When you run your own business, “Head of Marketing” is just one of the hats you need to wear. But you don’t need bags of marketing experience or a big budget to get your business out there. Here are six ways to promote your business on a shoestring!
1. Offer your business as a case study
You might already use customer case studies to promote your own business. But have you considered becoming the subject of a case study for someone else?
A case study tells the story of how a business has helped one of its customers. Case studies are similar to testimonials or reviews, but they explain the customer’s experience in more detail. Companies use them to show how their product or service has made a difference in the real world.
Companies want to share their success stories. So getting featured in a case study will introduce your business to a whole new audience. You get free exposure and the company whose services you use gets a glowing reference. It’s a win-win.
Think big: what products and services do you buy that you’d also like your business to be associated with? If you’re a real estate agent, you could approach your bank or building society and ask to become a customer case study for them. Or maybe you’ve recently moved your growing tech company over to a cloud accounting software package? If their product has had a positive impact on your business, you could be a prime candidate for their next case study.
When you pitch your success story, remember to explain:
- How the company’s product has helped your business
- Why your story will help them attract more customers like you
2. Create a free website
Your website is like an interactive business card. It tells the world who you are and what you do—so that customers can find you in a click. But unlike a traditional, paper business card, you can design and create your website in three minutes with Jimdo for free.
Even if your business already has an online presence on social media or Google My Business, for example—you’ve got everything to gain by creating a website.
How can a website help your business get exposure?
Having a website is much cheaper than traditional advertising. Ever tried to advertise your business in a local newspaper or glossy magazine? The cost of print advertising is unrealistic for many small businesses. A website, on the other hand, is free to set up and has the potential to connect you with customers all over the world.
As customers, we like to research and compare companies online before we make a purchase. A professional website will help your business stand out and give you control over how your brand appears to customers. From your brand colors to your company logo, you can use your website to present your company exactly as you want the world to see you.
Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why your small business needs a website.
3. Claim your Google My Business Listing
It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s free. But lots of small business owners still haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing. And if you ask me, it’s a no-brainer. Listing your business will help customers find your details on Google and your location on Google Maps. And with over 50% of search traffic now coming from mobile devices your business needs to be Google-friendly if you want it to grow.
Once you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing, make sure all your details are correct. Keep your phone number, business address and opening times up to date so customers can call you instantly or get directions to your business.
Here’s a quick post that explains how to claim your Google My Business listing along with some handy hints and tricks to help you optimize it for maximum exposure.
4. Swap guests posts
Find a business, an influencer, or an industry leader that you’d like to collaborate with and then ask them to join forces. If you both have a blog then exchanging guest posts (an article you write to be published on someone else’s blog) can help you both reach a wider audience.
Make sure you choose a collaborator who’s audience has a crossover with yours. For example, if you own an Italian restaurant then collaborating with your local language school could benefit both of you. Why? Because people who want to learn Italian are usually interested in Italian food. And foodies who regularly visit your restaurant are more likely to be interested in learning more about the language (even if it’s just to better understand your menu!). In this example, both businesses would benefit from exposure to the other’s customers without being in competition.
Tip: Think about your competition and choose a business that’s different from yours but whose customers will have similar interests. For example, if you own a sportswear brand then collaborating with a running club would be a great fit. Whereas teaming up with a clothing store wouldn’t—because you’re their competition.
New to blogging? It might be tough to land your dream collaborator right away. But blogging is a great way to connect with customers and get free exposure for your business. Check out our post on how to become a blogger and start today!
5. Become an expert source
If you run a business, the chances are you’re an expert in your field. Whether you know about cooking or accounting, cupholders or stakeholders, there are people out there who need your expertise. Journalists often need experts to comment on news stories and current events because it gives their articles balance, context, and credibility.
When you’re quoted as an expert source in a newspaper article or television segment, you’ll get your name out there as an industry leader.
How to connect with journalists
- Get in touch with journalists at your local newspaper or industry magazine and let them know that you’re available for expert comment when they need it. Be confident, explain what makes you a reliable expert and state your credentials, but keep it brief—journalists are busy people working to tight deadlines.
- Follow journalists and news outlets on social media. Twitter is a useful platform for this because lots of people go there to read the news. Retweet content and comment on news stories that are relevant to your industry.
- Register as an expert source in your industry on free sites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Journalists can contact you when they have a story that would benefit from your expertise.
- Contact your favorite podcast hosts. Do you listen to an industry podcast that your customers can’t resist? If you can nab an expert guest spot on the show, you’ll be able to reach more customers. Remember this isn’t an advertisement—so make sure you have something valuable to offer before you make your ask, like a comment on a current event or a story that’s relevant to their audience. Interact with the podcast’s community on social media and pay attention to the kind of content that the show puts out. When you have something relevant to share, pitch it to the hosts and ask if they’d like to have you on.
6. Run a free workshop
Offering an hour of your expertise for free is a great way to introduce yourself to people in your local area and get them talking about your business.
Tip: Think about what your customers really want to know. Dread doing your taxes? Most small business owners do because you’d much rather be doing what you do best—running your business. For example, if you own a book-keeping business then running a free informational session during tax return season could help you attract new customers.
Even the participants who come along for the free advice will be more likely to recommend you in the future if you appear open, helpful and knowledgeable.
7. Look for support in your community
Local organizations with an interest in entrepreneurship or helping businesses will usually offer their own free workshops or seminars. If you can cover something different than their usual lineup, they might be interested in having you as a guest speaker. Ask if they will share your event with their members or on their social media channels to help generate interest.
Contact your local Chamber of Commerce, business enterprise service or community hub, and explain what help you’re looking for and how your workshop will benefit the local community. Most likely, they’ll be delighted to hear from you and be able to offer you a free or cheap venue to host your workshop in. When you’ve secured the place and the date, spread the word on social media, advertise it on your website and tell everyone you know!
We all love a freebie. And enthusiasm is infectious! Teach people a new skill or share a little of your specialist knowledge, and they’ll be excited to tell their friends.
And just like that, another marketing-myth bites the dust! You really don’t need a big budget to promote your business. In fact, it’s now easier than ever to get PR for free. Especially if you’re on social media. Check out the post from our “Everyone can do PR!” series for tips on how to build a social media strategy that will grow your business.
What’s your favorite free-promo hack?