Starting your own business can be overwhelming because it requires you to wear many different hats. Many entrepreneurs believe that marketing is difficult or expensive, but that’s not always the case. There are easy marketing strategies that you as a small business owner can use to enhance your presence and grow your brand for free. Here are five free ways to grow your business through your marketing.
Google my Business
Have you ever Googled a business and found their information right away, then continued on to their website or given them a phone call? Wasn’t it convenient that the information you needed was right at the top of the page? That’s the magic of Google my Business.
Google my Business is a free and easy way for you to get your business visible on Google. It allows you to set up your business information in a pop-up that will show when someone Google’s your business. This pop-up includes basic business information like your address, contact information, website, hours, and more. This is useful if you operate a business that has modified hours for holidays, or inconsistent hours, as you can update your information with just a click of the button.
Social media may seem obvious, but there are so many great advantages of utilizing social media platforms for your business. Social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are some of the best tools to help grow your business using word of mouth.
The tools mentioned above are all FREE tools (with the option to pay for advertisements if you choose to do so). These platforms allow you to show off your brand, your brand’s personality, voice and make important announcements. Social media also gives you, as a small business owner, the opportunity to interact with your customers/clients. You can reply to comments, re-share mentions, and answer direct messages. Engagement goes both ways—to get customers or clients to engage with you, you need to provide them something to engage with. This means really catering your content on these different platforms to the people who use them most.
You can also schedule your content ahead of time using third party sites such as Hootsuite, SproutSocial, or Buffer. Just note that if you are scheduling, keep in mind what you are sharing and when; you want to avoid sharing something that isn’t relevant anymore, or something that has become recently controversial or could be perceived as insensitive if there is a larger, more important conversation taking place online.
Blogs are a way for you as a small business owner to express your thoughts, share expertise, or offer education for your audience to see. These can be based on anything from helpful tips and information, stories, how to style or use your products, or anything else you can dream of – just make sure you’re putting valuable information out there and that it applies to your audience. For example, the Business Link blog includes helpful articles for entrepreneurs and small business owners in Alberta. Another advantage is the ability for readers to share blogs with their followers, which can lead to increased exposure of you and your brand.
Sending newsletters (or email marketing) is a great way to share your upcoming events, information, and news directly with your customers. Your subscribers receive the updates directly from you, so they don’t have to put in any time or effort to find the information on their own. It’ll be important to align your email marketing campaign content with your brand, ideal client, and general marketing strategy.
Newsletters can be extremely simple, or they can be more in-depth. You can send them monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly depending on your industry and the amount of valuable information you have available – but keep it consistent. Services like MailChimp are free/low-cost options for you to use for email marketing. They allow you to create custom or templated newsletters to match your branding, save mailing lists, organize them into categories if needed, and track the success of these campaigns.
Joining an Online Community
Creating and managing online communities can be a beneficial way to share your services, share resources, connect, and network with others, as well as create exclusivity for your audience. Do not mistake this with your main social media pages. This is an additional area where your audience can come together to form a safe space to discuss a relatable topic(s).
For example, Business Link has a public Indigenous Services Facebook Page, as well as an Indigenous Services Facebook Community Group. These two offerings serve two different purposes: the Facebook Page is where Business Link can share new posts on programs, events, and any other helpful information. The Community Group is a place where Indigenous entrepreneurs, small business owners, and Business Link Clients join to connect with each other, post job advertisements, find entrepreneurial support, and acts as a hub for resource sharing.
Marketing does not have to be hard or expensive. Utilizing some of these tools to improve your brand awareness is a simple and free way to get the word out there! Now more than ever, being accessible online is so important to small businesses. As a small business owner, it is up to you to embrace all aspects of your business. Marketing might not be your choice of hat to wear, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. These tools will help you grow and expand your business, ultimately the goal of every business owner.