For marketing to be effective—especially for small businesses and professionals—it’s something you need to be able to afford, time-wise and resource-wise. You might develop the most effective plan, but if you can’t implement it because it’s too costly, or because you don’t have the time to commit to it, then it will fail.
That said, here are seven low-cost, no-cost marketing ideas you can put to use right away:
- Make marketing a subconscious element of all you do. Now, this doesn’t mean you should turn into a pushy salesperson (my apologies to salespeople everywhere), but you should develop the mindset that EVERY interaction with someone could be that “big break” for which you’ve been looking.
- Write your own press releases on new products, a new book, new services, awards you and/or members of your staff receive, etc. Don’t be shy. These types of news stories always play well in local, weekly newspapers—especially those with business columns or business sections—and even some online venues. Be sure your articles have news merit and are not simply marketing pieces. Quotations from those other than the author and pictures are definite plusses.
- Provide a low-cost, no-cost way for prospects to experience you or your services. Offer something for free such as an e-newsletter, a free introductory call, a free webinar, etc. By giving prospects a no-cost option to meet and/or interact with you, you make it easier for them to consider buying a product or service.
- Ask for referrals from friends, clients, past clients, colleagues. If you don’t ask, sometimes you don’t get. If you do nothing else . . . do this! Without a doubt, word-of-mouth is the most effective means of promoting your business—especially for service professionals.
- Print your own direct mail postcards targeted at area small businesses, chambers of commerce, media, or other key influencers who represent all or certain segments of your target audience. Armed with card stock, a paper cutter, and a high-quality color printer, you could do this entirely yourself. If that’s not your style, shop special print promotions. Look for “digital” print opportunities where you can have full-color postcards printed at low costs. If you have two or three specialty areas, consider getting several versions of your postcard printed. Commit to mailing 20 to 30 postcards a month to area business, civic, and professional organizations, libraries, etc. Tell them who you are, what’s in it for them, and provide an easy response mechanism (phone or email).
- Use email auto-responders. If your Web host offers auto-responders (many do) set up 2 or 3 that contain articles you’ve written, a “Top 10” list, etc. Place a link on your site or in your email signature that readers can click to get an article for free. Everyone likes to get something for free (see #3 above)! Make sure your article is content-heavy and that you include your copyright, byline, and a brief 75-word or less bio with a link to your site.
- Ask for reciprocal links on the web sites of colleagues, clients, associates. The more links “from” your site and “to” your site, the better your search engine ranking, and the greater likelihood of increased traffic through cross-referencing.
Undoubtedly there are many more low-cost, no-cost ideas you can devise and implement. The only limit is creativity and time! The key is to remember that marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective.