Free or Inexpensive Marketing For New Business Owners
Today, marketing seems more complex than ever. In the past the process felt straightforward—create good copy and images for eye-catching Yellow Pages ads and maybe, eventually, land some helpful press engagements or purchase a banner on a busy street.
However, the 90s are long behind us and these days businesses need to think about: exciting photos for Instagram, clever Tweets, engaging a Facebook community, creating PPC (pay-per-click) web ads, maximizing SEO, and pulling off a viral stunt that gets everybody talking about your business for weeks (or years).
This is why every large company has a budget for social media marketing. Every venture seeks the “holy grail” of viral publicity—the ultimate marketing phenomenon when consumers are promoting your company themselves. From Pepsi to Monsanto, if you follow the feeds of mega corporations you’ll see a constant struggle to stay relevant, engage the audience and attempt to look “cool”.
Although these companies may spend millions of dollars to do this, the great thing about marketing in this day and age is that similar levels of success can be yielded potentially for free. In fact, it’s possible to actually surpass the marketing efforts of big companies that struggle to stay relevant. This can be accomplished through being genuine (and actually relevant)—qualities in short supply in the corporate world.
Marketing With No Budget—It Can Be Done
The main issue new business owners bring up is “I don’t have the budget for a marketing or social media department”. Fortunately, the best marketing in the world is often free-of-charge. Consider some of the following free marketing strategies to get your foot in the door.
• Word of Mouth
The oldest and most effective form of marketing involves the basics of human communication: people talk to each other. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs have a never-ending stream of clients as a result of this one concept.
Gaining “viral” word of mouth credibility depends on being respectable in your field and community. This can be accomplished through both doing a great job that inspires people to tell their friends, and engaging the community (networking).
The latter is one of the oldest concepts in marketing and it’s why there’s such a thing as “networking mixers”. Sometimes the single element of proof a potential client or go-to person needs is meeting you face-to-face and deciding you’re a respectable person.
If you attend enough community events, mixers, industry conferences and so forth—you’ll become a recognized face. Soon, Bob will be telling Sally about a cool guy or gal he met who just happens to be a consultant (what Sally was looking for).
• Online Classifieds
Yes, Craigslist is a swamped market; however, you’d be surprised how many people still use this site in particular when looking for contractors or business services, and in many cities, it’s free to post about your business or service. The drawback is that you’re entering a sea of other businesses doing the same thing. Nonetheless, long-term customers can still materialize this way.
• Claim Local Listings
Even without an SEO-tailored website with lots of content, you can still create a formidable web presence—entirely for free by claiming all the relevant local web directories to point searchers to your business.
You’ll want to tap into: Google Business, Yelp Business, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local Listings and Citysearch, among others.
• Expand Awareness Through Media, Social Influencers
Although an entire book can be written about this subject, consider your industry and what media venues would be interested in featuring you. As a rough example, Sally the photographer has been creating unique snapshots of weddings by using extremely wide-angle lenses. Soon, various photography-related podcasts want to feature Sally—which shoots (no pun intended) her brand recognition through the roof and she becomes booked by countless new clients.
Marketing With a Small Budget – Getting the Most For Your Dollar
The above concepts can all be accomplished with $0. However, once you’re ready to start spending a little money then you can diversify your marketing efforts.
• Content Creation and SEO
Although technically you can perform this function yourself, most entrepreneurs and small business owners are too busy with other tasks to devote time to it. Therefore, it’s wise to outsource some help in the form of content creation and SEO optimization for your website(s).
There’s no more overused term on the internet than “SEO”. There’s a never-ending supply of theories, techniques, and styles to cleverly implement keywords from the Google Keyword Planner while hitting the right formulas for your text.
The truth is, at the end of the day, “content is king” and the most likely blog articles to go viral are the most helpful and highest-quality—whether or not a content curator adheres to every single SEO doctrine.
• PPC Campaigns
PPC (Pay Per Click) is this generation’s major source of commerce. Mega-sites like Google, Facebook, and YouTube all have variations of PPC programs to try out. The great thing about PPC advertising is that you can hone in on exact demographics. Selling military paraphernalia? Then hone a Facebook PPC campaign for people who like “U.S. Marine Corp”. You get the idea.
• Guerilla Marketing
While it’s easy to spend all one’s time online, it’s important to remember there’s a bustling real world beyond your computer chair.
Many new startups still implement good old-fashioned guerilla marketing campaigns using brand ambassadors to promote a company and acquire leads. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of ordering a bulk supply of some useful little item branded with your company (coffee mugs, mini phone tripods, etc.) and giving them away on a busy street. A campaign like this is easily pulled together by hiring local students in your area who want to make extra cash on a weekend.
Through this article, you are now familiar with solid marketing strategies that you can implement tomorrow. Best of all, many of the best marketing techniques actually cost zero dollars. With persistence and a bit of cunning, you can devise a hard-hitting marketing strategy for your new company—and who knows—maybe your company will go viral and revenue will flow like a river.