10 Free Ways to Market Your Home Business
Marketing is a crucial part of home business success. If people don't know about your product or service, they can't buy it. Some aspects of marketing cost money, such as website hosting and email list management services. However, some of the most powerful and effective marketing tactics don’t cost anything at all.
More than anything, good marketing is all about knowing your market: what it wants and needs, and how to entice them (with words, graphics or video) to check out your business. Once you know who your market it is, what it wants, and where to find them, use that knowledge and the following 10 ideas to market for free.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Every home business should have a website (which isn't free) and every website should be optimized for search engines. It's free and not hard to do. Search engine optimization is about using keywords and phrases your market uses in search engines to find the information, item or services you offer. Using keyword search tools can provide important insight into what your market is looking for so you can provide it. SEO also involves putting keywords in your meta data title, keyword and description tags in your website to help search engines find and rank your website.
2. Social Media
Today, consumers want to interact with the companies they do business with. Further, they rely heavily on recommendations made by their friends, family and others. Social media makes it easy for you to benefit from both. Through social media, you can share information and promotions, communicate and engage with your market, and benefit from buzz your market generates about you through shares. By being responsive to people who engage with you, you show you care and can increase loyalty and referrals.
3. Be a Guest
Sharing your expertise through articles or interviews is one of the best ways to get in front of your market through someone else’s website, podcast, webinar or online summit. Articles or being an interview guest allows you to show off your expertise and credibility, which more people are likely to respond to over an ad.Don't limit your guest appearances to online events. Print publications and TV shows often need experts and guests. Getting an interview is all about submitting a media pitch that excites the editor or host.
4. Press Releases/Publicity
Similar to being a guest writer or interviewee, free publicity offers credibility that will increase response over advertising. The trick is to submit a newsworthy PR idea relating to your business. A press release isn’t an ad or an advertorial. It’s news, such as winning an award, reaching a milestone, or connecting your business with something going on in the world. A great resource that media outlets use to find guests and experts is Help a Report Out (HARO). You can join for free and then respond to media queries.
5. Joint Ventures
In a joint venture, you partner with someone in a similar industry, usually in a cross-promotion, although there are a variety of ways to joint venture. For example, you can work with a JV partner who promotes your home business in exchange for monetary compensation (i.e. a percentage of the sales the partner facilitates) or by your promotion of their product/service to your market. The success comes in getting your product or service in front of another businesses market.
6. Affiliate Program
Affiliate marketing is similar to joint ventures in that another business promotes your product or service in exchange for a commission based on the sales facilitated. The difference is that a joint venture is usually a one-off event with a single or maybe a couple of partners. An affiliate program is ongoing and you can have as many partners as are willing to promote what you offer. Although you might need to invest in an affiliate software or system, for the most part, finding affiliates is free and you only pay them if they deliver results.
7. Discussion Groups/Forums
Like social media, participating in online groups can be time-consuming, but done well and right, you can reap many benefits. For one, you can learn the needs of your market, thereby better honing your product or service. Second, it provides a way to help others and share your expertise, which builds rapport and credibility, so they'll want to learn more about you. Success in discussion groups comes from being helpful, not in promoting your business.
Visual content has a higher chance of being viewed, and fortunately, it’s not hard or expensive to create. You can make a video using your computer’s webcam or cell phone. Most webcams and phone apps have the ability to edit and upload to YouTube, which is free. The trick to successful videos for business marketing is to be helpful (i.e. tutorials) and/or entertaining.
Having credibility is an important part of marketing, which is why it pops up a lot (i.e. being a guest or PR). Especially on the Internet, people need to feel they're working with honest, quality businesses. Speaking and teaching is another way to show off your expertise and build credibility. Sometimes you can get paid for it, as well. You can use a free service such as Google Hangouts to offer an online seminar. Or contact local groups about speaking to them. For example, many areas have adult education programs.
Or look for civic groups that often need speakers.
10. Offer a Freebie
People love a good deal, and it doesn't get much better than free. Many entrepreneurs offer freebies with a subscription to their newsletter, but that's not the only way a free item can help. You can offer a free sample or free 15-minute coaching call. The idea is that once people have tested your product or service, they'll want more for which they'll be willing to pay.