You’ve got your business idea, but now you’re not sure what to do. Or perhaps you have a website already, have spent some money on it, but your cash is fast running out! Either way, it’s likely you want to explore what you can do that doesn’t cost a dime. Whatever you reason for being here, I’ve got 3 easy activities on how to promote an online business for free. So let’s jump right in.
It all starts with a website. Without one, you’ll be a fish out of water.
If you want to promote your business online, you really have to have a website. yes, there are a few exceptions to this, on of which is social selling. But without a presence online, there is nothing to direct your audience to. You could do all the promotion under the sun, but without somewhere to “land” your audience, it really is pointless. Both your own messages and your visitors will be blowing around in the deep, dark hole of cyberspace, never the twain shall meet!
The type of website will depend on the function you want it to perform. Ask yourself, what you wan it to do or show. I have previously written an article on what makes a good website – so if you want to delve into that first, please do so here.
Marketing 101 for Online Enterprises
For a second, let’s shelve the overall promotion of your online business and look at some of the basic principles of marketing. Call it marketing 101 if you will, but it applies to all business really – whether online or offline.
The reason it is critical to get this right, is without it you can promote you business, and get your audience to visit your online business, but they may well buzz right off again if the basics aren’t right.
So, what should you be thinking about? This isn’t intended to be a marketing masterclass, and I realize that since I was at University things have graduated well beyond the traditional “4p’s”. In fact I think it’s now up to a whopping “7p’s”! However, for the purposes of looking at the basics of marketing any business, the original 4 p’s are more than adequate to form a good solid foundation.
What are the 4 p’s I hear you asking? We will take a look at them one by one, because the last two are going to lead really nicely into talking about promotion of your online business.
- Product – what you are promoting
The term product can be used loosely for a product or service, and is really what you are going to be showcasing online. Are you going to sell something? Or are you trying to find clients for a service? Either way, you will know your own wares inside and out.
An important part of fleshing this out, is what makes the product special. If you are selling a bog standard T-shirt, the same one that can be bought on 1,000 other websites, you need to think what reason you are going to give to people to buy it from you. perhaps you are going to offer a personalized service, so a buyer can choose what they want printed on their T-shirt, which you then arrange as part of the service. This would be classed as “adding-value”, and by that I mean that by printing a personalized design, you have added value to the original product and by doing so, you have given your audience an extra reason for coming to you.
But…wait for it…there are still 100’s of websites who offer a similar personalized service. It would still be fairly hard to stand out in what is a crowded online market place. So what else can you do? You need to think of something else which makes your total offering unique – that is, by encompassing everything you offer together, your product or service “bundle” is pretty unique.
It could be free delivery for example – but be careful here. That doesn’t mean ship everything out of your own pocket. you should always ensure that anything you give away for “free” is included in your margin, allowing yourself to make money or gain on what you’re offering. Otherwise, what would be the point – unless you are a charity.
If you are wanting to promote your charity online, you can skip right ahead to the promotion part of this article.
2. Price – a very important part of the equation
Whatever you are offering – product or service, you will have a price that you will be selling at. But, how do you decide this?
Some people use cost plus pricing – this is pricing at it’s most basic. Whatever it costs me, plus a bit. For example, if you are selling a product which you stock, this would be the price you bought it for, plus whatever you want to make on it.
This is quite a blinkered view, if you perform this calculation in isolation. I can just imagine a seller sitting locked away in their home office, thinking “I want to make $15 on this product” so they add this to the price they bought it for, and away they go. But, what if Joe Bloggs is selling the same product on their website, and it’s $7 cheaper!
If your unique offering isn’t strong enough to get someone to pay the extra $7, you are going to lose out! And, your business will probably fail before you get very far.
A more sensible approach – and one I would recommend BEFORE you decide on the type of online business you are going to run, is to research (and research some more!) on what else is out there, what other people’s unique offerings are. This is really doing research on your competitors, but it allows you to evaluate your idea. You are effectively validating your business, and giving yourself the best chance of “fitting into the market” with a sensible overall offering, that is going to give you the return you are looking for.
3. Place – where your business is operating from
Away from computers and the digital world, “place” is just as simple as where you do business. So this could be an actual brick and mortar shop, a trade stall, or even someone’s home if for example they offer beauty treatments at a home salon.
Online, it is as simple as whatever your online presence is. That is, your website. As I said earlier, 9 times out of 10, you won’t be able to run an online business without one! This will be the “place” of your online business.
Now it’s time to get right into the purpose of this article, in helping you promote your business for free.
Promotion is at the cornerstone of any business, and once you are ready to go, it’s critical. Imagine if someone builds a website, then waits for the phone to ring or someone to place an online order. Google is good, but it’s not that good! If you don’t promote yourself, no-one will know about you. Your website may be indexed in Google, but if it’s on page 276 of any relevant searches you ain’t gonna be found!
There is such a thing as search engine optimization, and there are things that can be done for free to help you here. One of the best things you can do is use good keywords. (You can see more here in my article on keyword research.) Websites within WordPress have some pretty nifty plugins too, that will help with improvisation as well – all for free. Take a look here for building a free website with WordPress.
3 simple Steps to Promoting Your Online Business for Free
One: Social media can be a golden goose
Social media is one of the best ways to help promote an online business. Namely because you can set up accounts for free, and because they are also online, it makes for easy sharing of content. However, don’t go crazy and set up a whole load of accounts across numerous platforms – you will tie yourself up in knots and the whole process won’t work that well in terms of promotion.
Select one or two to start with, that you think will match your target audience. You don’t want to waste time posting stuff that never reaches the right people! Create account names and profiles that match or are similar in terms of style, to your website. This helps you look authentic across the board – wherever people run into you online.
Share information, promotions, pictures, articles – whatever you want to get across on social media. The best way is to copy and paste links from your online business, into your social media posts. But again, a word of warning – you can’t make this 100% of your posting – people will get Bored with your “overkill” and probably leave. You should be personable and easy to engage with, so this means posting a variety of content – try and get some videos on there too. It can be from other sources that are related to your own business.
Don’t forget to cross reference your website with these social media platforms too – what I mean, is use your website as well to try and generate new followers or fans. Put the relevant platform icons on your home page template, in a prominent position. Link them directly to your social media profile. This will ensure that visitors will see them, whatever page or post they are visiting and can connect with you directly.
Two: Online directories – there are heaps for free
Many people forget online business directories, There are so many that can be taken advantage of for free. Perform a Google search on your type of business, or your location, and see what comes up.
Have a quick check into them to make sure they aren’t just spammy stuff. There are a lot of legitimate business directories that will give a free listing – it’s usually just a case of filling in an online form and providing the url address of your won website. Another warning here though, the more you fill in, the more you can expect phone calls or emails offering you a paid upgrade to what is called a “premium listing”. Don’t do this unless they can offer you some sort of stats in terms of what traffic they can offer you. If you can put up with this, then it’s a great way of promoting your website for free.
Three: Push your business…everywhere!
Highlight your online business at every opportunity – attach it to your email signature. If you are using business stationery – and most of this is online today too – make sure it’s on there. Invoices, letters, quotations – anything and everything. This doesn’t cost anything if it’s all done online!
Right, phew! We are coming to the end, so it’s a good place to quickly recap what I’ve covered here. I’ve given you 3 ways of promoting your business online, that can all be done for free, and are relatively straight forward.
If you want to learn more about promoting an online business, I highly recommend the Wealthy Affiliate University. They have training on this, and a whole range of other stuff. Like my free promotional tips, it’s also free for you to try our their university. For more detail, please go to my review of them here.
I hope you have found this useful. If there’s something else you would like to hear about that relates to online business, just drop me a comment below. I’m always looking for new ideas to write about, so you’d be doing me a favor!If you like this, why not share it?