Writing your marketing plan for next year can be a daunting task if you are a Micro Biz owner.
Everyone keeps on telling you that you must do this and not do that but ultimately only you will know what works for your business when you begin to invest in it. A lot of people ask me for things they can do themselves that don’t require any additional costs to their business so that they can begin to see what works and then decide whether to invest more resources in those activities.
Below are a list of 43 ideas, tips or tricks you can start doing today that can help you to market your business for free and ultimately find more customers for your business.
If you want to reach large audiences at a reasonable cost then PR is a great way to go. It seems today everyone is a publisher so there is a high demand for interesting and engaging news. PR is also a good way to strengthen your company perception and brand values.
Create a Press Release and submit it to free press release websites
Circulate your Press Release with local and national news outlets if you have something that’s really worth sharing.
Sign up for HARO emails and respond to requests from bloggers and journalists looking for experts to interview. This is a great way to build your brand and earn high quality links.
Create an Electronic Press kit and include key contact information for your senior staff who can be contacted for press interviews.
Find bloggers to review your products. Use simple query operators, such as “[your product type] + reviews [or] review” (e.g., “toy reviews”), to locate blogger review opportunities for your products; follow the advice in this video if you plan to contact bloggers.
Focus on Local SEO
97% of consumers search for local businesses online, therefore it’s very important as a small business to make sure that you are in the places your customers will be looking for your products or services.
Contribute articles to local publications, email the editor and offer your expert services to their readers. You can easily find lots of these magazines or ezines by searching in Google.
Claim your free business listing on Yelp and respond to reviews left by your customers.
Sign your business up to Google+ and complete your free Google+ local profile.
Register your business on local business directories. Hubspot have compiled a great list of 50 Local business directories, that you can begin to register your business listings on. If you are UK based then you may want to look into Free Index, which has a great system for finding B2B service providers.
Create Citations to improve your Google+ local listing. Citations are very important, so sign up to getlisted.org for free to find some great places to submit your business online.
Blogging is a great way to promote your business online. Use your blog to build relationships, promote your brand and get customers into your sales funnel. There are lots of great articles on the Hub about Content Marketing and Blogging.
Comment on blogs that are relevant to your website’s topic and be sure to leave your URL. I am not talking about “spamming” comments but adding insights and opinion to a blog post.
Respond to comments on your blog posts, this is a great way to build up a community and ensure that people feel welcome and will return to you site in the future.
Write guest posts on high profile websites. It’s a great way to promote both your brand and your expertise. Free guest blogging communities, like My Blog Guest, are a good starting point for finding bloggers who want to connect.
Run a monthly link roundup where you highlight your top 5 blog posts from around your industry. These types of posts often get lots of good traffic from social media.
Accept Guest blogs from other people it’s a lot easier to come up with fresh content for your blog if other people are helping.
Find Bloggers running link round ups and email them your latest blog post to see if they might consider including it in their next one.
Create a Custom Google Map about businesses or tourist attractions in your local area and share it on your blog. Custom Google Maps are a great way to get links and traffic to your website just like this one or this one.
Run a big best blogs type post featuring a bunch of great blogs and bloggers, this is a great source of ego-bait and will get lots of social shares and links from the individuals concerned.
It’s well known that Social media channels are great ways to increase traffic and brand awareness for your business. It’s very easy to get started and doesn’t require you to have to hire an expensive expert to get you going.
Build a Facebook Page for your business and create events, posts, contests and photo albums to engage with your audience.
Sign up to Twitter, or start using it much better than you are now – it’s a great way to network with other business owners and potential customers. If you need some advice on how to avoid looking stupid on Twitter then read this article by Gaz Copeland.
Add Social sharing buttons to your blog posts and product pages. Make it easy for visitors to your site to share your content on their social networks. Use a free WordPress plugin like Sharebar.
Use SlideShare to market to a large audience for free: post presentations, case studies, create how-to-guides, repurpose blog content, etc. Repurpose your blog posts into presentations.
Start using Pinterest. If you’re in the clothing, beauty, food or a similar lifestyle business, your micro business is a natural fit for image sharing on Pinterest and it currently brings more referral traffic than Google+, Linkedin or Youtube.
Use Stumbleupon to gain traffic to your popular articles. For very little effort you can get hundreds, even thousands, of extra visitors to your site quickly. This great article from Distilled has lots of good advice for using Stumbleupon.
Create Videos about your business and upload them to Youtube or Vimeo. You can also use Youtube to help you get found on Google.
Promote other people’s content on your social media profiles. This is a great way to let people know you are not just a robot and are adding value to your network.
The basics of SEO aren’t too difficult to comprehend and there is a lot of stuff you can do for free that will get you some extra traffic from the search engines.
Read the Microbusiness Hub guide to SEO and make sure you are implementing the basic on site elements such as unique page titles and using key words in your content.
Use Opensiteexplorer.org to find where your competitors are getting their back links from.
Install Google Analytics on your website and setup goals so that you can see what methods of promoting your business online are working the best.
Use Ubersuggest, or another keyword tool, to carry out keyword research. Use this research to create content for your blog or website that your potential customers are looking for.
Install Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster tools on your site to check for any errors such as missing pages that are returning a 404 error.
Optimise your page titles and meta descriptions to increase the likelihood of people clicking through to your site.
Use Google Alerts to find out who is talking about you or your competitors online.
Q&A websites and forums are great places to find potential customers for your business. They are also an excellent way to show people you are knowledgeable about your area of expertise.
Participate on the Q&A website Quora to help build your business profile.
Join forums that are relevant to your business, join in the conversation and offer insightful and helpful answers to questions. Forums are also a great source of links to your site too.
Turn enquiry emails from clients or comments on your blog into Q&A type blog content
Creating an email list doesn’t cost a lot of money, in fact it can be free. It’s a great way to keep the conversation
Join Mailchimp and create an email list – include your email signup form on your blog and offer incentives such as a free e-book or whitepaper to encourage more signups. Mailchimp allow you to have 500 subscribers before they start to charge you.
Offer a set of “free tips” to people who have given you their email address, this is another great way to get more email subscribers.
Promote your other products or services in your thank you emails and invoices.
Business networking is a great way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, find new clients and tell others about the great work of your business. A lot business networking groups can be quite expensive which can be hard to commit to if cash flow is tight but there are lots of “free” ways out there to connect with other business people in your area.
Run an event and promote it online, this great guide from Kane Jamison has some excellent advice on ways to get lots of free PR for your events.
Find free business networking meetings on sites such as Meetup.com or Eventful.com. If you are in the South of England you can try checking out events such as First Friday Network
Offer to speak at your local chamber of commerce or other business networking groups. External Speakers are often invited for free and don’t need to pay membership fees.
Offer a testimonial to your suppliers for use in their marketing materials or on their website.
I hope this list of ideas has given you some inspiration for marketing your business in 2013.
Today’s Micro Action
If you have any more free marketing tips please them in the comments below, the best one’s I will include in the article above and I will link back to your website.
Chris Dyson is a Freelance SEO Consultant and currently blogs about Social Media and SEO at Triple SEO.