In what could easily be described as a recession, the current state of the economy is forcing small and large enterprise alike to consider alternative means of marketing; some low cost, some free. Here’s a list of things you can do to market your company that won’t cost you a thing, but that will usually net measurable results for you, depending on your business.
- Article Contribution – what you’re reading is a great example. Come up with “Top 10” lists and “How To” columns where you can establish your expertise in your area, and give people a taste of what working with you might be like. Contribute these articles to syndicate web sites or your local business publication that has an audience that would want to read your advice.
- Internet Marketing – not all internet marketing has to cost money. You can optimize your site to be found better in search engines, exchange links with related companies, and the most simple – update your site content regularly. Think about the sites you visit most often and why you visit, and you’ll see what you need to do.
- Strategic partnerships – a strategic partnership is a formal alliance between two enterprises, usually formalized by one or more business contracts that falls short of forming a legal partnership. The best companies to strategically partner with are the ones that usually have a mutually referring relationship with already, such as a massage therapist and a chiropractor.
- Social networking – Create accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Update your status daily, connect with everyone you know and reach out to new people through the people you know. Leverage existing relationships to create new ones and to get your foot in the door where you’d like to do business.
- Blogging – as with article contribution, establish your expertise by posting blogs covering “Top 10” lists and “How To” topics. Drive traffic to your blog via your social networks and engaging meaningfully on other people’s blogs. Even changing the signature in your email can help.
- Doing Interviews – do you have any friends in media? This would be a great idea to pitch some ideas about how you can teach people what you know, while simultaneously helping them connect with their audience better.
- Public Speaking – look for speaking gigs where you can tell your story of how you got where you are or you can educate on a specific topic that’s of interest to people. It’s very important to note that you absolutely CANNOT sell from the podium. It’ll destroy your credibility very quickly. To sell from the podium, you specifically must avoid selling. Ironic, but true.
- Picking up the Phone – it sounds like such an easy answer, but most people would rather go get their teeth pulled out without anesthesia than cold call people. The trick is to have confidence and a purpose before you pick up the phone, and be able to NOT take it personally if they don’t’ want to talk to you. Remember, it can take 99 “no” answers before you can get a “yes.” Decide how much
- Internal Referrals – your best and most abundant business comes from your very own client base. Ask your existing clientele for more business, and for referrals. Develop loyalty programs that keep people coming back to you, and conduct short surveys where clients can anonymously tell you the truth about your business so you can improve it if need be. Some clients will like you, but won’t refer until you work out “the bugs” they’ve found in doing business with you.
- Volunteering – this is my favorite because it feels the best, and people really come to see you and your company in a different light. You meet the nicest people (who can refer nice clients to you), and develop strong relationships through it, which are the foundations for a good referral-based marketing plans.
The key with most of these elements is not direct promotion; rather, it’s education and letting people see your expertise through sharing your wisdom, your time and your energy. Marketing of all kinds requires investment of something to get it moving into its own momentum – be it time, or money. Marketing with money doesn’t always take that much time, but marketing effectively without it almost always requires a significant amount of time. Take these pieces of wisdom with that understanding that these WILL work with proper dedication and focus, and you’ll start to see them pay off in no time.