Customers are essential to any business’s survival. To get those customers, you need to advertise your business – but this doesn’t mean that you need to place ads.
Business advertising includes not just ads – but free press, referrals, articles, blogging, business cards, sponsorships, workshops, search engine and directory listings, webinars, autoresponders and lots more.
Since each business is unique, some marketing strategies will work better for some businesses than others (Free Sample Marketing Plans). You may also choose to use certain promotional methods.
Although its not necessary to have a website to promote your business, it can be an extremely cost effective marketing tool, and it enables you to use other marketing methods better – such as building an email list, using search engine and directory advertising and many others.
Choose the marketing tools below that work best for you, your customers and your business and then put them to work to grow your profits.
Use the media to do the legwork and provide “free” advertising for you. Draw up a 1-page press release and submit it to your local newspapers, TV and radio stations. This is basically an announcement of news or a special event happening with your business. Don’t have any news? Consider hosting a drawing or contest. A press release does not have to be long. Check out free samples of press releases
Often overlooked, business cards can be a very efficient and low cost advertising method. Find out how you can design your own professional business cards online, plus get simple tips for increasing your sales. See also: 30-50% off Postcards, Brochures and more Design your own marketing materials online using professional templates. Designs provided, printing done for you.
Offer prospects the special gift of saving money. They will like you for it, and you will end up spending less effort “selling”. What if the prospect doesn’t redeem the coupon? Well, you still benefit from exposure, plus you’re building your brand recognition. For this reason, try to make your coupon ad more interesting, funny and memorable.
Do a postcard mailing to introduce your company to potential customers in your area. Using low-cost online services makes this an easy marketing task. First, decide on a special offer or hold a grand opening sale. Second, design your postcards online using professional postcard templates with VistaPrint (you can get 50% off here). And third, get targeted leads from a reputable lead generation company like Sales Genie or InfoUSA.
Use a car magnet to advertise your business while you are on the road, a yard sign to announce a sale or a banner to promote your store’s grand opening. You can design and create your own signs cheaply online here.
Help people learn new skills via your knowledge and experience. It’s a super easy and non-salesy way to introduce people to your business, plus you can promote special offers to gain new clients. Not only is this a free marketing method – you can also make money doing it!
Meetup is a website that hosts a wide variety of different interest groups in thousands of different locations. Each of these groups has members with similar interests who generally live in the same area.
If you sell golf clubs or own a golf course, for example, you could sponsor a Meetup group of golfers either with financial support or other benefits in exchange for your logo displayed on their web pages. This is a good way for local businesses to reach potential customers, but businesses don’t have to be local, and you can sponsor multiple Meetup groups.
A webinar is an online “seminar” that can be a course you teach, an interview you hold, a question and answer session or something else of interest to your target market. With a webinar, you can conveniently hold the event from your home, office or on the road.
Listeners can easily participate from a remote location without having to disrupt their regular schedule. This makes it easier for you to attract attendees.
By conducting a no-cost workshop, you can introduce yourself to prospects and share your knowledge and ideas in a casual, low-key setting. Workshop events can be especially effective when you have an attractive personality.
If you work personally with customers in your business (like a hair stylist, consultant, etc), live events can be a great way to let prospects meet you and see what you’re all about. You don’t have to worry about being a salesperson, because instead of selling, you are informing and educating your market in a no-pressure way.
Action Printing has lots of cool items that you can customize with your logo – hand them out to prospective customers, and they will think you’re cool too! This is an easy low- way to invite a client to do business with you.
Gimmicks like magnets, small calendars and promotional pens are a inexpensive marketing tools – and useful to people who receive them. You can find many of these “ads” around someone’s house or office months – even years after they’ve received them. Your business gets recognition again and again. Design your own promo items at Action Printing, Inc..
11. Generate Leads with Free Social Media Tools
Social media is not just a new trend, it’s quickly becoming a standard way of communicating – and marketing. And social media is a great way to build lists and generate leads for your business.
With social media, however, you don’t want to act like one giant sales pitch. Be yourself, be real, and communicate like you would with friends and family. You can talk about what you do for your business, but also share ideas and tips that would help your target market with what they’re doing (ideas and tips that aren’t about your business).
By letting your personality show through and sharing your knowledge, you can gain trust and respect – and that’s when people will want to do business with you. On your social media page, you can add links to your business website or blog, so that when people get to know you better, they can click through to your site and shop at their convenience and without pressure.
Here are some popular social media sites that you can join for free and start gaining followers, networking and generating leads vary quickly. See what other members are writing or adding on their pages to get ideas of what works.
Advertise your product or service in front of millions of shoppers – Amazon.com is now offering pay-per-click advertising on their website with a program called Amazon Product Ads. Their pay-per-click program is similar to that of Google Adwords or on Facebook. The big difference is that you are advertising on a website where people go to buy stuff, not just search and socialize.
13. Email Marketing
If you have a website or online store for your supply business, you can save even more money by marketing to your visitors and customers by email. No email list? No problem. Email marketing companies like ConstantContact will help you build a customer list with their customizable website sign-up form.
Autoresponders are another option. They also give you professional email layout templates plus they can deliver emails for you. Using this strategy, you can boost your response and buy rate – therefore increasing sales even if your subscriber list is not that big.
If you don’t have a top rank in the search engines, you can pay for one. Write a short ad that links through to your website, and you pay only if a visitor clicks on your ad and goes to your site. Spend as much or as little money as you want – you set the budget. Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines all offer this service. Get $100 in Free Clicks to advertise on Business.com.
With the development of Smartphones, more and more people are surfing the web via cell phones rather than desktop or even laptop computers. You can now advertise specifically on phones – some of the benefits being lower cost and less competition. Since this is such a new marketing medium, a few entrepreneurs, like Mack Michaels, have taken advantage of the (currently) low competition in this advertising space and even turned it into an income opportunity.
Facebook is growing fast in popularity, and they’ve made it really easy to advertise on the site. Similar to search engine advertising, you can pay-per-click. Alternatively, you have the option to pay-per-impression.
Either way, you have the ability to target your ads to a very narrow market, using their ad filters. For example, you can filter by location, age, gender, education, interests and more. This way, you’re not wasting your ad dollars advertising to the wrong market.
17. Build a Website
Save money by creating your own website with simple online design programs, or outsource the job to an affordable website designer. Whether you sell products online – or you use a website to display rates or business hours, it’s important to take advantage of this low-cost marketing resource that can help you get more customers.
If your business has a website, it’s important to get listed in the search engines, because that is where most shoppers start looking for products and services. There are a variety of ways you can do this, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, you can submit your site for as little as… free.
19. Local Search
More and more people are looking for local businesses online (instead of the traditional yellow pages) – and you don’t want to miss out on this market. Local Search sources that are affordable and receive substantial traffic include: Google Local, Yelp, Super Pages (and more specialized sites Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon and Insider Pages).
You can set up your own affiliate program for virtually no cost. This automated program will also take you very little time to operate once you have it set up. Get people to promote and sell your products for you (as affiliates), and you don’t have to pay them until they actually sell your products and you have received the profit. It’s a win-win. (Another way you can get other people to “sell” for you for free is through referral marketing. You can read more about it here: How to Get Referrals)
Even if you don’t know multiple languages, there are low cost services online that you can use to translate your website. In this global economy, you could be missing out on a big opportunity that you don’t even know you are missing. Website translation is a one-time task that can pay for itself many times over in the long run. In addition, a site available in multiple languages instantly has a competitive advantage over other similar businesses.