Today’s business owners need an affordable way to set themselves apart from their competition. For start-ups, every penny spent on advertising has to count. Without hiring a pricy PR firm, is it possible to get the word out about the new products and services you have to offer without breaking the bank? Of course it is!
With the help of the Internet, you can employ strategies that will improve your bottom line by allowing you to keep more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket. Here are a few no-cost ways to promote your business effectively:
1. Get a blog and direct your customers to it. WordPress and Blogger offer user-friendly options for first time visitors to the blogosphere. Free account options are available for you to engage and inform your readers about all the things that set you apart from other companies professionally.
2. Post articles relating to your trade or industry in newsletters and Web sites that accept Guest Posts. Lend your expertise to publications in your industry for free. Just make sure that each post includes a byline with links to your blog or Web site. Driving business to your Web site is a quick way to increase your customer base.
3. Design a business card that grabs people’s attention. A well-designed business card is classy, straightforward, and useful. It provides important information about the type of establishment that you run, your business’s name, physical and Web address and a logo or motto to help with branding.
4. Familiarize yourself with social media networking. Create Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts for your business. Update them frequently with announcements about upcoming events, new product launches and special promotions being offered.
5. Host a monthly giveaway. What better way is there to get the word out about all things involving you than through a contest sponsored through your blog or Web site? From homemade beauty products to hour-long fitness training sessions, offering an online incentive from time to time is a good way to build trust and let prospective customers try out what you have to offer.
6. Trade services with other entrepreneurs. Use your ability to barter as often as you possibly can. Swapping skills with other businesses is a cost-effective way for you to get things done on a budget.
7. Set up a mailing list and offer your customers incentives for signing up for it. Keeping in constant communication with your customers gives you a distinct advantage. Offering sales and promotions from time to time to the people who are considerate enough to provide you with their contact information promotes goodwill and loyalty among your customers.
You don’t need to tap into your profits to establish a rock solid marketing plan. With some creativity and our list of suggestions, you, too, can travel down the road to success with ease.
Karen Taylor Bass, public relations consultant and author, recently told The Network Journal that she, herself, employed some of these strategies - along with a few others such as sending out podcasts to potential clients - for the launch of her own business. “If I had to select one, I would say that the blog is the most effective strategy on the list,” she says. “It’s a great way to establish your expert status and provide fodder for the marketplace. Also, it optimizes well on the Internet and is the equivalent of instant syndication.”
Bass advises budding business owners to consider networking as a close second to blogging. “Networking should be approached as a strategic partner rather than a chore,” she says. “Observe how the top players ‘work’ a room and make everyone feel engaged and special. Being the best listener in the room goes a long way.”
Additional reporting contributed by Sergie Willoughby