7 Free Marketing Turbo-Chargers

In a recession-driven economy, when other competitors are cutting back on their marketing plans because they are costing them too much money, you can take advantage of their slow-down by increasing your efforts – and with these free ideas, you can do it without spending any more money.

1) Start a Blog

If you do, or if you don’t have a website, a blog is a great way to provide useful information to your existing and prospective customers – or just people that may be interested in your business or industry. Blogs are powerful tools that search engines love; when they are updated frequently. Dread the idea of having to write? No problem, if you can at least come up with useful topic suggestions, you can outsource the writing to  a copywriter that will turn your topic ideas into blog posts (this part wouldn’t be free, but it would still be worth it if you hate writing).

Great resources for learning about starting a blog:

Places to find an inexpensive copywriter (or just Google ‘copywriter’):

2) Join Social Networks

Unless you’ve been locked away in a time capsule, you’ve heard about social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Even if you don’t quite understand their usefulness for your specific business at this point, join the networks anyway and start listening to what your customers and prospective customers are saying about your industry and about things in general. Learn what they like, what they don’t like, and modify your marketing approaches accordingly. Then, when you see an opportunity present itself, start engaging people through the networks.

3) Make Sure you’re listed on Local Search Engines

Sure, everyone knows that being at the top of Google is the holy grail of business. But many businesses don’t realize they have the ability to control how they show up in the local searches (these are different than regular search results listings) as well. You know, where they list multiple businesses in the area on a map (do a search for your business with your city name after it and you should see what I’m talking about if you don’t know already). Google, Yahoo!, and Bing all offer this ability; if you’re not taking steps to make sure you show up in these results the right way, you’re taking the chance of letting something else control it (i.e. that misprinted phone-book listing from 3 years ago that you can’t seem to get the phone book company to fix).

4) Give Something Free, Volunteer or Perform Pro-Bono Work for Non-Profits

One of the best ways to get your name into the local community is to provide your services and/or products for free to local non-profits. Most non-profits are managed by a board of directors which typically consists of local community leaders and business owners – people that would be great for spreading the word about your business! We all know how great a personal recommendation from a friend is. Imagine the influx of business you would receive if a respected city-council person told their friends about your wonderful catering services or how knowledgeable you are in your field because they saw you in action at the last charity luncheon.

5) Incentive Programs for Current Customers

Word-of-Mouth is by far the greatest weapon in the marketing arsenal – for better or worse. It has been said that a happy customer will tell 3-5 people and an unhappy customer will tell the world (or something like that). Both have incredibly lasting effect on the success/failure of your business. Encourage the happy customers to do more of the talking by doing two things: 1) be awesome at what you do, and 2) give customers that have actually paid for your product or service an exclusive incentive to promote your business. Send a direct mail piece only to them, or an email that is only for them, and if you have the technical wherewithal, setup a login only page on your website for them to access and get more information about the incentive program.

6) Setup Google Analytics and Quantcast Tracking on your Website

It’s incredibly difficult to organize a successful marketing campaign when you don’t know how your customers are finding you now. When you have information about where they come from, how they heard about you, and what demographic sub-group they are from, your marketing campaigns can be markedly improved. Both Google Analytics and Quantcast are free services that provide more data than the average business would ever have the ability to consume about their customers and prospective customers that visit their website and/or blog.

7) Setup a Callfire or Similar Phone Call Tracking Service

Phone book companies may have tried to sell you on tracking numbers, you may have even bought one; what if you have a listing or ad in multiple categories in the phone book, that one number doesn’t help you know which ad is actually generating the most calls. With a service like Callfire, you are able to setup an inexpensive tracking number – both local and toll-free numbers are available – for ALL of your individual marketing pieces. This will give you incredible insight on which promotional products, billboard ads, newspaper ads, social media campaigns, etc are actually generating calls to your business.