6 free Small Business Marketing strategies

free small business marketing tips

As a business owner, we get calls and emails nearly daily from salespeople trying to convince us to part ways with our limited marketing budgets. Marketing your small business or home-based business doesn’t have to be costly. With some hands-on work and DIY, you can pull off some impressive marketing results on your own and on your shoestring budget. Here are six free small business marketing strategies you can use in your small business.

Use Email for Nearly Free Small Business Marketing

You can’t see them, but my fingers are crossed here that you have developed an email list of potential, current and/or past customers. Using this list to promote your business is the best way to market your business for free. Take an afternoon to segment out your list into potential customers, current customers and former customers. A great tool I’ve used for nearly 20 years is MailChimp, and it’s completely free. Mailchimp will safely store your email database, allow you to section it out and offers a plethora of templates all for free.

6 Free Small Business Marketing Strategies

With your updated and segmented list ready, you’ll want to email your prospect list an offer to get them to try your product or service. For your current customer segment, you should email them a higher-ticket offer, because they already know your business. And, for your former customers (or those you haven’t seen in a long time) you’ll want to send them a similar offer to remind them you are still here and excited to see them again. Email your lists once a week.

Try to gear your email content to being helpful, not salesy. Share tips, recipes, articles, news, photos, etc on topics you know your audience is interested in. Think of your audience as a group of new friends you’re meeting every week for coffee on a social level. If one of them talked non stop about their business and trying to sell you something, you’d quickly get annoyed. But, if the same person talked about topics the group was interested in, you’d look forward to your coffee meetings. It’s the same for your email list. Done right, your email list plays a key role in free small business marketing tactics.

Maximize your Social media efforts

Do you throw all kinds of posts at your social media accounts, and it feels like nothing is working? You need a deeper strategy. First, determine which of the social media channels you really want to focus on. Pick one to three channels. The channels you choose should be a combination of the channels the majority of your target audience uses (look at the channel demographics to match to your audience), as well as the channels you personally like or understand the most.

Your strategy for each social media channel will differ depending on which platform you choose, but on all of them, you want to limit self-promoting posts to avoid looking too “spammy.” Focus on trying to get engagement — this means you’re trying to get likes, follows, comments, shares, etc. You accomplish this by behaving in a similar way as I recommended above with your email list. Be conversational, not salesy. Post daily to each social media channel, preferably at a rate of three non-sales posts for every one promotional post. If the channel you chose is hashtag friendly (Instagram and LinkedIn), maximize your hashtag use. Hashtags allow your posts to be found by people who don’t know you exist. While paid advertising will get you better results, social media posting done right can be a great free small business marketing tactic.

Make sure your posts are also visually appealing. A great site that practically anyone at any skill level can use is Canva. In fact, I use it all the time because it’s quicker to use than firing up my Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign.

Giving away a freebie as a free small business marketing tactic

A great way to attract new sales is to create a free trial or product. Promote this in your emails and on your social media channels. A free trial is a great way to attract your prospects and re-engage your former customers. It’s also a great way to grow your email list, because you’ll be collecting emails, mailing addresses, phone numbers, etc when you give the freebie away.

You can also give a freebie away on your website in the form of free information. Called “lead magnets,” take the knowledge you have and create a document (a checklist, a cheatsheet, a workbook, an ebook, etc) your website visitors can download for free (and check out my lead magnet here). Again, the goal is to collect contact information from your visitors so you can incorporate them into your email lists.

Offer free seminars or classes

A great way to convert a prospect into a customer is to educate them. Offer a free class on something closely related to your business. If you are an online business, make sure you have a blog — and you are posting new articles at least weekly. Physical, brick and mortar businesses could hold a class.

If space is available, you could even offer your space as class space to unrelated businesses. Restaurants do this all the time for paint night parties. It costs the restaurant nothing, and they’re guaranteed 20-30 new patrons for an evening, who will be there for two to three hours, ordering appetizers, meals and drinks.

You’ll want to use your email list and social media channels to also promote these free classes and events. Are you starting to see now why your email list is so important? Create flyers to display, if appropriate. Promote these classes on your website as well.

Upsell to your customers

Using your email list segment of existing customers, offer them an upsell. Your customers may be coming in for one product, but should be offered a second product at checkout, either at a reduced price or regular price. If you have employees, train them on upselling (i.e. “Would you like a cookie with your coffee?”). When two products make sense together, create flyers to display around your business where customers will see them. Make sure you’re also suggesting an upsell on your website.

Craft a killer referral program

A great referral program will cost just your time investment, and should be a win-win-win. Clearly, the win for you is a new customer. Now, think about possible wins for both the new customer, and the customer who referred them. If you’re a personal trainer, you could offer the first training session for free to the new customer, and as a thank you, offer the referring customer a session credit.

Promote this referral program to your email list of current customers, as well as on social media. Create and print flyers to display around your shop, if it’s appropriate. Also, promote the referral program on your website.

There you have it! These six free marketing tactics, when executed correctly, will attract new customers, returning customers and more sales. Take the time to plan and implement each one, or choose just one or a few to incorporate into your marketing plan. And, let me know how they worked for you.

8 Inexpensive Small Business Marketing Ideas

8 Inexpensive Small Business Marketing Ideas

Small business owners have a plethora of tasks, duties and processes to manage within their business. Oftentimes, marketing falls to the wayside, usually due to a lack of time, a lack of understanding or a lack of funding. Marketing your small business doesn’t have to be time consuming, complicated or expensive! Here are eight great small business marketing ideas to activate for not a lot of time and money:

#1 – Make a plan (and stick to it)

Many times, small business owners who are unsure of how to market their business will begin implementing any and all strategies they come across. This is expensive in both time and money! Take the time to devise a thorough marketing plan for the year. A good small business marketing plan should include:

  • Business Goals
  • Marketing Goals
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Target Audience
  • Unique Selling Proposition
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Marketing Tactics
  • Key Performance Indicators

Once you have a plan in place, follow it. Let your plan be a guide to all of your small business marketing decisions for the year. Just like your grocery list, if it’s not on the plan, you don’t buy it. You can always make a note to investigate a marketing strategy that’s not in your current plan for future plan updates. If the thought of making a marketing plan leaves you overwhelmed, no worries! Contact Beyond the Logo and we can help! We also have a great, simple (and free) worksheet that walks you through the steps to making a good Marketing Action Plan.

#2 – Make/update/ramp up a blog

Blogs are a great way to improve your search engine rankings and are also great ways to create content for social media postings. Blogs should be a staple in small business marketing. Search engines (like Google) love websites that are constantly being updated. The more content you produce on your website blog section, the more Google loves you. And, the more Google loves you, the higher likelihood of your target customer finding you in searches.

Blogs are a great way to build readership and customer leads as well. Your aim is consistency. Try to update your blog with a great article at least once a week. Then, use that week’s blog post to create your social media content for the entire week. With some discipline, regular, consistent blog postings are a great way to improve your search engine rankings, readership, prospect list and social media engagement. And it doesn’t cost a dime!

#3 – Focus on Social Media

Small business marketing plans should not go without social media practices. Again, you want to practice consistency. Here’s the great news: You don’t have to be on every social media channel at once! Remember the marketing plan you made in step 1? Take your target audience section of the plan to determine which social media channels you should focus on. If you are targeting teens and 20-year-olds, you’ll want to investigate Snapchat and Instagram. If you are targeting women, you’ll want to focus on Pinterest. Older generations? Target Facebook. The point is, find where your ideal customer is hanging out, and get seriously involved there. It will most likely be a combination of two to three different social media channels. Don’t waste your time on a social media channel your target audience doesn’t typically use. Here’s a great article on different social media platform demographics to get you started.

Once you’ve determined which platforms to focus one (hopefully no more than three), start posting — daily! This is, again, where those blog posts above will be so helpful to you. Use social media posts to drive eyes back to your blog, and to your services. Here are some more great social media post ideas:

  • “behind the scenes” or a “day in the life” type of post
  • event promotion
  • sales promotions
  • featured staffers
  • reposting client success stories
  • great testimonials of your service or product
  • new service or product polls
  • the daily National ___ Day (i.e. donut day, golf day, sister day, etc)

#4 – Build an email list

A great way to build a constant funnel of leads, prospects and clients is through an email list. Make sure you are promoting your email list on your website, blog and in social media. A really popular way to encourage leads to subscribe to your email list is to offer a free “lead magnet.” Lead magnets can include worksheets, checklists, mini-webinar, ebook, consultation, etc. It’s something that you can create relatively easily (and usually free) that you can give away.

Once you have your email list set up and your lead magnet loaded, you’ll want to start using your email list as a special audience you communicate with on a regular basis. Use the list to update your readership on new blog posts, new services or products, etc. The point is to keep you in their minds, so the next time they need your product or service, they’ll think of you first over your competition.

#5 – Build Partnerships

A great marketing strategy is to combine forces with similar-but-different businesses in your local community. Business Coach John Pyron has a great blog post on this — a tactic he calls Power Networking. You want to target businesses who’s target audience is the same as yours. A great example is the wedding industry. A florist can work with venues, photographers, bakers, DJs, etc to combine marketing power and exchange leads and referrals.

This is NOT the same ho hum networking group we’ve all seen and been encouraged to join. The key difference is ALL of the businesses you want to partner with also have the SAME customer type you do.

#6 – Press Releases

If you have created or accomplished something unique and newsworthy, by all means, write up a press release and get it to your local media. Press release writing is an art. You want to write your press release the same way a newspaper article is written — in an “inverted triangle” way. This means the top — or first paragraph — is your meat. It’s called the lead, and it leads the reader from the main point of the article (think who, what, when, where, why and how) and shimmies the information down from there. The details of your press release should go from most important information at and near the top, and work you way down to information that’s useful but could also be potentially cut to save space.

A well-written press release will get the editor’s attention. A really well-written press release will get published in the newspaper as is. If you have photos that can accompany your press release, even better. And, the other local media outlets are reading their competition for stories. So, chances are, if your story is a good one, other media outlets like the news station will pick up the story as well. Wala! Instant local celebrity!

#7 – Create an event or class

There’s a lot of talk these days that social media is actually making us all a lot lonelier because our brains don’t associate those screens with actual human interaction. This means, more than ever, adding events and classes to your marketing program is important — not just for your business but for the mental health and well being of your customers!

Get creative in coming up with events. Use your partnerships above to combine forces and create events. Hold a class your target audience would be interested in attending (i.e. a houseplant care class, hosted by a nursery or florist; a yoga and beer class hosted by a brewery or yoga studio; etc). These events can be free or you can charge a fee to recoup your costs. Make sure your marketing materials are front and center at the events, and also distribute an email list sign up sheet so attendees will be notified of future events (and your business specials). Post pictures of the events on social media and also make sure to grab a few testimonials on the events to use for future marketing as well.

#8 – Promote to your current customers

The least expensive ROI in marketing is to market to your existing customers. These are already your fans! They know you, your service and product and, if they enjoyed their experience, will have no problem telling their friends about you. Set up a referral program immediately if you don’t have one already. A referral program is usually a win-win offer both for the current customer and the referral, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, a dentist could offer a teeth whitening kit to patients who refer a new patient (who might get a free initial consultation). Your biggest fans are happy to help you grow your business by referring their friends.

There you have it! All of these tips are DIY friendly and can be launched with little or no money. BUT, if there’s a tip you really want to incorporate and don’t know how, please contact us! All of these tips we have implemented over and over and can help you implement as well.