For those who don’t know, I am a fairly active advisor over on the American Express Open Forum and one of the questions I see more often than any others are… “how do I market my small business that does [insert industry here] without spending thousands of dollars per month?”. The answer will typically vary based on the industry the individual is in, but there are many things that can be done for all businesses to help generate online awareness and help grow their companies.
In today’s post, I will be outlining ten things that any small business can do to better market their business and do it inexpensively.
Blog Like Crazy
One of the easiest ways to better market your business, and probably my favorite is to blog like crazy! Every day if possible!
Small businesses should keep a list of the most common questions asked by their prospects and customers and work diligrently to create content for their blog that speaks to those questions. If you don’t have a lot of customers, you can also monitor the best blogs in your space by using Feedly and working to create similar content that seems to get shared socially and that individuals engage with.
One thing to keep in mind is that quality is more important that quantity, so if you don’t have time to post every day, don’t. Post a few times per week, but make it awesome!
Google+ Local Page
Many small businesses are local businesses trying to attract customers within a geographic location. If this is you, you should setup and optimize your Google+ Local Page so that it become relevant for the products or services you offer and your geographic location.
Here’s a great guide to setting up and optimizing your Google+ local page.
After setting up your Google+ Local Page, you will want to setup other map/business directory listings. These are referred to as citations. Citations always contain your business name, address, and phone number, also referred to as NAP.
Citations help solidify in the eyes of the search engines that your business is legitimate and deserves to show up high for localized search queries. One of the best places to start is by running your business name and zip code through GetListed.org.
Help A Non-Profit
One unique way to help market your business is by helping a non-profit organization, or several organizations. If your business chooses to engage in such a practice, you need to make sure you are doing it for the right reason. Just to get publicity, brand awareness, and links to your site is an awful reason to help a non-profit. If you do it for the right reason, the non-profits will talk about you and you will get the publicity you deserve.
Write A Guest Post
Not only should you be blogging like crazy on your own site, but you should put forth some effort to contribute to other high visibility blogs in your industry. The purpose of writing a guest post is two fold, one to help get your name out there as a thought leader. A good guest post will will drive traffic back to your website and will often times bring potential customers. To vet the sites you want to post on, I like to look at social activity on their posts, if their readers leave good comments, do they have a decent number of RSS subscribers, do they have an email newsletter, do they have a following on Facebook, etc. If not, I’d probably look elsewhere. Here’s a good post on guest posting.
Shoot & Publish A Video
Gone are the days of needing expensive video cameras and video editing software to produce a video that drives interest for your business. Most individuals are packing a far better video camera in their pockets that most households could afford just fifteen years ago.
Bust out that smartphone and snap videos of your products or services in action. Take video of your clients providing testimonials and so forth. You’ll then take this video content and publish it to YouTube and other platforms like Vimeo.
Give Products or Services Away
I don’t think I have to tell you that people love free stuff. They especially love free stuff that’s valuable or extremely relevant to them. One of the quickest ways to generate visibility for your business is to give away your products or services. When you do this, tell everyone you know and ask them to spread the word. You can also run a contest on Facebook using a services like Rafflecopter to help you organize and execute your contest.
Guest lecturing is another fantastic way to promote your business. Every college and university professor would love for a seasoned professional in their vertical to prepare a lecture and relieve them from their daily duties. I have guest lectured dozens of times at local universities here in Utah on marketing and business topics. Each time I have, I have generated leads for new clients and I’ve even found some great employees from it.
Build Out Social Profiles
You can and SHOULD build out the four big social profiles, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, brand them to look and feel like your business, and participate on a regular basis. When you are participating make sure to tag your content with relevant hashtags to ensure your messages get in front of your target audience.
Become THE Thought Leader In Forums
Lastly (for this post), you should identify 2-3 forums in your space and participate on a daily basis. Set aside 20 minutes each morning to go in and answer questions that you are capable of providing an amazingly helpful response. After several months of doing this, you will start to be known as the industry expert that everyone can go to for answers to their questions. Another awesome thing about forum participation is that you can see what questions are being asked most often (kind of like questions asked by your prospects and customers above) and create content for your blog that answers their questions.
If you’re quick about it, you can head back to the forum and add links to your new content on your site and bring those potential customers to your front door!
So there you go, ten ways to market your business, without spending a lot of money. Obviously, this isn’t an extensive list, but a list that I use on a regular basis to better market Stryde and many of our clients.