10 free marketing must-do’s for start-ups

Since I decided to start my business, I have discovered a few free marketing methods and made some useful contacts, so I knew that it was possible to get going without any capital to speak of.  I’m pretty lucky that I already had some marketing knowledge and knew some great people and it’s taken time to discover some of these tools and tricks, so I thought I’d help some other start-ups to get ahead of the game.  This isn’t rocket science, but it’s well worth looking at these things:

1. Get yourself on social media – everyone seems to think that you need to be on all of the social media platforms going.  For most this simply isn’t true.  If your market isn’t generally on there or the people who spend money don’t look there: don’t do it!  Whichever you choose, you can do it for free, but make it work.  Complete your profiles fully, interact and update regularly

2. Write a press release – I would only attempt this if you’re pretty good with the written word, but you can find a lot of information and templates on constructing a great press release.  You are unique and your journey and business story are too.  If you can pick these things out and send something across to the right journalist, you could get some great local coverage

3. Go to networking groups – it can be very expensive to commit to joining networking groups but many of them allow you to go and try them out for free.  At worst there may be a one-off fee but you don’t have to commit the first time you go.  This will give you a chance to get your name out there and judge which groups suit you and your business

4. Start a blog – using free, simple platforms such as Blogger and WordPress it’s possible to get a blog up and running in no time.  Show off your knowledge, communicate an opinion and encourage feedback and you will build up followers and demonstrate your commitment to helping others as well as your product or service

5. Get to know the right people – as you network in person and via social media, you will start to see who the influencers are.  If you can get to know who is popular, respected and who is well networked, follow them, interact with them, have a coffee with them.  You never know how they could help you and frankly, most people are willing to help a start-up if they can

6. Suggest a skills swap – there’s no better marketing tool than a recommendation or testimonial from a happy customer.  If you’re looking for clients but could do with some help with your branding, website, IT or anything else that costs money, offer to barter your services or products with them with the promise of a few positive words for them to say “Thanks”

7. Try co-working – a lot of people who are starting a business do it from home.  It can get a bit lonely and having company can really give you a boost and get your creative juices going.  You could buddy up with another start-up or, even better, you could go to a ‘Jelly’ co-working event.  It’s free to attend and a great way to meet and work with other lone entrepreneurs who could become people to collaborate your skills with or eventually become customers

8. Find some free events – many business events or ‘Expos’ are free to attend and offer the chance to network and attend useful seminars.  I’ve been to a few of these and it’s a great way to put a face to a name of someone you’ve been tweeting with for months (always kind of weird!) and get some valuable leads.  It’s also a good place to arrange to meet a prospect

9. Get on the radio – believe it or not, it’s not that hard to get on the local radio.  If you’ve sent your press release to the local paper, why not suggest it to your local radio station as well?  I managed this and got some great feedback.  I also put the link to the interview on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, which gave my followers and fans something to remember me by

10. Offer to be a guest blogger – I would always say that the best blog to work on is your own.  However, if you can find a blog by someone that has a large following of your target customers, then they are quite often open to complementary guest blogs to offer their readers something different.  It’s great practice and could generate some great traffic to your own blog or website

So, it’s never been easier, mainly through the power of online platforms, to market your business for nothing.  You need to spend some money eventually, but, as they say, “you’ve got to speculate to accumulate”, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and all that jazz.  No one needs to know that your marketing budget is zilch if you make the most of what’s available.  And this isn’t everything you can do.

Can you offer up any more suggestions?  I’d love to know if there’s anything I don’t know about!

Until next time…

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