10 ways to advertise your business locally – for free!
Advertising can be expensive – and way out of your budget if you’re just starting out as a freelancer or small business.
But with some clever thought, there are a few ways you can promote your enterprise for free in your local area – as I shared when I was asked to write my essay about it in college.
You don’t have to take out a full page colour ad in your local paper to let potential clients and customers know that you are open for business. With some savvy marketing, you can put yourself firmly on your local business map, without paying a penny.
10 ways to advertise your business locally – for free!
Here are 10 simple ideas for promoting your freelance services or small business for free in your local area (and beyond).
1) Make sure your website adds value
Whether you’re targeting local or global customers, your website should clearly explain what you do, be easy to find and navigate, and be attractive. An article in Econsultancy suggests that you should look at the following things when building or rebuilding your website:
- How goal-focused it is.
- The quality of your content.
- How easy your website is to use by its intended target audiences.
- How well it projects and communicates your brand identity.
- How search engine optimised (SEO) it is.
- Social media channel usage and integration.
- Mobile internet users.
Read practical tips to help get your website right in these articles:
- Is your website losing you customers? Here are eight tips to get it right!
- How to plan and build a DIY website for your new business
- Eight questions you MUST ask your website designer
- How to improve the SEO ranking of your business website
2) Make blogging a high priority
It’s important to add a blog to your website because it increases your chances of being noticed, and helps with your SEO as you can use your keywords and phrases in your blog posts. Websites get crawled quite regularly so it’s always important to have new, quality content.
Writing a regular blog also gives your audience an opportunity to interact with you by placing their comments about your posts. Remember to add social sharing buttons to your blog posts so readers can easily share them, and more people can discover you and your business.
Here are tips to help you blog with confidence for your business:
- Learn how to write a blog people will want to read
- Four steps to making your business blog successful
- How to take brilliant lifestyle photos for your website or blog
- The beginner’s guide to growing your blog traffic
3) Distribute a press release once a month
It’s important to keep in touch with your local newspaper and submit press releases which have the potential opportunity to get you in print for free. These could be about anything from taking on new staff to winning a new client – it doesn’t have to be big news, just something to let local businesses know you are there.
If you build relationships with editors and journalists this will help ensure that your press release is read and hopefully published. As will our quick, 30-second guide to writing a powerful press release!
4) Use email marketing software to help increase sales
This method is fast, effective, immediate and easy to design. You can also track and understand exactly how your email marketing software is growing your business and see how individual customers respond so you can increase sales over time.
To get full value from your email marketing, ensure that you update and grow your database regularly, and try to get people to opt-in by signing up on your website. There are many self-service email platforms available (such as the brilliant Drip), or you may decide to get help from a specialist agency.
5) Start using videos to market your business
YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so it makes sense to create a YouTube Channel and leverage proven video marketing tactics, like ‘how-to’ style video content and response videos, to improve search visibility and potentially drive leads.
One idea is to make individual video interviews on local news-makers in your niche using Skype. Once you’ve recorded the video, to maximise its benefit:
- Post it on YouTube.
- Embed the YouTube code on your website.
- Transcribe the video with a cheap tool.
- Post the transcribed content on your blog for search engines to find.
Or you could host an online seminar and share it on your website and via social media networks – a perfect opportunity to gain exposure.
6) List your business on popular local directories
Getting clients and customers to find out where you are is crucial, and one of the best ways local businesses can be found online is by adding their company to top online business directories.
There are a number of popular online directories, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Yelp, Yellowbook and Foursquare. Make sure you place your details on all of them, because if you are only posting on these top few, then you will be missing an opportunity to be found by customers and clients who are after your services.
7) Be active on social media
It’s important to know who your target audience is, as this is one of the most popular ways to get noticed.
You can promote any news, events and interact with your audience as well as post your blog content through the most common media channels, including Facebook, Google+ LinkedIn and Twitter. (Twitter even has local chat hours for businesses – try searching for your nearest ones using #townnamehour or #countynamehour.)
Need help with social media? You can find tips on promoting your business on social media in these articles:
- 11 ways a non-visual business can compete on social media
- Five things you need to do now to get social media to work for you
- 10 steps to building a social media strategy that WORKS!
- Six ways to increase your business’ engagement on social media
8) Verify your listing on Google+ Local
Previously known as Google Places, Google+ Local is a way of verifying on Google maps where your business physically is.
This can be verified by anyone at the business. Google will send a pin number through to your exact business address, and as long as someone enters this pin number onto your listing it means you are verified and can receive the benefits.
These include more chances to appear within Google local searchers, the opportunity to connect your Google+ profile to your Google+ Local listing, and the opportunity to gain reviews from your customers that will then show up as star ratings in your search results.
The best bit about this is that it’s completely free. The downside is that the pin numbers through the post can take weeks to arrive, so if you’re given the option to verify immediately by phone then do this.
9) Attend local networking events and build connections
The best way to meet new local contacts (and potential customers) is to get out there and start networking. Make a point of attending events and meet-ups focused on your business topic, and participate in conversations by asking questions or volunteer to speak at a live blog conference.
Don’t know where to find local events? You can search local events by region and town or city on Find Networking Events. You can also look for networking events specifically for women, as well as workshops, seminars and business shows.
10) Guest post on someone else’s site
Writing a blog for someone else’s site is a great way to gain more exposure for your business, and get a reputation as an expert – especially if they’re well known in your local area.
Guest posting gives you an excellent opportunity to make new contacts with bloggers and hopefully attract some loyal readers. These readers could well evolve into customers, so guest posting is going to be beneficial towards your increase in revenue. Just make sure you stay within the Google guidelines for guest posting.
Guest posting is also important for backlinks – an important part of search engine optimisation. With on-page factors they form a base for your success.
Chinny Ogbuagu is a is a digital marketing executive at Pitney Bowes UK.