6 tips to promote your business for free
Advice from Toby Whittaker Managing Director, Store First Ltd
Marketing can seem daunting for many small businesses. Agencies charge huge retainers and budgets are limited. So how do you promote yourself without the price tag? Follow our five top tips for marketing your business for free.
1. Use local listings
Getting your business found online starts with search engines. So how can you make your business stand out on Google and other search engines? You can start by creating a listing on the following platforms.
Google My Business
How do you set up a Google My Business listing? It’s really easy and will help customers find you online.
- make sure you have a Google account
- go to https://www.google.co.uk/business/
- complete all the details, like opening hours and contact information (you can add plenty of images too)
- your listing will now go into a pending status and need to be verified
- verify your business by choosing a phone call to the company number recorded on your Google listing, or ask Google to send you a postcard to your trading address
- whichever option you choose, you’ll be given a 5-digit code, so enter it when promoted and your listing will be live on Google!
How do I get the most out of my Google Business listing?
A top tip is to ensure you mark the category of your company as the main search term customers will use to find you, e.g. storage centre, hairdresser or joiner. Anyone who Googles that term will then be more likely to find you there. You can also use this “keyword” (or search term) in responding to customer reviews to help boost your rankings, as Google will recognise the term and show it to relevant searchers.
Bing may not be as widely used as Google, but that’s no reason to dismiss it. Many people have Bing set as their default search engine or home screen, so it’s worth making your presence known to these potential customers. Plus, anyone who is unlikely to get round to or know how to change their default search engine is less likely to shop around too, so if they find you in their search results and they are happy with what they see from your website, they may be more likely to convert to becoming a customer.
You can set up your Bing Places listing easily – follow the same steps for Google My Business and you’ll be up and running in no time. Go to https://www.bingplaces.com/ to get started.
2. Use local business directories
Most local newspapers have online business directories which are free to list your business on. There are also plenty of other free online directories, so do some homework and list yourself wherever you can to promote your business to as many people as possible.
3. Start blogging
Writing a blog post is a great way to improve your ranking on Google and other search engines. What’s more, it will help you connect with your target audience by offering them regular, relevant content. Research the kind of questions your customers regularly ask and create blog posts which answer them. Immerse yourself in your target audience by formulating an idea of one person who is a typical customer, then tailor all your content to suit that person. This helps you to stay on-track and keeps the content ideas coming!
Set a goal for blog frequency and stick to it, so your readers know what to expect and when. Use keywords relevant to your business regularly to help Google recognise what you to and improve your ranking in the results, e.g. Manchester plasterer.
4. Get social
Customers now expect a business to be all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and they are great ways to connect with your customers and interact. Use features like Instagram and Facebook stories to give customers a day to day glimpse into your business – you can analyse what kind of content your audience likes and adapt it accordingly.
LinkedIn is a great place for B2B, so create a profile, log on regularly and interact with as many people as possible. Social media shouldn’t be salesy, so use it to make connections, show who you are and have a little fun. And if you feel like it’s all just too much work, pick one platform and immerse yourself in it for maximum success.
5. Ask customers to review you
We all read reviews before a purchase, right? So do your customers. Ask existing customers to post a review on your Facebook or Google, and be sure to deal with any negatives honestly and professionally. Complaints happen, but how you deal with them can say a lot about you and your business. Once you’ve gathered a few great reviews, this will do wonders for your reputation and online presence.
6. Send emails
Build a database via a signup on your website and market to existing and potential customers via regular emails. There are free platforms you can use to do this, like Mailchimp, which is very user-friendly. It offers you ready-made templates which allow you to drag and drop content and replace images as you go.
You will be able to see your open and click through rates, as well as which links have been clicked on and how often, making it a great way to adapt and build your marketing strategy. Use your emails to show your personality, give great offers and discounts and update readers on what’s happening with your business.
Have you tried any of these tips to promote your business for free? Which has worked best for you?