Most start ups, especially these days, face significant funding challenges. While it is true that the cost of building an online company has come down significantly in the past ten years, the costs of paid search, banner ads and print advertising can still be unattainable for many small companies.
Most of the articles I have read about “free” marketing tactics focus on social media. They encourage business owners to start a blog, tweet, or write a book or white paper. While these are nice ideas, they are time consuming, and may or may not yield results. Here are five things you can do to bring in new customers with zero or little up front cost. Used strategically, these tactics can produce an excellent ROI for your company.
1. Link exchanges. While you NEVER want to buy links (a.k.a. use black hat methods of link building), creating a link network with other companies in your field can help all of your sites grow. These links can take the form of blogrolls, promotional posts, or banner ad exchanges. Especially in this economy, when all budgets are tight, companies are more eager to swap space and links than ever. If your target demographic matches that of another site, swapping sponsored emails is another great way to gain exposure.
2. Pinterest. Pinterest is a rapidly growing visual pin board/social network with over 10 million unique visitors that allows you to pin images to visual boards. With Pinterest, you can quickly establish yourself as an industry expert by creating boards built around the important keywords for your company. You can also post content on your website about how your clients or partners can use Pinterest and include links to your company’s Pinterest profile in your examples (e.g. How to Use Pinterest to connect with your IBOTOOLBOX associates). In just four weeks using this technique, Pinterest has become the fourth largest source of traffic to my site.
3. Contests and giveaways. Everyone likes getting something for free, so contest and promotions are a great way to drive traffic and email sign ups on your site. Don’t forget to post your contests on social media sites too! Make a Pinterest contest board in your industry category for added punch.
4. Refer-a -Friend programs. Let your customers help you spread the word about your company with a refer-a-friend program. Offer a special deal or discount they can pass along to their friends and colleagues for free and incentivise them to share the love.
5. Affiliate marketing. Big Companies REALLY Are Ready to Pay You Right Now for Your Time! There are a lot of companies willing to shell out cash for your time, as they will pay you for bringing visitors to their sites, who go on to buy their product. Basically you become a commission salesperson for these companies. Fortunately a “Commission Salesperson” doesn’t work the same online as it does offline!
With these strategies, you or your company can accomplish a lot without breaking the bank. What other free marketing tactics is your company using? Let me know!