In order to survive and grow into a profitable company, every business needs customers. In order to get customers, every business needs to promote itself. Before the advent of the internet, the promotion was easy because there weren’t too many options. It was a matter of deciding between a flyer, a postcard, or an ad in the local newspaper. Today, however, the methods for promoting your business are overwhelming and only increasing by the day. There’s social media marketing, search engine marketing, guerrilla marketing, and more.
If you are a small business owner struggling to figure out which one to use or to even get up to speed on which options are out there, you are not alone. To help you navigate the sea of ideas out there for getting the word out about your product or service, we have put together a list of 10 ways that you can promote your business whether you have a budget or not.
1. Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
What is the first thing that people do when they are planning to buy something? Well, they search for that product or service on Google. First, they try to collect as much information as they can about the product and then they search for vendors who sell that product. So, if your website is not appearing in Google search, which means you virtually, do not exist.
How can we fix this? An easy way to is to hire digital marketing consultant who can optimize your website for search engine but even in that case you need to be aware of the process, otherwise, you might end up getting penalized by Google. It’s not very difficult to learn these techniques. Below are some links to get you started:
By reading these guides, you can tweak your website and rank higher on Google and other search engines. Even if you chose to hire an SEO agency, they won’t be able to fool you if you are aware of the process.
2. List Your Products In Business Directories
Buyers search for vendors in popular business directories. If you sell B2B products, add a free listing on IndiaMart, Trade India, and Indian Yellow Pages. These are the popular business to business directories.
If you sell directly to customers, list free on Just Dial, Ask Me and Get It. These services offer mobile apps and attract huge traffic. You can list services as well on these sites for free.
If you sell Software then SoftwareSuggest is a very good directory. It lists software in various categories like HR, CRM, ERP, etc. I have listed our accounting software there and we get a good response from that listing.
3. List On Google My Business (Local Business Listing)
Google is making search personal and now displays results that are tailored to your location. For example, if you search for a McDonalds, it will show you the one in your city with a map. So, it has almost become mandatory for a business to get listed on Google Local.
Google has made it easy to add & manage your location on the map. You can also manage your Google Plus profile from the same place. Just head over to Google My Business and claim your listing. If you don’t have a physical shop, you can even add your office location and give details about your business.
4. Use The Power Of Social Media
We all know how our PM Modi leveraged the power of social media to win Lok Sabha polls in 2014. New York Times even called him social media politician and Business Todays wrote a case study on his social media strategies.
To start with, 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. Here is a good guide to get started with social media. Also, check this tutorial.
The frequency of your posts is the key here. If you post regularly, you will gain popularity and loyal subscribers who can convert to your customers at a later stage. You can share your business updates or news related to your industry. The best way is to follow the influencers in your industry and monitor their activity. Ideally, you should post twice a week on Facebook and 3-4 times a day on Twitter.
5. Answer Questions
When people are stuck and looking to solve their pain point, they turn up to specific forums on the Internet. QnA sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers are popular places where you can find new customers. People also post their questions on Linkedin Groups.
So how can you benefit from it? Create accounts on these sites and start searching for your product or service. For example, I will search for ‘Accounting Software’ as I want to create awareness about ProfitBooks. 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.
Start answering the easy question and then move towards complicated questions. You can do the same on Yahoo Answers and Linkedin Groups. All these 3 networks are very influential. The best part is, these sites are indexed by Google. So, your answers will appear in Google search whenever anyone searches for it. Isn’t it great? Just be sure to answer with an intention to help. Nobody likes hard selling
6. Attend Networking Events/Meetups
Events/Expos/Meetups are the great places to expand your network and find new customers. Just search for “business events in (your city)” and Google with coming up with a list of upcoming events. Check AllEvents.in for events in various categories. Most 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 customer. I had met one person in one these events and now that guy is our distributor.
Another site which I absolutely love is Meetup.com. In my city – Pune, a lot of entrepreneurs, startup owners meet frequently using this site. I make it a point to attend as many meetups as I can during weekends. People coming to these meetups are open-minded and are open to new ideas or partnerships.
You will be amazed to see the value you can get out of these events, so make sure you start attending these events on regular basis.
7. Showcase Your Product on YouTube
Did you know that over 4 billion videos are played on YouTube daily? This number is growing every passing day. So, it makes a whole lot of sense to upload a video about your product or service right away! The best part is, this video will appear in search results as well giving your product more visibility.
How to get started? First, decide what you are going to create. For products, a short 2-minute demo will work great and in case of service, you can record a testimonial by a client and upload it. YouTube offers nice tools to edit the uploaded video. For example, you can add narration or music, trim video and so much more.
Remember to use product name or related keywords in the title and description of the video. Once you have uploaded multiple videos, you can create a channel like one we have created for showcasing product tutorials. If you came come up with interesting content that can go viral, you will hit the jackpot and leads will flood your inbox.
8. Offer A Deal On Groupon
This is how it works – You will contact Groupon and their executives will meet you at your office. 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. The process will be more or less similar in case of other deal sites.
Now the big question – Will offering heavy discounts affect my brand? Well, every big brand out there is offering discounts in the name of Diwali offer, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and every small event you never cared about before. So relax and focus on getting customers.
9. Make blogging a high priority
It’s important to add a blog to your website because it increases your chances of being noticed, and helps with your SEO as you can use your keywords and phrases in your blog posts. Websites get crawled quite regularly so it’s always important to have new, quality content.
Writing a regular blog also gives your audience an opportunity to interact with you by placing their comments about your posts. Remember to add social sharing buttons to your blog posts so readers can easily share them, and more people can discover you and your business.
10. Use email marketing software to help increase sales
This method is fast, effective, immediate and easy to design. You can also track and understand exactly how your email marketing software is growing your business and see how individual customers respond so you can increase sales over time.
To get full value from your email marketing, ensure that you update and grow your database regularly, and try to get people to opt-in by signing up on your website. There are many self-service email platforms available (such as the brilliant Drip), or you may decide to get help from a specialist agency.
11. Guest post on someone else’s site
Writing a blog for someone else’s site is a great way to gain more exposure for your business, and get a reputation as an expert – especially if they’re well known in your local area.
Guest posting gives you an excellent opportunity to make new contacts with bloggers and hopefully attract some loyal readers. These readers could well evolve into customers, so guest posting is going to be beneficial towards your increase in revenue. Just make sure you stay within the Google guidelines for guest posting.
12. Press releases
Every time your business does something newsworthy, don’t hesitate to shoot off a press release—maybe folks will pick up on it. They’re a powerful media tool to use to help generate publicity, and having a free distribution of them is a bonus. There are dozens of websites out there that you can use for your press releases, such as PRLog and 24/7 Press Release
There can be more than just 12 free ways of promoting your business. All you have to do is to think out of the box and be creative. Some of the tactics mentioned above will yield results instantly and some of them might take it weeks to months before you start seeing results.
If you don’t have big bucks to spend on marketing, you have to invest your time to promote your business. I’ve seen a lot of businesses that succeeded with ZERO marketing budget.
Do you have such idea? Feel free to share it with other readers in the comments below.