It’s difficult when you first set up your business or run a small company with a limited marketing budget, but there are ways you can increase brand awareness and generate leads without spending any money at all.
It may require some personal effort and consistency, but you wouldn’t have set up on your own if you weren’t prepared to show up and do the groundwork!
Here are some ideas to keep you focused on getting results without feeling like you need to invest in advertising or expensive paid campaigns.
With free and easy access to millions of people, social media is the obvious place to start. Even companies with large marketing budgets spend time and effort to be present on social media.
If you’re struggling to grow your company followers or have just set up a brand page, use your personal connections to get it off the ground. Your personal friends, family and acquaintances should want to help you succeed but sometimes we forget to ask them for their help! Invite them to like your page and get in touch to ask them to share your content with their own followers.
Don’t forget in your page posts to use relevant hashtags and keywords that your ideal customer would be searching so you can be found by more people.
Importantly, post consistently. It may seem like you’re talking into a black hole when you have few followers, but the more you show up and add content with value, the easier it is to be found and engage your existing fans.
Think about who exactly you want to attract. How do you solve their problems? What topics of conversation will they be having where you could join in and add value?
There are lots of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that you could join, as well as other online forums, where you could get involved and be alert for your target customers’ questions or comments so you can introduce yourself with a solution or offer some helpful advice to get you noticed.
Make sure you’re not pushy or salesy – just be yourself and go with the mindset of helping others.
What someone else says about you and your business is far more powerful than what you say about yourself, which is why building up a good reputation with positive reviews is really effective at helping you win more business.
Most people don’t think about leaving reviews – unless they’ve had a terrible experience – but most are happy to do it when prompted if they’ve been satisfied with their experience.
It comes back to asking again – follow up every completed job with a polite invitation for them to share their experience with others, and give them the link to the review site you’re using to make it as easy as possible for them.
Following on from above, if your customers have had a great experience with you and your business, there’s no reason they wouldn’t recommend you to their own connections.
You could set up a referral scheme where they get a token of thanks for recommending you, or you could simply add it as a reminder to your communication with them when you complete the job.
Network marketing is all about generating referrals too – without necessarily having done any work directly for the referrer. It’s definitely worth joining a group of likeminded businesspeople from whom you can seek support, share ideas and explain the ways you can help people they may know.
Once you’ve built a relationship with them and they know, like and trust you, you’ll have a group of people listening out for opportunities and introductions that could help your business grow. BNI is a world-leading example but there are lots of other more affordable, or even free, networking groups you could join.
Why not be proactive and reach out to other businesses with whom you could have a mutually-beneficial relationship? Think about what you provide to customers and then consider which other services, products and businesses they may also be using. For example, if you’re an independent estate agent, your customers are also going to need conveyancing solicitors and mortgage brokers – it makes sense to get to know some so you can refer business both ways.
The best form of free marketing is word of mouth, and to achieve this you need to make sure you’re delivering the best service or product and have truly satisfied customers.
If you go the extra mile for your customers and give them an amazing experience buying from your company, they’ll be very likely to talk about it!
Word of mouth can take time when you first start up, but if you’re consistent in the quality of your offering it will pay dividends down the line.