When you’re just starting out in business, it can be tough to grab the attention of potential customers and get people on your side.
Of course, the key to any successful business is marketing, but for startups and micro businesses, finding the money to promote your products and services can be virtually impossible.
However, all is not lost.
Below, we’ve put together some of the best free methods for promoting your products online to help you find more customers, improve brand awareness and take your business to the top.
- Write more content for your blog
The chances are that you know a lot more about your niche than the next person, to use this to your advantage and create valuable content that your readers will want to share and interact with.
There are a wide number of benefits to content marketing, not least the ability for it to position you as an authority figure in your industry and help you find more potential customers.
Start by creating informative content such as tutorials, how-to guides, reviews, case studies and product demonstrations, and over time, as you build an audience, you’ll be able to react to user demand and post more personalised content for your specific target market.
One way to find out what sort of content your customers want to read is by holding a focus group, or by publishing several blogs across different topics and seeing which performs the best.
Keep experimenting with new ideas until you find a winning content marketing format. The sooner you know what your audience wants to read, the sooner you’ll be able to connect with them and push them through your sales funnel, turning them into customers.
- Carry out basic on-site SEO
All businesses want to rank well on search engines for competitive terms, as it can help to drive organic traffic to their websites and introduce their brands to new audiences.
If you manage to rank highly for competitive terms as a startup business, however, you could hit the ground running from day one and open your business to hundreds of new customers.
Good SEO can offer truly powerful benefits to your website and business – you just need to know what to do.
Although some search engine optimisation techniques require skill and time, there are lots of smaller tweaks that you can make on your website to increase your rank virtually overnight.
- Install an SEO plugin: SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO are designed to take the pressure out of managing a website. Use the plugin’s functionality to add meta descriptions and keywords to posts, add social media metadata, and more.
- Decide on keywords: Don’t start writing until you’ve chosen the right keywords. Ask for help or use a free keyword tool to find search terms that are easy to rank for and attract searches every month. Once decided, you can incorporate them into your content.
- Send a sitemap to Google: Create a sitemap for your website using a WordPress plugin or tool, and submit it to Google through its Search Console. This will give Google a clear map of your site and its inner pages, so it can rank more of them.
- Bulk up content pages: The more content you have on your pages, like your product pages and homepage, the better. Try to bulk them up to at least 1,000 words of valuable text, and you should see ranking improvements over time as a result.
- Build links through guest blogging
If you’re a fan of writing lots of content and want to take your SEO campaign to the next level, one way is to start guest blogging on other websites.
Not only does guest blogging give you a chance to build links to your site to increase its Domain Authority, but it helps you become a better writer – and it puts your brand, and your name, in front of new, established audiences.
To start a guest blogging strategy, first, determine which websites you’d like to write for. The chances are that you won’t get a contributor slot on The Daily Mail or The Huffington Post overnight, so set your sights lower and find reputable, genuine blogs in your niche that are accepting content from others.
Once you’ve found a couple you think are a good fit, send in a pitch and let the blogger know that you’re interested in writing for them. If they accept, get to work on writing some great content for their website, and promote it once it’s published.
Guest blogging is a great way to build relationships with other bloggers and business owners in your niche, too, and you can often make new friends in the comments section and on social media.
Try to step away from the idea that guest blogging is a transactional exchange between a webmaster and a blogger, and instead think of the bigger picture and the potential in each guest blogging placement. Even if you don’t find new clients, you’ll still make new contacts.
- Create a buzz on social media
Social media is, without doubt, one of the most effective marketing tactics for small business owners, so don’t delay in signing up for profiles on each of the major networks. Once you’ve set up accounts, written biographies and added your logo and a featured image, get to work on creating content that your audience will want to share with their friends. Put it this way: the more people that share your content and interact with your brand, the wider your reach will become.
Create your own social media content if you want to stand out from the competition. Photoshop can be used to create attractive GIFs and graphics; your blog posts can be repurposed and used in social media posts to encourage people to click through to your website, and you can take pictures from your office when you’re working on new products to show off development.
There you have it – just some of the ways in which you can promote your small business or startup online for free.
Remember that the more time and effort you put into your marketing campaign, the more you’ll get back from it, so find the time, be persistent, experiment with new ideas and don’t give up. Success is just around the corner! Good luck.
About the Author
Max Greene is the Managing Director of Muffin Marketing, a UK-based marketing agency specialising in SEO for small businesses, content writing and social media management.