Thinking of ways to market your small business can be overwhelming, especially when you consider the cost and return on investment. Big companies spend millions of dollars every year marketing and building their businesses. Small businesses have a similar need to get the word out but have much more modest budgets. Here’s the secret that smart marketers hold close to their heart: marketing. Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time. Then search for opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message. Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote. How your product is made is an important part of your brand story. Consumers today appreciate transparency, so you have to be able to back up your claims with facts and exceptional taste. Most suppliers do not want to do such a small batch. We knew this and came to our distiller with a decent rough draft of the product. Another low-budget tactic to promote your offering and guide prospects toward your business is to offer free consultations. The reason this works is that it can help build trust and reassure people who are on the fence about whether to buy your products or services.
The prospect of marketing your business can be overwhelming, especially when you are a small business with an even smaller budget. The good news is that marketing doesn’t have to cost thousands or even hundreds of dollars.
Here are 20 ways you can market your small business on a shoestring budget -- or even on no budget at all.
Your blog will be the foundation of all your other marketing efforts. It is where you direct visitors, nurture relationships and capture leads. Be sure to regularly post content that meets the needs and interests of your audience.
If you want your business to show up in local search, a Google My Business account is a necessity. This will make sure your business is not only visible on search, but on Google Maps and Google+ as well.
How does free PR in national magazines and websites sound? Create a free account with HARO. (Help a Reporter Out) and respond to relevant media queries.
Every business owner should have an email list! But when you are just starting out, you likely don’t want to commit to the monthly fee that many email management services charge. Fortunately, most offer a free option for businesses with smaller lists. For instance, MailChimp offers its service for free for businesses with fewer than 2,000 subscribers. And when you are ready to take things to the next level, aWeber starts at just $19/month.
Advertising in trade magazines can run you thousands of dollars. But contributing an article? Absolutely free. Many magazines accept guest contributions, and let you promote your business in your bio.
Check out local business events on Meetup.com, or see what events your local chamber or small business association is hosting.
Contact a complementary business in your niche and suggest hosting a contest together. This can be a great way to cross-promote your businesses.
If you offer a digital product (like an ebook), set up an affiliate program with a service like E-junkie. At just five dollars per month, you can’t go wrong!
Guest posting can be a great way to reach a whole new audience. Don’t forget to include a link back to your site in your bio!
Leaving thoughtful comments on blogs you follow can be a great way to get noticed by both the blog owners and their visitors.
Hosting webinars can be costly; however, there are some companies that offer free or low-cost options for small business owners. Some cheap options are Webinars OnAir (starting at $19.97/month) or MeetCheap (starting at $9.97/month). If you are looking for an even cheaper option, Google Hangouts On Air is 100 percent free.
Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups in your industry and offer valuable advice and information. As members see the value you are providing, they will want to find out more about you and what you offer.
If you are a local business, consider adding your business to Yelp. It’s free, and can be a great way to increase your visibility in the search engines.
Create a topical Facebook group that your prospects would be eager to join. Center it around a topic or theme, not around your business. For instance, a marketer could create a group called “Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners.”
Create an ebook or other digital product to give away on your site. This is a great way to get visitors on to your list and into your funnel!
Facebook and Google are always giving away free ad credit vouchers. When you are signing up for services like web hosting or AdWords, take advantage of the free vouchers they offer and take PPC advertising for a test drive.
It’s easy and relatively cheap when you use a service like infogr.am. Infographics are great for getting back-links to your site!
Making your business cards stand out from the pack can get you noticed at live business events. MOO offers unique designs. like square and mini cards, starting at just $19.99.
Offering a free on-site class can be a great way to attract locals to your place of business.
As a social media marketer, I can’t leave this one out! Share valuable information with your social media fans and followers, and become a trusted expert in your industry. Wondering what you should share? Here are 50 ideas to help you connect with your social media followers.
I hope you find these 20 ways to market your small business on a shoestring budget useful. What would you add to this list? How do you market your business on a budget?
Related: 5 YouTube Marketing Lessons From Unlikely Sources