When you’re starting a business or running a business with tight budgets, marketing and promoting your business can be a challenge. The great news in that with online digital channels and free online resources, there are plenty of ways to market your business without a huge budget.
Free or low-cost marketing tips
These ideas are easy to implement, don’t take much time or knowledge and are free or low cost to implement.
1. Create a Google My Business account
Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to promote your business on Google search and Google maps. With your Google My Business account, you can see and connect with your customers, post updates to your business profile, and see how customers are interacting with your business on Google. You’ll need to verify your business address (normally via a postcard that Google send to the address)
You don’t need a website for the listing as Google will automatically use the information and photos from your business profile on Google to create a site that you can customise with themes, photos, and text. Your free site will automatically update whenever you change your business information or post new photos.
2. Use social media platforms
All social media platforms offer free accounts to individuals and businesses. They are a great way to reach large, widespread audiences, build communities and promote your business. Create business or personal accounts on the most relevant social media sites for your audience (for example LinkedIn for business to business (B2B) marketing, Instagram is good for product marketing etc.)
Check out the sites best suited to your business – learn how to use them, set up your profile and post content onto the accounts regularly. A static site that isn’t fed with regular updates could harm your brand and business. To use social media for generating new leads / new business, you’ll need to build online relationships and engage with people regularly.
However, beware not to spread yourself too thinly over too many sites. Start small with maybe one social media sites and then build from there.
3. Create a website
Creating a simple website nolonger has to break the bank, require years of studying code or be an expert designer. With great sites like Wordpress, Wix, GoDaddy and web.com having amazing ready designed templates and great online training, creating your first website can be quick, simple and cheap to do. With prices starting at less than £10 a month, building a website doesn’t need a big budget.
Having a website will add credibility to your company and your brand and make you visible to a much wider audience. A website should form the hub of all your digital or online marketing.
4. Google & search engine optimisation (SEO)
If you have a website, the best part about Google is that its algorithm is designed to serve up local, accurate, high quality and relevant content for any search that someone does. In many instances, this makes it a much more level playing field between small and bigger businesses.
Yes, large companies employ SEO experts, but there are loads of online training, help and tools to be able to learn the basics yourself. Things like adding in location references in your website content, using key words in headings and sub-headings, adding in links to other websites, other pages on your site and getting listed on free online directories can all help.
5. Email marketing
Email marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Collect email addresses from your customers and prospective customers. Put them in a spreadsheet or into a free CRM system (such as HubSpot). It’s possible to also buy email data (beware of GDPR rules when buying data). Then use free email marketing systems (such as Mailchimp, Sender or HubSpot).
Email marketing isn’t a new marketing technique, but it remains a quick, easy, and cheap way to reach out and promote your business to your customers and prospective customers. If you use paid for email marketing software, it can contain loads of ready designed templates that you can put your brand onto to send out great looking email campaigns.
6. Write content / start a blog
One great way to get noticed and engage people online is to write content or start a blog as part of your marketing efforts. Blogs can help drive traffic to your website, increase engagement, add to your credibility, and improve your online visibility. It’s completely free, but just takes time.
If you’re not sure where to start with writing, then read other peoples blogs on similar topics and take ideas and inspiration from them. Blogs don’t have to be long or complex. Remember, your audience isn’t an expert in your subject matter. Talk about your business, your journey, tell a story, educate your audience by sharing your knowledge, write articles giving people tips and tricks to engage them. Share these blogs via social platforms, your website and online blogging platforms.
You may also think about writing factsheets or guides on the topics you’re an expert in. Sharing your knowledge will help to build your credibility and trust in your expertise.
7. Claim free advertising credits
Many online platforms offer free credits or discounts to people. Google offer Google Ad vouchers and so do some of the social platforms like LinkedIn. Some web service providers offer advertising discount codes as part of their offerings as well.
Getting the free advertising is just the start, knowing how best to use it isn’t always easy. Check out help guides and videos online on how best to utilise or set up your online advertising.
8. Enter business awards
Many sectors or your local or regional area will have business awards for your type of business. Winning awards, can add credibility, raise your profile, and give you free advertising and access to a much wider audience. Many are free to enter or a low cost to enter.
9. Make videos
Videos no longer need to be big, large scale productions. It’s now much more acceptable for brands to make their own videos that are either free of low cost and easy to post on channels such as YouTube, social channels, or your website.
Use your phone or your webcam to record yourself giving helpful information about your business or your topic of expertise. Other ideas for video content are:
- A behind the scenes of your business
- Interviews with your team, your customers or other industry experts
- An animated slideshow
- A product demonstration
- A ‘how-to’ video
Networking can be a great way to meet other business owners, widen your audience and get your brand known. There will many local or sector networking groups that you may want to attend. Many groups now do a mixture of online networking and face-to-face. Pick the groups that will have the most of your target audience in them. But remember, it’s no good going to a networking group once or twice and expect results. Networking is all about building and nurturing relationships and therefore should be a longer-term commitment.
11. Set up an employee or customer referral programme
Offer existing customers and employees some incentive to referring in new customers. Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool. Did you know that referral leads (depending on your industry) are 30-50% more likely to convert that leads from other marketing sources and customers that come from referrals often have a higher lifetime value and a higher retention rate?
Offering a free product, free month of service, cash, vouchers, or some other reward for referring new customers will incentivise both your customers and your employees.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many ways to market your business with a minimal budget. However, marketing does take time, so as part of your business strategy, make sure you put aside time for marketing your business. Without marketing, your business won’t grow to it’s full potential and your pipeline of potential future work may dry up.
Also See: What it takes to be a business owner?