One of the greatest challenges that startups and small business owners face is a low marketing budget. Even when you don’t have funds for massive paid advertising, you can still grow your business with many free and low cost marketing tactics. To help you compete with larger businesses, here are some free and affordable marketing strategies that work for many small and locally owned businesses.
Online Marketing Tips
1. Use the Best Business Directories
Most online business directories are powerful platforms that allow users to instantly identify and contact you. The major business directories like Google My Business and Yelp allow you to post details of your business for free. In fact, if your business is local, a complete Google My Business listing can put you on Google Maps and give you a first page appearance on Google search results. Completing your listing on Google and Yelp will also make your business appear on many other directories. That’s because smaller directories tend to pull information from the larger ones, while automatically helping you to amplify your presence online.
2. Try Free Email Marketing
Email marketing can offer you an ROI of 3800% if you implement it well. This means you can earn up to $38 for each $1 spent , according to email marketing statistics from Salesforce. But if you can’t afford the upfront monthly fees charged by many email marketing companies, what can you do? Fortunately, you can use a free option when you are just starting out. An email management company like Mailchimp allows you to use their free service when your list has less than 2,000 subscribers. Other prominent email services with free options for small businesses include:
- Elastic Email
- Zoho Campaigns
- HubSpot CRM
Many of these services are scalable. So after your marketing demand grows, you can upgrade and start using a premium plan.
3. Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing allows you to market your business for free by providing useful information to your prospective customers. It is also an effective way to build trust with new consumers. Here are some content marketing tactics you can start using today:
- Set up a blog on your website
- Submit an article to a trade or industry magazine
- Write a guest post for a popular blog in your niche
- Leave well-written comments on blogs with Do Follow links
- Create a detailed free report and give it to new email subscribers
4. Be an Effective Social Networker
Create accounts for your business on the major social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. On Facebook, you can create a topical group that many prospects in your target audience will want to join. Make sure it focuses on a theme that helps consumers rather than your business. For example, a marketing company can create a group known as “Low cost marketing with high ROI for small businesses”. Then you can provide tips and post tutorials with links to your business website.
5. Make the Most of Online Reviews
Every satisfied customer you have can be a potential source of a good review. Online reviews are extremely important marketing tools for businesses today. Research has shown that 90% of consumers will read online reviews before they visit a business. Also, at least 84% of consumers trust online reviews just like a friend’s recommendation. Fortunately, this powerful marketing tool will not cost you anything except the time and effort you need to ask for them. So ask every happy client to write a review for you on Google and Yelp. You may even decide to give your clients a reward after they write stellar reviews.
Offline Marketing Tips
1. Participate in Community Activities
Be an active member of your community. Create a free event where you can educate and support locals. For instance, to promote green practices like recycling in your community, you can show locals what to do with old printer cartridges and similar items. Other events you can hold include: free seminars, presentations and workshops to enlighten people who could become your customers.
2. Be Creative With Business Cards
Get a commercial printer to help you design and print some eye-catching business cards. Add a call to action at the back and provide a link to a free information product. Then hand them out to everyone that could be a prospect. Feel free to use an unconventional design and add as many details about your business as you can.
3. Join Professional/Business Organizations and Networking Groups
When you want to sell your products or services locally, you should join face-to-face networking groups and business organizations. This is one of the best ways to gain recognition quickly. You will interact with people of like minds who will offer you valuable information, support and referrals.
4. Do Cross Promotion
Cross promotion is a collaborative strategy that helps you to reach a wide market at a low cost. You can partner with a similar or bigger business and create bundled offers, do co-branding, produce videos and engage in joint media appearances. You will gain faster access to consumers and reduce your overall cost of marketing.
5. Apply Some Guerilla Marketing Tactics
Guerilla marketing focuses on creativity and uses tactics that can help you to reach a large number of people in your locality. You can try some or all of these guerilla marketing tactics:
- Use sidewalk chalk to broadcast your Facebook page or Twitter handle
- Paint your brand name and website on the sidewalk with a stencil
- Paste attractive custom stickers in places with high human traffic
- Use (with permission) an abandoned storefront for street art or graffiti
6. Start a Loyalty Program
Implementing a loyalty program is easy and cost effective. Simply think of different ways you could reward your customers for their patronage or referrals. For instance, you an use a low cost loyalty software to give your customers store credit when they make a successful referral. Additionally, you can award loyalty points for each $100 they spend at your store. Also without any computer, you can print a punch card if you own a coffee shop and make every 10th cup of coffee free. The same thing works for salons, restaurants and any business with repeat customers. Within a short time, this program will attract a large number of loyal customers.
Sofia Lockhart is a passionate writer from Sydney. She also enjoys decorating houses and engaging in home renovation projects. That is why she loves sharing her experience and advice with other people through her writing. Besides this, she loves technology and gadgets which can help us get through a busy workday.