Shoestring Marketing With a Story

Advertising and marketing is expensive; even internet advertising, which can run into hundreds or thousands of dollars every month depending on your budget. Expense wise it can be you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Maybe money is tight and you can’t afford to market, but if you don’t, you won’t have a business. It’s one of those necessary evils in business, like paying taxes – you might not like to spend your money that way but you have to do it.

Not all marketing is expensive and if you are adventurous and prepared to put in a little elbow grease, you can market your business successfully even during hard times. Name recognition can be achieved by cheaper means, and a very popular and successful method is by article writing.

You only need to write a short article, maybe a Top 10, that offers tips from your area of expertise. Choose a catchy title and use keywords in your headline. Make it eye-catching. What sort of information is your target market interested in?  Make your headline answer their questions or arouse their curiosity.  For example: “5 Reasons Why Your Job Might Be Giving You a Pain in the Neck.” There are many free article sites and newsletter editors who are always looking for new article content.

Your article needs to provide valuable information. You also need to present a professional appearance and proofread your article for spelling and grammatical errors. Your article won’t pass the editors and get published if it even remotely resembles an advertisement or self promotion for your business. Articles are not advertisements. The benefit of article writing is it establishes you as a credible expert and not only enables journalists to find you, but newsletter producers looking for content. Either way, you get your name out there and all you had to do was share your expertise.

The same applies to press releases.  There are many online press release sites that are free to use. Your press release should be newsworthy and cannot sound like an advertisement for your business or it will end up in the bin.

Speaking of sharing your expertise… another free marketing tip involves leaving samples of your expertise around where your target market can find it.  For example, a mobile hairdresser could leave a flyer at a beauty salon with tips for treating dry hair (remembering to include her contact details and maybe even an offer for a free trim.)

Another marketing ploy is to use a gimmick. For example, if you owned a fancy dress hire shop, you could pay someone to wear a costume and walk around handing out pamphlets with your business details.

Other ideas you can consider include inventing a fun, wacky competition and inform all local media (papers, radio, etc.) and get them on board to advertise the event and maybe present the prize to the winner. This is an excellent opportunity to send out a press release.

Team up with other business owners whose businesses are complementary to yours and market your businesses jointly. For example, a photographer and a wedding planner; a copywriter and a web or graphic designer.  They can share marketing expenses and advertise each other’s services to their own clients, perhaps offering a discount as an incentive.

Make use of social media (facebook, twitter, Linkedin, etc.,) and online newsletters. These enable you to keep your clients and followers up to date and engage with them and cost you nothing except your time and an internet connection.

If you send out invoices, include a flyer promoting your other business offerings… after all,  you’ve already paid for the envelope and stamp – make the most of it!

Remember, it is cheaper and easier to sell to existing clients than to find new customers, so make sure your existing clients know what other services or goods you offer.  Never forget them in your quest to find new customers!

Most of these ideas involve nothing more than your time and a bit of elbow grease, proving that marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.

Business mentor Terri Levine specializes in helping entrepreneur-owned businesses achieve record-breaking growth. Based in Philadelphia, Terri is founder and CEO of Comprehensive Coaching U, Inc., The Professional’s Coach Training Program. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC, and in more than 1,500 publications. She is the best-selling author of Sell Without Selling, Coaching Is for Everyone and Stop Managing Start Coaching. Learn more at http://www.TerriLevine.com. Contact Terri at terri@terrilevine.com.

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  • Judith Nockson

    I like this article! I've also used article marketing and it's really helped get the word out on my biz.

  • Judith – I agree. Enjoyed Terri's article as well. We'll be bringing you guys more great articles from Terri so stay tuned!