Business promotions can run the gamut of cost, from absolutely free to entirely outside your meager budget. But there is good news for the modern entrepreneur or small-business owner looking to expand through promotions without having to foot a hefty bill: the internet provides you with almost limitless opportunities to engage in marketing and promotions for little to no cost. Of course, you can always take old-school methodology into the modern era by creating online commercials and sending out spam (the flyer-under-the-windshield-wiper for a new era). But you’re better off taking advantage of the ever-growing technology that allows you to connect to a broader demographic and really solidify your brand image. Here are just a few ways to go about it.
Industry forums are a great way to make connections with your colleagues, but they also provide you with an amazing opportunity to promote your business (for free) and potentially expand. If you make a good impression, those in your field who are juggling more work than they can handle may just be willing to pass on some of the overflow to you. At the very least, they’ll be able to offer you the wisdom of their own experience when it comes to easy and inexpensive ways to market your business online.
If you have a website, you may want to start an online blog as a way to increase traffic and encourage repeat visits. But you can also promote your brand through associated blogs in a number of ways. You can offer to guest write articles in exchange for a links back to your site, you can give freebies to readers if the blog is willing to review your product or service, or you can create an affiliate site that allows the blog readership to click through to your online store (with a percentage of such sales going back to the blog owner). All of these will help to spread your name to an entirely new segment of the population.
3. Patron discounts
This old-school promotional tactic turns your regular customers into brand ambassadors, which means you have to treat them right. By offering incentives like discounts to any of your clients who bring in new business, you can actually get your customers working for you while virtually ensuring that they’ll continue to purchase your goods or services (thanks to their discount).
4. Facebook, Twitter, and RSS
The goal with these social networking tools is to get people following you and checking in with your business frequently. The first two are free and RSS will run you about $30 (although free versions can be found) and they provide an excellent (and unobtrusive) way to stay in touch with your customer base.
5. Email blasts
It used to be the case that you had to carry around packs of business cards in order to ensure that customers would remember you. These days, all you have to do is prompt them to sign up for a mailing list (either when they enter your site, or upon checkout at your online store). You can then send out mass emails advising them of new products, sales, and other promotions that might interest them.