If you wanted to take an ad out in the Buffalo News for a week, it would cost you around $65. If you wanted to put your company’s name on a billboard in Albuquerque, New Mexico, you would be paying over a thousand dollars for each one, and with a minimum requirement of four billboards. The price of a TV commercial during the fifth season of AMC’s Walking Dead? $400,000.
Let’s face it: advertising doesn’t come cheap. If you’re a new start-up, a small business, or heck, even a big business, you’re always looking for ways you can get the word out about your products and services without having to pay a dime. Here are 5 ways you can promote your business online for free.
Register Your Site
As soon as you launch your website, you should take a moment to register it with Google and Yahoo Bing. It takes only a few seconds. This lets the search engine know that there’s a new website to add to its index and this can sometimes help with search listings. With that being said, search engines will still find your website next time it crawls the web, even if you don’t manually register it. One thing you should be aware of is companies that charge you for registration. Registering is free, and if you’ve managed to set up a website, then you’re more than capable of registering the URL on your own.
Launch a Blog
One of the biggest reasons businesses put so much effort into content marketing is because not only does it produce results, it’s also free. If you already have a website, adding a blog is as simple as adding a new page and penning a few articles each month. It costs nothing but your time.
The philosophy behind content marketing is that customers search online for information, and when they come across the information you’ve provided, they’ve also come across your business and all the products and services that you have to offer. If you’ve done a good job at developing posts related to your industry, then you’ll be leading your target market directly to your site.
For your blog to really work for you, think quality over quantity. Today’s blog posts tend to be on the longer side, upwards of a thousand words, and they’re well-researched and well-written. Including images or videos can really boost your article’s popularity. You don’t have to limit your blogging to your own website. Being a guest blogger on someone else’s site can have its advantages as well, like getting your company name in front of a whole new group of readers.
Get on Social Media
While sites like Facebook are making it a little harder for businesses to promote themselves for free, there are plenty of other social media platforms for you to toot your horn. Posting regularly to sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram can do a lot for your company’s success. It exposes your company name. It builds your brand. It can help promote your products and services. It attracts new customers and increases customer loyalty.
Interacting with your customers on social media is also a great way to generate user engagement, while showing a more human side of your business to the world. Your blog and your social media can work side-by-side. Include buttons on your articles that allow readers to share on social media, and post your articles on your own social media as well. You don’t need to be on every single social media site in order to make an impression.
Social media is free…until you spend all your time trying to manage half-a-dozen platforms. Then it’s costing you quite a bit. Instead, do your research and pick just those that are likely to attract your target audience. Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and SocialOomph can help you manage multiple platforms at once.
Write Press Releases
Do you have a new service you’d like to promote? Are you introducing a new product? Are you opening a new office location or celebrating an anniversary? Receiving an award? Leading a workshop? Raising money for a charity or speaking at an event? These are all great reasons to write a press release, and if you don’t mind spending some time learning the proper way to write one, and looking for the right places to distribute it, it’s a sure way to advertise for free.
Some publications will charge for distribution so you might have to do a little research on where you can post. Sites like PRUrgent, PRBuzz, and ClickPress are just a few to get you started. In order for a press release to be accepted, it has to follow a very particular format. Not only should you research the proper press release format, you should study examples and spend some time practicing writing your own. Keep in mind that press releases are like an art form – public relations and marketing professionals spend years learning how to correctly and effectively write them, so it may take a while to find your groove.
Use Your Email Signature
What if you could let 10, 20, 50, 75, or even 100 people learn something about your business everyday? Whether you have a physical office location or you conduct your business solely online, regardless of what industry you’re in, email is probably a big part of what you do. You’re emailing customers, clients, colleagues, and vendors each and every day. That makes your email signature a hot spot for advertisements and it’s absolutely free.
In addition to your name and contact information, you can use your email signature to showcase your company’s logo and motto. You can add social media buttons. You can include a link to your blog or your latest ebook. You can mention a new product or service. You can encourage your recipients to sign up for your newsletter. While there are plenty of ways for you to use those few inches of white space, it’s important that you don’t try to incorporate them all at once. Limit your recipients to just a few actions and they’ll be more likely to take one.