Unless you’ve already attained fame and notoriety these fourteen promotional, marketing strategies will boost your business and increase brand awareness.
Have you tried these strategies?
- Paid Google advertising
- Traditional media outlets
- Networking events
- Press releases (if appropriate)
But what if you’re unable to afford a full-scale marketing and advertising budget? Here are 13 tried-and-true business marketing strategies you might try for free or with a small budget.
Common Forms of Marketing Small Businesses Can Use
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different ways you can elevate and promote your business.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Being “found” is an essential part of any modern business’s success. After all, you can’t bring in new customers if they can’t find you. SEO is the practice of positioning your website to provide the best answers on specific topics and keywords that matter to your target audience.
Through a combination of keyword placement, quality design and links with other businesses, SEO has become the cornerstone of modern marketing.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the process of developing and distributing information about a group of subject matters pertaining to your business that provides value to customers and a larger audience base.
Content can include blog posts, videos and storefront advertising banners. It’s worth noting that content marketing is not free. Marketing costs might include your human resources, promotional investment and graphic design. Content marketing is a long-term investment that requires time and dedication.
3. Social Media Marketing
While content marketing is part of a long-term strategy, try social media channels to generate immediate results. Social media marketing is the practice of sharing links directly with a group of friends or peers in your industry, such as Facebook or Linkedin.
Social media exposes your business to new communities, drawing attention to your site and increasing traffic. Also consider:
4. Email Marketing
Like social media, email marketing is a way to cultivate and communicate with your audience. The difference is it’s one-to-one versus one-to-many. Email marketing is a privileged opportunity. Consumers who share their email address with you are essentially saying, “Yes, I want to see more from you.”
Email marketing allows you to tailor messaging to your customers and subscribers. For example, you can send promotional emails to subscribers who’ve already purchased from you. Learning how to do free email marketing is time-consuming but worthwhile.
Need more free marketing ideas?
5. Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Humans are wired to trust those closest to them, as well as those like them. Because of this, getting a customer to tell someone else about your business is perhaps more valuable than any other form of marketing. It’s generated by businesses who’ve created experiences worth sharing.
6. Promotional Sales
Buy one, get one (BOGO) increase awareness of your business and gets more people in the door (or to your website).
Discounts like these are used to entice consumers to support businesses across any industry. While there are no direct marketing costs associated with lowering the price of goods and services by your customer, any sale improves your profits. If the discounts are successful, you should see an increase in sales volume, which will make up for any cuts.
7. Contests and Giveaways
Hosting a contest with a highly coveted prize is a terrific tactic for businesses looking for free marketing ideas. One of the benefits of these types of promotions is that the prize doesn’t necessarily need to be of great monetary value. Is there anything better than winning? The value comes from how the audience feels about the prize, even if it’s as simple as a t-shirt.
8. Customer Service
Treating someone well doesn’t cost a thing. Instituting standards that give your customers the benefit of the doubt can have a lasting impact, beyond a single transaction. Of course, there will be situations where some customers take advantage of your good intentions, but the good outweighs the bad.
In a sense, customer service is part of word-of-mouth marketing. How you approach customer service has a direct influence on what clients and the general public says about you.
While creative marketing ideas can help your small business, there are still costs associated with making sure each strategy is executed.
9. Be Visible Online
Being found online starts with your website and location on your website, proper titles, meta descriptions and keywords. (And if you don’t know what this means, try hiring a digital professional to help.)
Your brand awareness revolves around online reviews and recommendations.
Having a presence (and strategy) on these services is crucial. While Google is the site most likely to provide quick results, you may also try:
Small Business Tip: You can register your business with Google for free.
To make sure you’re generating reviews consistently, design a review process for your customers that’s easy enough for anyone to follow. This can be done by delivering straightforward instructions on your website or through linking on your site.
10. Publish Impactful Content
The web has exploded. There are just under 2 billion websites on the Internet — a number that (combined with more than 5 billion webpages) continues to grow each day.
What does this mean for your business? It should continuously produce high-quality content that provides accessible information to the audience it serves. Awesome content will eventually win out. When you create product- or client-driven videos to post on Youtube, for instance, you will likely see a spike in your website’s page views.
For example, learning how to make a good blog post takes more than writing ability. Creating a great blog post involves providing a direct answer to a specific question, topic or technical process.
Before publishing anything, it’s good to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this content help sales conversions and/or branding?
- Does this content provide answers quickly?
- Would you share this content on social?
If you can answer “yes” to each, you’ve likely got a valuable piece of marketing on your hands.
11. Find the Right Distribution Strategy
Once you’ve created a killer piece of content, you need to maximize its value by getting as many interested eyes on it as possible.
Today, much of this distribution is done through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Paid advertising is often the best solution on these channels but there are ways to distribute for free.
There is still one area where nearly all of your messages will reach your target audience: private groups. Establishing a private group is much like building an email list, in that it can take longer to yield substantial results than direct advertising options. The trust you build, however, is invaluable.
12. Create a Newsletter Worth Forwarding
Figuring out how to do email marketing for free can be quite challenging, mainly due to the software required to segment and organize your data. Nevertheless, it’s possible.
The most successful email marketing initiatives often feature a newsletter that’s worth signing up for. E-newsletters provide significant value to subscribers, eventually becoming a great tool to attract customers.
With a combination of customer research and industry knowledge, you can create insightful and meaningful materials that will have your audience awaiting the next addition of your newsletter.
13. Establish Industry Partnerships
Creating strategic partnerships with industry ties is one of the best free marketing ideas any business can pursue. By collaborating with businesses that enhance your own offerings, you’ll be exposed to a new customer base.
These partnerships can be executed in a variety of ways, including in-person events, sales discounts, product packages and other cross-promotional marketing opportunities. By establishing strategic partnerships, you can essentially double your marketing efforts and increase your reach.
14. Experiment with Guerilla Marketing
Guerilla marketing, at its core, is the practice of a business using highly visible and trafficked public space to increase its profile. While it might sound strange, learning how to do guerilla marketing only takes imagination and a little bit of courage.
Effective examples of guerilla marketing include well-placed stickers, sidewalk chalk that forces perspective, optical illusions and even causes marketing in some instances.
Once you’ve found the right ideas, take the time to create an execution strategy around it, including how you expect the general public to engage with your campaign. Social hashtags and other calls to action can be placed on the scene, increasing your reach and the effectiveness of your campaign.
Leveraging the Best Free Marketing Ideas
From being more accessible online to optimizing how your content is distributed, each of these practices can add value to every organization. By adding new partners and trying experimental campaigns, your business may discover something that moves the needle in a significant way. Whether you have a multi-million dollar budget or you need to find ways to make great free marketing ideas stretch, each strategy is good for your business.