As a small business owner, you need to stretch your marketing budget as far as humanly possible to get the most value from your hard-earned cash. One of the ways to do that is to look for free ways to generate publicity. Here are 5 simple ways to get customers for free:
1. Word of mouth- By far this is the best marketing tool ever invented. An unbiased recommendation from a friend is more influential than a million dollar ad campaign, and companies are trying very hard to be that next thing that people talk about. Just look at the IPOD or Facebook. If you can design your site, your product, or your service around simple ways to get people to tell their friends about you, you have it made.
2. PR- The press release is another way to gain instant street credit. You can craft a press release in the appropriate manner and email it to thousands of news agencies all over the country. It only takes one mention on Oprah or CNN to set your company up for a long time. When you send a press release make sure you have a statement prepared in advance. You never know when you will be contacted by the media. Sometimes they call you months or years after you send it out, so don’t lose hope. The more relevant your product is to current events, the more likely you will get noticed.
3. Create an event like P.T. Barnum. P.T. Barnum was famous for paying actors to do outrageous things (he called them fascinations) in large public areas to gain attention for his circus (you may have heard of The Greatest Show on Earth). Someone might act foolish or play a trick on people, jump on a stage and gain attention. Dress up like a gorilla and just walk around a mall. The gorilla can hand out banana magnets with your business name on it or something. You could have someone sing about your business very loudly in a highly populated public event. Just keep it legal and creative.
4. Breakfast clubs- No, not the movie. This is a gathering of entrepreneurs that are complimentary businesses, not competition. They meet once a month or once a week and share leads with each other. A lawyer might know someone who needs a printer. A printer might have a contact who needs a handyman, on and on, all are pre-recommended by a person that the contact trusts. The next best thing to word of mouth, better in some cases.
5. Articles- write articles and submit them to article distribution sites. Blogs and ezines, as well as the news media are always hungry for more stories and it is very grueling to to think of things to write every day. Instead they turn to article databases and this is where you come in. Write an informative article (never a sales pitch) that gives a free tip to your customer on how to make money or improve their business or anything related to your expertise. You NEVER use your article to pitch your business, only offer solid advice. If someone appreciates what you have to say, most sites allow you to include your website and credentials at the bottom of the article, and if they like what you have to say they may follow up with your site.