Let’s skip further formalities and delve straight into 8 of the best ways to promote your business on the cheap, shall we?
1 Dish out your business cards and flyers
It’s the oldest trick in the book, and it works. Creating a ton of business cards for your business is a rather inexpensive affair. But you have to get a little creative with these cards, and one way is by having a few helpful tips related to your business printed on the back of the card. Make sure your contact information is clearly visible. Distribute these cards generously in your locale and even leave some of theme in public places (salons, offices, banks, gas stations, community boards, inside library books etc.)
Flyers are also affordable to create and distribute. Just make sure your flyer has a clear call-to action with contact information popping out clearly. You can have flyers distributed in your neighborhood and at local events like parties and weddings.
2 Maintain a strong online presence
In this day and age, you can’t be sitting there thinking “My business doesn’t need a website.” That’s just disturbing, because even school kids have their own online web space today. Virtually every other business has some kind of online presence today, regardless of industry; so it shouldn’t matter if you are in the business of supplying cow dung, or selling home-made shoes – you need to create a blog, for three major benefits:
Low cost online advertising
Think about it, everyone is surfing online today, so if people can find your business website, they may trust you more. Your website becomes your advertising channel. Through it, people get to know about your business at any time of day and can make direct orders through the contact information you provide. And once you learn about all those low-cost methods of promoting your website, you’ll have yourself an advertising medium that cost relatively little to set up.
3 Become an information source
What better way to provide value for your customers than being a source of useful information? You’ll not only catch their attention (for helping them), but win their loyalty as well. The reason you must be an information source is because the average consumer today takes some time to research on products or services before buying them. Through your writing, you can effectively illustrate your competence in your field and build credibility.
You may have already seen local publications, journals and Internet sites that accept articles which include bits of information about the business. You can also use your own blog to become an authority in your industry. You can also educate consumers at colleges and adult learning centers and they’ll be happy to buy your product in the end. That’s free advertising if you ask me.
4 Distribute your branded merchandise for free
This is a great promotional strategy that will set you back a few hundred bucks, but it works great if you make the right merchandise that people are actually going to use: t-shirts, key rings, pens and mugs. These items shouldn’t cost that much to make, so try distributing as many as you can at every opportunity. Remember to have your logo prominent on every material you plan to distribute. The same branding effort should apply to all your assets, including your business vehicle if you have one.
5 Get into business directories
Get your business listed in the local business directories, such as Yellow Pages. The listing fee per year is definitely affordable so there’s no way you would be missing out. Many customers still turn to these directories to quickly find businesses in their locality. Supplement that with the online Yellow Pages directory and all other websites that list local businesses. But three of the biggest online directories today, as you probably already know, are Google Local, Yahoo Local and Bing Local. Add or claim your listings there and you’ll be sure that local customers will find you online.
6 Become a social media enthusiast
Having your website out there is simply not enough; most businesses today require a social media presence for more engagement with their customers. Social media as an advertising platform for your business is also an inexpensive affair. If all you want is a business page, then you pay nothing. Paid advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks can be really effective and less costly compared to, say, print advertising. But you may not really need to use paid ads if your business isn’t of a kind that relies heavily on your Internet site. Either way, social media gives you the opportunity to reach more targeted people in a less formal style.
7 Focus on repeat and referral business
Repeat business can be the lifeline of your business. If you are offering a great service, customers will naturally come back to you. But you don’t have to stop there – part of your advertising efforts should be targeted at your current customers, with the focus on retaining them and obtaining news referrals. And there are budget friendly methods to reach out to them, including mailing/emailing special offers exclusively to customers, loyalty reward schemes and delivering exceptional service at all times for that all-important positive word-of-mouth.
8 Use local press
Few advertising methods are better than using the good old local press. And while advertising in a local publication may still appear relatively expensive, you can reap the rewards through the fact that you’ve reached a good number of locals (targeted reach). However, you can still buy a classified ad spot for much less if your budget won’t allow mainstream. But there’s still hope if you don’t want to pay a penny – write professional press releases and submit them to your local papers, and you’ll earn free publicity, which is really a form of advertising.