Marketing your business can be a challenge, especially if you are a start up or self-owned business. With every advertising dollar spent coming right out of your pocket finding smart ways to promote your brand can make or break you.
Ideally you must find creative, low cost, or preferably no cost ways to get your name out there. Fortunately however there are some innovative ways to do this which won’t break the bank in the process.
As a Calgary marketing firm who specializes in helping new businesses make the most out of every penny here’s our top 10 list of free or cheap ways to advertise you may not know about.
Offer to write an article for your community newspaper – There are countless community newletters always looking for interesting content to add to their monthly publications. Try approaching a few of them offering to write an article (relating to your business) their readers might find interesting. You don’t want to come off as a solicitor so anything you suggest should focus on the reader first. At worst you’ll probably be allowed to include your business name in the article, at best you may even be able to get a link to your website!
Trade or barter your service – We live in an era where you can trade or barter almost anything. There are several websites online dedicated purely to allowing members to trade their services for credit that can be used later. That credit could then be used to purchase business cards, flyers, magazine ads or other forms of advertising virtually free. Barter websites typically require a monthly membership free which is often quite reasonable (roughly $30-$40) but what you get in return is well worth the investment.
Attend free networking events – There are countless networking groups available in every city through websites like meetup.com or various social media communities. It’s a great idea to get involved in a lot of these early to network with other business owners and entrepreneurs. Not only will you gain a lot of tips on how to promote your business better but you may get some news business leads or sales as well.
Create your own networking groups – If you’re not finding a networking group to your liking it’s pretty easy to create you own as well. Places like meetup.com also give you the option to create your own group (for a fairly minimal fee) rather than joining groups that already exist. This can also be done through most social media platform such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn for starters. You’ll be surprised how many people you’ll find in the same boat you are looking to make new contacts.
Get a table at church or community centre events – There is always something going on with most churches or community centres throughout the calendar year. Whether it’s a craft sale, clothing drive or group garage sale it’s a perfect opportunity to mingle with your nearby neighbors. Often there will be tables available to purchase (for as little as $10-$50 day) where businesses can showcase their products and pass out promotional material. This is a very natural way to meet people nearby who might want to do business with you later.
Get on social media ASAP – Social media can be frustrating at first and typically takes a while to get going. That being said social media has a snowball effect meaning once it starts rolling momentum becomes harder and harder to stop. Patience and consistency is the key but over time your investment will certainly be rewarded. Get in the habit of posting something at least once a day to any social media page you may have (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram). Little by little you’ll start getting noticed and be sure to add a link to your website from time to time.
Kijiji/Craigslist posts – Some people view Kijiji and Craigslist as the bottom feeding way to promote your business but when in reality it’s the exact opposite. If you take the proper time to create an attractive ad (including your logo, photos & video) you can recycle it daily (or weekly if your strapped for time) for better results. Your best off to create a template with all your info and media included so reposting doesn’t take more than a minute or two. Remember you can post in other cities or even other countries so don’t limit yourself to a local ad.
Blog everywhere – People still struggle to understand the point of blogging but it’s a crucial way to get your name out there and promote your company website. Don’t just blog for the sake of blogging, try to answer a question or offer a solution to something that relates to your product or service. You want to try and make yourself an “expert in your industry” so others will seek your opinion or advice. Post your blog articles everywhere you can think of, your website, other people’s websites (you’ll have to ask), social media groups, forums or social bookmarking pages.
Hire a sign guy or girl – Posting your flyer on a lamppost or telephone pole may get taken down or even land you a fine. Hiring a teenager or student however to to stand at a busy intersection and hold up a sign (with your company name on it) however is fair game. Younger people are always looking for simple part time ways to earn a little extra cash. Have your new employee work a couple hours during the parts of the day when people are coming home from work (3pm-6pm). They’ll likely work for 10 dollars or less and expose your business to a whole new audience.
Groupon – Groupon can still be gold to new businesses starting out, even if you have to offer your product or service at a discount. Although not every business is accepted in most cases they’ll be happy to hear you out and negotiate a deal that works. It will be your responsibility to try and keep any customers that find you on groupon first through a quality product, great customer service and a means of following up later. Groupon does not need to be a permanent commitment, use it to give your business a boost when and if needed.
Jeff is the owner of Advance Web Solutions a calgary web design & internet marketing agency based in Calgary, Canada. To contact Jeff regarding any of his services visit us online or call (403) 374-2727 for more information.
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