Running a small business can be costly enough, so many owners look to cut costs in any way possible. Although marketing can help drive revenue, increase brand awareness, and support sales, it can be an expenditure that small businesses choose to neglect. Luckily enough, there are many ways for those that are looking to save a few quid to effectively market their small businesses for free.
I’ve compiled a list of 10 free ways to market your business that won’t event leave a scratch in your wallet. Personally, I have used every single one of these methods to help support any paid marketing material or brand campaigns.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start when creating a website and making a digital footprint for your business, WordPress is great. WordPress offers two different services; WordPress.com and WordPress.org. As stated on their website, WordPress.com is ideal for “the fastest, easiest way to start your website”, whereas WordPress.org allows you to “choose a custom WordPress installation for the ultimate control over your website”. Regardless of which option you choose, WordPress is great for building, hosting, and getting to grips with website management.
You can design your website to fit with your brand and instantly start to reach new customers. To a lot of people, anything web or tech-related can be quite intimidating, but honestly, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. I know a lot of people who aren’t great with tech that either manage or have managed a WordPress hosted website with ease. Additionally, there are many resources available to help you get the most of your website and how to protect yourself online.
Security is often a big topic discussed around WordPress and websites in general, but with the right precautions and self-education, you’re totally fine. There are many external plugins and applications that can help keep you and your website secure such as CloudFlare, which offers a free plan for personal use to mitigate DDoS attacks and provide a shared SSL certificate.
If you don’t feel confident enough to set up your own website, at Groof we can build, host and manage your website. Get in touch for a free consultation.
Social media is a great way for a business to increase its audience for free. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all allow for businesses to interact with their clients and offer a different channel of communication. With Facebook alone having 2.2bn active users in January 2019, it’s a no-brainer that social media will boost the reach of your business.
For me personally, one of my first points of call when looking into a local small business is to check their social media for any extra material that might not be displayed on their website (if they even have one). Social media creates a more professional and polished look for a small business in my eyes and I often end up providing my business to companies that frequently update theirs. From what I’ve seen, successful small businesses maintain their social media and keep it up-to-date, often due to their credibility and willingness to keep up with changing times and technology. There are tools that can help you manage social media, one of which is Crowdfire, which has a free plan for you to test out and schedule some of your posts on.
Although social media can take time to build up a decent-sized audience, it’s a perfect way to communicate promotions, deals, vouchers, website updates and any other marketing collateral. Many companies choose to outsource their social media (which is a service we provide at Groof shameless plug), but that obviously comes at a cost. Alternatively, if you wish to keep social media management internal, you can choose to spend extra money on paid social ads that can help boost your post reach.
Google allows you to have your business appear in search results and even suggest your businesses when users are searching for businesses in their area. Just by having a digital landmark, you’re already providing an additional way for potential customers to check out what you have to offer.
Imagine that you’re wanting to buy something pretty unique, like a bonsai tree. Nobody is going to be able to find out about your business, unless they know that there is a bonsai tree shop in your town. By putting your business on Google, potential clients are able to search for your unique listing which they may not have heard of before.
The amount of times that I’ve typed in “things to do in Liverpool”, “restaurants in Liverpool”, “bars in Liverpool”, “IFAs in Liverpool”, and many similar searches is too many to count. The only way that your business will show up on this is to have a digital landmark for your business. If this isn’t compelling enough, how about the fact that 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours? If you’re looking to dominate local, keep in mind that 72% of consumers, who search for local businesses, end up visiting stores within five miles.
For businesses that have a website, social media, and Google My Business set up, blogging is a great way of conveying information about your business to your audience that allows you to demonstrate that you know your industry or profession to a high standard. Although they help you appeal to your target audience, blogs also help improve SEO for your website and generate more traffic for your website which can lead to more potential revenue.
Blog subjects can be anything relevant to your business, but I always find it’s best if you talk about something that your audience can relate to that somehow links back into your business and what you have to offer. Something that I see quite a few businesses and other bloggers do is writing guest blogs for other businesses’ websites. This can be a great way to get your name out there while building relationships with other businesses in your industry. For some ideas on what to blog about, you can check out our other blogs here. Besides helping your business out, learning to copywrite is also a great skill to have and showcase!
Word of Mouth & Reviews
Although one could argue that this is out of your control, your clients will talk about your business and what they say will have a lasting effect on their friends and family. As a successful business, I’m sure you’re already striving towards having great customer service with a friendly and professional tone, so why not encourage others to talk about that?
Asking your clients to leave a review can go a long way, and while it may feel a bit awkward asking someone to review what you’ve done or leave a nice comment about you, it will help improve your business in the long run. In fact, 73% of consumers trust a business based on positive reviews. The same source states that an average consumer reads seven reviews to develop an opinion about a company, so if you’re below that threshold, it might be a good idea to start asking clients for feedback!
One thing to keep in mind is that your feedback and rating on Google will also impact where you appear in search results. Google adds weight to reviews in local rankings based on how many reviews have been left and how high the rating is. If you want to appear more in local searches, reviews are a great method to improve your SEO.
Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform and an email marketing service. While email marketing isn’t as effective as other methods for its effort to conversion output, it’s still another way to reach out to your audience and generate recurring revenue from your existing clients.
One good thing about Mailchimp is that you can set up automated workflows that trigger as soon as someone signs up to a certain mail list. This is a great way to market your business to your clients with little effort after the setup. With email workflows working in the background, it gives you a chance to put your time and effort into other methods of marketing so you’re reaching your audience from every angle.
With podcasting on the rise, now is a good time to start investing into marketing your business this way. Podcasting can be fun and gives you a chance to talk about what you love doing as a business to those that are interested. Although this can be quite the time investment and require some hardware to produce to a professional standard, it’s a fun thing to do that, again, reaches your audience on another channel. With 51% of the US population having listened to a podcast, it creates a great opportunity for people to really get to know you, your business, and what you have to offer.
I personally listen to a podcast every day on my commute to work, and I know countless other people that listen to them in their free time, either at home or when travelling between places.
You might be thinking, “where do I start with my podcast and where can I store it?” There are free plans available on many hosting websites, such as PodBean, that allow you to store a few hours of podcast per month. This isn’t a bad offer if you’re only going to be uploading once per month, or even once per week.
Events & Networking
This may seem like a typical, boring method to increase the reach and market presence of your business, but God, does it work. After having met so many clients just by chatting and eventually turning our conversation into a work-related outcome, it’s undeniable that just talking to other businesses in need can yield results. There are many networking events in major cities and they can be great opportunities for you to show off what you have to offer, and even make people feel “special” by giving them some promotional material.
Meeting other like-minded business can provide opportunities that you may not be able to get if you had not attended; it’s always that “what if” that can sit at the back of your mind if you flaked instead of turning up. Not just this, but it’s a great way to break out of your comfort zone and realise that your business can be valuable to the local people in your area.
“How do I find out about such events?” you may ask yourself. Well, eventbrite is a great directory of events that you can use to find local events you might be interested in. You can even work up to creating and hosting your own events for your business and integrate them with your website.
Although meeting new people may not seem like fun to everyone, I think it’s one of the reasons that I enjoy attending them so much. I used to hate them, absolutely HATE them when I was more introverted, but as I found my confidence and realised my value and worth, I genuinely enjoy meeting new people and talking to them about my work. Hopefully the same can happen for you!
Online Business Directory Listings
Okay, although this is essentially a glorified method for SEO since your business will potentially appear in more search results, it’s free and takes next to no effort. Listing your business on pages like Facebook, LinkedIn, Bing, Google, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and even Yellow Pages gives you more exposure over search results. If it’s free, provides results passively, and low effort, why not capitalise on this?
Maintain Up-to-Date Online Presence
This one may sound a little weird but hear me out. For your business, whether it’s a product or service, it’s always a good idea to demonstrate that you’re keeping up with others within your industry. By doing so, you’re showing that you care about the future of your business and that you can adapt to changing times, methods, technologies etc.
There are many good ways to do this, but I think the current best method is through video content. Video advertising is dominating the market of Facebook; just think to the last time you went on Facebook. Chances are, you were sat scrolling through videos for 5 minutes at a time without even realising. Video is everywhere and it’s an easy way to escape reality and forget what you’re doing in the present moment. It is estimated that by 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content, so why not make the most of it?
Besides video, another good way to keep up-to-date with your industry or business practice is to do online research. Market research, especially, can help you discover things about your business that you may not have realised existed and uncover opportunities that your business can benefit from. Although research can be done in a very time consuming, manual way, it can be done passively by just tuning in to an online blog, forum, podcast, or other information hub for your industry. By contributing to the community suitable for your business, you can build relationships with others who are interested and perhaps discover and discuss new ideas with them. Competitors are definitely something to look out for, but keep in mind that they are also the ones that are enthusiastic and passionate about your line of work.