As we all know, marketing our business to potential customers is a necessary part of having a successful business. Marketing for small businesses can be especially tricky as budgets often do not allow for large scale and more expensive strategies.
The issue with traditional advertising, such as newspaper, radio, and television ads, is that they can be expensive and may produce little or even no return on investment. Advertising online is an option because you can easily track the effectiveness of each advertisement. Then, you can focus your marketing strategies on the techniques that are the most profitable. But if money is tight there ARE options for online advertising that don’t cost you any money at all!
- Partner up with another expert in your field. Consider joining forces with another brand. You can then offer a more substantial product together than either one of you could offer alone. In addition, you’ll automatically get the attention of both audiences, resulting in more sales and adding more leads to your email list. In the future, these new leads can drive more sales of another one of your products. Partnering on even one marketing campaign can bring long-term benefits to both of you.
- Encourage user-generated content. If you can acquire user-generated content, your website will grow without you having to create your own content. This type of content also increases your website visitors. Enable comments on your website and contribute to the discussions. Allow visitors to submit their own articles and encourage guest posts from other experts. Tap into your vendors for helpful articles or content that you can use in your own marketing.
- Affiliate marketing. When you create an affiliate program for your business, you will be getting other experts in your field and the public to send business your way. This can be mutually beneficial, and you will only be paying commissions (after the sale) if the affiliate makes a sale. As with the partnering technique, many of these new visitors will sign up for your email list, even if they don’t buy something right away, bringing you long-term benefits and sales.
- Be active on social media. There are millions of users visiting the various social media platforms daily, so it makes sense for your business to have a presence there. Here are some ideas:
- Share funny or interesting images or videos that are relevant to your business
- Post insights and valuable information
- Let your audience know when you have a sale on your products
- Give your social media followers coupons or discounts
- Encourage engagement by participating in discussions
- Ask questions, and answer theirs
- Run a survey, poll, or contest
- Use free online tools. There are plenty of tools online that can help your business. You can sign up for websites that will enable you to create free surveys, or you can use a free online service to send emails to your customers. You do not have to pay a premium to receive top-notch service.
- Change and reuse old advertisements. Rather than going through the expensive route of creating new articles with every marketing campaign, try reusing parts of an advertisement that worked well. This will save you time and expense. Be sure to keep consistent brand imagery through every ad - this will help with brand recognition.
- Build an email list. If people are visiting your website, chances are good that they are interested in what you have to offer. Make a form available for them to join your email list and be kept in the loop about future product releases or special offers. Once they’ve signed up to this email list, you can send emails to these prospects with news and further information about your products. Let them know whenever something goes on sale. Email marketing is one of the best ways to drive sales. Treat your list members like gold, because that’s what they are to you and your business.
- Create some video content. Video content is incredibly important nowadays as the younger generation would rather watch a video than read a blog post. If you can create interesting videos, you’ll create interest in your brand.
As you can see, it is certainly possible to do online marketing without spending money. Some of these methods might take some time and effort to implement, though, before you see profits. For example, it can take a while to build an email list. However, once you have a list, making sales can be as easy as sending out an email to your list. Once you’ve built a social media following, making sales can be as easy as making a post on your social media accounts. Be consistent, and be patient - the results will come!
Laura Olson-Oxley is an entrepreneur, coach, speaker, marketing and business consultant, and sales professional. She has over 25 years experience working with small businesses in a variety of industries, focusing on strategic business growth through effective marketing and advertising. Also a strategist, numbers nut, project manager, and life-long learner, Laura looks at the big picture to analyze and recommend the most effective tools to take businesses to the Next Level.
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