Disclaimer: I rarely advocate for free things!
My philosophy is that you typically get what you pay for. If you go with free or cheap, you'll get the quality and value you’ve paid for: usually not great quality or value.
There are some legit ways to promote your business that don’t cost an arm and a leg. I use six free tools to promote Grow Disrupt that have developed a good chunk of attention and revenue for the company, so I decided to share them…
A Caveat Before We Continue:
Buying premium memberships or paying for ads on most of these tools is rarely worth it. I’ve learned the hard way and so have my clients. Most of these tools don’t necessarily generate direct revenue, but they are great for building SEO and social proof for your brand.
Back On Topic...
1: Social Media
Most people think of social media when they think of free promotion. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Twitter, and more are places where you don’t have to buy anything to get your message out there.
But far too many people spend tons of cash on ads and promotions on social media that aren’t actually doing anything for them. OR, they spend so much energy being on every social media platform that they don’t do well on any of them.
Here’s a couple good guidelines for driving free attention on social media for your business.
Discover the top 2-3 platforms that your target market is on (Learn more about target markets here) and own that platform. Know what works on those platforms, the algorithms, the types of posts that do well, etc. But limit to just the platforms you KNOW your audience is active on.
For platforms that put more emphasis on a personal profile over a business profile (like Facebook and LinkedIn), use your personal profile to promote your message - just balance it with personal posts as well. You can use your personal profile to drive traffic to your business profile through actions like sharing posts from your business profile to your personal page. Working your personal and business profiles together helps to drive traffic and engagement that keeps people interested in your business, and helps prospects who fell off your radar rediscover your product/service.
But the big key is this: Remember what it’s about.
Social media is about the Social aspect! So keep it fun, entertaining, and engaging in a way that really connects to people or they will often just straight up unfollow or block you.
2: Listing Sites Like…
Google My Business, Yahoo, Bing, and Yelp… All of these sites fall in the same category because they help people find information, products, and services. These sites are often overlooked by anyone who lacks a retail shop, but it’s a powerhouse for driving SEO. One rarely known fact is that Yelp is where Apple Maps gets their listings from. So register for free on Google My Business and Yelp to ensure you’re getting that extra boost of recognition and SEO power!
3: Online Directories
These aren’t hard to find, especially if you run a search for “Online Directory ___[insert your industry here].”
I love using online directories because they are easy to sign up for, and you can get it to link straight back to your website. Getting an online directory linked back to your website aids your website’s Search Engine Optimization which in turn builds your online ranking. Although this tool doesn’t always drive actual traffic to your site, it helps to greatly improve your credibility with the search engines.
Yes, if you use EventBrite (or some other equivalent) you do have to put on an event. But…
It doesn’t have to be a crazy big shindig like we do for the Grow Retreat.
An easy way to use EventBrite.com for promotional purposes is to set up a specific time for a 20 minute Facebook Live hosted by your business page to answer questions about your industry. To pull off this whole event you only need you, and you don’t have to spend money on it either. Simply host an event on your Facebook page and connect it to EventBrite with the necessary registration information. All you have to do is decide on the date, time, and topic (an easy one is Q&A about your industry), and then show up, Go Live, and to do it. This gives people the opportunity to register with questions, or just come and hear what you have to say.
The big key with using EventBrite (or an equivalent) is to do it consistently.
Regularly designing and executing events like the example here helps you to build a reputation while appearing in different places. And the more often people see you pop up, the more likely they are to click through and eventually become your clients. Because, contrary to the old adage, familiarity (in marketing) does not breed contempt, it breeds trust.
Utilize websites like Medium.Com, Quora (An answers site), Reddit, etc.
These are places where you can be taking blog content you’ve put on your own website and get it out on another site where people are browsing for reading or answers. They are great ways to get your content out there without paying for it to get in.
Along the same lines as writing websites, you can also submit your writing to a publishing website.
Companies that might have formerly been magazines and are now online article sites are often looking for new things to publish. It can be a lengthy process to be sure your article is a fit for their site and audience, but it’s worth it! If you can get your writing on another publishing site, you’ve just put your company in front of a whole new marketplace. Further, you gain credibility by having an already established company say “Hey, here’s some great content from a company we trust enough to publish.”
6: Traditional Media
Although traditional media outlets like Radio and TV typically come with a hefty price tag, they don’t have to and they are great ways to get attention for your business.
First of all, you need a relevant “hook” to get on a traditional media outlet: some concept or idea that will bring people onto the show. I once worked with a client who was having trouble getting onto morning shows even though we had a great hook. What we realized was that our hook wasn’t relevant to the current marketplace, so we had to adjust.
Instead of saying to the media “I want to come talk about small businesses and how we can better support them” which is generic, say something like “I want to come talk on Small Business Saturday about three common misconceptions people have about Buy Local, and how people can avoid them.” A little tweak to your content’s presentation can be the difference between getting brought in as a representative of your company, and being ignored.
Another excellent avenue for promotion with traditional media is press releases.
At Grow Disrupt we send out press releases on a regular basis, and you would be shocked how many media sources readily pick them up! Because for the media outlets, you’ve just made their job easier. Think about it this way, when you offer them a ready-to-release article regarding your local and relevant topic and/or event, you are doing two things for them: saving them time and energy spent on researching local information, and saving them the money they would otherwise spend on someone writing the article.
Press Releases are a win-win for you and for the media outlet. And do so much for your company when written well.
Although none of these tools are easy to pick up…
They are so worth the time and effort to master them! Marketing itself isn’t easy, but you don’t have to be spending gobs of money on it in addition to working hard at it.
The fact of the matter is that marketing is hard for everyone. But if you are willing to put in the work and get out there to let people know you’re selling, you’ve just done what half of your competition isn’t willing to do.
Looking for more help with your marketing? Check out our Marketing 101 Course for immediate help with your marketing strategy. If you’ve already worked through that, check out the Marketing Gurus we’re bringing to the Grow Retreat in 2021: people like Christina Daves and Jeffrey Shaw who are going to teach Grow2021 attendees how to get free publicity AND speak to potential customers on a level that will blow their minds.
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt: a San Antonio based company dedicated to disrupting the way the world does business through training. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!