Small businesses and start ups depend on marketing to launch and grow their business. However, a limited budget often prevents them from getting the results they need. Even on a small budget, though, businesses can gain exposure, if they know how to take advantage of resources that are available to them. Oftentimes, these resources require only one investment—time. Here are some effective ways to market your product or service and get the best return on your investment.
1. Take advantage of blogs. Start your own blog (many, like WordPress, are free). It’s a quick and easy way to attract traffic and visitors and provide valuable information and updates. Don’t use it as a sales page, but rather as a source of information and interaction where you can generate comments, interaction, and followers. Don’t forget, too, that it costs nothing to comment on other blogs. It’s a very effective marketing tool, especially when those blogs relate to your business. Make sure your comment is relevant and adds additional insight or value to the thread.
2. Use social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus offer ample opportunities for you to market your business at no cost. They all provide the opportunity to add links to your web site or blog, which will increase traffic and generate interest. The key is to interact with your connections, friends, and followers, providing you with ample opportunity to maximize your exposure.
3. Search engine optimization. People use Google to search the Internet for virtually everything, giving you an excellent avenue to increase traffic to your site. Research to find precisely what they’re looking for and optimize your web site to make sure they find you.
4. Guest authoring. In real estate, location is key, but on the Internet, it’s all about content. New content and updates are always in demand. Offer to write an article or post for someone else’s blog, and ask others (especially those with a large following) to be a guest author on yours. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that will generate traffic and interest.
5. Increase your presence at conferences and workshops. Whether you’re a speaker or an attendee, conferences are full of other professionals who can help you generate business. Increasing your presence as an authority or through networking is a powerful marketing tool you shouldn’t overlook.
6. Request referrals. Sometimes, the only thing you have to do to receive publicity is to ask. If you have customers or clients who have had positive experiences with your company, ask them to put a good word in for you with their friends, family, coworkers, and clients. Word of mouth is still the best advertising you can get—and it’s free.
7. Online advertising. Through sites like LinkedIn and YouTube, advertising is still affordable and a powerful way to target your business to your audience. Another source of marketing through advertising is retargeting—a way to advertise only to those who have visited your site. It’s geared toward those who have already expressed interest, reinforcing your name and brand every time they see it.
8. Video presentations. Through podcasts, online videos, and slideshows, you can expand the delivery of your message, giving your audience more value and information, while generating interesting and even entertaining forms of marketing.
9. Increase sales by discounting price. Groupon and Living Social are just two sites that have generated tremendous exposure and sales for businesses who are willing to give significant savings to their customers in exchange for a massive marketing opportunity.
10. Get feedback. Offer customers the opportunity to complete customer satisfaction surveys and polls, giving them an opportunity to post comments. Use the results and comments as a marketing tool. Written recommendations or endorsements from satisfied customers have proven to be powerful marketing tools.
Capitalize on these low and no-cost marketing strategies to stretch your marketing dollars and boost your business without breaking your budget.