One of the best things about living in the online era is that we get access to so many wonderful tools to promote our businesses! We are spoilt for choice! Here I list out 54 Ways to promote your small business for free – some small actions and some big.
Before you proceed, though, I ask that you think about two main things: What fits your business style? and What suits your Target Market? Because you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything! Choose a few that will reach your target market with the message you want to send. Then see how it goes, re-evaluate and try again!
The ideas are divided into 4 areas: Content, Social Media, Email and Community. Each has their own place in the overall promotions puzzle. A good way to look at it is trying to do one action from each to have a balanced picture. You’ll see as you go through that the 4 areas can overlap a lot and all form part of your eventual Sales Funnel.
Content is all about providing something of value to your Target Audience… for free! One common goal for it is simply to increase your search ranking in Google. But more than that it is a way to show your target audience you can relate to them or you can inspire them to make the change, to take that first step! And more importantly, that they can trust you! Plus it also gives you something great to share on social media or to entice someone to sign up to your email list (call to action).
1. Create a Blog Post that Teaches the Beginning of Something
Write about the step before someone would buy from you such as “How to Accessorise your Home” for a Home Decor Business or “Top 10 Things to Think about before you Hire a Virtual Assistant” for your VA Business or”How to Choose an Outfit for your Engagement Photo Shoot” for your Photography Business.
2. Create a Blog Post that Supplements your Product or Service
Write about something that can lean into your business such as “10 Mothers Day Gift Ideas” for your Card Business or “Quick Meal Prep Day Ideas” for your Nutritionist business or “Top 10 Tips for Saving Money” for your Accounting Business
3. Create a Portfolio
Mock Up Images of your Custom T-Shirts, Flat Lay Images of your Desk Accessories or Success Stories from Coaching Clients.
4. Create a “Challenge”
Such as “30 Day Abs” for your Personal Training Business or “7 Day Declutter” for your Home Organisation Business or “Photo a Day” challenge for your Photography Blog.
5. Create a Free Ebook, Checklist or Workbook
Such as a “Packing Checklist” for your Travel Business or a “Guide to Wine Pairing” for your Catering Business or “Interactive Activities for your Toddler” for your Hand Crafted Toy Business.
6. Create an Infographic
One of those long images that explain a concept visually or with a diagram. Examples include “Essential Oils for Every Occasion” for your Beauty Products, “Colour Psychology” for your Graphics Design Business or a “Recycling Chart” for your Cleaning Business.
7. Create a YouTube Video
YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine so it’s an excellent marketing tool! Examples could be “10 Minute at Home Leg Workout” for your Boot Camps” or “How to Braid your Hair in 5 Ways” for your Hair Salon or “How to Use Cloth Nappies” for your Cloth Nappy Ebay Store.
8. Create a Quiz
Who doesn’t love doing one of those online quizzes to procrastinate? Examples include “What sort of Exerciser are you?” for your Fitness Programs or “What motivates you?” for your Coaching Business or “What’s your Ideal Travel Destination?” for your Travel Business.
9. Create a SlideShare
A presentation without audio which appears on SlideShare (owned by LinkedIn) and can be embedded on your site. Case Studies, How To’s, Quick Tips or Opinion Roundups work well!
10. Create a Webinar or Online Workshop
Teaching something valuable but that still leads into your product or service.
11. Write a Vanity/Roundup Post
Asking questions to influencers in your industry (they will likely share out to their audience!)
12. Link, Link, Link!!
Make sure you have lots of related links or links within your content to keep people on your website, moving around and to find out more!
13. Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose!!
Once you get started you can even look at using the same piece of content in different ways to reach different audiences (e.g. an infographic, article and a slideshow).
Social Media really shines when you have something of value to share, some reason for someone to click through to your website. Utilising the content you created above is a great way to do this but you can also use it to help form your brand personality and awareness. But remember, don’t try to do all the social media platforms at once (apart from registering the name). Find the ones that are the best fit for your business and get them right before moving onto the next.
14. Add Social Media Sharing Buttons to your Website
There are a ton of free plugins out there for most website platforms.
15. Use a Consistent Profile Picture and Image Style
So that you are easily recognisable across platforms. Create a template to make it easier!
16. Create specific Images for your Promotions to share on all your chosen Platforms
17. Share, Share, Share your Content!!
You worked hard to create it so spread it out there! There are even a number of free scheduling tools out there for limited use (Hootsuite, Buffer, Later.com and more).
18. Create a Great Facebook Cover Photo and Twitter Header Image
These are Virtual Billboards for your business! Use this space for specific promotions or calls to action if you have something you are running a campaign
19. Put your “Business Page” as your workplace on your Personal Facebook Profile
So that when you participate in groups other group members can easily find your business.
20. Create a More Memorable Bio Description
Make it suit your “brand personality”, make it quirky or include a random fact.
21. Add a Link to your Opt-In or Great Piece of info in all your bios.
Not just your website but some immediate action they can take!
22. Create a “Pinned” Post for your Facebook and Twitter Pages
Create this around the campaign or Opt-In you are focusing on now. Or use it to introduce yourself.
23. Create a Google+ Profile
Anything to help your Google Rankings!
24. Strategically use Hashtags
So people who are searching on a particular topic can find you! For Instagram, add a list as a comment so it doesn’t overshadow your caption.
25. Join Pinterest Group Boards and Post to Those
Don’t forget to repin other people’s posts in those boards too!
26. Do a Periscope or Facebook Live Video
Sometimes people just want to see your face to help connect with you on a deeper level.
27. “Retweet” or Share great content from supplementary businesses or bloggers (and tag them when you do!)
They might return the favour
28. Share images on Instagram or Facebook that support your Brand Personality
Examples include Inspiration, Quotes, Lifestyle Pics or Quick Tips
29. Schedule Online Q&A Times/Office Hours (via FB, Twitter, Periscope)
This creates another opportunity for your audience to get to know you and your business better.
30. Write a Blog Post for LinkedIn Publishing
These blog posts appear on LinkedIn instead of your site and can reach a different audience.
Looking for more social media tips and how to really shine? Then you want to check out my Get Social Media Savvy Blog Post Series. Click here to see all the posts so far.
Email Marketing is all about sending catered messages to your customer database or prospects who have signed up with a great email content opt-in. Your email list is highly important as it belongs to you! People drop off social media all the time and algorithms change so that you might not reach people anymore so try and curate your own list from day one. Once you have done so, here’s some ideas on what to do with your list.
31. Customise your Footer in your Normal Emails
With your logo, links to your website & social media or even a note about your latest promotion or blog post
32. Follow up new subscribers with some other content they might be interested in
Take them on the next step of the journey!
33. Write Emails that Contain something they Can’t see Anywhere else
If you are just sending your latest blog posts or a newsletter they can likely get this information on any of your other platforms so they might unsubscribe. So provide extra value such as behind the scenes thoughts, additional content or monthly offers. Give them a reason to stay.
34. Send out Promotions (but not too often!)
35. Follow up with People who JUST purchased with a how to use the product or other relevant additional information
People love that you are still thinking about them even after they buy. It’s much easier to keep existing customers than to find new ones
36. Follow up with People who purchased requesting feedback and offer extra advice
The more you learn the more you can help others. Also, if they are somewhat unhappy you have a chance to fix it.
37. Create a free E-mail Course as your Content Opt-In
Such as “How to Setup your Mac” for your IT business or “5 Steps to Finding your Brand Message” for your Graphics Business
38. Find a list of potential customers and send them PERSONALISED one on one emails with a conversational message
Note you can’t use mailchimp or any other online email platform for this as anything on-mass that is unsolicited is considered spam. But there is nothing stopping you from sending the occasional message to a cold or warm prospective customer so long as it comes from your private email address (and you don’t hound them!)
Successful networking is all about being in the right place: either where your customers are or in the company of peers (that may refer you on). And sometimes it can all just come down to luck! But I can’t emphasise this element enough – it is often forgotten for the more “quantity” efforts. If you want to make genuine connections with people this is the way to go! Ideally, you’ll be able to join an Industry Association or attend Workshops and Conferences meeting people in person is a huge boost but these can be costly sometimes. Here’s some alternatives,
39. Participate in Facebook Groups
The key to this – Be Helpful and Listen more than you Talk.
40. Join in Twitter Chats
Find influencers in your industry that run these and join in! Each chat tends to have a theme to it so find those that fit your business.
41. Comment on Other Blogs or Videos
If your target market blogs or does videos, join in the conversation on their turf. Don’t be pushy with sales or links – just have a genuine conversation.
42. Reply to Comments on Competitors Blogs
If you can answer your prospective customer’s questions on another blog (again without being sales-y), why not?
43. Participate in Online Forums
44. Ask your Friends and Family to Spread the Word
Get specific with what you want them to do (such as follow you on social media or check out your website), even give them a “script” if you want.
45. Add your Business to Free Local Directories
46. Ask for a Product or Service Review from Influencers
47. Guest Post on a Successful Blog for yourIindustry
48. Ask to be Interviewed on a Podcast
49. Make a Coffee Date!
If you meet someone online who is in your local area and you are a good fit… catchup!
50. Get together with other Business Owners who serve the same Market but sell Different Products
For example, if you are a wedding photographer, find some florists and cake makers to connect with.
51. Offer to Speak at Events or Workshops where your Target Customer is in the Audience
52. Set up a Listing in Search Engine Directories
Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Make sure you appear on the Map!
53. Attend Free Meetings or Workshops
Such as your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or your Local Small Business Government Agency.
54. Apply for Business Awards
Who knows, you might be in luck and have some great PR!
BONUS: Some Quite Cheap Ideas
1. Run a Giveaway Contest
For sharing and liking or providing you with their email address, name and answer to a key question.
2. Print some Business Cards and actually hand them out!
3. Get a Google for Work Email Address (US$5/month)
This is a personalised email for your business (firstname.lastname@example.org).
4. Create a targeted Facebook or Adwords Campaign
Set your daily budget to as little as you feel comfortable with to start. They might even provide some free ad dollars to help you test it out.
5. Print & letter drop or Post a short run of flyers or postcards to select prospective customers
6. Donate Prizes or Gifts to Auctions, Door Prizes, Gift Bags or Raffles
7. Get a Magnetic Sign made up for Your Car
8. Send Hand Written thank you notes or Christmas Cards to customers
9. Run a Discount Promotion over social media
In exchange for shares or subscribers.
Hopefully, this list provided you with some inspiration – just remember to pace yourself!!