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.

What is Branding & how to create a Brand Strategy

branding strategy for small business

A ton has been written about business branding and brand strategy. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is offering to create a brand for your business. What is branding? And, how do you create a solid brand strategy? I’m going to ruffle some feathers here, but you need to hear this: no one can brand your business but you.

First, let’s look at what branding is and how marketing relates to branding.

What is marketing?

Let’s look at a car. Any model and make; your choice. The engine is your marketing. It’s what makes the car move. All of the other parts that makes the car move — tires, battery, ignition, alternator, transmission — are all marketing strategies (and here are some real life examples of inexpensive marketing strategies for your business). Together, when they work with the engine, the car moves smoothly, efficiently and safely.

What is Branding?

business branding

But the paint, body style, smell, upholstery, stereo system, options, feel of the drive… that’s your brand. Everything that creates an experience while you drive that car is your brand. What can be confusing is all of the marketing parts above also contribute to the way you experience your car. Your brand is how your customers and prospects experience your business. Your marketing is the motor that attempts to create that experience for your customer.

Notice the word “attempt.” The reality is, experiences can be subjective and can be perceived differently. And a car that feels like a smooth, comfortable ride to one person may feel stiff and sluggish to another. For this reason, a large part of your brand will be defined by your customers, not your graphic designer.

Who Creates your brand?

“Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Jeff Bezos

The best way to control your business’ brand is to take complete control and responsibility for it. This means not hiring someone to create a brand for you. Rather, you want to get very clear on what you want your customers to feel, sense, see, smell and say about you, and work with a designer to make that a reality. You set the tone and direction for your designer. Not the other way around.

What a Brand Strategy Can Do For your Business

create a brand strategy

A strong company brand incorporates a well-thought-out branding strategy that is applied to all relevant marketing channels, and will achieve the following results:

  • Improve Recognition — Customers and prospects will start identifying your business with your brand.
  • Create Trust & Credibility — A consistent message, backed up with consistent execution and testimonials, will build trust in your customers and credibility in your community.
  • Guarantee Future Business — Recognition and trust together create confidence in your business, resulting in greater chances new customers will visit you or use your service.
  • Delight Current Customers — If your brand strategy is laser focused on the consumer experience every step of the way, you are practically guaranteeing happy, positive customer feedback.

Considerations when building a brand strategy

A brand strategy basically takes your research into your customers, products and services, and applies it to many different aspects of your business. Here are the main points you should take the time to consider when developing your brand strategy:

  • Who are we? What is the business all about? What is your mission statement, purpose statement and vision statement?
  • Who do we serve? Who is your target audience? What is your customer avatar?
  • How are we different? What’s your unique selling proposition? How are you different from your competition?
  • What are our core strengths? Think about all the things your business does really well.
  • What is our personality? Are you formal? Casual? Comedic? Fun?
  • What is our promise to our customers? Do you have a promise? A money back guarantee?

Putting your Brand Strategy into action

After you’ve worked through the above questions, you’ll get a clear sense of the brand you want your business to project. You can either take this information to your designer to start developing collateral, develop them yourself, or do a combination of both. One good way to help you focus on action is with our Small Business Marketing Action Plan, which is totally free. Keep in mind, your brand goes way beyond your logo and color scheme. It also touches your:

  • Website design & usability
  • Social media activity & presence (and what channels you choose)
  • Printed collateral, such as brochures, posters, presentations, packages & business cards
  • Press releases & media relations
  • Advertising (internal & external)
  • Office decore
  • Email signatures
  • Voicemail greetings
  • Customer relations
  • Employee relations
  • Company mojo

Your brand will, in essence, touch everything in your business. For more ideas on how to implement great marketing tactics see this post. Sure, a designer can create your logo, website, color scheme and business cards, but can she create your company mojo? Can she create excellent employee morale? Will she decorate your offices as well? And what about your voicemail greetings?

You see, much of your brand falls in your lap. Once you have a clear understanding of this, your brand will become clear to you, and ultimately to your customers. Want more help creating a brand strategy? Contact us!