small business

How to Advertise Your Business for Free

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The goal of every business is to put their products and services in front of their potential customers. People buy for many reasons but, to buy at all, they must be aware of you.

However, many traditional methods of advertising cost money. Some methods can be expensive, even for established businesses. When your budget is small, every dollar matters even more. Don’t worry though. It’s still possible to successfully promote your business without spending a lot of money.

How to Advertise Your Business for Free

Below are some ideas you can use to help advertise your business without spending a lot of money. Many of these are free, and that’s a great price!

1. Optimize Your Website For Search Engines

Your business needs a web site. There’s really no debating that. Think about it. When you are trying to find a company to help you do something, the first thing you do is search online. You might start with a keyword or phrase but, from those results, you visit web sites for companies that match what you need.

A web site provides legitimacy to your business. Given two companies that are listed in a web search, but only one has a web site, you’ll visit the one with the site. The web site gives you the opportunity to detail your services, create engagement, and compel a call to action (ie, have the prospective client get in touch).

The web site itself needs to be visually appealing, interactive, and have quality content. That’s all the parts the client see. In the background, the web site needs tofollow SEO (search engine optimization) best practices. This helps Google recognize and index the site. It also helps people searching for the things you offer find your business.

That part of SEO is technical and tedious but it needs to be done. If you have the skill you can do it yourself. Otherwise, you will rely on your web designer for help with this. This is where you can best use an experienced web design service like Crimson Web Design.

2. List on Google My Business (Local Business Listing)

Google already tailors search results for your location. For example, if you search for a Wendy’s, it will show you the one in your city with a map. So, it has almost become required for a business to get listed on their local engine: Google My Business.

You can manage your Google business profile, add images, update hours and info, etc. from the same place. Just head over to Google My Business and claim your listing. If you don’t have a physical store, you can list the area you serve. A Google My Business listing is free and a must-have.

3. List in Online Business Directories

Buyers search for companies in popular business directories. Even if you don’t specifically list in a given directory, the online directories have so much traction on Google that results for the directories themselves will come up anyway.

Ever search for some local company for a small home improvement or repair project? Near the top of every list you will get not only local company results but also results for businesses like Thumbtack, Angi, Yelp, and so on. These online directories carry a lot of power and they’re doing a lot of the work for you. Just search for your own service or product, then see  what online directories pop up. Visit those and find your niche.

Some cost money to advertise or cost when they send you a potential client, so carefully read over how each directory service works. But the very fact that a potential client is seeing your name listed in many places means they’re more likely to find you- and hire you.

4. Use Social Media

You should create profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. This will not only help you get more customers but you can engage them and get quality feedback from them about your products or services.

Frequency and quality of your posts is the key here. You must post regularly and the content must be worthwhile. It’s not enough to just keep mentioning your business. Instead, run promotions, post links to your new blog article, market upcoming events, etc.

If you post regularly, you will gain popularity. Subscribers are potential customers you can convert to paying clients at a later stage. Ideally you should post twice a week on Facebook and 3-4 times a day on Twitter.

5. Stay Active Online

When people are looking for solutions to their problems, they turn to specific forums on the internet. This is more than Facebook. Reddit and Quora are among popular places where you can find new customers. People also post their questions on Linkedin Groups. All of these sites are very influential online and you can leverage them to market yourself for little to no cost other than your time.

So how can you benefit from this? Create accounts on these sites and start searching for your product or service. You will get a lot of questions related to your product. People might be asking about the top companies that sell this product or comparisons between different products and so on.

These sites are indexed by Google. So, your answers will appear in Google search results when anyone searches for it. Just be sure to answer with a sincere intention to help the person posting. Nobody likes hard sell vendors and that will turn them in the other direction.

Start answering with the easy question and then move towards complicated questions. While you’re answering questions you can recommend yourself to users. Even if you don’t, your profile on each site should have a link back to your main web site or other contact info to guide potential customers your way.

It’s all about visibility, right? I think you’re seeing that by now.

6. Start a YouTube Channel

Almost 5 billion videos are played on YouTube daily! This number is growing every passing day. Start your own YouTube channel and use the power of You Tube to market your company. Best part is, this video will appear in search results, as well giving your product more visibility.

It’s easy to get started. First, decide what you are going to create. For products, a short 2 minute demo will work great. For services, record a testimonial by a client and upload it. If you don’t have any clients yet, no worries. Use the video to detail how your approach to helping the client is going to meet their needs.

YouTube offers nice tools to edit the uploaded video. For example, you can add narration or music, trim video and do much more. Remember to use your product/service name or related keywords in the title and description of the video.

After you have uploaded multiple videos, you can create a channel for showcasing your products and services. Similar to the advice on using Q&A forums, don’t hammer the visitor with advertisement. Instead, deliver useful and helpful content that will keep them coming back, liking, and subscribing.

7. Offer a Deal on Groupon

Deal sites like Groupon attract millions of users to their portals. You can get a good number of buyers at no cost.

This is how it works – Contact Groupon and their executives will meet with you. Then, you have to agree on a good discount (more than 30%) and commission percentage that will go to Groupon. Once this is done, Groupon will do the promotion for you. They have a huge database of registered users.

Some worry that offering large discounts affect their profit? But every big brand out there is offering discounts already. So relax and focus on getting customers. Once you have the customer, you’ll gain much more in the long run by their loyalty, ongoing business, and positive reviews.

8. Attend Networking Events

Events are great places to expand your network and find new customers. Just search for “business events in (your city)” and Google with come up with a list of upcoming events. Many of these events are free and attract customers as well as distributors/resellers/consultants.

Slowly, you will start to realize that people attend these events just to meet other people and the people you will meet there can turn into your customers. Make it a point to attend as many events as you can during weekends. People coming to these meetups are usually open to new ideas or partnerships.

9. Local Television

When people think of local television they imagine the high cost of placing an ad. They aren’t wrong. But what they might be overlooking is the opportunity to use local television to their advantage without a high investment.

Local television talk shows need guest speakers all the time. Offer to be a guest or expert speaker on a show that has a topic related to your business. This will put you in front of numerous potential customers. It also establishes credibility for you as an expert in your industry. It creates an instant opportunity to reach many potential clients at once while also increasing the visibility and prestige of your business.

10. Host a Free Online Seminar

Zoom is free to host meetings of up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes. Put together an online presentation for a “free (your product or service) seminar” and do it for free (assuming you have the right equipment).

You could advertise it for free with social media but you could talk to the marketing director of local television stations (see #9 above) to see if you could get any free advertisement. You aren’t making money directly from the presentation so it may qualify under some of their criteria for free community resources.

Since you can only present to 100 participants, ask people to sign up at no cost. But use the sign up info collected- because 100% of these people are in some need of your services or they wouldn’t sign up. So now you have a list of people to follow up on.

Use this seminar to increase your exposure, build your brand recognition, develop trust, and entice potential clients to take advantage of your paid services.


Conclusion

There are many ways to promote your business. All you have to do is to think outside of the box and be creative. Be patient. Some of the tactics mentioned above will yield results instantly and some of them might take weeks or months before you start seeing results.

If you don’t have a large budget to spend on marketing, your most valuable investment is your time. Use it wisely and efficiently to promote your business.