No matter what industry you might be in, marketing is likely one of the most essential components of running a business. Without a decent marketing plan, your business will be unable to reach its target audience and barred from achieving its long-term goals.
One of the reasons that many businesses are hesitant to invest in a more in-depth marketing campaign is that not only are the benefits of the campaign rather difficult to quantify, but they also may not come to fruition for an extended period of time. For example, many businesses have difficulty justifying spending $10,000 today in order to possibly receive $20,000 worth of revenue six months from now.
Fortunately, not all marketing campaigns need to be expensive. As we move further into the information era, communicating a message about your business to a wide audience has become more possible than ever before. This article will briefly explore some of the ways that small business owners can effectively market their business for free.
Develop Numerous Social Media Platforms
According to some recent estimates, there are roughly 3.2 billion people in the world who actively use at least one social media platform. If you were to focus that data on the United States alone, the portion of the population who actively use at least one account would be even higher. Social media has fundamentally changed the way people communicate and receive information. The best thing about social media is that, if you know how to use it, it can benefit your business for free.
Currently, the four most popular social media networks among young (trend-setting) Americans are Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When creating content for your business’ account, your goal should not be to simply advertise your business—it should be to create content that people will actually want to share that happens to be related to your business. This can be done by offering interesting stories, highlighting specific events, posting pictures related to your business, and numerous other approaches.
Incentivize Your Clients and Partners to Talk About You
Though you could invest heavily in various forms of advertisements, what remains universally true is that people are most likely to use a business that has been recommended to them by a friend. If you are hoping to increase your business’ marketing efforts, then it is important to find ways to get your clients and partners to actually be talking about you.
The easiest way to do this is by creating sharable content. But other approaches might include things such as offering discounts for referrals, creating contests that reward “likes” and “shares”, and partnering up with local organizations. Even if someone hears about your business and doesn’t immediately become a customer, it still certainly helps for you to get your foot in the door.
Offer Free Information
One of the most important components of a marketing campaign is promoting the credibility of your brand. Even if you are in an industry where credibility isn’t as important as others, you will still certainly want to demonstrate to potential clients that you actually know what you are talking about.
Doing things such as offering a monthly newsletter, creating a content-based blog for your business, and getting your content featured on other websites are all things that can help build your credibility. Most industry-related blog posts will likely be skimmed over, but the most important part of the content creation process is getting information “out there” in your name. By taking the time to show that you have the knowledge to support your business’ claims, it will be much easier to close deals in the long-run.
Improve Your Search Engine Reach
People who are interested in learning more about a specific product or service will often begin by using a search engine. However, less than 10% of people ever make it past the first page of a Google search. In order for your business to effectively connect with an audience, it is important to make content as search engine optimized (SEO) as you possibly can.
There are many different ways you can effectively land on the first page of Google for free. Doing things such as creating longer posts, effectively linking to other websites, and making your content more “readable” are all actions that can make your business more compatible with Google’s algorithms. Additionally, continually creating new content—even if it seems to be rather repetitive—will also help you extend your reach.
Reach Out to Local Media Sources
When you turn on your local news station at night, it is important to recognize that while some stories will be featured, other ones were decisively omitted. However, the stories which make the final cut can hardly be considered to be “random.” Rather, many of the stories that are not directly related to ongoing news were pitched to the news agency by various representatives.
Creating press releases for reporters or directly calling and pitching to a news station can help you reach a wider audience of individuals living in your area. Many of these news stations, newspapers, magazines, and other publications may be much more willing to talk about your business than you initially assumed. Usually, the stories that are most easily added to the news cycle are the ones that are unusual or feature your business in a positive light. If your business has any upcoming events related to charity, is considering opening a new location nearby, or has experienced any recent changes, pitching to a local news source may be well worth the effort.
Once you are able to effectively establish your business as an essential component of your community, your marketing efforts will finally begin to come to fruition. Succeeding in any competitive industry requires a continuous effort and the patience to wait for long-term results. Though your business may not be able to heavily invest in a national marketing campaign in the status quo, taking the time to engage in these simple—yet free—marketing practices can help orient you in the right direction.
Andrew is an experienced writer with degrees in Finance and Political Science from the University of Colorado. He also has experience in the real estate and life insurance industries. His other primary interests include economics, entrepreneurship, political philosophy, and nature.