Promoting a business is an ongoing challenge for businesses. In the current economic climate, it is important to keep your business in the public eye. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, these proven advertising and marketing strategies will help your business find new customers without spending a fortune.
Not only is email marketing a low-cost method for getting the proverbial word out on any business, it also offers one of the best returns on the investment of your time. However, to succeed with email marketing, you need to attract the right customers to your website, something that’s not as simple as it sounds.
By building compelling content like infographics and other online tutorials, you can attract the right customers who will hopefully sign up to your email list. You can also add the names and email addresses from business cards of prospects that you have gathered. Once they sign up, you’ve still got work ahead of you by having to share useful information with them on a periodic basis while trying to make the sale. Your mailings let them know what your business has to offer, and you can keep everyone up-to-date on any special deals, offers or sales that you might have.
Effective email marketing is a skill that involves writing compelling sales copy and it can only be developed over time. However, as long as you think more about the consumer and adding value to their lives, and you allow that principle to govern your behavior, you’ll succeed over time. It is easy to get started with an email service like MailChimp. Most have free versions. As your list builds and your needs become more sophisticated, you can upgrade your account.
2. Social Media Marketing
If you haven’t used social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) to promote your business yet, you are missing on an opportunity to potentially have your company or its products go viral. Although you might have seen advertisements for pricey social media marketing campaigns and social media tools, you don’t need any of these things to get started to promote your business. You can sign up for business pages on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for free.
By creating complete business profiles and pages, working to gain followers by regularly posting interesting and informative content is a great way to make your business more well-known and to keep your audience base satisfied.
3. Start a Website or Blog
Although you might think that you need to hire a professional web design company to develop a website or a blog for your business, this isn’t the case.
Yes, if your business has been around a while or if you want a tailored look or special features, such as high-end design or an eCommerce platform, you might want to take professional help.
But if you are on a tight budget, you can probably do it on your own. There are free platforms out there that you can use to create an attractive, fully-functional site without paying a dime! For example, you can get a totally free, high performing blog from WordPress.
You will have to pay for a domain and Web hosting, but you can find these things for about INR100 a month (such as from GoDaddy). For this minimal investment, you can build a reasonably good home base for promoting your business.
While building a blog is something that takes years to develop into any real semblance of an audience, it also offers one of the best and most cost-effective means for reaching a vast swath of people. As long as your audience is engaged and finds real value in the information you share, it will slowly build up over time.
4. Referral Marketing
80% of all businesses fail before their first 18 months of operations. If you don’t want to be part of that 80%, you have to focus on delivering real value to the consumer. If you do deliver real value, then there’s no reason why your customers shouldn’t be referring you to their family and friends.
Referral marketing, also known as word-of-mouth advertising, is by far one of the most effective and low-cost ways to market your business online or offline. Place a link in your email signatures and on your website that connects people to popular review sites such as Justdial, Sulekha.com, MouthShut or TripAdvisor where consumers can post their opinions on their experiences with you. An affiliate or referral program is a great way to reward your loyal customers for sharing the news about your business with their friends and associates.
By providing this avenue for consumers, not only are we putting a very cost-effective method for marketing on autopilot, but you’re also sending a strong and powerful message that you put delivering real value and the consumer’s satisfaction first and foremost above all else.
5. Get Added to Internet Directories
Local consumers are increasingly searching online for shops, grocery stores, restaurants, car dealers, realtors and other businesses in their local area. The importance of hyperlocal searching cannot be overemphasized for a small business. Not surprisingly, four out of five people use search engines to find local information, like a company’s business hours, address, phone number, online reviews, busy times and more, according to Google.
There are a ton of highly reputable website and business directories out there, and you need to make sure that your business is listed on them. For example, Google, Yahoo and Bing! offer these listings. The listings are mostly free and you might be surprised by their value.
Many of the sites have top search engine rankings. So people looking for your business will find these links quickly because they end up on the first page of search results. You can also gain traffic and potential customers from those who are viewing these sites looking for businesses that are similar to yours.
6. Get Active with Online Communities
No matter what your business or industry niche might be, chances are good that there are plenty of related online communities out there that you can check out. From forums to social media groups and more, these communities can provide you with many great opportunities to promote your business.
When interacting with others on these sites and communities, it is important that you contribute useful and helpful information and not promote your business overtly. But in the process of doing so, you can post a link to your website and say with which business you are associated. This can help you gather up a nice network of connections and establish you as a local expert in your field.
Once people get accustomed to seeing your name and recognize you as an expert, they may want to give your company a try or send business your way.
7. Press Releases
There are websites out there that allow you to submit press releases at no cost. So you should consider utilizing these resources when you have some news to share about your business. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering news, but it should be news.
By submitting a press release, you expand your reach and let more people know about what your company has to offer and even possibly reach an interested journalist who will then contact you for a story.
Write an informative article about what your company offers and have it published in the local newspaper and on websites. Then get permission to reprint this article and email or send it out to clients. This will give credibility to your product.
8. Guest Blogging
If you have friends in a similar industry as your own, such as those who you might have met through online communities, you can always ask to submit a blog post for their websites.
When writing the post for them, make sure that you don’t make it sound too sales-like or for the purpose of just promoting your own business. Instead, focus on providing some information or tips of substance and value. But ensure that you do have a blurb at the end about yourself and your business with a link back to your site.
The whole endeavor needs to be high quality. Remember that guest blogging is only valuable on reputable websites. So don’t take just any guest blogging opportunity that you can find. Instead, find opportunities on websites that you know are well-respected and are frequented by individuals who are interested in your niche.