10 Free Marketing Opportunities You’re Missing

Many small businesses have faced the cliched conundrum: It takes money to make money. If you operate a small business and struggle to maintain a marketing budget that yields results without breaking your bottom line, you might want to take advantage of the following 10 free marketing opportunities you’re missing. Each has potential to give your business the kick-start it needs to generate cash flow so you can fuel your paid marketing budget – and take some of the profits home with you.

1. Guest blogging

It might seem like everyone and their brother has a blog, but the fact is most small businesses do not have blogs, and of those that do, only a few blog well. Find out what blogs your target customer base reads, then contact blog managers with original and useful blog topic ideas. Most will let you include a bio, and some will let you include a body link or two. If your content is good, it will be read, and customers will flock.

2. Customer referral program

This isn’t a new idea, but it’s a no-brainer that so many small businesses do not take advantage of. The best type of marketing is word-of-mouth, and happy customers are, well, happy to refer their friends to you. Give them an incentive to do so with a referral program that rewards their efforts with a discount or freebie for each new customer they bring in.

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3. Social media

If you’re not at least on Facebook by now, start a page. If you have a page, work it. If you don’t know how, either learn it or hire someone to do it. You can also investigate Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, among others, but Facebook is the best platform for branding and customer engagement.

4. Market on letterhead and invoices

Every communication you send includes valuable marketing real estate that is rarely used. Place an ad in the footer, in the sidebar, or on the back of your letterhead and invoices to generate new sales.

5. Press releases

Professional press release writers and paid distribution can be expensive (though often well worth it), but you can quickly draft your own press releases and distribute them to local media members, targeted editors and journalists, and bloggers on your own for nothing more than a little time investment. Remember: All it takes is for one major outlet to recognize you to potentially launch a huge influx of customers.

6. HARO

HARO connects journalists with sources. Be a source and scour the daily HARO listings for opportunities to get your name in major publications. Free and paid packages are available.

7. Write a guest column

Contact local media and targeted publishers about writing a weekly or monthly guest column. If they have the need and the room, and you have the expertise (and the ability to write), you can get a gig that’s low on pay but huge on credibility, which you can parlay into marketing prowess.

8. Public speaking

Organizations are always seeking expert speakers; contact them to see if you can line up speaking engagements. I recommend trying to find a new speaking venue at least once per month. You get free exposure to dozens, if not hundreds, of potential clients for what usually amounts to a 40-minute presentation.

9. Join a business networking group

Some national groups, such as BNI, charge for membership, but you can often find local business networking groups designed to help you grow your business (so long as you help others). With minimal time investment and no fees, you can grow a network of word-of-mouth referral partners to help you earn more business for free.

10. Attend local trade shows

Sure, some trade shows charge an arm and a leg for attendance, much less vendor space. But many local trade shows offer free entry – and some even offer free vendor space. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and CVB for opportunities.

Discuss This Article

Comments: 2

  • I agree with all these points Brian! Almost all require a fair output of time and effort, or give you very little control over the end result.

    Imo, the absolute best tactical lead & traffic generating activity that can easily be sustained over a log period of time & that always shows results is COMMENTING!

    When you share a value-add comment to a blog
    1) You’re really adding value to the effort of the blogger/vlogger, ensuring they notice you and frequently creating the start of a mutually beneficial professional relationship – they frequently have a large audience, and promote their blog/vlog and your comment to their client base, and IF you widely promote their blog with your comment, they may begin to tweet at you first with future posts, so you can position your comment at the top of the page!
    2) You now have access/audience to the readers/colleagues/friends & fans of the blogger & website, and the opportunity to demonstrate your value to their “regular” readers
    3) Your comments will last as long as the website lasts, gaining cumulated exposure and audience as months & years pass
    4) Most blog commenting systems automatically include the opportunity to login as your Twitter or to leave your website URL (as I did here)
    5) You can repeat similar comments on multiple relevant content blog posts, over a long period of time, also working in a link to your own blog post or web page content that is relevant to the conversation, marketing your content over time > http://bit.ly/CommentCurrency

    – Most people who find your business services or products through a comment won’t be able to tell you exactly where they first saw you (although the new potential client I spoke with yesterday could: he found my comment/link on a Young Entrepreneur’s blog site and appreciated my insights) – BUT your analytics/site stats will usually track exactly where the click came from, and you might be able to anticipate/prepare for the call!

  • Great ideas. As to 1 and 7, is it a bad idea to take articles from your own blog and have them placed on another blog or website as a guest blogger? Or must the content be original in all events?

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