“Due to recent marketing budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off!”
If you’re a small business with a tight budget, the idea of marketing can be quite overwhelming. But, here’s the good news – marketing your local business doesn’t always have to cost money! There are a number of clever marketing tactics that will let you drive customers without costing you a dime.
Here’s thirty ways in which you can market your local business on a zero dollar budget.
Make Quora your Best Friend
If you are looking to connect with people who might be interested in your product/services, Quora is the right platform. With Quora, you can find new ideas to talk about and build a presence for your brand. Quora is like an active version of Wikipedia; If you use Quora the right way, you will get to know what your industry is buzzing about and what your rivals are up to.
Here’s how you can use Quora to find new opportunities – Find topics related to your business and become an active participant by posting answers and asking valuable questions. When appropriate, mention your business and add links back to your website or content, but don’t spam or directly advertise your business. Also, build your following by reading through various answers and questions.
Here’s another tip – Use Quora to come up with fresh content ideas! The questions on your feed will give you the right insights about what people are looking for. Just by searching for “marketing tools”, I was able to come up with these topics – “How to use Quora as a Marketing Tool?”, “Top 10 Content Marketing Tools that are Too Good to be Free!” and “Best Social Marketing Tools for a Startup”!
Get a Free Email List
Did you know that Email marketing has an ROI of 3800%?. It is very easy to build an email list for your business. Many email management services offer a free option for businesses with small subscription lists. For example, MailChimp’s forever free plan allows you to send up to 12,00 free emails in a month.
Follow these steps to send emails to a targeted audience –
- Get a subscription with an email management service like MailChimp or Mad Mimi.
- If you have a business website, ask visitors to sign up for a newsletter and collect their email IDs. If you have a store, request the customers to offer their email IDs while billing, if they wish to be added to the email list.
- Send bi-monthly or monthly newsletters or emails about offers to the customers who have subscribed to your list.
Attend Local Networking Events
Sites like Meetup.com features a lot of local business events. These occasions will help you network with like-minded people and also find potential customers. Find events in your neighborhood hosted by the Chamber of Commerce or the Lion’s Club. When you are networking, ask for business referrals or get a personal introduction to a person who can introduce you to new customers.
Create High-Quality Content Around Your Area of Expertise
If you are looking to work wonders with a low marketing budget, be ready to blog like crazy! Consistently creating high-quality content will help you rank better and bring more visitors to your site. If you are looking for blog ideas, try tools like AnswerThePublic to learn what other people are talking about. Skim through Quora and Reddit on a daily basis, you’ll learn about topics about which people want more information. It is important that you “sell” your content to potential customers. Try to promote your content on Quora, Google+, LinkedIn and other forums
Use Google Alerts to your Advantage
Make use of Google Alerts to monitor new blog posts specific to your industry. Be the first person to comment on new blogs, you will get visits from the attribution to your business website. Remember, you don’t always have to promote your business. An insightful advice or a valuable tip would do!
Make use of Free Ad Credits
Google and LinkedIn are always offering free ad credit vouchers. For example, if you sign up for Google Analytics, you get free ad credits for AdWords. Also, when you register on AdWords and spend the first $25, you will get $75 worth of Ad credits. Visit this Google Page to claim your AdWords coupons. Once your ad is ready to be published, you have to mention the coupon code on the billing page.
Try your luck with PPC advertising when you get free ad vouchers. If it works for you, you can always invest more!
Create Stunning Infographics
Visual content never goes out of style! Use tools like Canva and Infogr.am to create visual content which you can easily distribute across social platforms like Pinterest and other sites to get backlinks. Find a topic that is really happening in your industry or choose a case-study that you think your customers might be interested in. When you are creating your first infographic, make sure it is creative, unique and simple. It should not be overloaded with information and the design should be ideal for easy social sharing.
Create Free Give-Aways
Create a free give away material and offer it to your visitors and prospective clients. In return, you could ask them for their email address. This is a great trick to get visitors on your subscription list and into your funnel.
A template, a PDF on how to do something or a tutorial can be a giveaway. You could also offer coupon codes and discounts to get the customer’s contact details.
Write a Guest Blog
To get an initial push, you can try writing for influencer blogs in your industry. This will help you build a customer base & search engine authority. Also, guest blogs will fetch you some quality traffic.
To write a guest blog, find authoritative blogs in your industry and look at the “Contact Us” section or “About Us” section to find email IDs of the content manager or the admin. Send a mail to them asking if they accept guest posts and also ask them for the topics they’re planning to blog about. Craft a good blog post and mention your business in the “Author Bio”.
Get Customers to Talk About You
While this requires some work, making customers talk about your business is a very rewarding tactic. Here are some ways to get more reviews from your customers. To get the conversation going, you can create contests on social media.
Ask for Referrals
If you already have happy customers, ask them for referrals. You could use LinkedIn to look up your customers and see who they are connected with. If you find a potential customer in their connections, ask for an introduction.
You can also try creating a referral program wherein you reward your existing customers with a discount, for every new customer they send your way.
Focus on Customer Services
Increase the lifetime value of your customers by offering exceptionally good customer service. Offering good service has two benefits – you will create a loyal customer base, you will get more referrals and many customers will review your business on social sites.
Be Active on Google+ Communities
Some communities on Google+ are very active and you can find a good number of leads by interacting in an industry relevant community on Google+. Again, all you have to do is participate n conversations and respond back to threads.
To use Google+ as a business, select the name of the page after logging in from the menu at the top right-hand side. Use Google+ as your business by using the account with which you claimed the business.
Look out for Competitor Mentions on Twitter
Use a social media monitoring tool like HootSuite and monitor mentions of your business and your competitor’s. If you find an unhappy customer or someone who is generally looking for help, you have an opportunity right there!
Use HARO to Find Press Opportunities
Create an account with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and respond to relevant media questions. Also, you can subscribe to their mailing list and respond to press inquiries that will work for you.
Ask Top Blogs for a Product Review
Reach out to popular blogs and ask them to review your product. These review posts will bring a number of partnership opportunities and traffic. Pro Tip – get in touch with blogs that have already reviewed your competition.
Just Google [your product + reviews] or [competitor product + reviews] and you’ll be able to find blogs that have reviewed your product or your competitor’s.
Write about Your Bigger Competitors
If you have a big & well-funded competition, you can write guides around how to use their tools. For one, if your competitor is already well-established, you already have a huge customer base for your guide. If you write an honest guide about your competition, people might consider your service as a viable alternative.
List Your Business On Local Directories
Optimize your content and website for local search. Get quality citations, claim your business listings and tailor your content for local. If you do it manually, claiming and managing your listings is going to eat up a lot of your time. Initially, try using this free scan tool to see how your business is listed across directories. Once you have got an idea of how your business is listed, start claiming your listings.
Offer Free Consulting/Demo
Email potential customers and offer a free consulting/demo session. Tell them how their business will benefit from your tool/service and offer a trial run. You will not only build industry contacts but will also be able to lock in customers.
Bid on Your Competitor’s Names
One of the best ways to make use of free Ad credits is to bid on big competitor’s names. If prospective customers are researching about your well-known competitor, your business will pop up as a viable alternative.
Create Customer Stories
Ask your happy customers for a feedback and ask them to write about their experience with your business. These reviews add credibility to your customers and will help you get more customers. Here’s a guide if you are looking to create “Review Us” pages.
Optimize your Website for Local SEO
Have you optimized your business website for local SEO? Are your meta tags and schemas n place? You can have a look at LocalSEOChecklist which gives you a definite checklist for optimizing your website.
Add Schema MarkUp for your Website
Google can show more than just your website URL in the search results. Business address, reviews, ratings – all these can show up in search results if the HTML markup is in place. Here’s the ultimate guide to Google’s local schema.
Try LinkedIn Groups and Ads
LinkedIn is the right site for networking; it will also help you connect with potential customers. LinkedIn has great groups for all industries and you will be able to connect with the right audience there. Also, LinkedIn keeps giving free coupons up to $50 for Ads. Create an Ad and just enter the coupon code to run a campaign. What more, you can also (re)publish content on LinkedIn.
Use YouTube to Your Advantage
Videos not only appear in search results but also show the quality of your products. Creating viral videos doesn’t always require big bucks. You can create short videos under 1 minute or ask your customers to send in videos about your business.
Host a Free Webinar
You can host a free webinar to generate quality leads and build your subscription list. You can also re-purpose your webinar into an infographic, ebook or a blog series.
Run a Contest
Run contests and involve people in your local community. Not only will this give a boost to your social media presence but will also give your business a lot of visibility. Again, the prize could be something related to your business like free services or a gift voucher.
Join The Local Chamber of Commerce
Studies show that around 63% of consumers want to buy from local chamber members. The study showed that when people were told that a particular small business was a member of its local chamber, they were 44% more likely to be in favor of it. This behavior is because people usually relate a chamber membership to desirability and quality.
Make sure you join the local chamber of commerce and ensure that your customers are aware of the affiliation. Mention your affiliation on your promotional flyers, website and on the marketing material.
Create a Business Website
Your website is the touchstone of your business’s online presence. Use Wix or Zoho Sites to create your own business website for free – no design skills or coding necessary! In some cases, you might have to pay a bit for the domain name and server hosting – but keep a lookout for sales and offers, you will get these for next to nothing!
Get Leads From Testimonials
Testimonial pages are a win-win! Get your business/service featured on the testimonial pages of services you use. For example, the Wix Stories page features small businesses that have benefitted from a Wix site, If you use other similar products or services, you could request for a feature!
Marketing doesn’t always cost money. If you aren’t willing to invest a considerable amount in marketing, invest a bit of your time and energy to get good results!