When many small business owners think of marketing, cost is the first thing that comes to mind. Putting together high-quality materials and vetting expert advice can be costly.
Fortunately, there are plenty of marketing activities that you can execute for free by spending time rather than money. Here are four creative ways to land customers.
1. Use Google My Business
If you aren’t already using the many free tools that Google has to offer, you’re doing your business a disservice. Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to claim your business online. From there, you can ensure that all of the information depicted is accurate and up to date.
When you use your Google My Business profile, you can add photos that create a visual connection with customers who stumble upon your business. This tool also plays an essential role in monitoring your ratings and reviews to ensure that your business is shown in the best possible light.
Taking the time to update your Google My Business profile also has a direct impact on your website’s SEO, allowing it to rank higher than the competition when relative search terms are entered.
In addition to using Google My Business, you’ll want to explore the new free marketing options through Google Maps, including the What’s New content publishing feature and the Event tab. Additionally, the Google Analytics and Search Console platforms are both invaluable free platforms to use. It’s well worth the ROI to take some time to explore and understand these opportunities.
2. Create Versatile Content
Content marketing is the core component of a strong digital marketing strategy. Content pertains to anything you’re sharing with your customers, from social media posts to podcasts, to blogs.
When trying to find the right approach to reach your customers, the information out there can be overwhelming. One expert may recommend podcasting, while another raves about the effectiveness of SEO and blog writing.
The most effective strategy will obviously depend on your business and goals. But no matter what, it’s a good idea to create versatile content that you can repurpose.
For example, if you capitalize on the surge in video marketing, think of various ways to use that video. A quick video can become a shareable social media post or part of a longer blog post. As for longer videos, you can repurpose them after by transcribing them into blog posts.
You could also take quotes from blog posts and podcasts and turn them into social media posts. Use the free tool, Canva, to create attention-grabbing images that you can share on social media.
Bottom line: Creating versatile content that you can use over and over again is an important marketing strategy, whether you have a six-figure or $0 marketing budget. In the long run, it will save you a great deal of time.
3. Position Yourself as an Expert
It may seem counterintuitive to give away your best knowledge for free, but that’s exactly how you attract customers and build relationships that result in sales. Position your business as an expert in your industry by sharing valuable content and insights.
Here are a few ways that you can do that:
Unlike paid ads, it takes time to see results with blogging. But if you’re intentional about it, it can pay off in the long run. Before doing anything, make sure you really know your audience. Do keyword research to find out what your audience is searching for, and optimize your current content for keywords accordingly.
Respond to questions
Another way to establish your authority in your industry is by responding to questions that your audience is asking. Check out Quora, Reddit or other forums where your audience spends time. Engage with them on social media and comment on their posts. Just make sure that when doing this, you’re providing value first and foremost. If you’re just linking back to your website or content, you won’t get very far.
In addition to creating content for your own website and marketing efforts, reach out to relevant sites as a guest. You could offer a guest post on their blog or apply to be a guest on their podcast.
The idea behind giving away knowledge for free is that people see the value in what you have to offer. At the same time, it’s essential that you establish boundaries and don’t sell yourself short.
4. Use Word-of-Mouth
Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics.
Head to networking events, but try to think outside the box when networking to make a lasting impression. Instead of asking what someone does when you first meet them, ask them what they’re watching on Netflix and create a human connection.
Have you reached out to your entire network? If not, then you should. Don’t be shy! Go on and tell them about your service or product. Ask them what they think about it and get their feedback.
You should also ask your current customers for a referral. But make it super easy for them so they don’t even have to think twice about it. For example, send them an email template that they can send to people. You could also offer some sort of incentive, like a discount on your product or service, in exchange for the referral.
Dropbox was able to increase their signups by 60% through their refer-a-friend program. They offered customers a 500MB increase for each referral (and the referred person also got the increase).
Marketing on a $0 budget will most likely take time to yield results. But if you do it right, you’ll be able to generate business and make valuable connections that will serve your business well in the long run.