Marketing your nonprofit agency or small business does not require a large financial investment, especially at the beginning. For many start-ups and nonprofits, a marketing budget is not much more than a wish. But that doesn’t mean that a small business cannot market successfully. For purposes of this article, I’ll refer to small business marketing, but these ideas are just as good for small nonprofit agencies as well. Since Deppe Communications works with both, these are tried-and-true steps we recommend. I’m also assuming you already have a website, but if you don’t it is definitely something we highly recommend. Many customers will search for a website to learn about your business and make sure you are legitimate before doing business with yo
Here are a few ideas you can use to get started marketing your small business for free.
- List your business website in online directories. Start with Google My Business and expand that listing as much as possible. Add photos and a good description along with all your contact information. Do the same at Bing and Yahoo, then move on to some other sites including Manta, Merchant Circle, Yelp, etc. Some of these sites will ask you to advertise or pay for expanded listings, but you aren’t required to do that.
- Set up and use social media pages – especially Facebook. You will need to have a personal Facebook page to set up a business page. These are free to use and you can add a great deal of information on the business page. Depending on your target audience, you may want to add Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others. It’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn page and if you have videos, set up a YouTube channel for them. Once you have these set up, add links to them on your website. Be sure to post regularly – even several times a day is fine. Remember that only a small percentage of followers will see any particular post, so it is OK to post daily. Try to create posts that will appeal to your followers and what they are interested in. Don’t sell all the time, mix it up with different types of posts.
- Create a blog on your website. This helps your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and also can draw in visitors to the website. Whether you blog weekly or monthly, try to write at least 300 words (the longer the better) on a topic of interest to your customers. New trends in your business, how-to articles and similar topics will draw readers. After you post your article, promote it with a link on your social media pages.
- Research your customers and learn about what they want or need. Marketing, by definition, is understanding the wants and needs of your customers, and then providing those products and services. The best way to find out if you are offering customers what they need or want is to ask them. You can do this with paper surveys at your location, with email or social media surveys, or just by asking them when you see them.
- Teach a seminar, workshop or host a webinar related to your business. Sharing information with customers is a great way to create a personal relationship with them. Free classes appeal to many age groups and can be a way to invite customers into your location, too.
- Use press releases to share information with the local media. The media is a connection between you and your customers. Media can reach many more people at once than you can, so it reduces the workload on your end. Plus, it legitimizes your message when published or broadcast by the media. Use press releases to announce upcoming free classes, an anniversary or celebration, a new location. Press releases should not be used for sales or things that are not “newsworthy.”
- Hold an open house or grand opening celebration and invite the community to attend. If you include a ceremony with remarks, try to keep it under 15 minutes. Promote the event on social media and with a press release and blog post.
- Offer to speak at local civic clubs and organizations like the Chamber, Rotary, or other business networking groups. Keep your target audience in mind so you are not promoting your company to the wrong group. Networking opportunities are a great way to spread the word about your company.
- Cross market to existing customers. There’s an old saying in marketing circles that it is cheaper to market to your current customers than to go out and find new ones. Remember that customers may be interested in your other products or services, and be sure they know about those. You can do this in social media, with email and newsletters, or signage at your location.
These 10 ideas are certainly not the only ways to market your small business for free, but they are a good way to get started. For more help with marketing your nonprofit or small business, contact Deppe Communications at 904.524.0170 or Email me at kim@DeppeCommunications.com