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Website – Most businesses will benefit from a website. Costs range from free to thousands of dollars to have a website developer design it. Since we are focusing on inexpensive, there are two free website hosts to consider called Wix and Weebly. They offer many features and are easy to use, but don’t have as many bells and whistles that a professional developer can offer. This is a simple way to quickly get a website online – for free!
Social Media – With options like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat there are endless ways of promoting your business online. Don’t stress about being on every platform. Go back to the business plan and look back at who your customers are and then figure out what platform they may prefer. Your best bet is to focus on one or maybe two and be active on those. Being on every platform but not being active will achieve little to no results. These accounts are free to use, though there are opportunities to advertise and increase visibility.Once the website is live, there are several ways to promote it.
Business Listings – The first one is to sign up with local business directory listings. These directories get businesses listed online with the major search engines so people can find the business. These listings allow a business owner to add a website, location address, hours of operation and more. Google My Business and Bing Places for Business are the two major ones and are both free to sign up for.
Restaurants, retail, and some services may want to list on Yelp. Yelp is another free place to list a business and can also help increase visibility online.
Video – YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and creating how-to videos and answers to common questions that your business can solve can leads to more traffic on your website.
Email – Build an email list of your customers to send updates and special offers. While there are email services that have a lot of bells and whistles, MailerLite and SendinBlue are great to start with and are free for small accounts. You can send emails from your business email account, but an email service makes list management much easier and makes it easier to comply with CANSPAM compliance.Some other offline ideas to market a business
Ask for referrals – Asking for referrals from customers who have used your business is a powerful, low-cost way to bring in new customers. There may not be a lot of customers initially after starting a business, but if you provided a positive experience, many of these new customers will become fans quickly. You won’t get any referrals without asking, so capitalize on that excitement and ask them to refer friends.
Business Card Drawing – Many people are hesitant to give out their email address, but if there is a small prize, people have no problem giving their business cards. Business card drawings are a great way to build up email contacts.
Write an article for your local newspaper/business journal/industry magazine – Advertising in print media can be very expensive but did you know that many accept articles from individuals. You won’t get paid anything in most cases, but this publicity could provide a lot of publicity. Be sure to write something helpful to that publication’s audience and not try to sell your products and services.
Advertise on your vehicle – Turn your vehicle into a rolling billboard by putting a magnetic sign with your business name and contact information on your vehicle. VistaPrint offers these for under $20.
Press Releases – Press releases can be an effective way to promote a business. Get past being shy and not wanting to brag. If you don’t toot your own horn, it probably isn’t going to get tooted. Whether it’s about a product or service, an award, a new certification, a milestone or work for the community, there is something almost any business can talk about. Most newspapers have a link to submit news and there is no cost for that. If you want to reach a broader audience, check out eReleases or PR Web. If you need help writing a press release, try Fiverr.
Free samples – Get customers to try your products with free samples. If you are providing free samples away from your store, be sure to make it easy for customers to buy.
Donations – Supporting your community through cash donations or product/service giveaways is another way to get your name in front of potential customers. It’s a good idea to set an annual budget or particular cause as many groups look to local businesses to help with fundraising. Many times, donors get exposure on the organization’s website which can include a link back to your website.
Sign Spinner – Having someone by the side of a busy road directing traffic to a store can be effective. Just holding the sign isn’t going to work well, so have someone who is animated and can get the attention of passersby to get the best response.
Balloons – Have balloons printed with your business name, fill them with helium and go to a park or community event to give them away. Kids of all ages and adults too, go love balloons and will hold on to them throughout the day, which gets your business name in front of a lot of people. Balloons can run $.20 – $1 each depending on what you have done to them and a helium tank can be purchased for around $50. 4Imprint and Staples both offer logo balloons.