It’s one thing to start your own business. It’s another to build a brand that is recognised and trusted. That journey not only involves providing excellent service, but promoting your business to ensure the right people know who you are and how you can help.
The idea of promoting your business can immediately bring to mind lavish marketing campaigns, with expensive television adverts and celebrity endorsements. However, promotion covers a whole spectrum of activities, from generating free publicity to spending money on traditional advertising.
Below, we dig into 24 ideas for how you can promote your business locally, online and via social media.
Promoting your business: dos and don’ts
Whatever form of promotion you’re considering, there are a few golden rules that we would suggest sticking to.
» MORE: How to grow your business
How to promote your business locally
Depending on your industry, building a strong local client base can often be the platform from which you can grow and expand your business in the future.
This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and can help you make invaluable personal connections and business relationships.
Set up a Google Business Profile
It may seem odd to start with Google when promoting your business locally, but creating a free Google Business Profile (GBP) will make it easier for people to find you, whether they are based nearby or not.
When people Google your business, they might see an information box in their search results. This is your Business Profile. It can feature a description of your business, links to your website, your physical address, contact details as well as opening hours.
What is included in your GBP will depend on your industry and also the information you provide.
Importantly, having a GBP will allow you to add your organisation to Google Maps and to accept Google customer reviews.
If your business contacts customers in person, regardless of whether you have a shopfront, you can create a Google Business Profile.
Make sure you are featured in local listings and directories
Getting listed on Google is only the beginning. To maximise your visibility, you will want to ensure you are featured in all the relevant listings and directories for your region and industry.
This could be on big sites, such as Yell.com and TripAdvisor, as well as smaller, bespoke directories created for your local area.
Similarly, you could leave your business cards or adverts in shops, cafés and stores, and promote your business on neighbourhood community websites, such as Nextdoor, to drum up local interest.
Participate in local events
If you want your business to benefit from being part of a local community, then you need to participate in that community.
Setting up a stall at a local market, raising money for a local charity, sponsoring an event and running free workshops and classes are just some of the ways you can build a good relationship with people in the area.
The more locals see you doing your bit for the community, the more the visibility of, and trust in, your business will grow.
Get featured in the local press
Participating in local events can be one way to get your foot in the door with the local press. This can be everything from newspapers and radio stations to local websites and social media profiles.
In order to gain further coverage, you could send out press releases about:
- any newsworthy updates you have, such as a new location or product
- notable initiatives you have run
- charities you have supported
- awards you have won
Alternatively, you could offer to write an article for a local paper, drawing on your own experience of the industry you work in.
Form local partnerships
Are there any other local businesses that are not competitors, with which you share a similar client base or target audience? If so, you could consider partnering with them to increase your exposure to the local community.
For example, if you run a coffee shop, you could approach a local bakery to feature their products in your store, in exchange for the bakery selling your coffee in theirs. This kind of cross-promotion can help get more eyes on your business, while building your local relationships.
Even if you don’t want to form a partnership with another business, it is still important to network.
Attending trade shows, joining business groups and getting to know your next door neighbours can all be great ways to grow your expertise while further embedding yourself in the local economy.
Create a customer loyalty programme
You can encourage local customers to keep coming back by creating a loyalty programme. This could be a free product after a certain number of purchases, discounts, or access to exclusive deals.
Pay for local advertising
If you want to take the next step and start dedicating funds to promotion, then you could start with local advertising. There are a lot of options available to you, from classic adverts in the paper or on the radio to strategically placed billboards, vehicle wraps, and flyering.
Whatever option you choose, it is important to know the audience you are targeting, and get your messaging correct. For example, make sure you include a call to action, i.e. a prompt encouraging the audience to act on your advertisement, with relevant contact details.
You should also know what metrics you will be using to measure the success of your campaigns, whether that’s increased sales and online searches, or more customers through the door.
How to promote your business on social media
From leveraging an existing following to paying for sponsored posts or influencer marketing, promoting your business on social media can be one of the best ways to get your name out there.
But not every platform is going to suit your business needs. It is important to know the audience you want to reach, which platforms they engage with, and how.
It can also help to think of social media platforms as search engines. Just as people search for businesses on Google and Bing, the same is true of Facebook, Twitter and the like.
Create a Facebook profile for your business
An easy first step in promoting your business on social media is setting up a Facebook page for your organisation.
As with a Google Business Profile, a Facebook business page provides customers with a way to find out about your organisation and what it offers. You can also use the page, which is free, to gain insights into how your customers interact with your business, with information about page likes, views and demographics all readily available.
In order to maximise your Facebook business page, you should regularly post updates, keep your information and contact details up to date, and interact with your followers.
Customers will also be able to provide feedback on your business via Facebook page ratings and reviews.
Start a YouTube channel
Starting a YouTube channel and making videos means you will have a presence on another major search engine, while creating an asset that can be shared (and reshared) on multiple platforms.
Some customers may prefer to engage with videos rather than written content, so it can also be another method of getting information about your business into the right hands.
YouTube analytics, meanwhile, can give you a greater understanding of your audience, and allow you to make adjustments to your business accordingly.
Post regularly on Twitter
Unless you have a large personal following, it can be a good idea to create a dedicated Twitter profile for your business.
This means you can tailor your display name, account name and bio, as well as your profile picture and header image, to make sure they are as relevant as possible to your business.
From there, you can post regularly and engage with your followers in order to further build your customer relationship. Twitter can be a fantastic resource for managing customer enquiries and alerting people to new deals, products and services you have to offer.
Cultivate an audience on Instagram
When using Instagram, take time to compose your images and videos in a way that best showcases your products, and think about what will appeal to your target audience. Do your research into how your competitors are positioning themselves, and what kind of content they are posting.
By setting up Instagram Shopping, meanwhile, you can let customers know about new products, provide them with images, descriptions and prices, driving them to your website to buy your products.
As with other social media platforms, your Instagram account can also help you gain further insight into your audience base.
Try your hand at TikTok
While TikTok might seem intimidating to the uninitiated, it is another tool at your disposal for getting eyes on your business – especially if you are targeting a younger audience.
If you create a free TikTok Business Account, you can add an email function that will allow your followers to contact you directly, as well as a website link to promote your business.
As with other social media platforms, do your research to see how your competitors are framing their products or services and keep on top of TikTok trends that you can ape when making content.
Build your connections on LinkedIn
If you are a business-to-business (B2B) organisation, then LinkedIn may be your social media platform of choice.
You can use both your personal LinkedIn profile to network with fellow professionals and create a free company page, through which you can share posts by employees in order to reach new connections.
Having a LinkedIn company page can also be a useful tool when it comes to recruiting new staff.
» MORE: How to interview someone
Run a social media competition
One way to try to create engagement on social media is by running a competition. This could be for a free product, trial of your services, or an experience.
And if you make following and sharing a condition of entry to the competition, this can be a way of both gaining followers and increasing the visibility of your products or services.
Pay for social media advertising
While the specifics can differ from platform to platform, social media advertising is when you pay for an advert or post to appear in other people’s feeds, without them needing to follow you already.
One of the benefits of paid social media advertising is that you can target very specific audience segments and demographics, with the aim of increasing conversion.
Below are the steps you should follow when paying for social media advertising:
- Determine your target audience and which platforms they are most likely to use.
- Choose which advert format you want to use, from static images to video posts.
- Set a budget for how much money you want to spend.
- Define the metrics you wish to measure.
- Create your ads and set them to go live.
- Track and measure the results of your ads to see how well they are performing.
It is a good idea to coordinate your paid social media advertising with your other, regular social media activities to maximise their effectiveness.
Pay for influencer marketing
An alternative to social media advertising is influencer marketing. This is when you pay a social media influencer, i.e. someone with a large and active audience online, to promote your product or service through their own social media channels.
As with all social media marketing, it is vital that you know your audience. While an influencer with a relatively small number of followers may not initially seem appealing, if their audience is engaged and well-suited to your product, you could see a better rate of conversion than with an influencer who has a larger number of followers who don’t match your target audience.
How to promote your business online
Using social media is only scratching the surface of how you can promote your business online.
Whether you are soliciting customer reviews or engaging with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, there are tools for promotion to suit every small business budget.
» MORE: How to grow your small business online
Ask for customer reviews
While a Google Business Profile and Facebook Business Page will give you access to customer reviews on those sites, you can also encourage your customers to leave reviews on dedicated websites, such as Trustpilot and Feefo.
Not only can a strong review score be used to promote your business by signalling the trust customers have in your brand, you can also use negative reviews to judge where you might need to improve and make changes.
Create online content
Creating online content, whether that’s informative articles, blog posts, infographics or videos, can have a number of benefits, including:
- giving customers another reason to engage with your website
- providing a shareable asset you can repost on social media
- increasingly your visibility on search engines, such as Google and Bing
Optimise your website
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process by which you structure your website and online content in order to get it to rank higher on search engines. The higher the pages rank, the more customers you are likely to drive to your site.
When creating your SEO strategy, you will need to consider your website’s technical configuration, the content on its pages, and how often your site is linked to on other websites. All three of these factors will feed into your visibility and ranking.
SEO can be tricky to wrap your head around, so it may be worth exploring free online training opportunities, or even looking for paid help through agencies or consultants.
Start email marketing
If you are able to collect customer contact information in a way that abides by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), then you could consider email marketing.
This is when you contact customers directly via email to make them aware of new products, deals, and services you provide, as well as to educate your audience on your brand and what it does.
If set up properly, you can track customer engagement – such as how many people have opened your emails, clicked on a link, and completed a certain action on your site – and more through email marketing, allowing you to better refine your marketing strategy as you go.
You may want to sign up to an email marketing platform in order to simplify this process. You could also pay for outside help, or even hire someone internally, if you haven’t got the expertise in this area.
Promote your business through affiliates
Affiliate marketing is where you pay another website to promote your product or service, typically through a unique affiliate link on the site. The link needs to be unique so you know where the click or sale has come from.
How the affiliate gets paid will be determined by your agreement with them: it could be a commission per click, per lead or per sale, a fixed fee for being featured on their site, or a combination of the two.
Affiliate marketing can allow you to benefit from traffic to other sites, while potentially only paying when a customer completes the action you desire.
While not always necessary, you may want to hire an affiliate manager if you see this being a bit part of your business.
Use pay-per-click advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising does what it says on the tin: you pay for every time someone clicks on one of your ads on a search engine results page (SERP) for a specific target keyword. Just think of the links labelled ‘ad’ any time you have searched for something on Google.
There are a number of factors you will need to keep in mind when setting up PPC advertising:
- which keywords you want to target
- the ad text, informed by your target keywords
- the quality of the landing page you are linking to (where users ‘land’ when they click on your ad)
- the maximum cost-per-click you are willing to pay
- your overall PPC budget on a monthly and annual basis
- which PPC platforms, such as Google Ads, Bing Ads and Facebook Ads, you want to use
If this is a new area for you, you can try to find free training courses online. Hiring a PPC specialist may help you get the most out of your advertising if you see PPC as a long-term proposition.
Pay for display advertising
Even if you don’t recognise the term ‘display advertising’, you know what it is. Any time you visit a website and there are banner images with text and links or videos related to a brand that isn’t to do with the website itself, that is display advertising.
There are different forms of display advertising:
- Retargeting ads:These ads are shown on other websites to customers who visited your website.
- Personalised ads:This is when you target customers based on their demographic and interests, informed by previous searches.
- Contextually targeted ads:Rather than targeting customers based on their interests, these ads will display based on the context of the search or a chosen topic.
- Site-placed ads:This is when you select the specific websites you want to place your display ads on.
If you use the Google Display Network, you will have three choices when it comes to how you want to pay for your advertising:
- Cost-per-click (CPC):This is when you pay every time someone clicks on one of your display ads.
- Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM):This is when you pay every 1,000 times your ad is viewed.
- Cost-per-action (CPA):This is when you pay every time someone completes a specified action, such as opening an account or filling in a form.
As with PPC advertising, you may want to train yourself in display advertising best practices before spending any of your marketing budget. You could even hire a digital marketing executive to help with this area of your business.
How to pay for your business marketing
If you don’t have the money in the bank to promote your business, then you may need to source funding elsewhere.
There are numerous small business grants that may be of help across England and the UK as a whole, as well as specific grants if you are based in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Alternatively, you could consider applying for a business loan, or a different source of business finance, in order to pay for your promotional activities.
» MORE: How do business loans work?
Image source: Getty Images
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