Five Free Things You Can Do Today to Promote Your Company

August 27, 2011 by  Filed under: Marketing 

If you thought marketing your small business meant spending big bucks, think again. Most entrepreneurs already have the skills they need to tackle these five tasks. You won’t spend a dime, but you may spend some time handling these tasks, so take one action step per day. By the end of the week, you’ll have completed five essential and important steps to promoting your small or new business.

1. Start a mailing (or email) list. If you own a bricks and mortar store, simply put a notebook and pen near the cash register. Write in big letters across the top of the page, “Sign up for our mailing (or email) list.” To start your email contact list, open an account with a free email hosting system such as Mail Chimp or place a contact form on your website. You can collect contact information through the form, add it to an Excel spreadsheet, and create your own proprietary, permission-based list.

2. Check your website analytics, and if you don’t know what they mean, read through the tutorials found on your site hosting platform or if you use the granddaddy of them all, those found on Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free program that you can use to place a special section of code on the HTML of your website that lets you track such information as the number of visitors to your website, new visitors, where the visitors are coming from, most popular pages and content, and the bounce rate. It’s a good idea to collect data routinely, perhaps on the first of the month, so you can compare trends from month to month. You can use your site data to spot ways to improve your website performance, such as poorly performing pages that need revision, or spot things you’re doing right, such as topics and keywords that cause your site traffic to soar.

3. Read – and comment – on blogs related to your industry. Industry blogs are ready by competitors and customers, both potential customers and current customers. Comment boxes often include a space for your URL and name. This helps your site traffic by increasing the number of links back to your website as well as boosts your visibility by show casing your knowledge in the industry. DO NOT post spam-like comments or things like “Visit my website.” The point isn’t to write an advertising message. The point is to get your name known in the industry.

4. Update your social networking profile. I’m assuming that you’ve already created a Facebook, Twitter or Linked In account. If you haven’t, open one. The reason is simple. Facebook has surpassed all other social media on the ‘net, with more than 300 million users as of summer 2011. Your social networking profile serves as your first impression online. If your profile is sloppy, people will get a sloppy impression of you. On the other hand, a thoughtful profile that blends the professional with the personal in a skilful and engaging manner can go a long way to attracting business prospects and connections to you. Focus your profile on 80% professional and add about 20% personal (but not too personal!) to make your profile warm and approachable. A good quality candid photograph is fine for your profile picture.

5. Brainstorm ideas for social media and content marketing. Many entrepreneurs miss out on the potential impact of social media marketing and content marketing, or the marketing and sharing of ideas to attract customers. Content marketing encompasses article marketing, blogging, newsletters, podcasts, videos and other forms of rich media. It focuses on freely sharing information to build your reputation an expert in your industry, and by extension, attracting new clients. The thing that often holds entrepreneurs back from engaging in this powerful (and free) marketing method is lack of focus. Many people say, “But I don’t have any ideas!” Yet when I talk to them when they’re relaxed and we’re in the middle of a passionate conversation about their business, they’re brimming over with ideas. The trick is to catch those ideas when they brim over and store them for later. Take one day this week and set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes. Allow yourself to dream. If you could share anything about your business with potential customers, what would it be? Begin brainstorming concepts. Take a big sheet of paper and pens, colored pencils or whatever you fancy and start writing down your ideas, no matter how crazy they may seem. You can refine them later

No single idea among these five will generate tons of traffic or add immediate cash to your coffers. But then again, pouring the foundation of a house doesn’t make it company-ready either. A foundation is never going to appear on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. It will, however, build the basis of what’s to come: walls, floors, windows, doors, etc. Your foundation consists of ideas, messages and basics such as an opt-in mailing list that you can build on later by creating email newsletters or direct mail packages, a robust and growing social network, and a wellspring of potential content marketing and social media messages to choose from the next time you feel your creative well runs dry.

The trick to money saving marketing isn’t going great guns in one week and sending out a ton of messages in the hopes that one or two will work. Money saving marketing, the kind you the entrepreneur can do yourself, begins by building the basics, one brick at a time, until you build that marketing ‘house.’

Jeanne Grunert is an award-winning writer and marketing consultant with over 20 years of real-world marketing experience. She’s the founder of three successful internet businesses and teaches entrepreneurs how to promote their companies at Money Saving Marketing. Get a copy of her book, Unlock Your Brand Potential, by signing up for her information-packed newsletter at Seven Oaks Consulting.

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