Our 15 DIY PR post generated a lot of buzz around executing PR and marketing ideas on the cheap. In response to it, (and thanks to Michael Basinet's recommendation) we've decided to follow up with another post on more ideas around marketing your business for almost nothing. Read on!
1. Design creative business cards. Most business cards are thrown in a pile or discarded after a meeting or networking event. Why not create a card someone will use? Or one they're sure to remember? This post from creativebits showcases some great ideas!
2. Do-It-Yourself SEO. Submit your site to major search engines and indexes. Click here for a great post on where to find the URLs and tips on submitting your site the right way. Also, check out our previous post on 25 Free (and Useful) SEO Tools.
3. Take a free online marketing course. On a previous post, we highlighted 99 free business and entrepreneurship classes of which nine pertained to marketing. Invest some time in taking the course and apply some of the methods for your business.
4. Use an ad exchange network to exchange links with someone. One I've heard a lot about is adgridwork.com. While we haven't tried it yet, it allows you to add your site to their network for free. Your ad is displayed in relevant sites while you display an ad on your site. Basically, you're exchanging ads from one site to another. It's a great way to drive targeted traffic to your site.
5. Give back to your community. A great way to give back, promote your business, and feel good about yourself is to volunteer in your area. Help out at a local homeless shelter or church. You'll be amazed at the great connections you'll make. If you're not sure of how to find these events or what to do, visit VolunteerMatch and search for opportunities near you.
6. Use CafePress. Create your own pens, mugs, notebooks, T-shirts, etc. and give them away. It's an inexpensive way to have your prospect/client/user be surrounded by your branding. The more useful the item, the better. Save money and buy them in bulk.
7. Start an incentive program. What better way to attract users than to ask current or former users/clients to refer you to someone. Offer an incentive for motivation. It could be something you make with your branding on it using CafePress. It could also be your own product/service for free or at a discount - it doesn't hurt tying it back to your business!
8. Offer something for free. For example, we offer a free one-hour consultation (though it typically lasts longer) with early-stage internet startups looking for execution support. This consultation is one way we attract prospects. The objective here is to convert the visitors to your site into users or to get them to contact you in some way. What can you do in your business that has the same effect? Some ideas include providing them with a free subscription for a short period of time to your site, free shipping on purchases for a limited time, etc.
9. Social Media Outreach. There are tons of free buzz-building tactics you can employ. It's also a great way to stay abreast of the latest trends on your industry while building credibility for yourself and your business. Some methods include:
- Scouring the blogosphere and other social networks for relevant posts, groups, etc. and contributing valuable relevant content (being careful not to SPAM!).
- Creating your own groups and discussions around your product/service. Start a conversation with your customers, gain valuable feedback, and drive traffic to your site.
10. Create a Squidoo Lens. Squidoo basically allows you to create your own online page. Highlight the benefits of your service or showcase your expertise in an area related to your field. You can also point to photos on Flickr, Google maps, your blog, eBay auctions, YouTube, etc. Squidoo also shares their advertising revenue with you. Check out our Cheap Revolution page for additional ideas.
11. Create a YouTube video. Use your own camcorder (or borrow one from a neighbor) and tape your own video to post on YouTube and maybe on the homepage of your site. Make it interesting if possible - a funny video will get a lot more traction. For a list of free video editing software, check out this site.
12. Make sure you're listed in dmoz.org. What is it? It's an open directory project that contains the largest human-edited directory in the Web. Its credibility helps its listings rank higher in search engines as well. Make sure to choose the right category and you'll find it'll attract targeted visitors to your site.
13. Other sites to get listed:
- YellowPages – Make it easier for your users to find you by creating a free basic listing.
- MerchantCircle – Become more visible in search engine results and manage your online reputation by creating a listing on this site.
- CitySearch – Receive ad placement on top search engines with their online advertising tools.
- Yahoo! Local – The basic plan is free and helps your customers find you when they're searching for local listings.
- Craigslist – Posting is free and it's not just for buyers and sellers. Reach the estimated 10 million unique visitors per day by posting your product/service. Check out this article by Entrepreneur.com for a detailed approach on ways you can market your business on Craigslist.com.
14. Submit your site to Killerstartups.com or Springwise.com. Killerstartups.com aggregates web startups and reviews them on the site. It's a great way to direct traffic to your site and see what people are saying about you. Springwise.com is similar, it scours the web for interesting products and services, lists a description on their site and they also send e-newsletters about their latest findings to thousands of subscribed members.
15. Look for product announcement boards. Related to the idea above, look for product announcement sites or job boards that allow you to promote your site without worries about spamming. A couple of great sites include StartupNation.com and YoungEntrepreneur.com.
16. Engage them with a quiz on your site. Do you have static 1.0 site? A great way to jazz it up (for those with Web 2.0 sites as well) is to engage your users as soon as they land on your homepage with a quiz. People love taking quizzes. They're fun and can be thought-provoking. Start with an eye-catching title and ask them questions that pertain to your service/product, its benefits, its use, etc. After the quiz, give them their results with a short paragraph on which of your services/products you'd recommend, how to improve themselves, etc. Tip: Always be sure to link back to your site at the end.
Don't have the software? We recently put together a quiz generator for this reason and are looking for people to test it out. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The following ideas were mentioned in a previous blog post:
17. Blog about it. Don't have a blog? Get one! If you're worried about the cost, you can sign up for a free account at blogger.com or blog.com. We use TypePad ourselves. The title of your blog should be relevant to your product/service – you can also make it catchy or creative depending on the industry you're in.
When writing your posts, take considerable time in writing your headline. In addition, make sure to include keywords that relate to your post. These keywords will be instrumental in helping readers find your post. Once you've published your post, submit it to bookmarking tools such as stumbleupon, delicious, and digg. For a great list of social media sites you can submit your post to, check out this entry by Tropical SEO. These tools will help drive traffic to your site.
I would also set up a Technorati account. This will help even more readers find your blog. It's free to set up an account and you can set up your blog to automatically ping the site every time you post. MyBlogLog is another site I recommend setting up an account on. It allows you to build a community around your blog as well as network with other bloggers.
18. Write an interesting article. Writing articles is a great way to establish credibility and drive traffic to your site. Check out this outline if you're not sure of the layout or for some more ideas. The key here is to make sure your article ends up benefiting the person reading it. Some ideas include:
- Talking about the social benefits of your service.
- Providing advice on pitfalls you fell into when starting your business with examples on how you overcame them.
- Write a case study on a past client and include it on your site.
- A series of how-to tips related to your business.
- Write a free e-book about something that will benefit your customers.
After you put it together, submit it to online article submission sites such as ezinearticles.com. For a list of more than 150 other sites, check out this post. (Pick your shots and find the ones that will be the most relevant to your audience).
Other important aspects to take into account are to make sure your headline is thought-provoking and to include a byline at the end of article. Your headline should draw people in – make sure it's short, funny, and/or engaging. Sometimes writing it last works best. Check out this great post by Copyblogger for other headline ideas.
Finally, your byline should give readers a brief background of yourself and your company. Be sure to include a link to your site readers can click on. If you have analytics software installed on your site, track which sites are bringing the most traffic and concentrate your future efforts in submitting articles to those sites.
19. Write a press release. Write a noteworthy press release in third person and submit it yourself at free online sites such as prweb.com. For other sites, click here. You can also send the press release to the local media around your area. To gain a better chance of getting it picked up, include a cover letter that showcases how the information in your release benefits your local community.
It's important to also note that it may prove worthwhile to pay for one PR service if you have truly newsworthy information. We've used Businesswire.com with great success.
20. Start a contest. Everybody loves to win something and a great way to market your company is to start a contest. Make one of your offerings for free as the prize. Use this opportunity to add to your mailing list (with permission of course).
21. Ask clients for testimonials and include them on your site. If your clients were happy with your services, ask them for a testimonial to include on your site. If they don't time to write one, write it yourself and ask them to approve it.
22. Create a Facebook or LinkedIn Account.
Facebook isn't for college students anymore. In fact, more than half of its users are comprised of people out of college. How can you use it for your business? Some ideas include:
- Create a profile (business page) for your company
- You can promote your blog on Facebook
- You can list items for sale or recruit members for your team
- Develop an application and drive visitors to your site
- For more ideas, listen to this great podcast provided by Small Business Trends Radio
LinkedIn is a social networking site for business professionals. It allows you to connect with those you know as well as get introduced to those you want to know. In my opinion, it's most useful function is its "Answers" feature. This is where users post questions on several different categories about a certain topic. Leverage your knowledge and experiences by answering them and post your own questions that make others notice you. Be sure to leave a response you're proud of because the best answer given to a question can earn you an "Expert" rating.
23. Profile your company in Wikipedia. It's important to build an online presence and adding an entry in Wikipedia can help you accomplish that (even with the new nofollow attribute). Check out how other companies profile themselves and use the same format. Be sure to include links to your site so people can find you (We're working on ours now!).
24. Add an e-mail signature. You are probably constantly e-mailing vendors, clients, partners, etc. Did you know you can also market your new services in them? Add a signature line at the end of your e-mail with a link to your site that promotes your new service or blog post. It's easy to do and can prove to be fruitful. Tip: Make it action-oriented!
25. Speak at a local chamber of commerce or a nearby university. Find local, relevant conferences and offer to speak for free on an area of expertise you possess. This can be at your local chamber of commerce or other associations that relate to your industry.
What are some cost-effective ways you market your business?
By: Yasmine Mustafa