Big brands spend an enormous amount of money on advertising and marketing, but as a solo entrepreneur or small business owner you don’t have to do the same. You can market your business just as effectively on a shoestring budget by utilizing some basic free or low-cost marketing tactics. Small business marketing doesn't have to be expensive: if you engage with your audience effectively and provide high-value content, you can achieve all your business goals just like the big companies do.
Here are five ways you can do your own marketing online with little or no cost.
Engage on Social Media
Social media is a great way to interact with your audience and spread awareness of your brand. You can use it to communicate directly with your followers, share content, build a community, and research your audience members.
Start by finding out which social media platforms your audience uses. The major ones now are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. LinkedIn is a social media platform specifically geared towards business-to-business and professionals. If you don’t know which platforms your audience uses, ask them directly, run a survey, or sign up to each and look for them.
Social media sites are free to use. All it takes is an investment of a little time daily posting content and managing your account.
Produce Helpful Videos
People watch videos on YouTube to learn new things and find solutions to the problems they’re facing. YouTube is one of the world’s most popular websites and its user base spans every demographic.
For YouTube, you can create short videos that offer help on various topics. Take a simple tip and show your viewers how to do it. Make a video where you answer a commonly asked question or discuss trending topics in your industry.
You can use free video production and editing software, and it’s free to post on YouTube. Be sure to post your videos to your social media platforms for maximum exposure!
Build an Email List
Email is a highly personal way to interact with your audience. People subscribe to email lists to receive useful content, the latest news, and exclusive promotions straight into their inbox. Email is also the best way to maintain communication with your existing customers!
The best way to get people to sign up to your list is to offer a lead magnet. A lead magnet is usually an information product that you offer for free; all the recipient needs to do is enter their name and email address. In exchange, they benefit from your helpful email newsletter.
To get started with email marketing, sign up with an email autoresponder service. Some of these are free, while others can get costly – research the different options to find out what’s right for you. Always start with a free service or a free trial to test out the software and make sure it gives you what you need before investing.
I personally use and recommend Constant Contact. Far more than just email marketing, it is a complete marketing dashboard where you can schedule and manage your social media, manage events, and so much more. Get a free trial here: https://go.constantcontact.com/signup.jsp?pn=nextlevelad
Start a Referral Program
With a referral program, you can offer your customers incentives to tell others about your products and services. The incentive could be freebies, free trials, exclusive content, or discounts to people who spread the word. This is a great way to generate some valuable word-of-mouth marketing.
A referral program multiplies your marketing efforts. The key is to offer something that’s valuable for your customer but costs little to nothing for you to produce. Some good ideas include free membership to your site, a deep discount on your products, or an information product that only takes time to create.
Leverage the Internet and Save Costs
You never need to spend a great deal on advertising and marketing as long as you have an arsenal of marketing tactics you can put to use. Always focus on providing valuable content that meets your audience’s needs, and you can avoid spending a dime on advertising.
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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