After a lot of thought, consideration, and long hours, you have taken the plunge and started your own business. Congratulations! Now you’re overwhelmed with marketing your business, which can seem like a daunting task. But your business is your passion and dream. If you don’t believe in what you’ve built or in what you offer, no one else will. This year, 24% of business owners plan on increasing their investment in content marketing. You might not have the budget to market your business at this point, but many free or low-cost tools — combined with your creativity, hard work, and knowledge of trends — can help you market your business.
The internet has forever changed how consumers engage with brands. Today, brands have to manage both their online reputation and their in-person experience. Brands used to bank on brand loyalty. Today, consumer trends have turned into brand fickleness. Yesterday’s lifelong Avon customer is today’s Sephora, Fenty, and Ulta customer, spending money at all three stores rather than engaging with only one. The great democratization of the internet has opened new doors for businesses and fresh marketing opportunities.
Today’s consumers want products they can trust from brands that align with their values. As much as 90% of marketing spend is on advertising and retail promotions, yet the single most powerful impetus to buy is often someone else’s advocacy. Yesterday, brands spent much money to deliver one message to several consumers hoping that enough people would get the message and buy the product. Today, marketers pay less to create and distribute a specific message to precise consumers through social media channels and engage with them on a level unavailable to previous generations of marketers.
We’ll show you various free or low-cost marketing ideas, solutions, and materials for your small business.
Free Marketing Strategies
Image via Unsplash by firmbee
Explore the following free marketing strategies available for small businesses.
Drive traffic to your website and social media channels by building and regularly adding content to your blog. Dynamic, unique, and engaging content will drive readers to your site. A well-managed blog can help social media users discover your business. You can cross-post interesting blogs among your social media networks, introducing users who would have otherwise never heard about you or your business.
One great use of social media is creating engaging polls. You want to highlight your store’s new line of cookware. Ask your followers about their favorite item to cook among eggs, bacon, or French toast. One photo has a stock image of French toast and another of eggs. For the new line you want to promote, you’re actively using the brand for cooking bacon. Followers may instinctively vote for the active image of the product, skewing the poll results.
Why does this exercise matter? As you promote the cookware and offer a discount to your social media followers, they will feel a sense of ownership and engagement with your product before they step foot in your retail location.
If you’re a small apparel business owner and want to promote your new summer fashions, why not make a series of short live videos for your page? You can have models, employees, or customers wearing the clothes, talking about the clothes, or informing your followers about what makes the line distinctive. Examples of talking points include:
- Was the piece locally made?
- Was it featured on a popular show?
- Was it sourced in an environmentally friendly manner?
Use the power of live videos to connect with consumers.
Facebook and Instagram Stories
Today’s consumers respond to brand stories and social media stories. These stories give you a distinctive way to reach your audience. Using the power of Facebook and Instagram stories, you can provide daily updates, specials, and promotions, or you can let your followers know about new developments. Did you update the paint in the kitchen? Show them the results! Do you own a gym and want to highlight members who have reached their target weight? Let them share their fitness journeys. The possibilities are endless, and so are the stories you can share about your business.
Facebook allows users to create groups to deliver targeted content to users in dedicated silos. You can create a group solely dedicated to your business, and all members in the group will view your content, events, and offers. Your dedicated group is a great way to house your content, such as polls, videos, and stories in one place. Groups are free to set up. Although they take some time to moderate, well-managed groups provide free and powerful tools to promote yourself and your business enthusiastically across social media platforms.
Many younger consumers are on TikTok, an innovative app that lets you add to existing user content, create short but memorable videos, and promote your business. If you own a silk-screening company, try taking your customers through the life of a plain white T-shirt by showing the plain shirt, the design, and the silk-screening process. End the video by showing the final product and providing a coupon code for the shirt.
For almost 20 years, LinkedIn has helped professionals build their careers and their brands. You can leverage LinkedIn’s platform to reach users from around the world with its innovative marketing tools. LinkedIn’s marketing platform helps you connect, increase brand awareness, generate leads, network, and drive traffic to your site. From your personal or business LinkedIn account, you can create posts, share blog content, and tag business partners to broaden your reach within and beyond your industry.
Creating and uploading videos to your YouTube channel is an effective strategy to market your business. According to The Balance Small Business:
- Close to 1.3 billion people use YouTube.
- Approximately 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute.
- About 5 billion videos get viewed every day.
- Close to 80% of people ages 18 to 49 watch YouTube.
The possibilities for promoting your business via YouTube videos are endless. From how-to videos to product unboxing, compelling mini-movies can tell your brand’s story. In addition, adding keywords increases organic leads to your content and website. Seventy percent of marketers say videos are responsible for most of their conversions. Be sure each video contains a compelling description, keywords, a specific call to action (CTA), and links to your social media platforms and website.
As one of the most popular social media platforms, Twitter has truly revolutionized how everyone from celebrities to business owners interact with their audiences. Thanks to Twitter, we now know the pound sign as a hashtag. The hashtag has become a weapon of many marketing campaigns. By giving users the ability to tag specific users and brands, Twitter brings the true power of a democratized medium to your marketing strategy.
A master of everything search-related, Google has become an internet titan, touching nearly every aspect of our online life. Google has created business tools for local and small businesses to market themselves. Create a Google My Business account to leverage the power of Google search, maps, and images to promote your business. Once you create and verify your account, you can optimize content, cross-promote your social media channels, and make it easy for your neighbors to find you. Users will have access to your blog, images, and reviews of your business, giving them an authentic window into your business.
Social Media Schedulers
Tie your social media strategy together by using a social media scheduler. Offered through Constant Contact, MailChimp, HootSuite, and other platforms, social media schedulers are an efficient way to organize all social media content, track comments, monitor results, and more. Most offer a free version, with paid versions that provide more features. What’s great about a social media scheduler is that you can upload content once to all your social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, and more. It is a fantastic tool that allows you to develop your content and schedule it, giving you more time to focus on your business.
Low-Cost Marketing Strategies
As much as your marketing plan should focus on the power of social media, don’t forget about the value of face-to-face connections with consumers. Many communities have chambers of commerce and other pro-business organizations dedicated to growing businesses in the local economy. As a small or new business, your membership dues will most likely be low, but they are a fantastic investment in yourself and your business.
In exchange for dues, you will have access to membership lists, the ability to market directly to members via the organization’s member list, and the opportunity to host open-house events, ribbon cuttings, and other events that bring local and regional consumers to you. Research what organizations exist near you and connect with them to determine what they can offer your business.
Social Media Ads
Google Ads accounts for as much as 18% of all e-commerce revenue. Relying on keywords, targeted searches, and Google’s platform, Adwords, puts your business directly in front of consumers who are actively searching for you. Facebook allows you to boost existing posts, reaching users beyond your friend lists or existing followers. Advertising on YouTube’s platform has become an effective avenue for brands of all sizes to advertise. You only pay when someone watches your content.
These platforms elevate what is possible through social media by giving you the tools to target consumers and leads with razor-sharp precision. Typically, the process begins with the creation of an ad that highlights your goals, such as the following:
- Increased phone engagement.
- An increase in in-person visits.
- More website clicks.
- Additional content downloads.
Show Google, Facebook, or YouTube where you want to advertise. Small restaurants offering delivery might choose an area that includes only five blocks, while local businesses might target dedicated ZIP codes or cities. A company seeking to increase its web traffic might include certain regions or larger areas. You create an ad with a targeted message, set your budget, and within two to 24 hours, your ad is live.
Depending on your specific goals, you can include more granular data such as age range, gender, education level, and other criteria. One benefit of building a social media ad campaign is that you often only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Over time, algorithms learn about your business and refine ads based on your previous results, current goals, and expected trends.
Reaching new users via email campaigns is a proven strategy when used in conjunction with your social media strategy. Email marketing is also one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies for new and small businesses. On average, email marketing offers a 4,300% return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the United States. Email marketing lets you manage content, establish direct contact with leads, and track results.
The best email marketing services include the tools to create beautiful, clean, and engaging emails in an easy user interface. You can discover several options available to promote your business through email marketing. If your business is in the creative industry, a new platform by Ghost.org promises to revolutionize the email marketing industry. It provides a platform upon which you can build your website, share posts, grow your audience, send newsletters, and tackle other tasks. You can accomplish all these tasks by creating a sustainable business around your creative work.
Ghost, along with other standard-bearers such as Constant Contact and MailChimp, has given small businesses the tools to send professional email campaigns on par with what big-box retail stores send for a fraction of the cost. Typically, you’ll pay based on the number of contacts you have, allowing you to scale your costs as your business grows.
You have access to powerful tools to promote your business, build your brand, and add to your customer base. Whatever your business, these creative marketing ideas will give the correct exposure to the targeted customer base. The more you use these tools, the more you’ll learn and the savvier you’ll get with social media, networking, and customer engagement. You’ve got this!