Free marketing usually isn’t free, and it usually doesn’t work. What many business owners miss is that any marketing, if not planned well, can be ineffective – even the expensive kind.
Nothing is really free, so let’s not pretend that this will not take your time. These tips will not, however, require any direct payment. Here are the very best local free marketing tips that really will work for your business:
Volunteering Will Improve Consumer Perception Of Your Brand
That’s right, you heard it here. When you volunteer your time or services, it does many things. First, it establishes a really good reputation for you in the community. Secondly, it gives you something to write a press release about and get yourself in the paper, which is free. Of course, social media coverage will also enhance your brand image, so don’t forget to interact with your community online.
Make Use of Online Classifieds
Many towns use a Craigslist-type online classified model, and they are usually free. Choose one service and list it every day for a month. Offer a specific service for a specific special price, such as “oil changes just $4.99 with the purchase of a carwash.” Social media integration is also essential here.
Advertise Where Your Competitors are Advertising
If you don’t already have a website, get online and search for some local business names. Chances are, they will come up in several directories. Typically these directories are free and offer you the opportunity to register your business, describe what you do, enter store hours and contact information, and sometimes you can even enter coupons. All this is local marketing that’s really effective and really free.
Sharing refers to online word-of-mouth marketing
This really is the best form of advertising, and it’s totally free and totally local. Similar to the online classified idea, choose a specific product or service for a specific price and tell every single customer who walks in your door. Make it catchy like, “You can buy a car at Sam Smith Auto Store for less than a zebra.”
Attempting to do the same on social media is referred to as going viral. If you can produce content that has the potential to be shared repeatedly, it is just as effective as (if not more than) offline word-of-mouth marketing.
Use Receipts As Printed Media
Check out your receipt printer and see if you can have extra stuff printed on the bottom of your sales receipts. Change it monthly to coordinate with your online classifieds and word of mouth campaign. You’ll be glad you did, and people will be talking about your business. Think of your receipts as printed ads (like flyers) that all your customers will carry.
Establish yourself as an expert in your field
Offer yourself to local radio stations a recurring guest, or join relevant podcasts as an expert guest. Also, offer your expertise to local newspapers, and they may let you write a column such as “Ask the Plumber,” where you can answer commonly asked questions. Some people think this will give away all their knowledge and then no one will hire them, but it works just the opposite. If people know and trust you, and you’ve established yourself as a trustworthy local expert, they will automatically call you when they need your services.
For example, if you own a hardware store, no matter how much you talk on a podcast, your customers will likely believe you know more than them. They will come to your store and ask for your advice when they are purchasing hardware – and of course, they’ll buy it from you.