Last year, when I was converting my freelance writing business into an actual content marketing business, I ran across quite a few unexpected expenses—which of course caused quite a few lines in my budget to drastically change.
Needless to say, I had to make some sacrifices in order to cover the unexpected, and one place that I found that I could rob from Peter to pay Paul was in my marketing budget. With some research and quite a bit of legwork, I found some really great tools to market my business without breaking the bank.
Build a Blog
As a content marketing business, I knew that I had to have a blog, so that was my very first step out of the gate. You might be thinking that this is an expensive task to take on, but you couldn’t be more misguided. There is a wealth of blogging platforms available that have very little cost associated with them. Here are a few that I really like to use:
If I can get you to walk away from this article with one piece of advice, it would be this: regardless of your niche, a blog is crucial to any marketing endeavor.
First of all, a blog gives people the impression that you are an expert in your field. It paints the picture that you know enough about a topic to offer advice about it.
Furthermore, a blog piece can be shared, which means that others are doing the legwork for you! Lastly, when you are searching the Internet for topics to write about, you are actually learning and staying abreast the trending topics in your niche. So in essence, you are killing two birds with one stone.
In my blogging endeavors with my company, I’ve come to learn quite a bit about the benefits of developing a mobile app for marketing purposes. As I kept looking and blogging about how marketing with an app is an easy way to get info into client’s pockets, I stumbled upon several inexpensive WYSIWYG app companies. Which leads me to what I did next on my tight budget to spread the word.
Build an App
Take a breath; I didn’t say you needed to hire a custom developer to build you an app. There are plenty of do-it-yourself app websites that can get you off the ground and serve the purpose of marketing. Here are just a few:
The reason the app was so crucial for me was because business is so often done on handheld devices. So, when I had a client who was in a meeting using his iPad, my app made it possible for him to order his content right there rather than coming back to his office and sending me an email. It really did make my life easier as far as availability, but the real kicker was the push notification.
No matter what, when you create your app, you need to have the push notification available. These notifications are like email marketing on steroids because they send notices right to your prospective clients’ phones.
These push notifications helped me send out FREE marketing information. The same could work for you. You can offer coupons, announce sales, use different geo-tracking features to alert potential buyers, clients, or business prospects about what you have going on. With a creative mind, the opportunities for using an app are endless.
Make a Demo Video
I am not a movie star, in fact, I am far from even being photogenic, but a demo video on my website has had several hits and shares. The reason is really simple; people prefer watching to reading.
So, when you show them what you can do for them, they are more apt to sit still and watch what you have to say. When they can visualize what you can do for them, they begin to feel more comfortable with your product than that of your competition.
Now, remember I said I am not photogenic. I knew no one wanted to see my mug showcasing how awesome I am at my job and how my company can offer A,B, C.
Luckily for me, there’s a plethora of free create your own video websites online that can walk you through making that demo video—without using your face. If you have a few bucks in your budget to spare, you can use a paid version for around $30-$50 that are free from banners. Here are a few of my favorites free options:
Unless you’ve been living off the grid for the past 20 years, you know that social media is crucial to any marketing campaign. When I started using social media to market my business, I couldn’t keep up with every new platform.
As soon as I got Facebook under control, Twitter popped up. Then, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat started to monopolize my every minute. Yeah, they were free, but keeping them up to date as a job in itself. That’s when I discovered Hootsuite.
Hootsuite offers free plans as well as paid plans. Depending on how many profiles you are trying to manage, there is something that is affordable and simple that can keep you up to date on social media without eating up every minute of your day.
Online business directories are the Yellow Pages of the 21st century. The concept is really simple, every directory you add your name to is another opportunity for someone to find you. Free is free anyway you slice it, so you might as well take a day or two and fill out the forms to get found.
I used HubSpot’s recommendations to list my business. Like I said, it took a good day and a half of filling out forms, but I’ve probably picked up 5 or 6 long term clients from the directories, so it was time well spent.
It’s not enough just to blog—you have to become an active member of the blogosphere in your niche. Again, the goal is to develop that expert status by getting yourself and your ideas out there.
There more you show up and comment about what’s going on in your niche, the more you are regarded as an expert in your field. It will create referrals from many different people.
Comments only take a few minutes, unlike writing an entire post and then looking for a place to publish it. Then you have to hope it gets shared. When you comment, your name gets out there with very little work. And, the coolest part about it is that it can lead to joint ventures with companies who need your services in bulk.
That’s what happened to me. A web development company saw one of my comments about how keyword stuffing blog posts do not do much for web content or blogging, and the company reached out to me to become a subcontractor for their websites.
If you can find a joint venture to embark upon, do it! The concept is really simple, you scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours. The benefit is you both piggyback on each other’s marketing attempts. If you want to get really close, you can offer discount services.
My joint venture is simple. I do the writing for a 10% discount to the web company I am partnered with; then he marks up my price. So, I am giving him 10%, and he’s doing all the legwork. He benefits by having a quality, the dependable writing team who knows the niche, and I am benefitting with a long-term client who is marketing my business for me.
This may sound trivial, but you need to accessorize your business. I found that offering a variety of choices of flare for my business helped me break the ice with people. I’d hand them my card and a choice of something that showcased my business. Some of the most well-received accessories were:
- Refrigerator magnets
- Zipper Pulls
- Bag Tags
- Compact Mirrors
Most of these marketing frills are inexpensive to buy, and they are great options to showcase what you have to offer. Remember it only takes seeing something 7 times for it to register into long-term memory. When a woman sees your business name every time she puts on her lipstick or a guy sees your business name every time he goes to the fridge, you are planting your name for good.
The biggest thing I learned throughout my transition from freelancer to business owner was that persistence and patience paid off. I’ve failed quite a few times along the way, but I picked myself up and held on to the tiny bits of valuable insight I gained with each fall. You can do the same…Good luck!