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As a small business owner, you can easily find yourself caught in a frustrating catch-22 – you need more customers to boost your profits but you need more profits to pay for the marketing costs of reaching more customers. Instead of letting this vicious cycle get you down, enlist the following marketing methods that can win you free, ongoing advertising for your business:
1. Clever gifts
Being generous is excellent business karma. If you’re strategic with the promotional products and corporate gifts you give away, then you will earn yourself free advertising every time the recipient uses your gift. Invest in high-quality, super-useful items branded with your eye-catching logo and people will be constantly asking “where did you get that?” This means that conversations about your business will regularly be sparked with potential new customers, all because you were tactically generous.
2. Encourage referrals
Experts agree that referrals are the most valuable form of marketing. The marvelous thing about them is that they cost you, the business owner, nothing. All you have to do is provide a stellar product and first-rate service. With these essential bases covered, offer an incentive program to encourage customers to refer their friends and family. Sites like Uber and Airbnb have used this to great effect, and their referral bonuses are relatively small. Offer your incentive in the form of a discount, and you’re also ensuring the return of the referring customer.
3. Be active on social media
Though social media does feature paid advertising options, there are still plenty of free avenues of which you can take advantage. Facebook and Twitter allow you to engage directly with your customers and build a personality for your brand. You can also answer questions on sites like Reddit and Quora where many people go to seek answers from experts. The trick is to avoid direct marketing on these sites and focus instead on offering valuable information and knowledge. In this way, you can quickly develop a fan base and establish yourself as an expert in your field, immediately engendering trust and loyalty.
4. Write guest posts for blogs
By guest posting on popular blogs with an audience that matches your target demographic, you can establish yourself as an industry leader while simultaneously building brand awareness. On top of allowing you to reach a wider audience in a positive way, you’ll also be able to get valuable backlinks to your site. Even if you only write one or two guest posts a month, if you make a habit out of it, you will build your website’s value in the eyes of search engines and draw more traffic as a result.
5. Become a public figure
There are a number of ways you can achieve this. For example, you could volunteer to speak at networking events and trade conventions, create YouTube videos in which you share your expertise, or expand on this by creating an online course or webinar series. Another great option is to sign up for sites like HARO which journalists use to find industry experts to interview. If you’re used as an expert in a news report, your credentials will be shared, and once again, this casts you as a thought leader in your field.
Though these marketing methods have little to no initial cost, they do require an investment of time and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. If you can do this, however, each of these methods will pay off exponentially with high-quality, free advertising for years to come.