When you start a business, there are a number of challenges that arise. One of the most common is getting the word out without depleting your cash reserves. Since the survival of your business depends on acquiring customers in the most cost effective way, we’ve decided to list 30 different ways you can market your business with little or no money.
1. Use Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the cheapest and most rewarding marketing techniques that any business person. For about $50 to $70 a month, an individual can connect with up to 5000 contacts. Research has shown that many small business owners tend to prefer email marketing because they have a high return on investment. In fact a recent report stated that email marketing has a return of about $44.25 for every $1 spent. Not only is email marketing effective, but also according to Victoria Treyger, CMO of Kabbage, email is also the preferred mode of advertising among clients. Set up an account with Aweber and begin to add emails. You can create effective campaigns for about $19 a month.
2. Low-Cost PPC Advertising
Cost: $5 and up
PPC advertising is among the most used internet marketing models for increasing website traffic. An advertiser pays a fee every time their ad is clicked on. A lot of advertisers use search engines for this type of marketing where their ads are placed at the top of the engine’s results for a particular keyword. In practice, PPC advertising can be costly, and if you are on a low budget, you want to maximize the returns of your marketing campaigns. You should continuously examine the results of your PPC campaigns to know exactly which ads are drumming up the most traffic. This data will guide you in cutting costs and channeling your funds to the most effective ads and target methods.
3. Join in on Twitter Chats
A twitter chat is a moderated discussion about a topic based on a specific hashtag. To use the discussions for your business, you need to look for the conversations that align with your company. You can visit this twitter chat list and choose the relevant ones for your business. To be prepared for the sessions, do some research on the organization and guests that will be involved to determine what topics the audience is interested in. Twitter chats can not only increase your company’s exposure, but it can also give you valuable feedback and increase your following.
4. Set up Your Yelp Page
Since it was unveiled in 2004, Yelp serves as a go-to platform for millions of people searching for information about local enterprises. Yelp may not seem as popular as other social platforms, but these statistics prove just how essential the website is. Yelp averages more than 178 million visitors every month and users have contributed over 171 million reviews of almost every type of local business. If your business is already listed on the site, the first step is to claim ownership of it. Your business profile should display your address, phone number, and most importantly, your website to increase your traffic. To stand out, work on an attractive gallery filled with quality photos to encourage customer interest. Yelp offers self-service advertising as well as full-service. $25 a month is the approximate price for self-service advertising. If your business needs more, you need to contact Yelp in order to utilize their full-service advertising option.
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5. Feature as a Guest on a Podcast
There are many forms of modern marketing, and one that you should be utilizing at some point is the use of podcasts. First of all, podcast marketing is enjoying massive popularity due to the proliferation of mobile phones. People listen to specific podcasts for various reasons. Individuals with startup businesses, for example, would listen to podcasts aimed at helping them grow their business. Using podcasts would mean that you will target the specific people that your message is tailored for. Also, being interviewed on podcasts does not require a lot of money or time, and it is effective in generating buzz around your product.
6. Try Facebook Live Video
Live streaming may have been an exciting new concept a few years back, but at this moment, it is a solid marketing avenue. Due to that fact, endless companies are using it to improve their brand experience. Facebook Live enables you to broadcast in real time, and it appears in the news feed of your fans. The best part about the feature is that it lets you view the people watching it and their comments. Facebook Live is all about enhancing interactions, and it creates a connection between customers and brands. Audiences value authenticity, and you can use the platform to improve your firm’s transparency and inspire trust among your customers.
7. Blog on Linkedin
Cost: $0-$59.99 (Linkedin Premium Business Plan)
Linkedin is an online networking site designed for the business community. Over 500 million users interact on the site, and about 3 million users share content weekly. A post on the site is similar to the posts on Twitter and Facebook, and you can, therefore, use it to encourage traffic to your website. Alternatively, you can publish an article on the site’s Pulse platform which is designed to help professionals read and share long articles. This is an excellent way of generating interest in your company.
8. Create Custom Stickers
Cost: $20 and Up
Stickers are both a fun and trendy way to connect with customers. Stickers help you build a community, and you can reward customers with them that they can attach to possessions such as cars. When your customers do this, it indicates that they are proud to be associated with your brand. Also, stickers allow you to explore your maximum creativity. Lay’s, for example, amused crowds when they decorated subways with growing potato stickers. Their campaign was aimed at communicating their uniqueness and freshness of their potato chips.
9. Instagram Page Takeover
Instagram takeovers can be fun and exciting for your brand’s social media page. Evaluating the goals of your takeover will help you decide on choosing a guest. Guests can be customers, influencers, or employees. An influencer will typically share content based on their area of expertise, and it is necessary that you bring on board one that is known in your industry. Your employees will give your audience an inside look of the company and engage with them on a personal level. One of the companies which use customers for their takeovers is Sony Alpha which invites customers of the brand to share photographs taken with a Sony Alpha camera.
10. Getting Involved in Community Events
Customers trust brands that are visible in their community because it shows them that you care. There are endless ways your business could increase its visibility in your locality. You can, for example, teach a class and expound on the activities your company does. Another favorite way of community-involvement is sponsoring an event. People are generally interested in learning new practical skills, and you can leverage this to create an attractive event. If you sell home improvement supplies, for example, you can organize a show to show people how to do their projects. Not only want to learn the skills they need, but they would also buy the supplies from you since you have presented yourself as an expert. More ways to get involved in the community are outlined here.
11. Run Social Media Giveaways
Cost: $0 and up
Your social media pages could always use more engagement. Giveaways not only make your active followers feel valued but it also increases traffic to your platform. You should take the needs of your audience into consideration when creating a giveaway. If your followers love photography, for example, you can create a photo competition and offer a relevant prize like a camera. Giveaways that require people to tag other users will help increase your brand’s visibility on social media.
12. Submit Your Website’s URL to Search Engines
Your business’s website needs search engines visibility to grow organic traffic. The internet is a vast place, and for users, it can get overwhelming to look for a product, service, or piece of information. This is where search engines come in and save the day. When someone types in a keyword on Google, a result page will pop up which ranks the various results. Improving your web presences is vital. That means getting your business ranked on search engines. Preferably, ranked as high as possible. Submitting URLs to search engines is free, and you can use a variety of tools to monitor your site’s SEO performance.
Getting your business listed on Google and Bing is absolutely free. Yahoo on the other hand charges $29.99 a month which lists you on more than 50 directories which include Yahoo Local and Yelp. Listing your business on search engines local directories helps you optimize your business for local searches.
13. Volunteer at Community Events
Customers have become increasingly aware of corporate practices, and they want to trade with businesses that exhibit integrity. People are bludgeoned by ads on a daily basis, and volunteering offers a refreshing way of making the community aware of your brand. Your business can volunteer in many ways. The company Better World Books, for example, donates books and supports global literacy programs. Your business can also contribute to a local charity in your locality. Volunteering establishes a good reputation in an age where people want to deal with transparent firms.
14. Speak for Free at Business Associations
Cost: $0 and up
Associations, business, and nonprofits are regularly organizing workshops, networking mixers, and retreats which need speakers. You can approach these parties as an expert in your field for speaking engagements. Your speech should however not sound like a commercial. You can, for example, outline various problems and give instances when you encountered them in your own business. Carry business cards to give to the audience later.
15. Create a Newsletter
Cost: $0 and up
Newsletter marketing makes it easy to market your products without the risk of alienating your customers. To optimize on the benefits of this kind of marketing, you will need to use high-quality content. Your readers do not want to only read about your products, but they also want useful news and entertaining content like photos and videos. Another tactic you can use is to include a call to action to engage your audience further. One enterprise that has mastered the art of creating newsletters is Airbnb which includes splendid and eye-catching photos. Potential customers will be enticed to click on the images just because it looks like a place they would like to visit.
16. Get Featured on the Testimonial Pages of Services You Use
Most companies have testimonial pages where customers can give unbiased and positive reviews of a product or service. The testimonials of a large and credible organization can improve the attractiveness of a company’s product to a service. When you leave testimonials as an entrepreneur, your brand will be visible to the visitors that will visit the site which will encourage interest. Testimonial pages are a cost-effective way of courting a larger customer reach.
17. Vlog on YouTube Daily or Weekly
Vlogging on YouTube can be incredibly beneficial for your business since it creates an emotional connection with your audience. You can feature customer testimonials to convince your following of the trustworthiness and reliability of your brand. Your audience would appreciate a behind the scenes tour of your company where your employees can talk about your firm’s culture and values. Interviews and event recaps are other vlog ideas. One company that has been capitalizing on YouTube is Red Bull. Their vlog features risk-tasking videos including a daring climb on the frozen Niagara Falls which have made them gain more than 4 million subscribers.
18. Start a Blog and Share on Personal Social Channels
Cost: $0 and up
Another great way to get your content and business in front of potential buyers is to share blog content on your personal social media profiles. A blog, unlike a website, will enable you to display loads of informal content. You should go to great lengths to make it attractive including getting a premium theme and excellent hosting. The next step is curating content consistently to illustrate that you are an expert to potential clients. One of the features you can use on the blog is a series of interviews where you can profile industry experts, influencers, and entrepreneurs. Another effective tool is a call to action where you can engage your readers to share on social media or take advantage of discounts and time-based offers. Consider promoting your business blog on your personal social channels.
19. List Your Business with Online Directories
Cost: $0 and up
Customers use to depend on yellow pages to look for companies, but businesses have now moved online. Today’s clients depend on online directories to identify the firms they want to work with. Your business could, therefore, be losing out on potential clients without an online directory footprint. Your firm will benefit from improved SEO and discoverability and also enhance its reputation. There are different online directories for different niches and industry. To start, check this list on the top rated online directories.
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20. Discover Niche Social Media Platforms
Cost: $0 and up
There are as many social media platforms as they are niches in the marketplace. Customers appreciate smaller platforms for their intimacy, and they are able to create more genuine interactions. An example of these platforms is Capsure which lets users create photo boards to be used selectively. You should undertake a research to determine where your target market interacts the most and direct your social media marketing efforts there.
21. Offer Freebies
Cost: Cost of goods
People love free stuff, and you could give your customer your products at no cost as a marketing tool. Freebies were commonly given as inexpensive services or throwaway products, but companies have since invested in giving away high-quality samples. Free samples build goodwill with your audience and also offers clients a chance to test the quality of your products. You can collect emails and phone numbers from the customers who get free samples and follow up with them.
22. Go to Meetups
Cost: $0-$50 (Some meetups have entrance fees depending on the meetup)
Attending meetups can boost your business’s growth. Meetups are business-related events where people with the same interests converge to interact. To start, you can search for meetups on Meetup.com. Most people go to such events with the sole purpose of advertising their firms, and it is common for people at the events to feel the pressure of marketing their businesses. A better technique would be to forge genuine relationships and try to offer solutions to other people. Similarly, you can use meetups to establish your credibility in the industry and make networks.
23. Host Meetups
Meetups can be an effective way of interacting with your customers. The first step would be to create your business personas. Depending on your business, you may have groups of customers with the same interests, for example, people who love to travel. Your meeting ups should be tailored to engage the specific concerns of your target groups as explained here. If you own a restaurant, you can opt to organize a meetup involving a menu made by a local chef and include a local entertainer. If your meetup features a guest, ensure that you get someone with a following so that they get people to come. Also, your featured speaker should also be a noted leader in the field of your business. People want to feel cared about, and you should therefore not take all the spotlight but allow them to interact and ask questions about your business.
24. Use Instagram Stories Daily or Weekly
Instagram stories offer you a chance to create an everyday photo documentary for your business. The platform can engage your loyal and active audiences and also make it easy for other audiences to see you. Instagram estimates that over 400 million daily users use stories and there are multiple features at your disposal including stickers and drawing tools. Also, Stories do not also require a lot of effort, and they are just used to highlight interesting moments. You should, however, put some thought into the content that you are going to post beforehand.
Product stickers make it easy for customers to purchase products on stories while poll stickers can help you get feedback. You should also maximize on the use of hashtags to improve your discoverability on the platform. Links can also be included on Instagram stories to direct people to your page or website. Above all, your stories should help people discover your products or services and make them interested enough to spark interest about your business.
25. Ask for Customer Reviews
Customer reviews can improve brand loyalty and increase sales. Today’s customer is more engaged than ever, thanks to a pool of platforms like Yelp and social media. Clients generally want to work with businesses that other customers have reviewed positively, and they use reviews to determine a company’s reliability. You should value authentic reviews rather than fake ones because they appear more real and trustworthy. Some companies have dedicated a whole page on their website to display customer opinions on their product. The manufacturer Kia, for example, updates customer reviews on owning a particular vehicle. Make it additionally easy for customers to leave reviews by including links to your website review form or your social media handles. You can also offer such incentives as discounts and coupons to customers to convince them to leave reviews. The goal is to make the client feel appreciated enough to rate the company favorably.
26. Offer a Free, No Obligation Consultation
Using free consultations is a great way to attract customers. To organize the ideal free consultation strategy, think about how your company has helped your satisfied customers. If you are a financial firm, you may have helped people save money by reducing spending. Package some of these services and use it as an enticing service introduction. You can use customer reviews to illustrate the solutions you gave to your customers. When using reviews, it is essential that you use quantities to demonstrate the effectiveness of your services. Free consultations can be advertised on your website, newsletters, or by use of emails. A common way of using this marketing strategy if offering self-assessment tools. The services should be tied to the core business of your company.
27. Low-Cost Facebook Ads
Cost: $5 and up
Facebook ads are effective social media campaigns, and you don’t have to commit a large budget to see results. Your Facebooks campaigns should target a particular audience to start with as this gives you a better chance of gaining traction. Not only is advertising to the wrong market costly but it also wastes a lot of marketing efforts. Facebook is a very dynamic platform, and users are exposed to new content every minute. For that reason, your visuals can cause ad fatigue if not refreshed continuously. Maximize photos, slideshows, and videos when using Facebook which is easier with the app’s inbuilt tools as outlined here. You should constantly find ways to turn your awareness ads into conversions. Furthermore, you can also use content that demonstrates your expertise in your industry to make customers trust you.
28. Partner with Other Businesses
Cost: $0-cost of partnership
Partnering with other firms will not only contribute to your business development, but it will also provide a chance to cross-market your product. One of the ways to achieve this is to host events with your partner businesses. You will learn a lot about your partner’s organizational structure while the feedback you gather at the event will be invaluable to your firm. You can further collaborate on webinars that will appeal to both your users and those of your partner. Social media avenues are also ideal for cross-promotion as you can feature your partner on Instagram stories or Facebook ads. Creating a survey together is another solid way to build your partnership and get useful information that both of your businesses can use. The survey results can be included in a newsletter or a blog. You can also publish an eBook that established you and your partner as experts.
29. Content Distribution Platforms
Cost: $20/month and up
If your website has a blog, one of the fastest ways to drive traffic to posts is to utilize content distribution platforms. Platforms such as Outbrain and Taboola allow businesses to distribute their blog’s content to site’s that have higher traffic. This is done through native advertising which appeals more to visitors of the site and typically has higher conversions than traditional banner ads. While there are many content distribution platforms out there, Outbrain is one of the most cost-effective as you can begin a campaign with as little as $20.
30. Write for Local Publications
One of the best ways to get free advertisement is to get local publications to feature your story. Write to local publications requesting them to feature your new business since you are a local person. Local publications like local stories, and they are bound to feature your business if you prove to have an interesting story. Alyssa Smith founded luxury jewelry brand Alyssa Smith Jewelry in 2009 and was eventually named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. When starting her business, she used many low cost ways to market her company.
Alyssa Smith wrote to magazines and asked if she could write a column on how I started my business’ or the tribulations of being a small business owner’. This slowly started getting her company some recognition. Later, bigger magazines were able to feature her business and by so doing, won her business even more free advertising.
31. “Celebrity” Endorsements
Cost:$0 and up
The term “celebrity” has changed in the past 10 years or so. Celebrity these days can be a 15 year old that posts videos on Youtube. In fact, the power of influencers on Youtube has changed the way companies seek endorsements.
One of the easiest ways to get your brand noticed is to get influencers to endorse your product. This is one of the best ways to market your business for free especially if your business entails making wearable products. Send free samples of your products to influencers who you think will appreciate your brand and reflect it well. Influencers have the potential to drive more sales by getting their fans to buy a certain product that they like. As a small company, you can give your product to bloggers and vloggers for them to try. If they like your product, they will usually review the product and present it to their followers.