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Free Marketing Ideas

for Small Businesses

Anne Livesey

Abstract: This article provides all the information you

need to market your business simply and free. All it
takes is your time. Every business needs customers.
You need to keep the old ones and constantly find new
ones. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you
don’t tell your potential customers about it, they won’t
know you’re there and they won’t buy anything. So you
­constantly need to market your business and its o
­ ffering.
Marketing can be all time-consuming, and h ­aving a
strategy that targets exactly who you need to market to,
when, and how is the backbone of a successful business.
With a careful plan, you can make the most of all the
free marketing that’s out there. So read on and get your
business out there without paying a dime.

Keywords: business, customers, marketing, sales,

social media

To own a successful business, you need to have paying
Anne has worked in entrepreneurship customers. You need to let customers know who you are,
for the past 30 years. She has set up
and grown successful e-commerce
what you sell, and where they can buy from you. As a
businesses, including a trip in the business owner, you’ll be bombarded with daily requests
UK Dragons’ Den with her iconic Gift to place ads, boost your online presence, take space at
in a Tin business. She has also held an exhibition. All this marketing costs a lot of money,
board-level positions in a number of
and doesn’t always guarantee sales and brand ­awareness
dynamic organizations in the United
Kingdom. Anne is currently guest growth. You may like to have a strategy that sets out
lecturing at three UK universities and an advertising spend for the year in a trade magazine,
providing 1-2-1 business coaching for example, or a national glossy, or it could be a local
to entrepreneurs and group training, magazine posted through local houses. You may feel
specializing in marketing.
this brings you enough business. But isn’t it much better
to pay nothing for marketing your business? Wouldn’t
it be great to reach your potential customers without
­spending a dime? It’s going to take some time and leg
work, but read on for some great marketing ideas for
your business, which won’t cost you anything.

© Business Expert Press 978-1-94819-833-2 (2018) Expert Insights

Free Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Understanding Your Customer PR

Before we start, let’s be clear, for any mar- PR stands for public relations. There
keting to be successful, you need to know are plenty of specialist consultants and
who your customer is, what they want, and ­agencies who offer PR services, using
why your business has the solution. For their ­knowledge and contacts to boost
example, a dog walker might think it’s a your ­business, for a fee. But you can also
good idea to have a flyer printed and post do some PR yourself.
it through 200 local houses. Sounds like a Hard copy publications are a great source
good idea? A cheap flyer, and some shoe of information for customers. They sell
leather? But what if only 10 of those houses advertising space, which can be expen-
own a dog, and 5 of them already have a sive. Try and leverage this PR opportunity
dog walker, and 2 of them walk their own yourself by contacting the publication—­
dog? Doesn’t sound like such an effective local, regional, and ­national—depending on
marketing strategy now, does it? your business’s ­geographical spread. P­ rovide
What if the dog walker went to a l­ocal them with a really ­newsworthy story. Per-
puppy training class and handed out haps you’ve just launched an amazing
­leaflets. First, the dog owners get to meet business, solved an ecological problem, en-
the business owner and the person they gaged with a ­hard-to-reach community, etc.
are trusting to look after their cherished ­Journalists are always looking for ­unusual
member of the family. All the people there stories, and if you can provide them with
have a dog. This is clearly a much more some ­ interesting news and offer them an
targeted marketing strategy. interview, with some great images, you
If you can produce your own leaflets that might just land a great story and some great
look professional, then you don’t even have free PR.
to pay for design and print; it’s ­really ­costing If the publication is reluctant—they would
you virtually nothing other than some rather you take paid advertising—­offer them
­paper, ink, and your time ­handing them out a competition for their r­eaders—come up
and meeting the new puppy owners. with a free giveaway for the five readers who
The trick is to understand who your t­ arget answer a question correctly, for example. In
audience is—this is called segmentation. exchange for this ­attractive offer for their
readers, you can often ­negotiate a free story
Targeting and segmentation are part on the business.
of a three-part process referred to as
STP. STP stands for segmentation, Blogs
targeting and positioning, processes You can take this idea a step further and
that involve taking a close look at write your own blog about your business.
your potential customers in order Make sure the news you’re writing about
to determine your marketing mix. is interesting and newsworthy. Publishing
Targeting and segmentation help you your own blog is free on a number of blog
narrow down the market into more sites, simple to set up, and it doesn’t take
manageable groups so you know long to write a blog of about 400 words.
which segments to pursue in ­growing Blogs provide free marketing in a num-
your business. (Small ­Business Chron, ber of ways:
2017, online)
■■ Build brand awareness
Before you start marketing, take some ■■ Improve your credibility
time to understand who your customers ■■ Create trust
are, where they are, and how you provide ■■ Develop links back to your website and
the answer to their problem. social media sites

2 © Business Expert Press 978-1-94819-833-2 (2018) Expert Insights

Free Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Ask people to follow your blog and sign Once you’ve entered, you’ll ­often ­receive
up; build your own community. Offer them free coverage on the award w ­ ebsite (so
interesting free news; then when they’re a people can vote for you, for example).
happy community, you can softly introduce You can promote your entry on your
more about your business and start to redi- own w ­ ebsite and social media ­platforms,
rect them more frequently to your website. making this a really nice joined-up
­marketing tool.
Images Even if you don’t win, you can raise your
Take some time to gather together some profile, and if you do win, you can shout if
really good images for your business. The from the rooftops and the award will also
cameras on our mobiles are great these heavily promote you.
days for taking good photos, or maybe you Filling out the entry can be time
might have a friend who is an ­ amateur ­consuming, but well worth the effort for
­photographer and could help you out. the free exposure for your business. Search
Having good images in stock will make online for current awards in your sector or
promoting your business easy. Images area.
are much more engaging than words,
and p ­eople will share images they like. Networking
­Whenever you post on social media, use an Some people groan at the thought of
image. Make sure it’s clear, in focus, and a ­networking. Taking time out from running
really good shot. your business at 6 a.m., eating breakfast
If you’re running a completion in a with a bunch of strangers isn’t everyone’s
­publication, often they will do some ­product cup of tea. But if you become involved with
shots for you—ask if you can use them. an active, referral-based, friendly group, it
You might just have to take the plunge can pay dividends for your business. Once
and have some professional shots, but try you become integrated into the group and
that at your local college or photography members trust you and your business, they
society first. A student may be building up will be happy to make referrals to you, and
their portfolio and would be happy to gain you can do the same. Some groups do make
the experience free. a charge, but if you select the ones where
it’s a pay-as-you-go system, they are really
Brand Image good value.
Getting your logo and brand right is all so Many networking groups offer the
important. Using a professional designer ­opportunity to speak for a minute or two
to do this for you will require some initial about your business; polish up that ­elevator
­investment, but once you have the designs, pitch.
use them everywhere. Put them on all your There are also online free networking
social media pages and at the end of your groups too, such as LinkedIn, or there may
e-mail sign off. All the places it’s free to use be specific online groups for your business
an image of your design. Again, if you have sector.
some funds, you could have w ­ orkwear Some business networking groups are quite
printed up with your logo or have some aggressive with a lot of rules about r­ eferrals.
made for your vehicle. Every time you These groups often suit ­professional services
wear the clothes or drive around town, it’s such as lawyers and accountants. If you’re in
free advertising! that industry, it’s the place for you. If you’re
a freelance ­artist, not so much. Pick your
Competitions networking groups carefully; otherwise you
Entering your business or yourself as an will loathe going and your business won’t
entrepreneur into an award is u
­ sually free. get anything out of it.

© Business Expert Press 978-1-94819-833-2 (2018) Expert Insights