If you own a small business, you naturally want to advertise it, but without spending a fortune. The best way to do so is to use creative and modern advertising methods. Let us take a look at the top 10 ways to advertise a product or service online and offline.
1. Encourage word of mouth referrals
When you are looking for someone to fix your roof, or teach math to your kid or someone to fix your computer, what is the first thing you do? Seek word of mouth referrals. That is exactly what you’d want to do when it comes to using the best, unsurpassed advertising tools for your business. Proactively ask your customers to give word of mouth referrals. Make sure you create an experience/product/service that they’d want to recommend. Naturally, you must also make it easy and clear for them on ways in which they can refer you. Let people know who your ideal customer is.
2. Attend social events or open days
This is an easy way to advertise without spending too much. Carry your brochures or visiting cards at social dos and give them to people who may be your customer base. Make sure your card/brochure/advertisement banner stands out and is different from your competition. Ensure people can see your ads and give it some time to work. A promotional stall at local car boot sales, yard or garage sales, school events, church or community events, town picnics, expos, etc are some good places to advertise for free. Make sure you take necessary permissions as not all events allow promotions. Do ensure that the gathering/events are relevant and consist of your target audience. If not anything, these events help you build a database of potential customers.
3. Create good branding
When you want to advertise for free, you must ensure that your brand and all your marketing materials carry the same message. Your brochures, cards, banners, website, logos and social media should all carry the same look and feel and tell your story. Good branding is an easy way to advertise a product online and offline. Be clear about what your business stands for. This will help create consistency in all your advertising efforts.
4. Place cards/posters in store windows
Ask local businesses to help you-most would be willing to do it for free and more so if they know you well. Place your business cards or flyers in local window shops. Utilize notice boards in offices, schools, colleges and institutions. Take advantage of waiting rooms too; drop your business card or brochures in waiting areas where people gather such as dentists, doctors, local offices, library, community halls, church notice boards etc.
5. Use local newspapers/newsletter listings
Take advantage of free local publications, newsletters or newspapers and have them advertise your business for free. Regularly contribute interesting information about your business, with interesting photos etc to such publications. Many local publications do not charge for these services. You can also utilize local postal or newspaper service to distribute your pamphlets and flyers. This is not a free way of advertising but it won’t cost too much and the returns will likely cover up initial costs.
6. Use Internet directories
Many specialist search engines and listing sites allow free advertising space to market your services or products. You should conform to their guidelines and make sure all the information is up-to-date. This is an important way to advertise online.
7. Make your own website and social media pages
Making a website is often free and easy.
- Keep it clean and easy for people to find. Aim for simplicity and convey your main aim. To get people to come to your website, give as much information as you can for free-something they can download.
- Give them the steps to solve a problem and then sell your product or service that can help ease the process further.
- Good websites with good content will naturally get found by people so you do not have to pay Google for advertising.
- Keep information easy to access and remove all annoying stuff like registration forms and passwords.
- Avoid fancy graphics and gaudy designs. Update your website from time to time.
- Keep an eye on Google analytics to see how you are doing in terms of searches, traffic, SEO etc.
- Do not add too many links unless relevant. Get other websites to link back to you.
- Post consistently. Write blogs, articles and keyword rich blurbs.
- Use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to advertise your website. This will bring traffic to the site. Although this will not happen overnight, remain consistent.
8. Talk to your customers
Keep in touch through emails, phone calls etc. Use a communication method that will work. This is an easy way to get referrals and advertise your business for free. Try to be the first to respond to queries as well as negative comments, especially on Facebook groups, social media like Instagram, Twitter etc. Being proactive in responding to questions, feedback, negative reviews etc is an easy way to get customers to trust you. Speed is a big factor when you want to win over competitors. Keep things polite-customer is always right!
9. Provide free services
Reach out to your community and offer free products or services for a time. This will help increase exposure to your product/service.
10. Create surveys
Surveys help you understand what your customers are looking for. Free online survey tools are good places to start. Post the survey on social media and get people to vote. This will create a buzz about your product/service. Decide on the purpose of the survey and keep it simple.