As a startup, you may not have a lot of money to play with when it comes to marketing your startup business online. While you may think that you need to skimp on your marketing budget to save money for your business operations, it’s actually the opposite. If you don’t market your business effectively, how will anyone know your business exists? Focus on spending your money wisely to spread the word rather than spending a lot of money all over the place.
You might gravitate towards traditional advertising, such as newspaper, radio, and television ads, but that problem is that they can be expensive and may produce little or even no return on investment. In this technology age, it’s not wise to do only traditional marketing anymore. These types of ads show your content to a lot of people at once, but probably to the wrong demographic.
When you’re advertising online you can target your content to the demographic of your business spending your money more wisely and effectively. Plus, there are options for online advertising that don’t cost you any money at all!
Here are some free online marketing methods that you may want to consider for your business:
1. Partner up with another expert in an adjacent field.
Consider joining forces with another brand who is close to your industry without being your competitor. This way, you can then offer a more substantial product together than either one of you could offer alone without butting heads.
You’ll automatically get the attention of both audiences, resulting in more sales and adding more leads to your email list. In the future, these new leads can drive more sales of another one of your products. Partnering on even one marketing campaign can bring long-term benefits to both of you.
2. Encourage user-generated content.
User generated content, or UGC, has been studied and proven to be a more reliable source of information for potential customers. If someone is looking to buy your product or service and does research on your brand, seeing positive interactions from past customers without being paid for their content shows a form of trustworthiness that customers love to see. If you can acquire positive user-generated content, your sales will grow without you having to create your own content. This could be as simple as enabling the comment section on your website and encouraging discussions.
3. Affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing programs are when one brand is paid to promote another brands products. When you create your program, think of who you want to be promoting your products and who their audience is. As you’re starting out try to obtain brands without a starting fee and offer commission only. This way you’ll only have to pay as you make sales, rather than paying the brand before you have more money coming in.
As with the partnering technique, many of these new visitors will sign up for your email list, even if they don’t buy something right away, bringing you long-term benefits and sales.
4. Be active on social media.
There are millions of users visiting the various social media platforms daily, so it makes sense for your business to have a presence on the platform(s) your target audience uses the most.
Stay true to your brand while you post by using the same color scheme and tone of voice as your website. You can be funny, serious, informative. As long as users will instantly recognize your brand across different platforms.
When posting on social media you can:
● Post insights and valuable information about your industry
● Let your audience know when you have a sale on your products. Give your social media followers coupons or discount codes.
● Encourage engagement by participating in discussions. Ask questions and answer theirs.
● Run a survey, poll, or contest.
Encouraging your followers to share your posts could increase your reach and ultimately result in more sales of your products or services.
5. Use free online tools.
Aside from social media, there are plenty of free tools online that can help you reach a new audience and increase your sales.
Some examples are:
● Signing up for websites that will enable you to create free surveys
● Free online services to send emails to your customers. You do not have to pay a premium to receive top-notch service.
● LinkedIn is a great way to to do business-to-business, or B2B, marketing by reaching out to other businesses who can benefit from your product or service.
● Adding relevant keywords to all of your website pages, blog posts and social media posts by doing research with Google Trends.
● Reaching out to a local newspaper to request an article or social media post about your business, then sharing the link online. It’s great publicity and can help build your reputation in your industry.
6. Change and reuse old advertisements.
Rather than creating new content for every post and ad campaign, reuse parts of a previous advertisement.
Here’s a few examples:
● Turn a popular blog post you wrote into a survey to ask your audience their opinion on the subject.
● Create an infographic from an article (or vice versa).
● Create an infographic or survey from a popular podcast.
● Create a podcast episode from a well-received blog post.
The main thing to remember is to turn one piece of content into another form of content. It will not only be much easier to create content, but if a piece of content was particularly well received, keeping the conversation going will help your audience to retain the information.
7. Build an email list.
If people are visiting your website, chances are good that they are interested in what you have to offer. Make a form available for them to join your email list to be kept in the loop about future product releases, special offers or exclusive information.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to drive sales long term and for customer retention. They willingly gave you their personal information which means they trust you and your brand enough to want to keep hearing from you on a regular basis. Treat your list members like gold, because that’s what they are to you and your business.
8. Create video content.
When a user is watching a video it’s more likely they will retain the information better than if they were to read the same content in blog form. If you can create interesting videos, you’ll create interest in your brand.
Not sure how to get started?
• If you’re not comfortable with video yet, practice privately at first where only you see them. You’ll eventually get used to the idea and be comfortable in front of the camera.
• Watch closely what others in your industry are doing in their videos. What do they say and how do they say it?
• What are they NOT saying about the topic that you can say in yours?
TIP: I was watching some video content of an expert marketer. I played it very slowly and typed in the entire script he was using. This way, I could see the structure of the message and how the script laid out the whole thought process on paper. You don’t get to see how the message in the video you’re watching leads the listener unless you have the script in your hand.
A typical format for a promotional video script would be:
• Welcome message
• Address a big problem people are having in your industry
• Tell a story about you and the problem you had related to the topic
• Describe how you can solve the problem
• Give a clear call to action for what the viewer needs to do
When you’re creating your video, remember to:
• Dress professionally
• Have good lighting
• Record in a quiet setting with minimal background noise
• Speak clearly and speak up
• Use a high quality recording device
• Avoid sentence fillers such as uh, um and like.
It’s certainly possible to do online marketing without spending much money. Some of these methods might take some time and effort to implement, though, before you see profits.
For example, it can take a while to build an email list. However, once you have a list, making sales can be as easy as sending out an email to your list. Once you’ve built a social media following, making sales can be as easy as making a post on your social media accounts.
If you want to see an immediate ROI, like for a special promotion, you may want to consider paying for ads online. But if funds are tight, be patient as you put these strategies into place, and soon you’ll have plenty of ways to make sales for free.
For more tips, tools and motivation to help you on your online, small business journey, sign up for the weekly emails HERE. Learn from my successes as well as my mistakes that will hopefully give you clarity and a strategy as you plan your new small business launch.
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