How to Promote Your Business: 13 Low-Cost Strategies
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One of the main goals of small-business marketing is getting the word out about your business. By increasing brand awareness, you can build your customer base and ultimately increase sales. Learning how to promote your business can help you do just that.
The best ways to promote your business will depend on what kind of business you own, the products or services you offer, your target audience, marketing budget and additional factors. The good news is there are plenty of free and low-cost ways to promote your business, so you can test out several relatively risk-free to find what works best. Here are some of the top options.
1. Targeted email campaigns
Emailing marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customer base, send reminders, promote sales and offer coupons and other savings. You can collect your customers’ email addresses through sign-up sheets at your brick-and-mortar location or through opt-in forms on your business website. Offering an incentive for providing their email, like a discount off their next purchase, can help you grow your list quickly.
To help automate your email campaigns and ensure your communications look professional, consider email marketing software. Services like Mailchimp and Constant Contact offer email templates, customizable landing pages and analytics tools to measure the success of your campaigns.
2. Curated social media
Alongside a business website, social media platforms are usually the first place prospective customers go to get a feel for your business. Accounts on the main platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok, are generally free.
Promoting your business on social media lets people know what kind of products or services you provide, as well as offers a snapshot into your company culture. Thoughtfully curated social media profiles — think well-lit shots of your products, fun and informative Instagram stories and active Facebook conversations — are an easy way to elevate your business.
3. Strong SEO strategy
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and a solid SEO strategy helps your business website and profiles appear in the top online search results when potential customers query a term related to your business. The more people who see and click on your business website, the greater visibility your brand will have and, hopefully, the greater your sales.
The foundation of SEO strategy revolves around finding and using the keywords that your audience is searching for, and using them effectively on your site so your page surfaces in top results. Being strategic and specific with your keywords is important so that you stand out from the rest of the internet.
If you do want professional help, there are marketing tools that can help you optimize your site and measure its performance. These typically come at a cost, but it may be worth the increased traffic and visibility.
4. Promotions that speak to your target audience
Incentives, like giveaways, discounts or contests, are a great way to get the word out about your business while also encouraging people to make a purchase. When planning an incentive campaign, it’s important to know what you want to get out of it. Have a goal in mind so that you have something to measure your success against.
Also try to target a specific customer group; not all of your customers are the same, so trying to market to all of them the same way won’t be the most effective. By using different approaches for different types of buyers, you’re more likely to be successful.
5. Sales that create a sense of urgency
Another way to promote your business and drive purchases is by offering flash sales. Because they're for such a limited time, flash sales create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to complete a purchase right away, before the sale ends. You can promote these sales across your social media channels and via email. Flash sales may apply to a specific product, which can also be a great way to move inventory that's been hanging around.
6. Events that resonate with your community
Hosting events is a great way to get involved in your community, engage with your customers face-to-face and get creative with the way you promote your business. In order to drive foot traffic, consider your customer base and their needs. If, for instance, you know that the majority of your customers work 9-to-5 jobs, don’t plan an event in the middle of the work day. You’ll have a lower turnout, and you’ll have spent all that time and money for little payoff. And if you run a family-friendly business, plan an event on a weekend so your customers can bring their kids.
7. Strategic partnerships with other businesses
If you know of a business in your area that complements yours but isn’t a direct competitor, team up with them for joint promotions. Wine stores can partner with artisanal cheese shops, yoga studios with boutique gyms, vets with local pet groomers, for instance. They all share a common customer base and benefit from each other’s traffic.
Keep each other’s business cards at your tills, link to each other’s websites, highlight each other’s products or services via social media or combine your resources to throw an event. These partnerships can help you reach a customer base that you don’t already attract, but know will be interested in your products or services — not to mention make some allies in your local business community.
8. Take advantage of free advertising
From leveraging social media to keeping your online business profiles updated to getting involved in your community, there are plenty of free advertising strategies to take advantage of. Keeping an eye out for opportunities and getting creative can help you promote your business with little to no monetary investment.
9. Get local and online press
Press is a great way to promote your business within your industry and with potential customers. Have you recently expanded your product line? Opened a new location? Sponsored a local charitable event? Send out a press release to see if your local newspaper or magazine might cover it.
The hard part of this business promotion strategy is that you actually have to offer some newsworthy content to get in local press pieces. To avoid over-promotion, save the good stuff to send over infrequently so your updates seem more newsworthy.
10. Manage review sites
Potential customers love real-person referrals when they're looking for a new business, product or service. Referrals can come from in-person word-of-mouth or online review sites. Making sure that your business is on those review sites and has favorable ratings is a great step toward promoting your business.
Ensure your business has profiles on Google and Yelp with current business information, such as your address, contact information and hours of operation. Then be sure to respond to customer reviews — both positive and negative. This will show your customers that you care about customer service, which many people appreciate.
11. Tap into your existing customer base
While you may be eager to promote your business to new customers, don't lose sight of your existing customer base. After all, those who have already transacted with your business — and had a positive experience — are likely to do so again.
Show your existing customers that you care by starting a rewards program or a customer appreciation promotion to get them to complete another purchase. Plus, positive word-of-mouth and referrals is a great way to promote your business, so keeping your customers happy might encourage them to tell their family and friends about how great your business is.
12. Sponsor local events
Many organizations welcome sponsors to their events for a small buy-in price. In return, you might get your name on all the promotional information, a booth or the ability to give away branded items at the event. This is a great way to get your name out there and promote your business.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to sponsor or donate to charitable events. This allows you to align your brand with organizations you and your community believe are important, and get your brand out there at the same time.
13. Become a trusted resource on online platforms
Figure out where your customers like to ask questions and solve problems — whether that’s a Facebook group, Reddit, Quora or an industry-specific online forum. A great way to subtly promote your business is to answer questions or facilitate discussions on those platforms.
The key to this promotion strategy is to build trust. Don’t spam online communities with heavy-handed business promotions. Provide value, and these users will begin to know who you are and recognize your business. When they could use you as a solution, they’ll remember to come to your business.
Lauren Diethelm, a freelance writer, contributed to this article.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.