I've had a think of some of the different ways you can do this, so here is my list of 5 free or low cost ways you can market your business, starting today.
1) Try A Local Business Network Meeting As A Guest
It's pretty much guaranteed that somewhere in your town or city, there will be a professional networking body that is attended by exactly the kind of person that can help refer business your way. Most of these organisations require a joining fee, although they will normally allow you to turn up as a guest at one of their meeting so you can experience what it's like to be a member.
Advantages of such networks are:
- They provide an excellent way of growing your professional network
- They allow 'real' interaction and relationship building - this cannot be under-estimated at a time when it seems that most people communicate digitally
- They can result in excellent referrals - word of mouth and recommendations are still the best way to generate new business
So, all it will take is a quick online search, a few phone calls and you'll be well on your way to experiencing the benefits of these networks - get going then :-)
2) Ask Your Best Customers For Referrals
As I just mentioned actually, referrals are the single best way of generating new business. This is because when someone contacts you after you've been recommended by one of their trusted business contacts, a lot of the work in terms of closing the sale has already been done. They have already pretty much decided that they want to use your services when they call you and they trust as much as they can that you will deliver a great service.
How can you generate such referrals? Well, the best way to start this off would be to simply as your best customers if they knew of anyone that needed your services. An optimal time to do this is right after you have completed a job that they are very happy with. You could of course simply call around your existing clients and ask them now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Some of the benefits of asking for referrals are:
- Recommendations normally have a very high conversation rate due to the trust element involved
- It doesn't cost you anything to ask
- It can help build rapport with existing clients - most people like to help others when they can
3) Send A Killer Offer Around Your (Opt-in) Email List
I'm obviously assuming that you have a list of opt-in email addresses that you can use here, so if you do it's definitely worth you thinking about a killer offer and then sending it around this list. You don't want to come across as desperate, but a thoughtful and relevant offer would probably be well received by people who have expressed an interest in your services previously.
Here are some thoughts as to how you can gain maximu returns with this:
- Firstly, make sure your emails are compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act
- Make sure your offer is time-sensitive - this will mean the conversion rate will be higher
- Consider adding an incentive for recipients referring their contacts on to you
Although Google has all of the spotlight in the search space, right now, the Bing/Yahoo search network has nearly 30% of the US search market - this is something you should really take advantage of. Bing are making it very easy for you to get started with them by offering a free $50.00 voucher for new accounts.
Some of the advantages of taking them up on this offer are as follows:
- Quick exposure to the millions of Bing search users
- Free to get started with the promotional voucher
- If you use Adwords, you can import your campaigns into Bing
- Relatively low CPC compared to Adwords
- It's been said that Bing users convert more than Google users
So, all you have to do is spend a bit of time setting up your campaign and you'll then be marketing your business for free (at least to start with) across the Bing/Yahoo search network.
5) Approach Your Local Paper With A Story
This one may be the trickiest one to get right, although if you do succeed here it could be the ideal 'market your business for free' tip. Local newspapers probably get PR requests from local business all of the time, so you'll have to have something exceptional in order to get their interest. It's worth thinking hard about though because - if you are successful - the pay-off could be huge for your business.
Here are some things to think about here:
- Papers love people-centred news - try to give your story a human element so that it will resonate more with the reporters and newspaper readers
- Do you or your business help your local community? This could be a good angle.
- Have you just won a large contract? Are you about to employ additional staff?
- Do you have a 'failure to success' story? These seem to go down very well nowadays
Hopefully this post has given you food for thought in terms of free to low cost ways you can market your business today - good luck!
By Alan MacDougall
_ _ _ Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy and tips blog designed to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.