/Market – Intro
You can’t promote and advertise your business effectively until you take these two steps:
- Identify your best prospects, and then determine the best strategies to reach them.
- Plan your Promotion. To market your business successfully you need a planned, organized approach. Start by defining your Marketing strategy & setting a Budget.
Be as specific as possible. Is the decision-maker of your potential Customer the CEO, CTO or a someone totally else? Will you find them on Manta, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Yellow Pages? What about in-person networking at local business meetings (ie, LinkedIN) or community organizations (CofC)? What about Advertising? Will customers be searching for your type of product on Google, Yahoo etc? Do you want to start promoting your business to them at the start of their buying cycle research, or when they’re about ready to pull out their Credit Card and make the purchase? Write your answers down and refer to them before you start any new marketing tactic. Search for a Marketing Plan Worksheet to gather info & plan your Strategy.
B. Learn How to Promote your Business Online
Digital marketing isn’t an option—it’s an absolute necessity these days. Whatever your product or service, you need to promote & advertise where your customers are searching for what you provide. And that’s online. Here are ways to accomplish that affordably.
3. If you don’t have a Website, create one immediately.
A working Website is critical for Marketing your business and for making your brand known even if your business has a big Social Media following. Depending on what you provide, your Website serves as a Lead generation tool, online brochure, catalog, & info source for your potential customers. You have complete control over how you promote your products & services on your Website + how long promotions & content is visible. You don’t have that control with Social Media. If you can’t afford to have someone custom-design your Website, set up your site using one of the builders like Wix, SquareSpace, or GoDaddy that provide templates and tools that make it easy to create a basic website. Whether you choose a ready-to-use Template or have someone build a site for you, be sure the design is responsive. (In other words, that it looks good and is easy to read on mobile devices as well as on Desktop & Laptop Computers.)
4. Always have a Blog.
A Blog serves two functions: 1) It informs your customers & prospects of what’s happening & 2) it improves your chances of being found by Search engines (use SEO). You don’t have to be a professional writer to have a Blog. Just write info your customers will find helpful at different stages of their Buying cycle or provide tips & hints on using what you sell or your service.
5. Use Basic SEO for your Website or Blog.
If you don’t already know, SEO is Search Engine Optimization – in other words, setting up your Web pages so the Search engines understand the content of the pages and may link to you when someone searches for what you provide. Although some companies spend a lot of money on SEO, there are a number of things you can do yourself to improve the SEO of your site.
6. Set up a Listing for your company on SE’s
Google & Bing both offer a free listing for local businesses. To get listed on Google, go to Google My Business To get listed on Bing, go to Bing Places for Business. Fill out all the info you can. Doing so can help your business show up at the top of search results when someone in your general vicinity is searching for your products or services.
7.Set up your Profile or Page on Social Media
You can and should set up sites on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. These pages for your business are separate from your personal profile. To attract attention from potential customers, be sure to include a good description, keywords, phone, and a link to your Website and/or Blog..
8.Participate in Social Media discussions related to your Field.
Look for groups or conversations that talk about your type of products or services and participate in these conversations, but don’t spam them with constant promos for what you sell.
9.Use Email Marketing to bring in business.
Email marketing is the most cost-effective way to communicate with customers & prospects + get them to visit your Website or make purchases. Sign up for an Email Marketing service and ask customers, website visitors, and social media followers to sign up for your Email list. Then, send an Email Newsletter and/or promotional offers to customers or prospects on a regular basis (ie, monthly). One good way to build a permission-based Email list of people who want your mailings is to give something away. It could be a free Ebook or even a free Tip-sheet on how to do something related to your business. If you don’t have anything to give away, try offering a signup discount on products or services as an incentive. An Email service like Constant Contact* makes it easy to manage your list & send professional-looking mailings.
10. Post interesting Info & Pix regularly to your Social Media accounts.
Tips on how they can improve their life or business or special offers are likely to get the most likes & shares.
11. Pay to boost your most popular Posts on Social Media (SM).
Target the boosted Posts at groups of people who are or most like your become customers. This can be an inexpensive way of getting your business in front of potential customers in very targeted locations or who have interests that match what you provide.
12. Run Facebook Ads or Ads on other Social networks.
Although boosting a SM post is one type of Ad, you get more options when you create an original Ad instead of boosting a Post. On Facebook, for instance, creating an Ad will let you set objectives such as conversions or lead generation, create call to action buttons. Take advantage of more Advanced targeting options, and do other things you can’t do by boosting a Post.
13. Run a Webinar.
Pick a topic for the Webinar that will be popular with customers & prospects. Some topics that can foster customer engagement are important industry news, strategies for improving some aspect of life or business, & ways to solve common problems. You could also teach a short introductory Course in your field in a Webinar. Promote the Webinar on SM & in your Newsletter. Encourage friends to promote it on their SM accounts & newsletters, too. Require attendees to register with an Email Address so you can market to them after the Webinar.
14.Create PDF versions of your promotional materials.
Convert your promotional literature to PDF format, so you send product literature to those who request it in Email. You save the postage and they get the material in minutes instead of days.
15. Test buying Pay-per-Click (PPC) Advertising on the Search engines.
If you are not yet Advertising on Search engines search for offers that give you $50 or $75 in free Advertising to start. Read the directions for the service you plan to use, and very carefully watch what you spend on a daily or more frequent basis until you are comfortable using PPC Ads and see that you’re are getting a return on your investment
16.Look into Google Local Service Ads . . .
if available for your type of business. Google local services Ads are shown at the top of Google Search results when people search for the services you offer in areas you’ve chosen. Potential customers can click or tap on your Ad to either call you or send you a message request. An added benefit: a Google Guarantee Badge is available for businesses that pass a Google screening & qualification process. You pay only for valid Leads, but the cost per call or text can be very high. Thus these Leads are best suited for established businesses that know how to convert Leads and know that the average customer charge and/or lifetime value of a customer will allow them to make a profit.
17. Ask Customers to review your Business.
When someone is ready to choose a product or a service provider, they want to be assured that they are making a good choice. One way they gain that assurance is by looking at the reviews. To increase the chance that customers will leave a review, send them a note thanking them for their business, and ask them to review your site online. Include a link to a place you’d like them to post their review.
C. Use traditional to Promote & Advertise your Business
Although online Marketing & Advertising are essential for bringing in business today, that doesn’t mean you should neglect traditional marketing tools. Online & offline Marketing methods work hand-in-hand to bring in customers and keep them coming back. Here are off-line promotional strategies that are just as important now as they were in the past.
18. Business Cards & Stationery
If you’re just starting out and don’t have a Business card or Stationery, move it to have them made up — immediately. They tell prospective customers you are a professional who takes your business seriously. Your Business card is important for marketing your business, because it helps people you meet remember you, and what your company does. Be sure to list your Website on your card, letterhead, & any handouts you create. Include your main SM profile link, too, if possible. Another good strategy: include a QR code on the back with a link to sign up for your Email list.
19. Get your Business Cards into the hand of anyone . . .
who can help you in your search for new Customers. Call your friends & relatives, then tell them you have started a business. Visit them and leave a small stack of Cards to hand out to their friends.
20. Give Business Cards to your Customers . . .
if you are a Service provider. That way, when their network, family & friends ask them for a recommendation, they have an easy way to pass on your Business name & Contact info.
21. Talk to all your Suppliers & Vendors . . .
from whom you buy material, products or services. Give them your card and ask if they can use your products or service, or if they know anyone who can. If they have or are on bulletin boards where business cards are displayed, ask if yours can be added to the board.
22. Attend Meetings of Professional groups . . .
such as Meetup, Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau + other local & national Business groups or Civic associations. Have business cards in a pocket where they are easily reachable. Don’t forget to ask what the people you speak with do for a living (career), and to really listen to them. They’ll be flattered by your interest, and better remember you because of it.
23. Become actively involved in 2 or 3 of these groups.
That will give you more opportunity to meet possible prospects. But remember: opportunists are quickly spotted for what they are, and get little business. While you won’t want to become involved in many organizations that require a lot of your time, you can—and should—make real contributions to all of them by offering useful ideas and helping with projects when possible. Being active in local groups can bring you valuable word of mouth Marketing.
24. Don’t be afraid to pay for Membership . . .
in those groups that attract your target customers. Becoming a paying member lets others in the group know you are one of them, are interested in the group’s mission & that you’re not just a free-loader or fly-by-night.
25.Get listed in Member Directories.
Many business groups maintain member directories that they publish online. Being listed in these accomplishes two things: 1) it helps members you’ve met, or members who are looking for services like yours find your contact information & 2) it also provides a link to your Website that can be useful for SEO. Some groups may list you automatically. Others will require you to submit your own information. In either case, be sure your contact info is correct and the link to your Website works.
26. Exhibit at local Trade Shows.
Local Trade shows – when they are held – give you a way to display your products or services to the general public and to other local prospective Customers – who may need your products/services , or know someone to recommend you to.
27. Sponsor a local Trade show or event . . .
if the price is reasonable. Doing so gets your Business name & Logo seen wherever the event Organizers promote the show. That could be in pre-show mailings, the organization’s website, + in handouts & displays set up during the show.
28. Give away promotional Products . . .
that people will keep & use. Keychain flash-lights, hand Sanitizers, refrigerator Magnets, Drink-ware, Coasters & Pens are all items that can be imprinted to Advertise your business. They are all items people tend to hang onto & use.
29. Try some free Publicity
Look for something unusual about what you do & publicize it. Send out Press Releases to local Newspapers, Radio stations, cable TV stations, & Zines whose audiences are likely to be interested in buying what you sell. Post the Press releases on one or more online Press Release services, too, being sure to include links to your Website. To increase your chance of having the material published, send along a photo (but not to Radio stations) with your press release. Editors of printed publications are often in need of “art” (drawings or photos) to fill space to break up the blah look of a page of text.
30. Help Reporters find you.
Reporters are constantly looking for sources to Quote in their stories. One way they find those sources is to use services that distribute their request for sources to publicists, experts, marketers, & others – who want to be sources. To find out when Reporters are looking for info you can provide, sign up for these lists and scan them regularly. One such service is HARO (short for Help a Reporter Out) and is free. Another service, called PRLeads is fee-based.
31. Write an Article that demonstrates your expertise in your field.
Send it to non-competing Newspapers, Zines, & Websites in your field that accept submissions from experts. Be sure your name, business, phone, and a reference to your product or service is included at the end of the article. If the Editor can use the article you get your name in print, and possibly get your Contact info printed for free, too.
32. Publicize your Publicity.
Whenever you do get Publicity, get permission from the Publisher to reprint the article containing the publicity. Make copies & mail the copies out with Sales or Newsletters or any other literature you use to market your product or service. The publicity clips lend credibility to the claims you make for your products or services.
33. Add an “As Seen On” or Press section to your Website.
List the names of publications you’ve been mentioned on and link to the Articles that mention you.
34. Ask for Work for your Services.
Contact family, friends, acquaintances, your network, former employers (if you left on good terms), non-profit organizations, schools & colleges, and even other businesses that are not competitors and ask for work. Let them know what you do and ask if they can use your services. If you don’t know who to contact at various businesses, call and ask who is in charge of buying your services.
35. Network with Compatible others . . .
who are doing the same type of work you do. Let them know you are available to handle their work overloads. (But don’t try to steal their customers. Word will get out, and will ruin your business reputation.)
36. Offer to be a Speaker.
Industry conferences, volunteer organizations, & local business groups often need Speakers for meetings. You’ll benefit from the name recognition, contacts, & publicity you gain from being a speaker at these events. It will add to your credibility & make you an expert.
37. do Demos
If your product or service is appropriate, give demonstrations of it to whatever groups or individuals might be interested.
38.Videos of your product or service on YouTube . . .
and other Video-sharing & Slide-sharing sites.
39. get Govt Aid
Find out what federal, state, or local government programs are in existence to help you get started in business. Most offer free business counseling (like SCORE) and some can put you in touch with govt agencies & large corps that buy from small or woman-owned businesses
40. If you are a Woman or Minority-owned business,
Post that fact on your Website. You should also consider getting certified by private, state, or federal organizations Many purchasing agents have quotas or guide for the number of goods & services they need to buy from minority- & woman-owned businesses.
41. Send out your Sales letters . . .
to everyone you think might be able to use what you sell. Be sure to describe your business in terms of how it can help the prospect. Learn to drop a business card in every letter you send out. Follow up periodically with other mailings.
42. Put your Business Name on your Vehicle . . .
If you use a car or truck in your business. Have your business name & contact info professionally painted on the side of the vehicle. That way your means of transportation becomes a vehicle for Advertising your business.
43. Use a Magnetic sign on your Vehicle.
If you don’t want to have your name painted on your car or truck all the time, order a Magnetic Sign with your name, logo, phone, and slogan. You can get them in various sizes and can remove them whenever you want. Magnetic signs can be ordered through many online printing & sign shops + are very reasonably priced.
44. Get on the Phone & make “Cold Calls.”
These are calls to people with whom you would like to do business. Briefly describe what you do and ask for an appointment to talk to them about ways you can help them meet a need or solve a problem.
45. Get on the Road & make “Cold Calls”
Do the research and identify potential Customers. If things are slow or they have been putting you off, saddle up and call on a few in the same area. People are always more cooperative face-to-face.
46. Get them Samples of your Product . . .
or your work into as many hands as possible – as a Trial to try-before-you buy.
47. Offer a free, no-obligation Consultation . . .
to people you think could use your products or services. During such consultations offer some practical suggestions or ideas–and before you leave ask for an “order” to implement the ideas.
48. Don’t forget to ask for Referrals.
A satisfied Customer is often glad to refer you to others. Help them remember to do so by asking for Referrals and leaving them extra business cards or fliers that they can give to their friends & family who may need your product or services. If someone gives you a lead, follow up on it right away.
49. Use others to sell your Product or Service.
Instead of (or in Addition to) selling your products yourself, look for affiliates, resellers or people who will generate leads for you – in return for a commission on sales. Be sure your pricing structure allows for the fees or commissions you will have to pay on any sales that are made.
50. Partner up !!!
Get together with businesses that serve the same market,but sell different products & services. Make arrangements to cross-promote each others’ goods & services by passing leads back & forth, sharing mailings, & making referrals.
51. Always have Documentation available . . .
sales letters, brochures, flyers, & other pertinent info printed & ready to go. Ask prospects who seem reluctant to buy from you: “Would you like me to send information?
52. Run a Contest to get attention.
Make the Prize something desirable and related to your business — it could be a free gift basket of your products, for instance, or free services.
Bonus. Help your Community.
Think about the needs in your community. Could you help get your name known by organizing a food or clothing drive or some other event? Could you give free coffee one day a week to local police or nurses? Sponsor a youth group?