The first thing a business normally cuts when it has no money is the marketing budget. You know this, and I especially know this. The problem with this is when you cut marketing, you in turn cut the chance of getting any new customers. You’ve all heard that wonderful quote from Henry Ford – “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” – and it is absolutely true.
We have just had a pandemic and are now knee-deep in a a cost of living crisis. Businesses are going to go, redundancies made… it’s just not a nice time to be a business owner, or worried employee for that matter. I’ve tried my best as a business owner to help with businesses with little budget for social media marketing, there’s a 400 page guide you can download for free, ideas on how you can get in touch for free help and i’ve made a lot of one-off services cheaper so you are not worried about getting tied into a monthly contract. This is all well and good, but sometimes there are times when a business has actually no money whatsoever to spend on marketing. If that’s where you find yourself now then you’re going to be on the lookout for free marketing tactics to boost your business and get some more business through the door. As if by magic, here they are! These fifty inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage and leverage your customers, build lucrative relationships, and ultimately keep your brand at the top-of-mind when it comes to people searching for the product/service you have to offer.
Learn How to Ask for Referrals: You’re much more likely to get something if you ask for it! Don’t just assume your clients will pass along the good word-of-mouth about you. So do you want to get more clients? Get over the fear of asking and force yourself to get in the habit of asking for a referral from every satisfied customer.
Learn the Most Likely Places to Find Clients – and go to those places: Think of the obvious places your target audience will be and go to those places to drum up new business in person or simply just leave a stack of your business cards there.
Host a Workshop, Event or Class Related to Your Products/Services: People love to learn so classes on topics related to your products and services can bring big gains. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them in your local community and areas where target clients will see them. Bulletin boards, libraries, coffee shops, and adult education centers etc.)
Create a Brochure: Brochures can be great sales tools as they are relatively cheap, give you some in-hand marketing material when you’re discussing your products or services and also give potential customers who want to think over your pitch to have something to take away with them.
Get Free Publicity for Your Business: Do this by involving the media (including social media!) in your big business events such as grand openings, new products launches, moves, or charity events. Don’t have one of these happening in the near future? You can always get involved in someone else’s charity event by becoming a sponsor.
Create a Website for Your Small Business: If you don’t already have one, it’s a vital necessity nowadays for a business to have a website. Even if it’s a basic one that simply presents the who, what, where and why of your business at least it gives you a home on the web and a chance of coming up in local search – critical for getting your business found nowadays. There are lots of great website building platforms out there, with WordPress being one of them.
Create a Blog for Your Business: Blogging can create a bigger market for your products or services if you share valuable, regular and engaging content consistently. You should also cultivate your blogging community by visiting and commenting on other relevant blogs regularly. (Be smart; pick the ones your customers are likely to be visiting too.)
Develop a Social Media Marketing Plan and Implement it: Developing a presence on social media is a great and vital low budget marketing strategy. Download my free eBook that has a great social media strategy template (if I do say so myself!). Or if you have a little money in the bank and you would like one professionally done for you, I have an offer on at the moment!
Spend Money on Social Media Advertising: All the major platforms offer forms of inexpensive advertising, often with incredible targeting options. Learn about Facebook ads and Twitter ads in the free eBook download too.
Become a Radio Guest: Radio can be a very effective way of targeting your potential customers and is a much more inexpensive form of advertising compared to other channels such as television. Get in touch with your local radio for potential deals on airtime ads/interviews.
Develop Business Partnerships: Cross-promotion is a great way to tap into a wider audience, cut down on the cost of advertising and can create valuable relationships that benefit all the partners involved. This can be done locally offline through some kind of special event, or online with a webinar or promotional giveaway
Send out Promotions with your Invoices: A no-brainer that’s often forgotten! You’re sending out a document anyhow so why not include a promotion?
Learn How to Write a Killer Sales Letter: Whether it’s direct mail or email, once you’ve written one, be sure to learn how to maximize the response to your sales letter.
Create an Email Newsletter: This gives you a great opportunity to stay in regular contact with your customers, sharing business news, latest offers etc.
Join a face-to-face Networking Group: There’s no faster, easier way to make contacts and get known in your local community.
Participate in Local Business Trade Fairs: While trade shows are far from easy, they can be one of the most rewarding forms of marketing when approached with the right strategy. Your attendance will be rewarded with rapidly expanding your database of sales leads, meeting and connecting with prospective customers and learning about new developments in your industry.
Apply for Business Awards: Getting a business award under your belt is a great way to build credibility and generate positive PR. There’s nothing wrong with a nomination from a friend or even nominating yourself – just make sure you’re entered!
Advertise Your Business on Your Vehicle: Be seen whilst you’re out and about by putting a vinyl wrap on your car with your logo, business name and contact detail and/or place a plastic business card holder on the side of your vehicle.
Pamper Your Existing Customer: Make sure you’re not neglecting the people who already know and trust you, as typically it’s five times as expensive to make a sale to a new customer as it is to an existing one. For example you could take your best customers out to dinner using the opportunity to ask them about how to improve your business or write to your customers to reward them with exclusive benefits such as a new loyalty program or an invite to sneak preview your latest product.
Utilize Your Business Setting: Your building and surrounding land or sidewalk are great places to put up signs and banners.
Push For PR: A media story is much more valuable than an advertisement because of the credibility it gives your business. Journalists’ are looking for a compelling story to tell so help them by letting them know about an interesting story of yours involving an innovative product, unusual customer contact or gamble that paid off.
Turn Employees into Ambassadors: Your employees are part of the community and have all sorts of contacts that could help you so think of ways you can keep them motivated and utilize them.
Give Back: Channel into your inner good by sponsoring your local lads football team or having a charity collection jar by the cash register. You’ll feel good by doing your bit for the community but will also benefit by generating goodwill with customers. As an example for less than the cost of a 1/4 page ad in a local paper, you can buy team uniforms for your local sports teams and not only will you get the team, and their friends, family and fans attention but it will show a very wide audience that your business is a genuine part of the local community.
Create Instructional Videos: Video content is really valuable, but it needn’t be costly to get quality YouTube videos produced. You can research the plenty of guides out there to help, or you can get others involved on a budget by using sites such as Fiverr.
Get Ad Promo Credits: Big ad campaigns may be out of your budget but there are often discounts and coupons floating around out there for paid Facebook Ads or Google ads.
Create DIY Infographics: Infographics are very powerful marketing tools as they’re visually appealing, easy to digest, and people love to share them. All in all they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and links. There are plenty of free vector kits out there for Adobe Illustrator. Check out Visual.ly for inspiration, they have many examples for you to browse through.
Recycle Your Content: Breathe life into your old content by turning them into new creations! For example, you could turn a collection of blog posts into an eBook.
Develop a Customer Referral Program: Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, so encourage your existing customers to spread the word by offering a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers.
Hold a Contest: Contests are an inexpensive, effortless and exciting way to grow your business and increase online engagement as you often only need to worry about the costs of monitoring the contest and prizes.
Guerilla Marketing: An advertisement strategy designed for businesses to emphasize the creativity and promote their products or services in an unconventional way with little budget to spend. Take a look at these successful examples.
Business Card Draw: This simply idea involves you putting a big glass bowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in for a chance to win something. At the end of the month when you’ve collected loads of business cards, you draw a winner. The real winner here is you however as there’s no reason those other business cards you’ve collected have to go to waste! Use the email addresses provided to let users know that while they haven’t won this time, they are more than welcome to join your mailing list, which will notify them of future giveaways and special offers.
Email Marketing: A great way to get new visitors engaged with your business and maintain relationships with your existing customers. The key to success is to get new website visitors to sign up for your newsletter by offering a bonus content piece for subscribing (e.g. free ebook) then slowly nurture your subscribers via email until they are ready to become paying customers. MailChimp is a great free email marketing service.
Give Away Balloons at Local Events: For a few hundred quid you can rent a helium tank and get a few hundred custom balloons printed with your business name. This is great as a summer imitative at a fair or community event as you’ll have a bunch of happy people marching around with your brand floating above their heads.
List Your Company on Google Maps/Google My Business: Google Maps/Local presence is important for many reasons as It directs customers to your establishment when they are in the area, and your business typically appears higher in Google search rankings.
Use Google Products: Google has provided businesses with a toolbox of marketing goodies (Analytics, Google+, Google my Business etc.) that will only help your business grow. By following their terms of service and best practices, you can help your business gain recognition.
Learn From What Your Competitors Do: It’s important to look at what your competitors are doing as you can get a good sense of how they have become successful, and where they are lacking in their marketing efforts. Both of which you can apply to your own efforts.
Revisit Your Landing Pages: Landing page design can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. If you’re doing any kind of advertising or email marketing, your landing pages are where people who are interested in your offerings decide to “convert” into a lead or a customer or not so you need to regularly update and maximise them to make sure they are fit for purpose.
Make Reporters Come to You: Instead of always sending boring pitching reports with story ideas, go straight to the horse’s mouth and schedule a coffee meeting with the local relevant reporters in your market. Start the conversation by genuinely attempting to make their lives easier without trying to sell them your story and you will become a valuable resource.
Freebies: Everyone loves a freebie and there are many ways to produce freebies that cost next to nothing. For example: a free eBook on a topic of your expertise, small samples of your product, or discount coupons people can obtain in exchange for their email address.
Be Active in Forums: Join discussion forums where people are actively talking about products and services like yours, topics in your industry, and businesses relevant to your brand. This will help spread the word about your expertise, gain credibility in your industry, and build your network.
Get on Online Directories: This is one of the most efficient and inexpensive forms of marketing your brand. Many of these directories are free to register, and enable users searching for your products and services to quickly find you.
Give a Speech: Many organizations are actively looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Get over your fear of public speaking, think of the benefits and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. Make it easy for people to associate you and your business with expertise in your field.
Be Generous: To keep customers loyal to you, don’t make the mistake of thinking that promotional items are only for conferences and tradeshows. Send your customers small “surprise” gifts as they always work to instill loyalty and retention. They don’t have to be expensive, consider items such as tea bags, pens and pads, small flashlights or things very target specific to your industry, like small packets of flower seeds for a gardener.
Team up With Larger Firms in the Industry: Find larger companies, or more experienced businesses and invite them to lunch with the intention of asking them to consider referring their smaller cases or business they don’t have time to handle, to you. With every successful referral they give you remember to send them a genuine thank you. This will help you easily build your customer or client base.
Feed Them!: Anything involving free food gets attention. Partner up with local businesses and a restaurant/ Café to throw a special event, complete with free food. Combining your database with other businesses will expose you to an entirely different segment of people for a fraction of the price.
Write For A Trade Magazine: If you want to get people’s attention and have them call you, there’s nothing like writing an article for a trade or local magazine to gain credibility and get the exposure you want. Demonstrate your expertise and position yourself as the go-to person for your product or service with this service and it will make you appear credible because a recognised publication is publishing your content.
Write A Book: The status of being a published author provides you with unprecedented access to media, speaking gigs, and other opportunities like nothing else can and the best part is that it costs nothing other than your time.
Online Reviews: Online reviews are a critical component of your business’ reputation and can do wonders for converting new customers. Let your fans review your business, then incorporate their reviews in your blog post, on your website, promote them on social media and anywhere else that is relevant and will be seen.
Host Educational Events: Partner with businesses that target the same audience as you to host “educational” events. Split the cost and the work that goes into creating the event, including inviting prospects and clients. It’s a cost-effective way to market to the other firms’ clients, to prospects, and to build a relationship with these other partners in order to gain future referrals.
Join in on Weekly Hashtag Hours like #ThrowbackThursday: To build your social media following, you need to be an active participant in the community. A great way to get your content seen by many eyes is to join in on a relevant fun weekly social media hour that already has a loyal audience. There’s a hashtag for almost anything, check which ones you could join in with here.
Go Back to Basics: In an online age, there’s still something to be said for going back to basics and conducting some ‘real life’ marketing. For example you can go old school with flyers and poster in local cafes etc.