There are countless guides available on the general topic of Internet marketing, but the majority of them make the assumption that the reader is working with a decent sized budget. For most start-up businesses and artists, however, this is quite simply not realistic.
There is a big difference between free marketing techniques that are worthwhile and those that are a waste of time, however, and we will explore the best options for growing your brand through a free Internet marketing campaign in the tips listed below.
Although social networking is so commonplace now that this should be considered a no-brainer, it is important to learn how to maximize the potential of social media. First off, it is no longer acceptable to simply maintain a presence on only one social networking site. If you want people to learn about your business and begin supporting you through sales, then you need to connect with them via multiple different platforms. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are a given, but you should also consider using LinkedIn and Pinterest.
In addition to the more common social networking sites, you should look and see if the industry that your business is based in has its own social networking site. If it does, join it and make regular updates, just as you would on the bigger social media sites. It does not matter if the industry site only has a few thousand members, because each of them is already interested in learning about products like yours.
Make sure that you spend time each day updating all of your social networking pages and responding to anyone that has questions about your business. You should also consider hosting contests to introduce people to new products while increasing your total number of followers. The total cost of everything associated with social networking is only time and any products that you give away, making this the number one resource for companies that have a non-existent budget.
Advertising Coupon Codes
Coupon codes are prevalent from advertising providers such as Facebook and Google’s AdWords, and you should definitely keep an eye out for them. Most new accounts will be offered an advertising credit ranging from $50-100, and you can turn these credits into a few new customers.
It is important to truly take advantage of the advertising opportunities while you have them. Do not spend the entire credit on just one ad. Instead, take the credit and divide it up among at least two different ad styles. The reason for this is that you do not want to waste a $50 advertising credit on an ad that under performs.
By building two completely different ads that say different things, utilize different keywords and feature different photos, when applicable, you will reach out to a wider audience. You will also be able to track the performance of each ad to determine which keywords bring you a higher level of return. If you discover that a specific keyword results in a lot of sales, then you might even want to consider investing some of the money from those sales into additional ads.
Working with a Free Website
Anyone who works in marketing will tell you that you must have a website that is hosted by a paid provider. They will also tell you that you need a unique URL, along with a stable hosting environment. None of these statements are wrong, and if we were living in an ideal world, you would have the money to operate a fancy website that is hosted by one of the best providers in the business.
What happens if you absolutely cannot afford a website, however? A lot of companies will opt to use their Facebook page as their main online presence, but it is important to explore other options. Many free website providers now allow you to bounce a custom URL to the page that they are hosting for you. Obtaining a URL that ends with a .com, .net or .org will cost money, but it is a good investment. If this is completely out of the question, however, then you should consider signing up for a free custom URL through Dot TK. As their name suggests, your URL will end with a .tk. Because this is not common, you will need to work harder to get the word out. People are starting to get used to non-traditional URLs, though, and the level of awareness around these alternate options will continue to grow.
Creating high quality Internet ads for websites such as Craigslist should definitely be a priority if you want your business to stand out from the crowd. If you do not have a lot of HTML knowledge or if you lack a hosting spot for such advertisements, however, then it can be difficult to take full advantage of the power of Internet marketing.
A company named vFlyer decided to address this issue in 2006, and their services have continued to grow. Although their flyer options are mostly made with the real estate and property management industries in mind, there is no limit to what you can use their templates for. They will provide you with a free template that will enable you to make gorgeous advertisements that look just like a well-designed webpage. Any website that allows you to enter an HTML code should be able to display these full-page advertisements, but they have been made specifically with Craigslist in mind.
The company does offer subscription programs that will enable you to create a higher amount of customized ads, but a free account will give you everything that you need to start getting quality leads off of Craigslist and other similar websites.
Web Directories and Local Directories
At this point everyone understands the importance of SEO and of search engine rankings. Believe it or not, though, Google is not the only platform that everyone in the world uses to find a new business. It is actually becoming increasingly common for people to search a local directory, such as Yahoo Local, the business section of a specific town’s website and, yes, of course, web directories, like BOTW, Aviva or Jasmine Directory.
Becoming listed in these directories is however not free, but it’s a one time investment. As an added bonus, your listing on each of these sites will actually increase your search engine visibility, providing you with two positive benefits from a free Internet marketing source.
Put your industry to work for you. For example, if you are an independent artist, then you should contact every applicable website that you can find that is supportive to artists. Ask these websites to review one of your products, write an article that provides an overview about your business or publish an interview with you. Although not every site will be responsive, you will most likely be surprised at how many website owners, bloggers and podcast hosts are simply waiting for any good opportunity to add something new to their website.
When you approach these sites, make sure that you are friendly but to the point. No one wants to read through three paragraphs to determine why they are being contacted. You should also make sure to include information that explains why your product or service would be of interest to their readers.
Other Important Tips
Doing everything listed above will increase your company’s visibility, but the impact will not be permanent. The only way to continue to grow your business and customer base is to put forth some effort on a regular basis. You should monitor your local directory ads and make changes as needed. Keep your social networking pages active at all times; nothing turns off a potential customer more than finding a Facebook page that has not been updated in several months. Constantly change the template and wording of your vFlyer ads, and place them in different applicable markets and categories on Craigslist.
Your website does not need to be updated as often as your social networking sites, but make sure that you tweak it occasionally to keep the information fresh. Finally, take the time to build relationships with the websites that help promote your business. Each time you launch a product that is completely new, you should approach them about sharing this information with their readers.
As you can see, it is easy to obtain a lot of free marketing opportunities on the Internet. As long as you are willing to work for it, you can receive great results without spending a penny.