Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
There are many ways that you can market your business without spending any money. While it might be difficult to do an entire no-cost marketing plan that is effective and efficient, many of these ten ideas will definitely help stretch your marketing dollars. While free, some of these tips do require effort, and you may have to learn new skills, but others are so simple everyone can and should be doing them.
1. Say “thank you” to your customers. This is rather obvious, but many businesses do not have a “formal” process in place for saying thank you or showing appreciation to their customers. Say it verbally if possible, send an email, pick up the phone. Let your customers know you don’t take them for granted.
2. Free online classifieds and link listing. Don’t get carried away with this, but do take advantage of some of the free ad space online. Typically if you search one of the major search engines for “Your industry + add link you can find a few decent sites where you can list your business for free.
3. Article submission. There are many, many online article submission sites. The deal is that you write an article that others can use in their ezines or on their websites and in exchange, they give you “credit” at the end of the article in the form of an “author bio” or credit paragraph. Search for “article submission.” The more closely related the article is to your industry, the better. And, please triple-check grammar, spelling, and logic.
4. Publicity. This one has been around forever. Write press releases, and submit them to the local media and to online press sites. Learn about press releases first if you do no know how to write them. Press releases should be “newsworthy” and properly written. For more information, read How to Write a Press Release.
5. Forum postings. Posting in forums just to promote your business is considered bad form. However, if your post has value to the discussion, it is usually okay to post your website or company name in your signature line. Be careful not to “spam” forums.
6. Great Customer Service. This is one of the best marketing tools you’ll ever use. It does create the coveted “word of mouth” advertising we all crave, and it is so rare these days that people will talk about it. Be friendly, professional and do your best to exceed your customers’ expectations. They will come back, and they will tell their friends.
7. Ask for referrals and testimonials. If a customer praises your product or service, ask them to refer you to their friends and associates. Ask them to write their opinions down & post those “reviews” in your store, online, in your brochures, etc.
8. Believe in your business. Your own passion about what you are doing is infectious. If you believe that you are providing a product or service that people need, then telling them about is helping them and you need not fear that you are “bothering” them. If you try something you really do not believe in, even selling to willing customers can become a difficult task.
9. Promote your business by putting your marketing message on your fax sheets, your invoices, your on-hold music, your store signage, and so on. Every contact you have is a potential customer. Let them know what you have to offer. I routinely suggest putting business cards in with your bills when you pay them—you never know who’s opening your bill who might need you.
10. Educate your customer. Tip sheets, fact sheets, helpful hints, etc., can do wonders for your business. We typically forget that not everyone knows what we know. You can create tip sheets or how-to’s in little or no time to help someone learn more about the product or service you are selling. This is why stores like Home Depot offer free classes on how to build things. Their customer learns the skills needed for various projects and are more likely to buy the products there. You can offer free classes, too, or start with something simple like a housecleaning tip sheet if you sell cleaning products.
Action Item: Choose one of these tips to try and put it on your to-do list for next week.
Finding the Perfect Small Business for You ebook makes a great holiday gift for the budding entrepreneur on your list.
For more marketing how-to articles, see Smart Marketing Works.