If we are still on the 90s era, there are only limited ways on how we can market our business.
Among the most popular methods of advertising are through TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, YellowPages, and tarpaulin billboards.
And whether you like it or not, these types of advertisements require you to pull out money from your pocket.
But today is different. We now have the internet where we can reach thousands to millions of customers online.
What's more, the internet gives us the privilege to market our business for free - only online - which is still great.
I know you're already aware about this, but this article won't cover the typical market your business on a Facebook page thing.
Now, if you want to save costs for your marketing efforts yet see better results, you can try the following free online marketing ideas to boost your business visibility and gain more customers on the web.
1. Focus your marketing efforts on Facebook groups than on a Facebook business page.
I'm not necessarily telling you not to build a Facebook page for your business. What kind of business does not have a Facebook page nowadays anyway?
What I'm saying is that if you are to promote your business, focus more of your marketing efforts on Facebook groups, especially if your Facebook page only has a few likes.
With your Facebook page only having a few likes, no matter how frequent you post on your page, it won't reach a higher amount of your target customers.
Say for example, you are a business that sells pet products. You can find more customers for your business if you join pet groups on Facebook because those are "where" your customers hang out.
And so as not to waste your marketing efforts, be picky on what groups you should join. Take note the number of its members, its activities, and of course, its rules.
If you would be asking me, I only join Facebook groups which only have more than 1,000 members, and I make sure that the group is active. You can see if a group is active or not only if it is a public group.
As for the rules, some groups do not allow any marketing activities so your post will only be deleted. You can usually check the group's rules on its group description.
2. Have your business listed on Google My Business.
Are you familiar with Google My Business? Its formerly known as Google My Places.
Google My Business is Google's free business listing. It's somewhat an online directory, but not really.
If I would describe it more clearly, GMB is more similar to a Facebook business page. When you sign up for a Google My Business account, you'll be prompted to input your business details if it's not yet listed, or claim it otherwise.
After dealing with your business details, you will be then given a Google+ page for your business, which also sports an analytics tool, similar to a Facebook business page's Insights tool.
What sets it apart from online directories and a Facebook business page is that GMB helps give your business exposure on Google's other products such as Google Search and Google Maps. Amazing, isn't it? You sign up for one account and your business will be shown on Google's two most used products for free.
For example, if a user locally search for "coffee shop" on Google Maps, businesses that are listed on Google My Business will be prioritized to show up on the search results.
3. Get your business on Craigslist.Though Craigslist seems to be a very simple website with a not-so stunning web design, it is still one of the top 100 websites in the world.
Craigslist is a popular classified advertisements website with a 70th global ranking and 12th in the US. How cool is that?
If you market your business products and services on Craigslist, your free advertisement will be likely seen by its more than 60 million users.
It's fairly easy to make an advertisement on this site. Just go to the specific country or region you want to advertise your business, and do the following steps:
1. Create an account.
2. Post to classifieds.
3. Tick "service offered."
Then after clicking the "continue" button, you will then be asked to write a copy for your business advertisement.
4. Start your own company blog.
I have stressed this out before that a company blog gives you many benefits. If your business website continually produce fresh and valuable content, search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing will reward you for it. Though blogging may not provide you instant results, it will on the long run.
For example, you are a web design company in Canada and you want your company website to appear on Google's first page result for the search term "web design company Canada." You can increase your chances of making that happen if you blog.
When you blog, you are given more opportunities to state your target keyword all over again. The insertion of keywords in your blog aren't actually bad, as long as you do it right.
Not because you want to appear for the search term "web design company Canada," you will already break the rules of English and grammar. And bombard your blog posts with a ridiculously awkward search phrase. This is how it was during the past, where SEO content are full of junk, filled with robotic phrases. But today, you can still rank for the search term "web design company Canada" even if you don't make the keywords all stick together.
5. Look for websites where you can land a guest post.
Writing guest posts is another way to market your business for free. If you don't know what a guest post is, it works by asking permission to a particular web owner on your targeted niche if you could writer or contribute a blog post for them. In exchange, the web owner will allow you to write a blurb about yourself at the author section.
So when your guest post is published on their site, it will be viewed by thousands or millions of their readers. And they will see your author bio too! This can lead to visits at your business website and hopefully, they will become your customers.
To learn how to pitch web owners for a guest post, you can read Carol Tice's "3 Guest Post Pitch Emails That Got The Gig." It consists of real-life guest post email pitches and juicy tips why they are effective pitches.
6. Leave a smart comment on other people's blogs.
Do you like reading blogs on your niche and leaving a comment on them? If you do, you're in for a great start of marketing your business.
Just like any of the above free marketing ideas, you can also gain exposure for your business through blog commenting. However, I would suggest to concentrate commenting on blogs with comment forms like this:
The above comment box allows you to drop a link for your website, or business website. So that if people get interested at you, they can click your name and redirect them to your business website.
Some websites or blogs today only have Facebook or Disqus comment box installed which does not really bring much marketing value for your business compared to the type of comment box in the sample image.
And yea, your comment should be smart enough to pique the interest of the blog owner and his readers, so that they will click your name and lead them to your business website. Avoid dropping "Nice post" or "Great article" or "Thanks for sharing" comments, as these kinds of comments look like spam.
7. Don't forget to list your business on Yelp and other online directories.
It is often suggested that you have your business listed on several online directories to reach a bigger number of audience. But if you don't have time to submit your business to every online directory on the web, at least have your business listed on Yelp, the most popular and most widely reviewed online directory.
It is free to have your business listed on Yelp, but if you want to maximize Yelp's advertising solutions, you can avail for a premium.
8. Build awesome connections on LinkedIn.
After spending years on LinkedIn, I think the most effective way to market your business there is to build connections. And by this, I mean that you should make friends with your LinkedIn connections, and not only click that Connect button. Talk or chat with your connections until you build a professional and trusting relationship.
As for LinkedIn groups, you can also take a shot at it. However, let me warn you. Almost all LinkedIn groups are not that active. Yea, some people post on groups but there's no interaction compared to Facebook groups which are a lot better.
9. Don't be shy to do cold email marketing (or cold chat marketing).
If your business website only has a few email subscribers, then it's time to up your game and diligently collect email contacts of your target prospects.
Collecting emails of your target prospects is easy, especially if you're a B2B business. You can join Facebook and LinkedIn groups where your target prospects hang out.
Say for example, you are a freelance writer coach and you have a new book to sell. To easily find your target prospects, join freelance writing groups where all freelance writers gather.
Usually, professionals include their job and their company where they're working at on their Facebook and LinkedIn profile. So you can research their company website and look for their email contact on their website's contact page.
But if you can't find any, message them through their social media accounts instead. Hence the term cold chat marketing.
Here's a nice blog post about cold email marketing that you can read. This post from Yesware also contains cold email templates. I'm sure you'll love it.
10. Help people in forums and Q&A sites.
Helping is a form of marketing. And you can help and market at the same time through hanging out in forum and Q&A websites.
For example, you joined a particular parenting forum site because your business sells baby products. You may frequently encounter moms or parents asking questions about on where they could find or buy a particular product. And this is where you come in. You can promote your own business subtly through answering their questions.
Or even if they don't ask anything where to buy in particular, you can still help them and show that you are an "expert" on the field.
To find relevant forums on your industry, you can use this search formula on Google:
"topic" + forum
For Q&A sites, you can try Quora and Yahoo! Answers. Though there are other Q&A sites out there, these two have the most active users.
I hope you find these tips helpful for the promotion of your business. If you know other forms of free marketing, let me know in the comment section.