Marketing doesn’t have to be an expensive way of generating enquiries. Instead, it can be your greatest sales tool for both repeat and new business. In this blog, we’ll explore 10 (nearly) free ways to get your name out there and drive new business enquiries.
A website doesn’t have to be a huge expense to your business. There are plenty of free or very cheap tools out there to let you do it yourself (Wix, Squarespace etc.) or you can outsource it. Either way, a website is the shop window to your business. It’s the best way to get your business online, raise awareness, and to have a hub to send people to when you carry out any of the other marketing activities that we’ll talk about below.
If you do have a website, we’d also strongly recommend setting up Google Analytics, which is also a free tool that allows you to track how many visitors come to your website and where they come from (social channels, referrals, organic search etc.) It’s the perfect way of measuring your website’s performance, and it won’t break the bank.
When used correctly, social can be a fantastic way of generating business. It’s not an immediate return, but being active and producing relevant content for each of your social channels is a great way to keep your business top of mind when it comes to the services or products that you offer.
There are also some sophisticated advertising portals for Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram that can allow you to reach beyond your immediate audience to people you know are your target market. Although some spend is required, social adverts are one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising. They’re easy to manage, and a great way to spread awareness and drive visitors to your website.
Creating great content requires nothing more than your time and creativity. If you’re stuck for ideas to write about, the best approach is to brainstorm ideas and create a content bank which you can refer to and build upon. Topics might include:
Once you have 20 or more ideas, you can start to flesh out and write each article, ready to post them to your website. These can then be shared on your social channels and via email campaigns. They’re also a great way to get your site ranking for relevant key phrases. Later down the line, you could also produce videos to go alongside each of your blogs, with the videos themselves being posted to YouTube to grow your exposure further. The videos can then be embedded on your website and shared on your social channels. Other types of content to consider include eBooks, white-papers and downloadable guides, all of which are also great forms of content that only require your time to create and can add value and generate business.
Free webinars or thought leadership events are another fantastic way to show off your expertise, get your audience engaged and generate leads for you to follow up with. While physical events can be costly (and not possible in the current crisis), you can host webinars for free depending on which software you choose to use. All you need to do is pick a topic, create a title and a synopsis as well as some key takeaways and some visuals, then you just need to market it across your social channels, website and emails.
It’s also worth inviting other speakers from your industry that can provide relevant insights to your topic, as they too will promote the event, helping to spread your reach. If you choose a popular speaker, they’ll also bring their own draw, as people will want to hear what they have to say about your subject.
Email marketing, when done right, can generate results. It may not be immediate, but well-crafted emails remind your contacts that your business is still active and that you’re involved in the industry. It’s also an excellent platform for sharing updates and content with your contacts while maintaining a relationship with them that adds value. It’s also the best way to invite people to events and webinars because they’ve already shown an interest in your company.
If you’re new to email marketing, then we suggest using your client base and existing contacts to create your initial lists. You can also get in touch with Kent Libraries who can provide you with email addresses for local businesses who might be interested in your offering.
Word of mouth, or other people’s recommendations, is still one of the greatest marketing methods there is. Speak to your existing or past customers and ask them to leave you a review on either or Google or Facebook, or you could use a platform like Feefo to collect your recommendations.
If you do decide to use this method, we suggest emailing or calling your customers to ask them to leave you a review, explaining the importance of it. You could even create an incentive such as a £10 amazon voucher for every review you receive.
If SEO isn’t already on your mind, then it should be (if you have a website). It’s a completely free way of marketing your business and getting it to rank in search engines – all you need to know is how. There are lots of free and paid tools out there. We recommend Ubersuggest and SEMrush. These tools can tell you which keywords your business is ranking for, and you can also check what phrases your competitors are ranking for to help you improve the SEO performance of your website.
It goes without saying that to achieve good search rankings, you’ll first need a website. You’ll also need to have completed your SEO metadata and meta description fields throughout your website. If this sounds complex, there’s plenty of free guidance online. If you’re using WordPress for your website, we’d recommend the free Yoast plugin which will allow you to update all of the relevant SEO information. Then we recommend creating a list of keywords or keyphrases that you would like your business to rank for. These can be the actual terms your potential customers might be searching for. Consider your services or products and your location, and then look to produce around 100-150 keywords or key phrases. Make sure your content contains these words (without stuffing them in) and then upload them to one of the tools we mentioned and see how your site performs. You may need to give it a couple of days or maybe even a couple of weeks for Google to index your website if you make any big changes to content.
PPC, or ‘pay per click’ is a great alternative way to market your business on search engines and can be a quicker way to appear in search results page than organic SEO. Google’s PPC platform, Adwords, gives you a free £75 voucher when you sign up for a new account, and if you stick within this budget, then you could take advantage of PPC advertising completely for free. It could be worth trying out PPC to see if you get any results (you can track this under the ‘Paid’ channel in your Google Analytics account). PPC and SEO work in harmony, but there can be a learning curve if you’ve not used the software before.
If you’re a novice, we’d recommend setting up some basic PPC adverts that just target your top services and/ or product keywords. However, these will probably be competitive and costly if you operate in a popular market. If you’re holding or attending an event, this would be a good use of your PPC budget. Setting up specific landing pages on your website to support these campaigns is advisable, and they should include valuable content and a clear call-to-action, either a sign-up form or button. If you decide PPC is for you, we would recommend hiring an expert, such as Sleeping Giant Media to manage this for you. PPC management can be complex and confusing, and can also be very costly if you don’t know what you’re doing as you may waste budget on terms that are unlikely to convert.
Local or industry events are a free way of getting exposure for your business. People buy from people, so attending these events is a fantastic way to make connections and promote your business. If you regularly attend networking events, not only will you build your relationships, you might also get the opportunity to do a presentation or a speaking slot which will give you an extra opportunity to talk about your business, your expertise and what you can deliver to your target market. Be sure to add new connections on LinkedIn too, so that they see your social posts.
Networking events generate lots of business, but can also promote partnerships and collaborations with other companies and business owners, which can also inadvertently generate speaking slots, opportunities for collaboration on content and events as well as direct referrals.
While the current crisis might mean you can’t attend physical events, plenty of local networking organisations such as BNI have moved online. So it’s still worth finding local groups and joining them via video conferencing software from the comfort of your own home.
Competitions can mean giving away a product or service that you offer, and they can be a great way to generate interest in your business, especially if you’re just starting out. Once you’ve created your competition, share it online via social channels, your website and emails. It’ll encourage your audience to share the competition (as they’ll want to enter) and then expand your reach.
Competitions also create hype. People will revisit your website or social page regularly to ensure they’ve not missed any updates, and it also keeps the momentum flowing while the competition is running. However, it’s crucial to announce the winner across your channels to ensure your audience know that the competition was legitimate. You could even get them to do a video testimonial which you can also share.
Hopefully, you now have some great ideas to help you market your business. Let us know how you get on, and if you liked this blog, why not share it with your connections or register for our newsletter.