The recession that we’re just barely out of (if at all) has left most of us small business owners wincing at the thought of parting with our hard-earned money. Even when it comes to necessities like marketing, we’re reluctant to spend unnecessarily.
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Fortunately, marketing online is extremely affordable, and often even free. Here are 10 ideas you can use to reach a wider audience, increase traffic to your site, and boost sales.
1. Be a Part of the Conversation on Social. Whether you’re following hashtags like #smallbiz on Twitter and engaging with others, participating in LinkedIn groups, or chatting in Google Hangouts, there are ample (free) opportunities for you to connect with likeminded professionals and your target customers. Always contribute value and never push your products.
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2. Write an Ebook or Whitepaper. Your customers have problems that your products can solve. But rather than trying to sell the products, offer a useful piece of content like a whitepaper or ebook. Encourage visitors to your site to sign up for your emails in order to download the freebie.
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3. Write Press Releases. Press releases can help people find your brand online, and can encourage journalists to write about you. Aim to write one newsworthy release a month.
4. Share Behind-the-Scenes Shots on Instagram. If you sell physical products, you can take photos of your products and post to Instagram, but if not, get personal with your followers and show them visually what your office and staff looks like. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down.
5. Share a Pinterest Board of Inspiration. Sometimes the best way to sell your products is to sell your brand. Don’t center your Pinterest account around your own products, but rather images that portray the lifestyle of your brand. Pin others’ photos to increase mutual pinning.
6. Create How-To Videos. Because many people prefer video to written content, you can connect with those people by developing a series of videos that answer frequently asked questions or demonstrate creative ways to use your product. Blendtec’s Will it Blend video series should provide ample inspiration.
7. Or Create Fun Vine Videos. Not all videos need to be three minutes long and carefully scripted. Vine is a new app that lets you produce just six seconds of video. You’d be surprised at how creative you can get in six seconds.
8. Write Blog Posts Your Customers Want. Customers do not want to read a blog post about how awesome you think you are. They want to read about how your products benefit them, or get answers to questions they’ve got. Don’t know what they’re clamoring for? Ask them or search Twitter to see what’s trending in your industry.
9. Hold a Contest. Now that it’s so easy to have people share websites and information on Facebook and other sites, a contest exposed to even 100 people has the potential to reach tens of thousands of people through social media. Make it easy to enter and easy to share. It might be tempting to ask people to create a video entry, but unless it’s super simple, they won’t.
10. Guest Blog. You’re not limited to writing only for your own blog; there’s a great big pasture out there of other blogs in your field just dying for your content. Find the blogs that reach your audience and pitch a few topic ideas to the blog owner.
This list could go on and on (and maybe I’ll offer more ideas in a future post). What would you add to this list of free or cheap marketing ideas?
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.