Do you have a business, be it online or offline, that you want to spread across the internet but you don’t have the starter kit and budget to do so? The truth is, with the current setup of the web, you can actually make your business popular without even spending a single dollar. Although it might take a huge deal of your time. But hey, I promise it will be worth your while!
I’m talking about how you can leverage social media sites, blogs, online communities, and even Google services.
So, are you ready?
You have your fliers printed out, you’ve rented a billboard, and dozens of tarpaulins hang in your town, but you are thinking of going beyond just your little town. Will radio and newspaper advertising work? Probably, but they will cost you something for sure!
Not to downplay the power of newspaper and radio, but with the digital age, your target demographic are probably connected online most of the time through their computers and smartphones. So, why not leverage that?
Think of it this way: people flock in a certain dessert because of this wonderful attraction but no one is selling any kind of refreshment. What should you do? Sell lemonades, of course!
Capitalize on people’s interests. Almost everyone nowadays are, by default, going online for entertainment, news, and to get information. There are millions of people on Facebook and Twitter, thousands of people with similar interests on online forums, and many more!
How to Promote Your Business Online
Join Facebook Groups
Use Facebook search to find groups relevant to your place. Are you selling bicycles? Join your local cycling group on Facebook. See where I’m going? Just be sure not to spam them.
Don’t worry, I’ve included fan pages too (at length below).
Use Instagram and Pinterest
Among social media sites out there, Instagram and Pinterest are probably the most colorful and easiest to build an audience on. Users of these sites love to immerse themselves in great photos of, well, things. If you are selling physical products, you REALLY need to use these sites.
Invade Online Forums and Classifieds
If you live in a big city there’s a huge chance that there are online forums dedicated to it. I’m not just talking IP forums. Reddit, Digg, Craigslist, and the like are also effective.
If you need business ideas, marketing tips, and general feedback from people feel free to visit /r/business on reddit. They have a great community there and I’m sure you will learn a couple of important things from them.
Join the community, learn their ways, become one of them. Do not promote your business every week, they hate that. Just find the best way to casually mention it in the most natural way possible.
And since Craigslist is free, why not post your service/business there too? Believe it or not, millions of people are still using Craigslist!
Plot Your Coordinates on Google Maps
If you have a physical store or office you really need to plot that down on Google Maps. This is one of the most effective ways of showing people where you are in the city.
Try doing a quick Google search about “web designers in Los Angeles” and you’ll find results with phone numbers, address, and a map. You want that, don’t you?
Submit Articles on Blogs
And finally, blogs. Find the perfect blog relevant to your business and ask the owner if you can submit a guest post to them. This is a common tactic used by many. From individuals offering their services to huge companies. It’s one of the legit and proven to work ways in the internet marketing circle. Ask the owner if you can include a link to your website or fan page on the body of the post. If not, I’m certain that they would at least grant you a space on the author’s box just below each article.
Guest submission is not open? Then ask them if they want to host a giveaway. If that doesn’t work, you both can work on a partnership where for every referred client you get from their site, they get a percentage of the total sales in return.
Start Your Own Website
It is crucial for any business to have their own website. People nowadays tend to put great distrust on businesses without much online presence, and not having a website takes a huge toll on your credibility. Although having a self-hosted dot com website (www.yourwebsite.com) is preferred, for starters you can use the following free services:
How a friend expanded her business internationally through Facebook and Instagram
I’m an avid fan of success stories along with millions of people out there. I’m citing this story to add credibility to the powers of social media when it comes to promoting both offline and online businesses, including services.
I have a friend who sells apparel and she uses Facebook as her main marketing tool. She started with just a few hundred “forced” fans – which translates to asking everyone she knows to like her page. From there on, friends of friends of friends started getting curious about her products and she made her first sale. For several months her “sideline” earned her good money while working full-time for some company. Then she ran a giveaway (like, share, comment for a chance to win type of giveaway) which made her fan page boom from mere hundreds to several thousands of fans.
Right now her page has 66,939 fans and she has quit her job to fully dedicate her time on her online business. Her Instagram account has over 20,000 followers. She’s now making a living and some more because of some simple steps she took, which can apply to both online and offline businesses. Her clients now span across several countries. I bet you want that too!
3 Simple Tips to Bring People to Your Business via Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest
1. Ask everyone you know to like your fan page, follow you on IG and Pinterest
You need to be annoying for this one. Asking a friend to like your page is just the first step. They also have to ask their friends to follow you. By doing this I guarantee you at least a hundred fans on your first day.
Followers are important in order to build credibility. Even though it seems like holding onto air, when people see the numbers of followers you have it gives them a false sense of security that you are legit. I know, it’s an evil lifehack but it works!
2. Selling something or offering a service? Use giveaways or discounts!
Although I told you that you won’t spend a single dime on advertising, I’ll have to backtrack a little bit. Suppose you are selling shoes or bags, I bet it wouldn’t hurt you one bit if you offer one as a giveaway, no? In return you’ll most likely receive several hundreds to thousands of new fans.
And you know what’s the best thing about that? These new followers are basically hot leads – which means their potential to buy something from you is high, since it’s already established that they are interested.
For services, instead of a giveaway, you can opt for huge discounts. For example, if you are a web designer who is looking for new clients, you can always give discounts “for three winners”. Not only are you earning (at a discounted rate, though), you are also increasing your portfolio and potential customer-forever. Because, trust me, once I find that web designer who did a great job, I will always look for him/her whenever I need a redesign or a new website.
So, basically, followers are equal to potential clients or buyers. Remember that!
You can actually skip this tip if you can’t afford to do a giveaway. At the very least, try providing discount coupons. People love coupons!
3. Use your social media account for customer service
At one point when your page or profile starts to garner interest people will start asking questions. Be sure to be there and answer their questions and always go the extra mile just to help. People will remember and they will love you for it.
A lot of people are already on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. For most of these people, redirecting them to a different website just so they can ask questions is an inconvenience. Never let people experience inconvenience! Minimize redirects if you can. If not, be sure to make yourself accessible easily either via Email, a text message, or a phone call.
One thing that needs to be mentioned here is you’ll need to provide value to these people. Don’t just post regular updates asking them to check your services or new items. Provide a reason why people should be a follower.
Keep in mind that people on Facebook have a different goal compared to those on Instagram and Pinterest. Think of it this way, Facebook users are people who are looking to while away their time through chatting and reading, while Instagram and Pinterest users tend to focus on, well, just viewing photos that interest them. Make sure to leverage on this.
But what about Twitter? When it comes to promoting your goods Twitter most likely won’t be of much help. But for services such as web design and development, writing, and SEO, Twitter can add to your credibility.
Most of the things I have written here aren’t new. In fact, they’re as old as the services themselves. But simply because they’re an obvious choice, people seem to think that they’re not worth the effort.
Contrary to that, everyone is doing it. Even blogs like Onextrapixel are taking care of their social media accounts for their followers. To an extent, blogs are businesses too.
The final tip I can tell to you is to maintain your online presence. Be active online. Provide value to your followers and you will not fail.