Are you looking for cheap ways to find more customers for your small business? Who isn't! Truthfully marketing is a challenge for most of us. We may sell a product or offer a service that we feel passionate about. Ideally, we would love for our business to sell itself based on its merits. In the real world, simply building the best widget is not enough to grow a business.
Common Small Business Marketing Challenges:
Marketing, much like technology is a rapidly evolving field. Not keeping up can spell the difference between success and failure. Many of the major online marketing tools used today barely existed a decade ago. Also, self-promotion can be an uncomfortable process for many new entrepreneurs. It is not easy to sell yourself. Of course these reasons just scratch the surface. Marketing is tougher and potentially more expensive than ever. Enough about the challenges. You're not reading this post to rehash the problems, you want solutions!
Here are 37 ideas for marketing your small business on a budget. This list is made with the assumption that you already have a small business website. Of course, not everything on this list may work for you and your business. But you are likely to find a few ideas that will. So let's get started!
37 Top Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget
1. Create a Facebook Page about your business and share content that potential customers can use. Setting up a Facebook page is free. The challenge is creating content that attracts potential customers. Stay sensitive to the questions your customers commonly ask. Provide answers on your Facebook page along with useful tips and links.
2. Build a List of Email Subscribers. Adding a list subscription tool to you business website is a low-cost way to collect the email addresses of potential customers. Use that email list to alert them to new posts, tips, special sales and other promotions. Email remains one of the most effective ways to engage potential customers online. If you have a WordPress based website, adding an email subscription tool is a breeze.
3. Reach out to friends, family and acquaintances. Do they know anyone who can use your business services? Can they provide a referral? A brief email is often a great way to ask for business. Let them know that you are looking for new customers. You may be pleasantly surprised at the leads they send your way.
4. Be sure that you have a Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profile for your business. These should all be linked to your business website. If you have a WordPress based business website (and you should) it is very easy to automate notifications sent to these Social Media outlets. I can show you how its done.
5. Offer freebies. The word free remains one of the great lures of business. Can you offer a free gift as a way of attracting new business?
6. Create and share promotional videos on Youtube and Facebook. Youtube videos will boost your presence in both Google and Youtube search results. Facebook videos can offer the same benefits on Facebook. Videos can be simple slideshows or hosted presentations. Most likely, you already own the technology needed to create basic videos.
7. When creating online videos, focus on answering questions. Don't just provide a naked sales pitch. Focus on questions potential customers go online to answer. Provide the answers in your videos.
8. Give gifts. Add a pleasant surprise to each completed project or sale. It may be a simple thank you card or a small gift. The Japanese have a great cultural tradition in this regard that we can learn from. Here's a great article on Japanese gift giving that may inspire you.
9. Create memorable and appealing business cards. A beautiful or creative business card is much less likely to be discarded and becomes a conversation piece in its own right. You can often find unique free business cards designs online that can be adapted to your needs. Online business card printing services like VistaPrint offer high quality and low cost. Spend a bit more for a heavier quality card stock that feels more luxurious in the hand.
10. Attend networking events. The key here is to make real connections, not simply to pass out business cards. Focus less on marketing your business and more on friendly interactions. The business will follow.
11. Offer to write a post for a popular blog in your business market. That can put your business in front of a wider audience.
12. Post business cards, flyers and brochures on local free bulletin boards. Restaurants, supermarkets and other local merchants may have bulletin boards for local announcements and marketing.
13. Offer your service or product as a free prize in exchange for email addresses (see tip #2 on email subscriptions). The chance to win a prize is a great incentive for potential customers to leave an email address and name on your newsletter or email list.
14. Get interviewed on a podcast. Share your passion and expertise. Popular online podcasters are always looking for experts to interview. An hour of your time or less can result in exposure to a much wider audience. Better yet, start your own podcast!
15. Give a talk at a business or local Chamber of Commerce event. You establish trust and authority with local business owners in this way.
16. Maintain a blog and write often. Sharing your expertise and passion online makes you more than a business. You become a valued go-to resource. Plus, great content is your single most important Search Engine Optimization strategy.
17. Pin photos related to your business on Pinterest. The key here is to pin appealing, compelling photos that link back to your website. Pinterest provides a back link to your website by default. Those photos can be a great source of online traffic.
18. Join relevant Facebook groups. Just be sure that you have a passion for that group topic. Share comments and photos. This will bring traffic to your Facebook page and website.
19. Pitch your business and expertise to local media outlets. You may be featured on a local video or television segment as a result.
20. Host a free workshop. Sharing free information can often lead to new customers.
21. Participate in business related online forums. You may be able to link to articles on your website in your forum post. Also, you may be allowed a link in the signature of every post you create.
22. Make sure your email signature contains all of your business contact information. Every email you send will have marketing potential.
23. Invite someone in a related field to share a post on your website. Its a great way to expand your network, and both of you benefit from the marketing.
24. Write an outstanding blog post that is worthy of Google's first page. Market it on Social Media and to other bloggers and influential websites. Get lots of backlink love!
25. Review a product you love on your blog and let the company who makes it know about it. Many companies will share a link to positive unsolicited reviews.
26. Create an infographic out of your popular content. This will take a bit of graphic design skills. However, infographics attract links like a flame attracts moths.
27. Upload your content to Slideshare to get it exposed to a new audience. Again, be sure that the presentation is visually appealing.
28. Subscribe to HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Reporters are always looking for expert opinions and content on a wide range of topics. Share your expertise and you may get a link from a high-traffic media website for your efforts.
29. Offer coupons and limited time discounts. Who doesn't love a great deal?
30. Add social media sharing buttons to your website. This will give visitors the opportunity to easily like, tweet and share your content. A WordPress website makes this so easy.
31. Testimonials. Always ask happy clients and customers to share a testimonial that you can add to your website.
32. Advertise on Craigslist. It's free, popular and it can send new business your way.
33. Create your own affiliate program. Offer an incentive for others to send customers your way.
34. Get your business listed in reputable online directories that your target audience might potentially use. Be cautious about spammy low-quality directories that are poorly regarded by Google. A link from spammy website can hurt your website ranking.
35. Write and send out press releases to your local media about interesting projects or events. Free publicity!
36. Do online 'cold-calling' via email. Write a personalized email that shows how you can help a business to solve a problem. Take the time to do a few of these each week. Use a service that lets you know when the email was read to keep track of its effectiveness. Hubspot Sales lets you track emails and know when they have been read.
37. Let people know what you do. Always have a few business cards ready and a concise description of your business well in mind. You never know who you will meet.
Well, I'm sure we can add a few more ideas to this list. Have you discovered a great cheap marketing strategy?. Let me know!
Hopefully, something on this list will inspire your small business marketing efforts. You may not be able to use every suggestion. Find one that fits your talents and business and run with it. I wish you much success!
Don Peterson, the author of this post is a freelance website designer specializing in small business online marketing solutions.