“Advertising is totally unnecessary. Unless you hope to make money.” Jef Richards, Chair of the Department of Advertising, Public Relations & Retailing at Michigan State University, makes a point about the necessity of marketing and publicity for a successful business. Thankfully, it doesn’t always take money to make money. Market your business with resources you already have, including time and effort. Here are ten free marketing tactics.
1. Be an expert. Get your name out there as a bona fide expert. Teach a class, give speeches and presentations at meetings and conferences, and write articles for publications that reach your target audience. Participate in LinkedIn Answers to establish yourself as an expert within an industry.
2. Hold a contest. Ignite interest in your business with a contest or a giveaway. Integrate the contest with social media efforts to boost traffic and publicity.
3. Crowdsource your marketing. Involve new and existing customers in the development of your business. Open up product ideas to votes and suggestions to increase and engage your audience as well as to gain instant feedback. For example, have a contest to name a new release or make a poll to decide the next flavor on the menu. Again, integrate social media to crowdsource the publicity reach as well.
4. Host an event. Offer a workshop or demo. Host a networking event for your field or a get-together for your community’s local businesses.
5. Get social. Use social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, but learn how to use them wisely. Do some homework before you delve into the land of tweets and likes to make sure you’re not wasting your time or your audience’s. Check the analytics and stats for Twitter and Facebook to see if your efforts are driving results. Depending on what kind of business you have, check out other social media channels, such as LinkedIn for business-to-business marketing or Pinterest for visual marketing.
6. Provide public customer service. Make a visible case for how helpful and responsive your business is. Answer customer questions and provide solutions on forums like Yahoo Answers and on social media channels.
7. Blog and network. Blogging is a useless marketing tactic if nobody’s reading. First, create good content and push it out using social media. Extend your reach by interacting with other bloggers, exchanging links, commenting on other sites, and guest-posting on other blogs.
8. Use your e-mail lists wisely. Use e-mails to build your brand with customers who have already expressed an interest. Don’t pay them back by sending frequent, inane, or overlong e-mails. Be authentic and engaging while adding value to your e-mails, such as tips, narratives, promotions, and coupons.
9. Donate in-kind. Provide goods, services, or space for events and campaigns. Being a sponsor doesn’t just mean providing financial support.
10. Help a Reporter. Try Help a Reporter, which connects reporters and journalists looking for sources with company and industry experts. A free basic account gets you e-mails three times a day with media opportunities.HARO recently opened its service to UK reporters and sources.