If you are a small business owner, you may not have the biggest budget for advertising your product or services. And yet, if you don’t get the word out about your company, how can you attract customers?
This has been a long-time conundrum that many small business owners have faced, whether they are selling cosmetics or computers, offering web design services or babysitting.
So we came up with this list of 10 ways to promote your business when you’re on a tight budget. While you may not be able to do all of these things (at least not at once), try to pick a few that are up your alley and really invest in them.
Offer free information
There are a number of ways to do this: You can offer a free speech in the area of your expertise, a free hands-on activity, or offer friends or colleagues a testimonial on their websites (and they will most probably link back to yours). The key when offering free information is not to spend too much time on the preparation; after all, time is money. You should also try to offer the information in a way that will make the customer want to come back for more; a teaser of sorts.
Create killer website content
Getting people to visit your website is one thing – but how do you keep them there, and how do you get them to make a purchase/appointment? With killer content. This includes an appealing homepage, and a BLOG. Having a blog on your site is a fabulous way to generate both PR and backlinks. After all, the better your content, the more websites will want to share it.
Network with other bloggers
If you network with other bloggers in your field, you can provide mutual assistance to each other (as long as you are not competitors). For example, if you own a nail salon, you can reach out to bloggers who write about beauty, or massage therapists who want to recommend a pampering salon experience to their clients. You can ask to contribute a guest post to their blog, or ask to send them a free product to review. It’s a win-win situation, and it doesn’t cost any money. Bear in mind though, it does take time, as well as creativity.
(Twitter and LinkedIN are good tools for finding and reaching out to bloggers who blog about your industry or are related to your field.)
Take advantage of local listings
Google My Business, Yahoo Local, and Bing Places for Business are all tools that allow you to list your business so that when locals do a search, they can find you. You can also join local Yahoo groups that relate to your business, or Yahoo groups that are just based on location (for example, if you live in Elizabeth, NJ, you can search for a Yahoo group for Elizabeth residents.) And of course, you should do a Google search for any local directories that you could add your business to as well. All of these are quick and easy to do, and can yield real results.
Go old school
Print and distribute flyers. If you have a small business that focuses only on one area, print out some flyers to promote your business and hang them up (as long as it is legal). You can design the flyer yourself or find an inexpensive printer (one-page flyers will usually not break the bank).
And again, when operating on a low budget, you need to be creative – so think about where to hang them. Local doctors’ offices, restaurants, community centers, etc. Also use your judgment about where you post (i.e., don’t post flyers for your dental practice in your competitor’s office). You can also distribute flyers (or better, hire some high school students to do it) on parked cars, in mailboxes, in business offices, hotels, and any other creative places you can think of.
Keep your eyes out for credits or discounts
Offered every now and then by Google AdWords and Facebook, these deals are great for small business owners who want to market their business but normally can’t afford to shell out a big chunk of change on these costly ad campaigns.
Get on social media
Create business accounts on on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ (and Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Instagram and any others you have time for). And post.
Now remember, the goal is to get people to go to your website/buy your product/sign up for a newsletter. Facebook likes can be a means towards achieving your goal, but it is not your actual goal. In order to get people to keep listening to what you have to say and eventually get them to your site, you need to use the same principle as when you create your site: Post interesting content.
Make sure to post your own content, but also post articles from other sites that are related to your field or industry, or funny/inspiring/local content that will make your followers not want to unfollow you. Do NOT do hard-sell posts every day; that is a sure-fire way to discourage people from following you.
When people they see your interesting posts every day (once a day, not more), they will be more likely to remember your company when they are in need.
Develop a Customer Referral Program
Yes, this means that you will need to give some sort of reward to existing customers when they refer their friends, but it doesn’t need to be a reward of $100. It can be something such as a free small product or half-off on their next purchase. However, the reward should be something that people will want – a real incentive – otherwise, it won’t work!
Create Youtube videos
You don’t need to spend big bucks to create a professional-looking video (Fiverr has people who will do it for five bucks!). You can create an ad, an instructional video, or a FUN video. Short videos can be very powerful, and have the potential of reaching a lot of people more easily than written content.
Always carry business cards with you
Business cards are quite inexpensive, they are professional, and they will help people remember your name. When you always have your business cards on hand, you will be able to give them out at any spontaneous opportunity.
We hope that these tips will help you in promoting your own business, and we would love to hear from you about which ones worked the best for your specific business. And if you have any other tried-and-true methods that you have implemented with success, we would love to hear that as well!
Submitted by Elana