Marketing is the lifeblood of any business. So, the best thing you can do for your small business is to market it effectively.
Contrary to popular perception, marketing is not all about sleazy tactics that persuade people to part with their money and buy things they do not need. No, there is much more to marketing than that.
A good marketing strategy should enrich your customer’s life by providing good value at a great price. This post looks at the many free ways you can reach out for free online and let your future clients know what you have to offer.
Free Ways of Marketing your Small Business Online
1. Develop a Brand
The most important marketing tool is the brand. And no, a brand is not the same as a logo. A logo might represent a brand, but the logo is not the brand.
Creating a brand involves setting your business apart from the rest. You need to answer a few questions, such as :
- Why are you in this business?
- What is your story?
- What exactly do you have to offer?
- What can it benefit someone to do business with you and not with your competition?
By figuring out why you are doing what you are doing and what you have to offer, your next step is to discover your ideal customer or client. If you are selling ladies shoes for instance, then your primary audience should be young and middle-aged women.
Once you know this, it is time to create a good copy that will appeal to this audience. You need it to be straight to the point and answer possible questions a potential customer might have while telling your story.
You will need to carefully craft a short elevator pitch about your business, boilerplates for press releases, and an “About Us” page for your website. If you are looking to market your business effectively, then you need to do this first. You can discover more information about branding from Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”.
2. Get a Website
If you are serious about marketing your small business online, then you need a website. It does not have to be a complex site with bells and whistles. Rather, a simple web presence that states your mission or business will do.
If you already have a website, then fine. Else, many free platforms like Weebly offer a free website builder with a free sub-domain and free hosting. All you just need to do is put in a little work and your business is online.
For those who already have a domain name and would like free hosting, Netlify offers free hosting with content distribution for static websites only. These are mostly modern Jamstack sites and a good generator with many beginner-friendly features is Gatsby.
3. Search Engine Optimization
The next step in solidifying your online presence is SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization.
First, you want to look at keywords that relate to your business or website, and a good and free tool for that is the Google Keyword Planner. Just plugin some phrases or enter your website address and it will spit out terms for you to target.
You should also register your site with Google’s Webmaster platform, as this will help you to see and correct possible errors on the site. Then, there is analytics to help you see where your site visitors are coming from.
Further optimizations include making sure that your website copy is written with good grammar. That there are no errors, the site’s user interface is good to look at, and it does not take too long to load.
4. Start Blogging – Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing can be a very effective strategy for many businesses. The goal here is to answer questions or offer solutions that your target customer might have or be looking for. This brings them to your site through your blog posts and they eventually discover your business and what you stand for.
See why Step 1. is very important in any business venture?
You can start the blog on your website. Most hosting providers offer 1-click WordPress installs. You can also start a Jamstack blog for free on Netlify, or use blogging sites like WordPress.com and Medium.com.
We have a step-by-step guide on how to start a blog very easily. You can follow it.
The choice is yours here. All you need is to discover what issues your future clients are experiencing and start to address them. You can achieve this best when you know who you are looking for.
You can keep the blog’s tone casual or more formal if you like. This depends on your type of business. The important factor is that your posts are factual and helpful.
5. Use Social Media
Everyone knows this one, but how do you do it right? Social media marketing is the use of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram to get new business prospects.
First, you should note that all platforms are not right for all types of businesses. Platforms like Facebook might be great for business-to-consumer marketing, while LinkedIn might be better for business-to-business marketing.
You will also need to work towards your audience, post more quality content and less trivial posts, and organize your posts around the best engagement times, by analyzing responses to your previous posts.
One other way to catch new prospects is by following trends. You do this by simply monitoring hashtags that are related to your business offering. Then, you create content that adds value to the conversation, using the opportunity to also broadcast your marketing message.
6. Build a List
Let’s do some maths. If it takes 100 visitors to your website to get one paying customer, then you have a 1% conversion rate. Now, if your average customer spends $100 per transaction. And $50 from it is your profit, then you make a $50 profit per 100 visitors.
In other words, each visitor is worth $0.50 to your business because $50÷100 = $0.50. Knowing this metric, you can easily spend up to $0.30 or even $0.40 to attract a single visitor because they are worth more.
This is how lead generation works and why building a contact list of people interested in your offering can help your business grow. Constant Contact is the most reputable for something like this. Other Platforms such as SendInBlue and Hubspot offer free plans to help you kick-start your email marketing campaigns.
7. Press Release
The press can be powerful, so if you have any newsworthy stories concerning your business, then do not hesitate to do a press release.
A press release is an article that announces news from an organization. You write one and submit it to a press release platform for distribution. Journalists and other media professionals scour these platforms to find newsworthy submissions that they can republish on their websites or other media.
There are many press release platforms on the web, and this includes lots of free ones. All they require is that your copy is good quality, newsworthy, and factual. Here are a few websites that will distribute your press release for free:
8. Reach Out & Collaborate
Business is all about collaboration, so you should always be on the lookout for potential partners because the right one can be invaluable.
There are many opportunities out there, with countless business owners looking for other business owners to partner with. You can start from forums and social media pages catering to your industry.
Depending on your type of business, you can also consider using affiliates or becoming an affiliate yourself. There are many affiliate networks, such as:
You are not limited to affiliate networks though, because you can find business partners everywhere. You can even pitch your business to angel investors if you could use a rich mentor.
9. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the art of creating and publishing content as a marketing strategy. The content here can include blog articles, videos, social media posts, and even images.
You should note that the goal of content marketing is to provide useful information to the readership of any platform or community, in the hopes of maximizing your business exposure with a link back to your website. Search engines also rank websites with more backlinks higher in their results, thereby increasing potential visitors.
Following is a shortlist of nice places to publish your content.
- Guest posting on relevant blogs
While content marketing involves indirectly promoting your business, you can use classified sites to promote directly. Such sites include eBay.com, Craigslist.org, and relevant forums. You just have to adhere to their platform rules.
10. Get Organized
Businesses are called organizations for a reason – it takes organization to run a business successfully. There are many ways to go about becoming and staying organized. And this depends on your type of business or your targets.
However, certain tools will always be helpful for the majority of businesses. These include CRM or Customer Relationship Management platforms, project management software, email, social media managers, and calendars.
Here is a list of free platforms and software that can help you to get organized and improve your efficiency.
- Zoho – CRM, email, spreadsheets, storage
- Teamwork – Project management
- Buffer Publish – Social media management
- ClickUp – Project management, storage
- Slack – Team chats
- Twist – Organized communications
- PandaDoc – Electronic signatures
- LibreOffice – Writing, spreadsheet, presentation, & database software
- Google Calendar – Manage your time efficiently
We have reached the end of this list of 10 free ways to market your small business online. And as you can see, it is possible to gain exposure for goods and services on the Internet without spending a dime.
You also do not have to use all the methods, and you are free to add yours. Just be creative, and you will succeed.