A lot of start-up businesses get discouraged by the prospect of marketing their business. This can be due to the hefty price tag associated with many marketing and PR agencies. Taking into consideration the restricted budget and limited knowledge when first starting out, promoting your business can seem a world away. However, there are numerous useful tips and tricks that can aid in promoting your business, new or old, totally free.
1. Get on the big local listings
Your first step to promoting your business for free is making sure your business can be found on search engines. There are two main local listings within the UK – Google Business and Bing Places.
- Google Business
Google Business allows your business to be found more easily in Google search results. Let’s test this theory out.
Head over to Google and type in the search bar [Business First]. What will appear at this point is a map with all the local listings of our business centres, along with a direct link to our website and directions to the centre. If you are in close proximity to one of our business centres, a large box will appear on the right-hand side of your screen with the details of our local business centre, (telephone number, website, opening hours…) along with some images and the option to leave us a review.
To get your own Google listing head over to https://www.google.co.uk/business/. Make sure you have a Google account first, then register your business. Once you have filled out the details of your business, including opening hours and contact information, your listing will go into a pending status. You can verify your business in one of two ways. First, you can opt for a phone call to the company number recorded on your Google listing, Or, you can request a Google postcard to be sent to your trading address. Simply enter the five-digit code Google provides you with and your listing will be verified and live within Google search results.
So, now you’ve got a Google listing, how do you get the most from it?
Make sure you label the category of your business as your number one keyword that customers would search to find you. Take ours for example – business centre. Anyone who types “business centre” in the search bar of Google, and is located near one of our business centres, will be shown our listing. This makes us both relevant to the searcher’s intent and close enough for them to pop in for a quick chat.
- Bing Places
Bing uses an almost identical system to set up a listing on their own search console. Simply head to https://www.bingplaces.com/ and follow the same rules applied to the Google listing above.
Those are the two main listing websites. However, don’t for a second dismiss the reach you could obtain by providing your details to a local newspaper or directory. Most local newspapers provide a free business directory. Simply type in the name of the paper + business directory in your chosen search engine and head over to their listing page. Then, submit your details and reap the results.
2. Write a blog
I’ve heard the words “content is key” hundreds of times in my marketing career. But never has a truer word been spoken. Writing a blog will not only help with your position listings on Google, Bing and other popular search engines, it will also help connect you directly with the people who mean the most to your business. By providing consumer-focused, up-to-date and relevant content you can boost your reach to a plethora of new and existing customers. The key to writing a good blog is to update it as often as you can. A dormant and abandoned blog that sees action barely a couple of times a year is worth nothing. Set a reasonable goal for posting blogs, and stick to it.
You can improve the reach of your blogs by optimising your content with appropriate keywords. Your keywords should be relevant to both the blog you are writing and to your business, so if anyone was to search for that specific keyword in a search engine, your blog would appear.
3. Use social media
There is so much more to social media than a means of gaining exposure. Facebook and Twitter are both fundamental tools used to aid in customer interaction. Instagram is being embraced by more and more businesses every day. Features like Instagram stories are a powerful way to give customers a glimpse behind the scenes, connect directly and analyse who is watching and what they like.
Having an active and prominent voice on social media that your customers can reach out to will help establish your business as a customer focused and personable brand.
If your business is B2B, then LinkedIn is the place to be. With a whole platform of business people in one place, where better to promote your services?
4. Get reviews
Reviews are one of the first things a customer will search for when choosing your business over a competitor. So, having an up-to-date review software in place to showcase your reviews to the public will be extremely useful in pushing your business in front of the right people. Already followed step one and set up a Google Business listing? You can start to obtain reviews on Google’s own platform. However, there is a multitude of other free review platforms available for you. These include Trust Pilot, Facebook and Yelp.
Once you have started to accumulate reviews, make sure you are handling them in the correct manner. Customer complaints should be dealt with empathetically and always remember, when responding to reviews, they will be public, so answer them honestly and professionally and always make sure your company keeps its credibility throughout.
5. Email marketing campaigns
Email marketing is a fast and efficient way to get your message out to all your existing and prospective customers in a short period of time. There are a number of platforms available that are free to use (within reason).
Let’s take MailChimp as an example. MailChimp is an email marketing platform that makes it unbelievably easy for even a novice to design an email, by providing the user with readymade templates. Simply switch a few of the images and drag and drop some new content and you’re good to go. What’s more, MailChimp provides pretty decent tracking functions, which allow you to understand exactly how your email marketing is working, by informing you of the open rate, click through rate, right down to which links people are actually clicking on. With MailChimp you can send up to 12,000 emails per month, up to 2,000 email contacts/subscribers, totally free. So, what are you waiting for!
How Business First will help promote your business for free
We love to promote our tenants and their services – so how do we do this?
We ask tenants to provide us with exclusive offers we can send out via a promotional email to other tenants in our centres to encourage co-working and offer extra benefits to tenants.
Our Inside Business First feature is designed to promote our tenants and their businesses. We ask our tenants a series of questions about their company and how working within our centres has helped them to grow, offering tenants the chance to shout about their services free of charge!
Business First’s social media presence is growing every day and we love to use our profile to shout about all the great things are tenants are up to. This is just another perk of being a Business First tenant 🙂
All of our business centre kitchens have noticeboards where tenants can promote their business for free to other tenants.
We hope this has given you a few tips to get started in promoting your business for free. Have you got any other tips that have worked for you?