In my last article, I wrote about how I was a novice in the online business area several years ago. And I'm no expert today either, but I wanted to continue this topic and talk about some of the things I've learned about how to promote your business ... for free.
As we all know, starting a business can be quite costly. And besides the start-up costs, the ongoing expense for marketing and advertising can be quite daunting. It's like a double-edged sword: if you don't have the money to advertise, then the customers don't know you exist. But until you get customers and some money flowing in, how do you afford advertising?
In my almost four-year journey as an online entrepreneur, I have learned that there are a lot of actions you can take to promote your business that don't cost much money - and in most cases, none at all. Here are 11 ideas you can start using in your business today:
1. Youtube videos
If you don't have a Youtube account yet, get one. As a self-proclaimed "technological idiot" (as I've also written about before), it doesn't take much to learn how to shoot and edit videos. A good quality web cam and some editing software such as Windows Movie Maker are all you need to get up and running. Creating informational videos and posting them social media will lead to people sharing them, and thus, get you free "advertising."
2. Get on radio or TV shows
Most radio or TV shows don't charge you to be a guest (although some do). But if you get a show with a big enough audience, think about all the people you can reach for free! You will want to make sure that the topic of the radio show is appropriate for your business. That way, you are reaching your target audience.
3. Wear your logo on a t-shirt - as often as you can
I have a friend in a network marketing company, and she never leaves the house without wearing something with the logo of the company on it. Why? Because it starts conversations with strangers. Many people say, "Hey, I've heard of that company!" Or "What does that logo mean?" and BOOM! It starts the process of recruiting them into the business.
4. Get affiliates
Affiliate programs are great. If you're not familiar with them, it's when someone partners with you to sell your products/services/programs, etc. For instance, I am an affiliate for a self-development program, and I make 50% out of every sale. And since the sale is a monthly membership, it results in passive income for me. So getting affiliates to sell for you is a brilliant strategy.
5. Run a contest
People love contests! Who doesn't want to win something, right? So running a contest for a free prize(s) is a great way to get people to pay attention to you. Social media is the primary way some businesses do their promotion, so running a contest is a great fit for these outlets. Ask your friends and loyal customers to share the contest with their friends/followers, and again, your brand is shared with a lot more people.
6. Create an app
I have a friend who created a self-help app, and it went on to be #1 for its category on iTunes. As a result, what do you think happened? You're right - he greatly increased his audience. So if you don't know how to make an app, you can either learn how to make an app yourself or find someone to do it for you.
7. Host a summit
This is another brilliant strategy. An online summit is when you (as the host) do video or audio interviews with other people in your field of expertise. The goal is to have all of the people you interview share it with their audience on social media. And then you and your business are suddenly in front of a huge audience. Most summits interview around 20 experts. Think about the possibilities!
8. Cross-promote with others
This strategy is similar to the summit, although perhaps on a smaller scale. Again, find people whose message/business is similar to yours. Then you make an agreement to share each other's materials on social media. It can be in the form of blogs, videos, special offers, contests, or pretty much anything you think is appropriate. The goal, once again, is to expand your audience.
9. Give away free stuff/samples/trials/consultations
Most of your competition is probably giving away free stuff in the beginning. It's a way to "lure" the customer in without them having to make any financial commitment. Let's face it - we all like free trials! And it's much more likely that they will turn into a long-term customer once they get a feel for who you are and what you do.
10. Write a blog
Okay, maybe you aren't a writer, but having a blog is another great way to create sharable content that can go viral on social media. If you don't think you can write them, there are freelancer websites out there where you can hire a writer at a reasonable rate to do it for you. Regardless, it's almost a "must" in the business world these days.
11. Write for other websites
If you are a good writer, consider writing for other websites. Just as with all of these other tips I've given, it exposes you to a different audience. Almost every website will give the author a bio and photo with a link back to their website. The more websites you write for, the more you will expand your reach.
It's been a steep learning curve for me to figure out the tricks and the trades of running an online business. But as you can see from my ideas here, it doesn't have to be costly!