In a recent article, I shared five of my top 10 favorite tricks for promoting your business without spending much (or any) money. Several readers wrote and said they enjoyed the first five tips, so I'm hoping the next five will be just as helpful.
There's nothing like getting valuable exposure and new clients for your business without spending a dime (or perhaps spending just a few). Here are five more of my favorite tips for doing just that.
1. Submit an article to a business magazine or newsletter. Chances are there are lots of publications out there that are geared to your target audience. For instance, I receive numerous publications about marketing, communications, and running a business. These types of business publications are almost always looking for articles and information that will be valuable to their readers. And most of them welcome articles that are submitted by experts in the field (i.e., people like you). If you're not already, familiarize yourself with the publications that your target audience reads, such as those published by trade associations or your local business newspaper (many are found at www.bizjournals.com). Then start pitching articles - not only will you get exposure in front of those who read the publication, but you can send copies of your article to clients and prospects. (For specific tips about how to write publishable business articles, see the August 2004 issue of my newsletter, "Marketing Tips from The WriteShop." It's available at www.writeshoponline.com/newsletter_writeshop.shtml.)
2. Advertise in local, low-cost venues. If your business is local or focused in a specific community, don't waste your time and money with advertising that reaches audiences much larger than your target. For instance, advertising in a large metropolitan newspaper is unnecessary if your target audience is actually located in two or three suburbs of the metropolis. Instead, consider low-cost advertising venues, such as high school football programs, alternative newspapers or community newsletters. They'll be more tailored to your target audience and will be much easier on your budget.
3. Keep in touch with customers via e-mail. Convenient, easy and virtually fr*e, e-mail offers powerful marketing opportunities. If you don't already, start collecting customers' e-mail addresses (with their permission, of course). Sending e-mails too frequently can annoy your customers and be counterproductive, so don't take advantage of the medium - but using it wisely can be an effective, inexpensive way to keep in touch. Clients will usually be glad to hear from you, especially if you're using e-mail to send information that is valuable to them, such as announcements of special events, discount offers, helpful newsletters, or articles that interest them.
4. Network, network, network. We've all heard that it's not what you know that matters; it's who you know. Simply getting to know people is possibly the least expensive and most valuable activity you can undertake to help promote your business. If your business is local, attend networking events in your community, many of which are cheap or even fr*e. (Check your newspaper's business section for listings.) And don't be stingy with your network - when you have two acquaintances who could do business together, introduce them to each other. When you share your contacts, you simply broaden your network and others will be more likely to introduce their own contacts to you.
5. Ask for referrals. We all love to get referrals, because they often bring business - or at least interested prospects - with little, if any, effort from us. But referrals are few and far between if you simply wait around for them. Instead, those who really want to succeed in building word-of-mouth business must develop a referral system. When you've pleased a client, don't be afraid to ask for referrals. You'll get more success if you explain clearly what type of clients you're looking for. And when clients refer you to their friends or contacts, be sure to thank them appropriately. For instance, one of my clients, a carpet cleaning company, asks every customer to refer their friends and neighbors. When those friends turn out to be clients, the company sends the referrer a coupon, which is redeemable for cleaning services or cash. That way, everybody wins - the new customer, the old customer, and of course, the carpet cleaning company.
Copyright 2004 Nancy Jackson
About The Author
Nancy Jackson of The WriteShop helps companies better market their products and services with powerful communications including newsletters, articles, Web content, brochures and custom publications. Subscribe to her free monthly newsletter at www.writeshoponline.com or e-mail [email protected] for a free quote for marketing communications services.