Marketing can make or break a small business, especially in these economic times. In a world that’s focused on money, I want to help you make more. It may take spending more in the traditional ways like billboards and radio ads, but nowadays there are many free outlets to gain attention and, eventually, popularity. Here are some free ways to get your business out into the world and hopefully more cash in your pocket.
GET THE IDEAS FLOWING
Your own ideas are what got you here in the first place. But, you aren’t always the smartest person you know. Talk to your family and friends. Perhaps they know someone who can help get your company’s name and services out there, or have innovative ideas themselves.
Ask your clients about their own experiences and to rate your performance on a particular job. More importantly, ask for recommendations and publish good testimonials. Your website should be a shrine to your accomplishments as many times it is a first impression. Don’t be afraid to show the best of your business, and yourself.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Use birthdays and holidays to reach out and keep your network “up to date.” Don’t let relationships fall to the wayside as you have no idea what kind of bridges you’ll have to cross later.
Giving to charities and sponsorships are well-promoting endeavors, but they are also not free. You can volunteer, but may not always have the time. If you do, do it. Another way to give back is to hold free seminars or training courses. This is, of course, also time consuming but if you are experienced enough many people will be willing to learn a thing or two for just a few hours of both of your time. This will be an invaluable asset to promoting yourself and your business and gathering a few more friends along the way.
Offer official receipts and have professional letter heads and cover letters. Business cards are not the only things people see when it comes to your business. You want to make an impression… a good one.
Yes, you read that right. Take at least half an hour every day to join forums and ask/answer questions. Put your company’s information in your signature. This can lead to many new friends and potential clients.
SELL YOURSELF, LITERALLY
Put your business or brand on your car, laptop, bag, key chains or even at the back of your favorite t-shirt. Why not? You are supposed to represent yourself, right? There is nothing wrong with a few shameless plugs and you can also hand these out to friends. No, it’s not free but if you make a few friends in printing, it can be ridiculously cheap and so worth it.
YOU CAN’T KNOW EVERYTHING
There is no way you can stop marketing yourself, because tactics change daily. Research new marketing tools online and offline and ask your employees to remain in-the-know also.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Did you know there are such things as Online Marketing Groups? And you can join! For example, Understanding Marketing holds a chat and Q&A session on Twitter that focuses on small business marketing. It’s live each Tuesday from 8 – 9 pm ET. Search #smbiz on Tweetgrid.com
SOCIAL EVENTS ARE KEY
No, this isn’t free either but by now you should have a pretty good network going. If you know several people in your field, get them to participate also. Bring prospective clients and friends. Have a picnic with a softball game or just a little party with cocktails. Any social event will bring people out of their shells. Why do you think there are so many office holiday parties around the world?
BE LOYAL AND REWARD LOYALTY
Reward your current clients and ask them to refer you to new ones. If your relationship is good (and why shouldn’t it be?) you can feel comfortable doing this. If your relationship isn’t good, you have bigger problems than marketing yourself.
Here are just a few ways to market your business as cheaply as possible. Sure there are more expensive outlets that I didn’t get into here but I’m sure you are already well aware how to spend your own money. When I started this post, I said sell yourself and I meant it! You are always going to be in the spotlight when it comes to your own company and you have to represent yourself as someone you would want to work with, also. Keep in mind you are your company and that should be a good thing! Now, go on, and make some more money!!