You've started or purchased a business; you have a product or service that is highly regarded and in demand by the public. No matter how great your product or service is if the public doesn't know about it, you're going to have a hard time gaining new customers. In this post I outline some creative ideas to advertise your business for free.
Today, 'messages' to consumers are everywhere; in the past, on a daily basis, consumers would receive advertising or marketing messages from just a few sources: radio, television, and newspapers. Today, advertising messages are everywhere, in addition to traditional media; ads are on nearly every page you look at on the internet, they show up on your phone, there are televisions with advertising on gas pumps, in the grocery stores, on giant billboards along the highway.
Your business has to somehow compete with all that "clutter" and it's difficult to do without a solid advertising budget, which many small businesses are lacking.
There are a number of creative ways you can advertise or market your business for little or no cost:
1) Build a website
There are many free services online today that will walk you through the steps to have a basic or more complex website at no cost. For those of you that are rushing to get your online business degree
and brush the dust off it, this is not needed as sites like Wordpress make building a website simple.
2) Put your address on it
Once you have your website, and it's address (it's called a "URL"), put your URL on everything your business uses; signs, business cards, stationary, invoices, sales slips.
3) Submit to Search Engines
Submit your website details to every single search engine in existence. Search engine listings will enable internet users to find your business.
4) Use "evangelists"
"Word of mouth" is still very effective, but today, "word of mouth" is often peer-to-peer recommendations consumers see online. Set up a Facebook and Yelp page for your business, and encourage your most enthusiastic customers to regularly list positive reviews about their experience with your service or products.
5) Get the attention of the traditional media
Have a new product or service that is different, creative, or innovative? Conventional local media like television and newspapers are always looking for new content of interest to locals. You can "pitch" story ideas to them when your business has something new to talk about.
Vlogging is a combination of two different media, traditional blogging and video. Make short videos demonstrating your product or service and place them on You Tube and similar services. Promote the fact that they are available to watch via your website or free marketing distribution services like Twitter.
7) Develop relationships
Develop relationships with local civic clubs and realtors. You can give distribute coupons or flyers to new residents moving into your area.
8) Offer product samples
Offer product samples or think about a "Fremium" model for your business. This is a method of distributing a product, particularly an internet or software product, free, at first, a 'bare-bones' version. If users like it, they talk about it (word of mouth), and you are also offering them the opportunity to upgrade their version via a purchase price that unlocks features not available in the bare-bones version.
Your best salesperson is YOU! Get involved in local charities, clubs, and events and talk up your business.
10) Vendors and suppliers
Make sure your vendors and suppliers are "on your side, and talk about your business. Offer their referrals a special discount.