The internet revolution has led to some amazing boons for small businesses, not the least of which is free (or nearly free) opportunities for marketing. Of course, it helps if you have a website set up for your company, which could cost you a fair amount of dough. But considering how much you stand to gain, and how much you can save through online advertising, you’ll be surprised how quickly you virtually recoup your costs. So forget about paying someone to place those irritating paper flyers under windshields (most people just throw them away out of sheer annoyance). And use your TV advertising budget to improve your product. Here are a few great ways to get your brand name to every household for a lot less money.
- SEO. Search engine optimization is not cheap, unless you do it yourself. While an SEO specialist could charge your hundreds of dollars a month (and deservedly so, considering the results they can deliver), you can do it for free if you learn how it works on your own. Pick up a copy of SEO for Dummies to get started, and then move on to more in-depth literature on the topic. Eventually you’ll also need to read guidelines for different search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) to make sure you’re not inadvertently engaging in “black hat” SEO practices, which can get you banned. Although there’s a lot to learn, you’ll be happy you followed through when you see an increase in traffic, page rank, and ultimately, sales.
- Start a blog. This is a great way to bring new people to your site and get them interested in whatever it is you’re selling. You can write it for free, and if your content is engaging, people will come back for more (and bring their friends). You can also guest post for related blogs to get links back to your own site. And of course, you can use it as a forum to post product reviews, user testimonials, and host giveaways to drive business.
- Ad exchange. By joining an ad exchange network, you are basically agreeing to post ads for other industry sites even as they host an ad for you. It’s often free to sign up and it could be a good way to bring in more business. At the very least, it couldn’t hurt (you can’t really go wrong with free advertising).
- Offer incentives for referrals. Grass-roots, word-of-mouth campaigns are one of the best ways to spread your name on the cheap. By encouraging customers to become brand ambassadors, you’ll not only promote your company for free, but you’ll also achieve better results because your customers are trusted sources. You would hope that satisfied buyers would do this on their own, but why reward their loyalty by offering discounts or freebies to those who bring friends and family to your site?
- Viral videos. A television commercial can run you tens of thousands of dollars on the low end (and that’s before you even sign a contract to air it). By opting for viral videos you can significantly cut production costs (hand-cam?) and stream them for free via you-tube and email blast. If you create something that catches on, it will spread like wildfire on the internet, and all for the amazing price of nada.
Sarah Danielson writes for Purchase Order Financing you can grow your business and pave the way for more.