I’m often asked what you can do to begin promoting a new small business if you can’t spend much on marketing. Our hyper-connected world offers so many opportunities that we didn’t have 20 years ago. Here are a few things you can do that don’t take a lot of time, don’t cost anything, and will start to create visibility right away:
1) Create a Facebook business page. This is very similar to creating a regular Facebook page. (If you don’t already have your own Facebook page, this is a good moment to get your own page up and start connecting with friends and colleagues.) People are using Facebook more and more to search for businesses so it pays to create a page for your business, plus you can connect with other businesses and groups that may be helpful for future networking. Make sure that if your service or product is not mentioned in your business name, you include it in the first sentence of your description so that it comes up in searches.
2) Share your new business page with all your friends and colleagues on Facebook. This will appear on their Facebook pages and all their friends will also be able to see the link to your new business page, so this is a great way to network through your friends’ networks.
3) Contact local media. Newspapers and magazines generally like to support local businesses. If you know how to write a press release, you can send it to the editors. Or you can send them a short paragraph about your business with a bio and photo. It’s important to follow up with a phone call – editors get so many emails, it does make a difference to make the personal contact, and it’s great relationship-building for the future.
4) Offer something for free. If you’re selling a product, create a give-away or discounted item that you can offer on your website or directly from your business. Always make sure to capture email addresses from people who want the give-away. If you’re selling services or programs, you might think about offering a free lecture at your local library or community center. Or you can offer a virtual event such a conference call through freeconference.com. Make sure that the information you give is easy-to-understand and relevant to your audience.
5) Email announcement – let everyone know. When you’re launching a new business, this is the time to send an email out to everyone. Most people plan to email clients and business associates, but often skip over friends, family, and clients from previous businesses that may be in a different industry. Remember that this is an announcement, and that gives you the opportunity to let everyone know. The people who know you are your best network, not only as potential clients, but they will also be most likely to recommend you to their friends. Make sure to write a short description of your business that they can share with others. You may want to word the email to friends and family a little differently as it will be more personal. This is another good opportunity to offer some kind of discounted product or service for a limited period of time to celebrate the launch of your new business.