Bury St Edmunds social media guru Kim Morrison says promoting your business doesn't have to cost a lot
If you’re just starting out, or finding that you’re short of funds, you may need to find ways to market your business on a shoestring budget.
Just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s not effective, though.
In fact, some of the most effective forms of marketing are the least expensive.
Use the Good Old Business Card
You can get inexpensive business cards online from websites like Vistaprint.com, make them on your own printer with your computer. I’d recommend checking the price with a local printer as they are often much more affordable than you think and can work out cheaper than the online services. Don’t use the free versions of business cards, if you find a coupon or get a discount code you can get cards inexpensively.
When you go to any event, be sure to leave your business card. When you have any reason to hand out your phone number to anyone, for any reason, even if it’s not totally related to business, give them your business card. You never know when someone will need the services you offer, or when your friends and family will meet up with someone who needs your services. Leave a paper trail and hand your cards out freely.
Build a Website with a Blog
It’s very important to watch your budget but don’t be cheap. Using self-hosted WordPress makes having a website with a blog that looks professional very affordable. You can get free themes, buy a domain name for less than £10, and host your website for less than £5 a month. Every penny of that cost is worth it.
If you’re a technophobe and can’t afford to hire someone, consider using a website builder that offers a blog function. You want the blog to be on your website and not separate from your website like a Blogger or Wordpress.com blog. However you choose to do this, the next step is to write regular informative, keyword-rich blog posts that you promote via social media.
Use Social Media to Promote Everything
Set up branded social media accounts for your business. Remember you don’t have to be on all social media networks. Instead use the knowledge that you have about your audience to choose which social media networks that you should be present on. Make good profiles that represent your brand in a cohesive way.
When you write a blog post, send it to social media. When you take a picture of something, or have a question about something you’re creating, mention it on social media. Use social media to engage your audience in creative ways. You can use social media to get email list signups, promote events, and more – all free.
Write a Book
If you’re an expert on anything, you can write a book about the topic. You can publish it easily on Kindle, or promote it as a PDF document directly from your website. You can sell it, or give it away for free. It’s up to you. But a book can push you forward in the eyes of your audience as a true expert and become a calling card.
- See more of Kim's advice and tips on our opinion pages
Get on the Speaking Circuit
Using your book as a foundation, put the word out that you’re ready to give talks locally and for the cost of a ticket, room and board, go to other speaking events. Sometimes, you can even get paid for speaking once you’re established and in demand. So, not only can speaking become a good marketing opportunity, but it can also become a new revenue stream.
When you really have no money, a great way to get the word out is to create a lot of buzz. You can do this in a number of ways. Create a viral video, write a controversial blog post, or have a contest with videos that get voted on by the video creator's friends, family and audience. It’s a great way to get people talking and to get free advertising. Offer a relevant and amazing prize package and it’ll also create buzz.
Build Relationships through Networking
Choose networking events wisely. You want to network with people who can become clients, or who can send you clients. Since your budget is limited, try to find online or local networking events that you can attend. There are many mastermind groups online that have a fee for joining, but a fantastic way to find clients once you spend the time building relationships and developing trust.
Most networking events have a featured speaker’s spot where you can talk in more detail about the services you offer or a particular aspect of your business area and position yourself as an authority.
A really great way to increase your customer base is to convince your customers to refer you to others. Most of the time satisfied customers will tell others about you, but in some cases they may not because they want to keep you to themselves. This is especially true with service-based businesses. So, a great way to overcome this issue is to give your customers a reason to tell others about you such as a discount coupon, or additional freebies for each paying customer they send your way.
If you sell products, consider starting an affiliate program as a way to get more people to tell others about your products and make more sales without it costing you anything more than a percentage of sales.
Using these marketing ideas when you have little to no money will cost you time, especially if you need to learn how to use the technology. However, putting to work even a couple of these ideas will push your business forward.
Facebook Finally Launches Its 'Clear History' Tool, Starting in Ireland, South Korea and Spain: Facebook has announced the initial rollout of its promised 'clear history' tool, which will enable users to see the websites and apps which send Facebook information when they use them, remove that information from their account, and turn off Facebook's ability to store it going forward.
Facebook's Clear History Tool Could be Delayed in the US Due to Court Case: A judge has blocked the rollout of Facebook's Clear History tool in the US due to a pending trial.
Facebook Will Hire Journalists to Curate Its Coming Dedicated News Section: Facebook has advertised open positions for a team of journalists which will oversee its coming dedicated news section.
Facebook Brings 3D Photos to Android Devices: Facebook is finally expanding its 3D photos feature to Android users.
Facebook Adds More Group Badges to Encourage Engagement: Facebook has added some new Group badges as it seeks to encourage greater participation and engagement. The new badges include Anniversary Follower, a new Follower badge and Milestone Follower.
Facebook is Removing its Group Chats Feature to Limit Spammers: Facebook has announced that it will roll back its group chat option, which will impact communication across a range of Facebook groups.
Facebook Will Open Several Pop-Up Cafes in London to Assist Users with Privacy Settings: Facebook's launching a new initiative to get to know the public better, by opening cafes where users can meet with Facebook representatives face-to-face.
Instagram Debunks Viral Hoax Regarding Rule Change in Relation to Photo Re-Use: Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has debunked the latest viral myth on the platform regarding a coming rule change.
Instagram is Launching a New Option for Reporting Misinformation as On-Platform Scams Grow: Instagram is adding a new option to report fake news content on its platform, while its also investigating a new Instagram Stories scam tactic.
LinkedIn Launches New Insights Hub to Provide Additional Audience Insights: LinkedIn has launched a new data insights hub, based on platform usage information, in order to help marketers improve their industry understanding.
LinkedIn Publishes New Guide on How to Make Best Use of LinkedIn Live: LinkedIn has published a new guide to making best use of its live-streaming option, which is still only available to a limited group of users.
LinkedIn Outlines its Improving Efforts to Eliminate Fake Accounts and Spammers on Its Platform: LinkedIn has provided an update on its efforts to eliminate fake profiles using its improving automated detection systems.
Snapchat Announces New Version of Spectacles, with Improved Camera Capacity: Snapchat has announced another new version of its Spectacles, camera-enabled sunglasses, though full AR functionality is still not available.
Twitter Tests New, Larger Image Tweet Carousel Ad Format: Twitter is expanding its new carousel format to additional campaign types, and potentially even regular business posts which includes multiple larger images connected to a common link.
Twitter Opens Scottish Twitter Visitor Centre as Part of Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Twitter has opened a Scottish Twitter Visitor Centre to celebrate the best of Scottish tweets as part of the latest Edinburgh Fringe event.
Twitter Launches 6-Second Video Ad Bidding, Providing New Options for Video Marketers: Twitter is launching a new 6-second video ad bidding option, providing increased capacity for marketers to utilise Twitter video.
Twitter and Facebook Remove Chinese-Backed Disinformation Campaigns Related to Hong Kong: Both Facebook and Twitter have taken action against state-backed campaigns designed to sow political discord in Hong Kong
Twitter Updates Permissions to Clarify Which Third-Party Apps You Approve for DM Access: Twitter is moving to better clarify what third-party apps can do with your account when you grant them access.
Twitter's Testing a New Content Filtering System for Message Requests: Twitter is testing a new filter option for direct message requests to help protect users from unwanted offensive material.
YouTube Will Remove its In-App Messaging Option Next Month: YouTube is removing its chat feature in order to increase its focus on other forms of sharing in the app.
YouTube Updates Content ID Claim Policies to Better Protect Creators: After months of complaints from creators, YouTube is updating its Content ID policy, which has seen many claims for minor infringements.
- See if your business is making headlines