5 Creative and Free Ways to Promote Your Business

“When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.” The 100 year old adage coined by advertising pioneer Bruce Barton remains relevant today, says Forbes Contributor Brad Adgate in this article.  “Studies going back nearly one century point out the advantages of maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during a weaker economy,” writes Adgate. Those advertisers that maintained or grew their ad spending increased sales and market share during the recession and afterwards.”

That might be easier said than done. Here are five tips to help promote your business and increase your reach and influence without spending extra money.

Make great visuals for social media

It’s easier than ever to make great marketing assets for social media. Consumers of social media are getting more selective, too.  CO recommends you take advantage of free apps like Canva,  Snapseed, and Crello to power up simple photos to quality marketing material. You can also make videos for free with your phone. Data show videos get more shares on social media than photos and text. It’s a little more time consuming to make good videos, but it’s a great way to share your brand without spending more.

Reward customer loyalty

Fostering relationships with returning customers and rewarding customer loyalty are crucial during this time.  This might take the form of discounts for frequent customers, special reservations on sales or selected products, or advanced notice on new inventory. “Either way, be sure to take advantage of any tools offered by your current point-of-sale (POS) system,” writes CO Contributor Joyce Walsack. Here are more tips to build customer loyalty.

Hold a customer contest

“People love a challenge—whether it’s guessing how many marbles are in the jar or submitting a photo of themselves using your product, says Walsack. “Fostering a little friendly competition is a great way to connect with current customers and potential new ones.” Hosting contests on social media can increase exposure and engagement. Have fun with the ideas! The best contest designs will reflect a real understanding of your clientele. The creative examples on this blog about successful Instagram contests might help spark ideas.

Grow your community

Participating in community is a fantastic way to network meaningfully. You can make connections and widen your marketing reach and word of mouth. Social media is free and easy. There’s no travel involved and it is naturally socially distant, which is a big plus for now. But local festivals, trade shows, fundraisers, and Chamber of Commerce events (many of which are digital right now) offer  important opportunities as well. “Search out businesses that complement your own and forge alliances,” suggests Walsack.  “Feature each other’s products in your photography, tag each other in your posts, and search for other creative ways to boost each other’s brands.” If you’re making donations or participating in charity drives, by all means share that experience with your customers through social media. Research indicates that consumers increasingly care about business’ social values. But they’re also getting very savvy and sensitive to empty gestures. Be sure sure your community engagement walks the walk if you’re talking about it.

Share your expertise

Position yourself as an expert and leader in your area of expertise. It can time up time, but it can also be a fun and help you build connections. “Blogging and podcasting are obvious ways to show off your knowledge. If time doesn’t allow for what can amount to a second career, consider doing so on a guest basis,” says Walsack. “Contact publishers of websites in your industry and inquire about becoming a contributor. Join LinkedIn and Facebook Groups as well as industry specific discussion boards. Offering incisive, valuable comments in those forums will allow you to organically build a reputation as a knowledgeable player in your field.”