Running a small business is not easy. New startups especially struggle when it comes to where to put what little budget, they must promote their new business. It’s no secret that you can’t ignore marketing if you expect to bring in new clients. So how can you promote your new business if you don’t have any money for marketing? We’ll highlight a few free tactics to get you started.
Social media marketing
You can’t effectively market your small business without using some form of social media marketing. The key to being successful in social media is to pick two or three platforms to start, and consistently be active on those channels. When you’re first starting your business, time is at a premium, so it’s better to choose just a handful of social networks, set them up properly, and work effectively. Which one you choose depends on what kind of business you have. If you have a marketing strategy already created, then your strategy will help you decide which platforms are best for you. Are you B2B? Then one solid platform to be on is LinkedIn, which is designed primarily for the B2B audience though there are B2C’s on there as well. Facebook is another great platform whether you’re selling services or products to businesses, consumers, or both. Facebook provides useful tips on how to get started on their platform. Get a good idea of who your audience is and how they interact on Facebook before you invest in paid ads, if you decide that as a future option. Is your product visual? Then get on Instagram. This platform allows you to promote your business visually, and the platform is designed for others to share your content.
Try public speaking
A powerful way to get in front of potential clients is through public speaking. This can be small workshops, roundtable discussions, or panel discussions. It allows you to get in front of an audience you can connect with and speak about a subject you’re an expert in. There are all kinds of networking groups, business groups, chambers, etc. that love to have guest speakers come in and speak. You won’t be paid for your time, but it’s great exposure where you can meet prospects face to face, display your expertise and your business, and help get the word out.
Start a blog on your website
If you have a website, you should have a blog, and write regularly. The benefits of maintaining a blog tell the story as to why you should do this:
- It drives traffic to your website
- It converts traffic into leads
- It helps highlight you as a subject matter expert
Blogging is one of the more effective, FREE ways to market your business; it just takes time and a little creativity. Not sure what to write about? Make a list of all the questions prospects have asked about your business, then create blog posts answering those questions. You can also list all the pain points your clients have, and how your product or service solves those issues. The key is to plan as to what you want to write about, what concepts you want to convey, and who you want to reach. Then let your expertise take it from there! An onsite blog is necessary for start-ups looking to generate business through marketing.
Several good platforms can be used at no cost to you if you don’t have a huge mailing list. One platform is MailChimp, You can add a MailChimp form to your WordPress site so visitors can sign up for updates from your start-up. Why email marketing? Ever heard the phrase, “The money is in the list”? The more you can grow a contact list that is interested in receiving information about your goods and services, the more engaged you can be with that audience. At first, it may be difficult to grow that list as a start-up, but over time, more people will join that list. The key is to give people a reason to share their email addresses. A few ideas to grow an email list:
- Giving away free content or a free product or service in exchange for signing up for the list (free guide or checklist downloads are great for this)
- Adding a signup link to your email signature line
Here’s a great list of ideas on how to build your email list.
Offer a free consultation, product, or service
Nothing attracts people like “free.” A free consultation. A free 30-day trial. A free product sample. The key to success with this is to be sure you get something back for offering something free. Usually, that’s the person’s contact information so you can continue to communicate with them (email marketing!). Just be sure to be clear with people about what they’re getting for free, so no one feels like there’s a bait and switch going on. For something to be free, it must provide value for the person. Remember, the goal is to promote your start-up business, so you want people to walk away feeling they gained something but be sure it provides value for you too!
Start a referral program
Referrals are one of the easiest ways to get new business! Get more referrals by asking. Get in the habit that whenever you’re speaking with someone to ask for a referral. Ask your satisfied customers if they know of anyone who might be interested in your product or service. Even in casual conversation, it’s OK to ask for referrals! Try, “If you know of anyone who might be interested, please share my contact information.” Just be sure you’re clear about what kind of client you are a better fit for, so the referral isn’t an unqualified one. It’s free marketing: it just takes a little practice to get comfortable with asking!
Partner with an industry professional
Sometimes other companies in your industry are not competitors, and their services or products can complement your offerings. Try partnering with these companies to see if there are any opportunities for joint ventures or referral opportunities. For example, if you’re a web developer, you likely have clients that need a marketer. If you’re an interior designer, your clients may ask about custom furniture providers. Since your small business can’t be everything to everybody, find partnerships that can benefit you both.
Starting a new business can be tough and expensive, but marketing doesn’t have to be! Try these free tactics to help get more clients.
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