If you want to run a successful business, you need to invest time and resources in marketing. A good marketing strategy would help you get your products or services in front of your target audience, increase sales, and reach your business goals.
However, traditional forms of marketing like television, billboard advertisements, radio, and newspapers can be very expensive. This might not be an issue if you are a huge enterprise with an entire marketing department with millions of dollars budgeted for marketing. But what happens if you are a small business with little or no marketing budget? How can you effectively market your product or service without breaking the bank? Does this mean that you have to pause all your marketing efforts until you can raise money?
In this article, we would see 8 ways you can promote your business without a marketing budget.
Internet marketing 1. Start A Blog
Running a business blog is a free marketing tactic to help your business become more visible online and also reach a much larger audience. Research has shown that companies with blogs have an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that do not blog.
To increase sales for your business, you would need leads. You can quickly get these leads by placing a ton of paid ads to drive new prospects to your business. But this method is quite expensive and the leads stop coming in after you have run out of cash.
So, how can you get new leads without spending money? In two words: blogging and search engines.
Every time you write a new blog post, it is one more indexed page on your website, which means it’s one more opportunity for you to show up on search engines and drive more visitors to your website. Your intended customers are using search engines like Google to search for businesses they would work with. The more blog content you publish on your website, the higher your chances of these customers locating you.
The moment traffic starts coming into your site from search engines, you have the opportunity to convert these traffic into leads. Every new blog post you write is an avenue to generate new leads.
All you need to do is to add a call-to-action button to every blog post. This call to action is basically any content asset that would be valuable enough to visitors of your blog that they would be willing to exchange their information. If you sell software, you can offer a free demo as a content asset. If 10 visitors sign up for your free demo and 2 of them eventually sign up for a paid version, that is two new customers and you didn’t spend even a dime on ads.
Internet marketing 2. Create Marketing Videos
If you aren’t using videos as part of your marketing strategy, then you’re missing out on a ton of opportunities to promote your business. The popularity of video as a content marketing format has grown in the past few years. In fact, a report from HubSpot research showed that 50% of customers want to see more videos from brands than any other form of content.
The best part about the video is that it can be used by any business regardless of size, team, or budget. Gone are the days where you need an expensive 4k camera before you can make high-quality marketing videos. All you need is a quality smartphone and you can start making videos immediately. In fact, most customers would prefer low-quality videos that feel “authentic” than high-quality videos that feel “inauthentic”.
Before you start filming your video, you need to decide on the kind of video you want to make. They are several marketing video types you can implement into your strategy. Here is a short explanation of some of them:
- Demo videos: A demo video is used to showcase to the customer how your product works. It can be a video of the unboxing of a physical product or a tour on how your software works.
- Brand videos: Brand videos are used to create awareness for your business and attract customers. You typically showcase your brand’s vision, mission, products, or services in this video type.
- Event videos: Do you have a conference or product launch coming soon? You can use an event video to create awareness for the event. It can be in the form of a highlight reel that shows the attendees what they would gain from attending the event.
- Instructional videos: These videos are great for teaching your audience. They can be in the form of educational or how-to videos that show your audience how to use your business solutions better.
- Testimonial videos: Customers want to know that a product or service they are about to invest in would solve their specific problem. The best way to show them that your product is valuable is by creating customer testimonial videos where your loyal customers describe how your company helped them solve the challenges they were facing.
- Live videos: You can use live videos to show your customers a special behind the scenes view of your company. Almost all social media platforms now offer live video capabilities so you can directly connect with customers on their favorite social media channels.
Internet marketing 3. Post on Quora
Quora is a very powerful platform that can help you reach a wider brand audience. It is one of the most effective marketing channels you can use in promoting your business or service.
The platform receives more than 300 million visitors monthly. So if you are looking to increase brand awareness, confirm your authority in your niche, and develop your thought leadership presence, you should check out Quora.
What is Quora?
Quora is an international question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, followed, and edited by Internet users, either factually or in the form of opinions.
Why do you need a Quora marketing strategy?
Here are some reasons you should be interested in marketing on Quora:
- The platform has over 300 million monthly visitors so it is a great channel for increasing your business reach. It is also one of the best user-generated content (UGC) platforms in the world.
- Improved search visibility: Your content on Quora is also searchable via Google. What this means is that you can also drive traffic and leads to the site through Google even if the content was written on Quora.
- Several high profile writers use the platform to reach their audience. Even former President Obama answers questions on Quora. You can use Quora to build your reputation as a thought leader in your industry.
- Quora also offers insights into your audience. You can use the platform to answer the questions your customers have concerning your brand and also offer up solutions to difficulties they encounter when using your product; making it ideal for customer service management.
How to get the most out of Quora marketing:
1. Create a brilliant bio: Regardless of the social media channel, a brilliant bio is essential. What makes Quora unique is that you cannot create profiles for a brand unless in special cases. You would have to create a profile for the individual in your organization that would be answering the questions.
Make sure that you fill out the interest, “About Me”, employment and credential sections of your bio. A complete bio would help people find you faster on Quora. Don’t forget to add an eye-catching profile picture to your bio. Your bio should give off the vibe that there is a real person behind the account; customers would connect with you faster that way.
2. Look for questions that fit your industry/business to answer: The point of Quora is to attract customers to your business. You need to answer questions that you know your target audience is searching for. A good way to do this is by answering questions on a problem that your product/services solve.
3. Find question threads with the highest upvotes: Quora uses the upvote point system to show the most popular questions and answers on the platform. Question threads with tons of upvotes usually have a lot of views. If you offer good answers to these questions, you can have thousands of views fast.
Internet marketing 4. Run a Giveaway Contest
Running a giveaway is one of the best ways to promote your business without a marketing budget. It is a quick way to create brand awareness and also connect with your customers.
When done correctly, it would cost you close to nothing. This is especially true when you use social media to run the giveaway contest.
The first step to every giveaway contest is determining the kind of promotion you want to run. There are three main types of promotions you can run:
In a contest, the participants would be required to have a skill or make some kind of effort before they can win the prize. The winners are chosen either through voting or by judges.
Some of the most popular contests are video, photo, or essays.
A good example is this Facebook contest by Eggo held in two parts. The first part is a recipe contest where participants submitted their best recipe for waffles. The second part is fans voting for their favorite recipe. The winner receives $5000.
Note: You don’t have to offer money as your prize. You can give the winner a 10% discount off the price of a product you are selling. If you run an ecommerce business you can offer coupons or free shipping as the prize.
In sweepstakes, winners are chosen randomly. It requires no skill or any effort on the part of the customer. The winners are selected by chance.
Pro Tip: Of the two, regular contests are the most effective in promoting your business. When customers know that their efforts are what increases their chances of winning, they become more engaged. The more people that participate in the contest, the wider your brand’s reach.
Internet marketing 5. Start An Affiliate Program
63% of businesses say that their biggest challenge is generating leads and traffic. One method of generating leads to your business is affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing involves an affiliate signing up to an affiliate program set up by the advertiser to sell and promote their product on a commission-based model. The affiliate would promote the advertiser’s product or service using a unique link, which sends traffic to the advertiser’s website. If the lead sent to the website purchases a product, a commission is paid to the affiliate.
In the context of this article, you would be the one creating an affiliate program that affiliates can sign up for. Starting an affiliate program can be thought of as a way of expanding your marketing team by hiring people who are paid only after successful sales are made.
The best part of an affiliate program is that you are not losing any money. You only pay the affiliate a commission after they have made a successful sale.
Setting up an affiliate program is also very easy. They are several sales tools you can use in launching and scaling your affiliate program in a couple of hours. But, before you go ahead and launch your affiliate program, make sure you carry out research. Analyze what your competitors are doing before starting out.
Understanding the competitive environment informs your decisions on how you will launch the program as well as your commissions, commercial arrangements, and targets.
Internet marketing 6. Submit Press Releases
Press releases can be an effective form of marketing, especially for small businesses. If used correctly, press releases are an efficient way to promote your brand and create goodwill in the local marketplace without paying a dime.
For example, when Green Rivers Adventures was about to launch The Gorge, a high-speed zip line, they issued a press release announcing the launch and a number of publications including The Associated Press and Costco Connection, which reached up to 8 million people picked up the story. As a result of this huge press, the company had a sold-out year before its official launch.
You should note that there are right and wrong ways to create and distribute press releases.
Unless you are a well-known brand like Apple, nobody cares about your company or product. Your press releases should not be in the form of a pitch. Journalists or the media are not interested in promoting you or your business so that you can just sell your products (unless you are paying them to do so).
A strong press release would involve sharing expert advice or opinions on a topic relevant to the journalist and their readers. This is some things you can put in your press release:
- An interesting solution to a popular consumer problem
- Offer a controversial opinion on a popular topic
- Bring attention to your business when you receive an award. This works best for local press releases.
- Piggyback off the news by offering an opinion or information relative to the topic at hand.
Internet marketing 7. Setup G2 Crowd & Capterra
Setting up G2 Crowd is free and very easy to do. You can set up a profile for your business in minutes and have the opportunity to be seen by millions.
G2 is a peer-to-peer review site headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. It was launched in May 2012 with a focus on aggregating user reviews for business software. The platform compares the best business software and services based on user ratings and social data.
Your future customers are researching their next purchase on G2. So if you sell software, you can reach more customers by claiming your G2 profile.
Capterra is similar to G2 Crowd. It is an online marketplace vendor serving as an intermediary between buyers and sellers within the software industry. The company assists consumers with selecting the best software for their needs.
Both of these services are available internationally so you can reach a very wide audience by setting up your profile. To increase your ratings, ask your users to add a review of your product on G2 Crowd/Capterra.
Internet marketing 8. Start a Podcast or Get Featured In One
Podcasts are a great way to promote your product and services. There is a huge number of people listening to podcasts daily. In fact, the proportion of Americans listening to podcasts has increased in the past few years. According to musicoomph, 22% of Americans (approximately 103 million) listen to podcasts, weekly people.
You should take advantage of this trend and start your own podcast show. The best part is that there are a lot of quality free podcast hosting services that you can use to get started. All you need is great content and a good microphone and you are good to go.
The key to running a successful podcast is creating engaging content that delivers value to your listeners. When done well, a podcast can be very beneficial to your brand. For example, given the audio nature of podcasts, listeners tend to hang on to every word, making it excellent for advertisers trying to make their brand known.
Just like with your business blog, create podcasts that are niche based and targeted to a specific audience. When you create content that resonates with your audience, you would receive a high level of engagement.
Another way to boost your podcast is by interviewing other experts. This would bring variety to your show and you also get exposed to their audience that may not have known about your podcasts.
If you don’t want the workload of starting your own podcast, you can get featured in other podcasts in your industry. Reach out to other podcasts hosts and offer to be interviewed in their show. You can use targeted email outreach to connect with these hosts. When you eventually get invited, be sure to deliver immense value to their audience.
Internet marketing Conclusion
It is very possible to market your products or services and create brand awareness without spending a lot of money. With the strategies mentioned in this article, you can promote your business without a marketing budget.
With a little commitment and creativity on your part, you can start generating tons of leads fast.
Which of the tips in this article would you start using first? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.