If you have a business or are thinking of starting one, you have probably been asked, what’s your marketing strategy? In other words, what’s your game plan for reaching your target audience and turning those consumers into customers? A marketing strategy is how you ensure you get your product out there to those who will benefit from it and pay for it. Marketing is imperative for a successful business!
Investing in marketing can be expensive, and depending on where you are in your business journey, sometimes it’s just not possible to shell out extra cash or hire a professional marketing agency to do it for you. The good news is there are many affordable and free marketing options out there, which we’ll cover down below.
But before we do that, let’s go over the basics…
What is Marketing?
Broadly, marketing encompasses everything to do with promoting, selling, and, advertising your business and services. Marketing is an investment upfront to help you make money later! It usually entails market research, communicating to potential customers, brand and product promotion, advertising, and eventually selling your product.
Types of Marketing
- Paid advertising – Although the obvious downside to paid advertising is you have to pay for it, it’s one of the best ways to get reach your target audience. Recently, social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have become effective platforms for paid ads.
- Cause-related marketing – Involves a for-profit business partnering with a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. The collaboration usually includes activist messages in the advertising or the promise that a portion of profits will be donated to a good cause. An example is Pampers and UNICEF.
- Relationship marketing – Relationship marketing is all about building a customer relationship. Whereas most other marketing is focused on transactions, relationship marketing focuses on customer retention and satisfaction.
- Stealth marketing – Stealth marketing is undercover marketing, where the consumer doesn’t know they are being advertised to. The classic example is product placement in movies or television.
- Word of mouth marketing – Traditionally just “word of mouth” or people sharing recommendations with others, has mostly moved online. Word of mouth marketing involves both targeted efforts and naturally occurring sharing. Examples include testimonials and product reviews.
- Internet marketing – An all-encompassing term for the component of marketing that occurs online or over the internet.
- Diversity marketing – Also called inclusive marketing, it is used to communicate with a wider audience to include more groups who may benefit from a product. It usually entails a mix of different communication methods. An example is the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty that challenges the beauty standard and includes women of all ages, races, shapes, and sizes.
Why is Marketing Important for Your Business?
- An effective way to engage with customers – Marketing allows you to reach your target audience and keep them informed and engaged with your brand and services.
- Builds and maintains brand, reputation, and relevancy – It’s especially important to remain relevant. Times change and trends get set quickly, always being one step ahead with a well-thought-out marketing strategy keeps your consumers interested.
- Builds relationships with customers – It allows customers to learn about your company and your values, and depending on the type of marketing, it allows for some back and forth between business and consumers to deepen the relationship and strengthen your customer service.
- Informs customers – Keeps consumers up to date with what you offer and why you’re the best!
- Boosts sales – Hey, nothing wrong with making money while providing an awesome service or product.
- Gives insight into your business – Helps with future planning, projections, and growth which ultimately makes your business better and keeps your customers happy.
- Increases revenue options -Through marketing, you can reach the customers you truly want to work with, as opposed to getting whoever you can get (nothing wrong with this either, but it should always be a goal to have your ideal client in mind).
- Helps you stay competitive – You have to set yourself apart and have a game plan for how you’ll let your current customers and future customers know why going with you is their best option.
10 Ways to Get Free Marketing
1. Create all social media accounts
This day in age it’s almost unheard of to have a business that doesn’t have at least a basic social media presence. The main benefit of being on social media is it’s highly accessible to your customers, who can easily gauge your credibility and decide whether they want to go with your services. The other main benefit is free marketing! Because social media is public, you can get your company name out there for free! Set up accounts on all platforms, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
2. And engage with them!
Simply having a social media page is not enough, you have to use them! If your ideal client grew up with the internet then they’ll be able to spot a well-oiled Instagram and up-to-date Facebook page immediately. You don’t have to be heavily active on ALL social media, pick a couple, and make an effort to post regularly and frequently. Engaging with social media also means interacting with people yourself, rather than just posting then signing out. Respond to comments, write on Facebook walls, interact with twitter experts, create Pinterest boards, use these free public spaces to get your name out there!
3. Post regularly to get noticed
Not only does posting regularly improve your brand presence, but frequent posting helps online algorithms know to share your posts more widely to help reach your target audience. Frequent posting also allows your customers the opportunity to engage with you and learn about your products and services. Make a goal to post at least once a day! Posting regularly might also involve using email marketing or sending out newsletters.
4. Encourage UGC
User-generated content (UGC) is content that has been created and published by your fans and customers! This is an awesome way to “market” because it’s genuine, authentic, and reaches your key demographic. Although UGC occurs naturally, you can always encourage it! Highlight your customers on your IG story, share best reviews on your Facebook page, create other incentives to get your online customers engaged like prizes and giveaways!
5. Give away freebies
Speaking of giveaways – no harm in getting your name out there with contests, giveaways, freebies, and discount codes! Sometimes you just want to generate a bit of buzz. A common technique for online contests is to have the opt-in criteria involve a follow and a share, this builds your followers and spreads the word.
6. Provide valuable content that drives traffic to itself
No matter what your product or service, having a blog or other forms of content on your website brings customers to you, and if your content is really good, it will get shared, widening your reach. You are the expert on your brand and your industry, share what you know to help inspire and educate your customers. Providing valuable content makes everyone come out on top!
7. Ask for testimonials
Testimonials and reviews are crucial and yes they fall under marketing! Think of it this way, if there are two nearly identical products on the market and one has customer reviews and one doesn’t which one are you going to gravitate towards? Always the reviewed one! It’s the devil you know, so to speak, no one likes to invest in a mystery. There’s no shame in asking your clients for testimonials or product reviews.
8. Use guest posts as free marketing
Have guests with bigger followings take over your Instagram for a day to boost your business!
9. Offer trades
When money is tight, trades are a great way to get your name out there. You have products, services, and expertise that’s of value. Just because you’re not able to pay in cash at the moment, doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer.
10. Spend time learning how to maximize SEO
This is where you need to invest your time and learning! Professional marketing agencies understand SEO which is why they’re successful at driving customers to your website, but you can do this on your own, it will just require a time investment on your end. SEO or search engine optimization is the practice of increasing the visibility of your website through internet searches.
Well there you have it, marketing has never been so easy and so free! Now although these tips are cost-effective and easy to implement, they will still require a lot of time and attention, what you save in money you have to make up in other areas. If you’re looking to maximize your time and your budget is less of a concern, we recommend hiring out either with a professional design agency that specializes in marketing or other marketing experts in Vancouver. Whatever you chose, marketing is crucial to the success of your business.
Now, what are you waiting for!? Get out there and start promoting your brand, the world wants to see what you have to offer!