October 8, 2009

My Top 7 Ways to Market a Business For Free

The core concept of any business is to sell as much as possible of their product or service – that is obvious. Marketing and getting the word out there about your business to drive these sales is also obvious. The problem comes when you have little to no money to spend on marketing.

Luckily there are some amazingly powerful ways to market your business that cost absolutely nothing (except some of your time and energy). I list my personal favorites below:

  1. Use your networks! I’m talking about your friends, acquaintances, business partners as well as your online networks – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter if you are a member of those. Remember, if you can convince 100 people in your network that you have a brilliant product then chances are good they will refer you to their friends – if they refer to their own networks of 100 people this is a combined potential network of 10000 people – use it!
  2. Use Social Media. Unfortunately, social media didn’t really take off for businesses, simply due to the fact that most businesses aren’t “cool” or “funny” – the type of stuff that is shared on sites like StumbleUpon and Digg. Unless you specialize in making custom made t-shirts, or  show funny pictures of cats, or aim to market yourself as a hip and funky business, don’t think you will get many sales from social sites. The most important aspects of sharing on social media are to generate brand awareness, and equally importantly to generate links to your site so that you appear higher up in search engine rankings.
  3. Provide information for free. Its no secret that this blog is not only going to help the public understand fundamental business concepts better, but also market my business (which details I haven’t released yet). Besides creating a blog for your business, you can use e-mail newsletters, provide useful videos and tips online, and provide advice in forums and newsgroups to help people in some way, thus generating customer loyalty and brand awareness.
  4. Go wild with online directories. There are literally thousands of online site directories, many of which are free to register in. The most important ones, like the Yahoo directory and the Open Directory Project are either difficult to get into, or are paid for. But that won’t stop you from trying, will it?
  5. Launch an affiliate program. Nothing is better than letting other people do the marketing work for you, for a nominal fee. It doesn’t suit every business model, but for service oriented businesses this concept shines very well, and can be a major profit boost to a business’s bottom line.
  6. E-mail marketing. In general, you are allowed to send organizations personalized mails advertising your business concept. It becomes spam if you mass-mail the same message to as many e-mail addresses as you can find, or if you start mailing random addresses on the Internet (even if they are “personalized”). If you don’t spam, and create a great e-marketing concept with a designer that fulfills the needs of the e-mail recipient, you can definitely get some sales going your way from this.
  7. Send press releases to media. You never know when this may catch on, and even a single article in a prominent business blog or magazine can massively impact your organization – just remember they are free to say what they want, so make sure you make a great impression.

There are many more smaller ways of marketing your business, but these are definitely my top 7. If you can recommend any other important method I may have missed, comment below and I’ll be glad to add it to my post :)

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