One of the disadvantages of traditional marketing is that it often lacks credibility.
Why should someone believe you when they know you’re trying to sell them something? However, there are free or inexpensive techniques for gaining business-building, positive exposure through a number of channels that may not be occurring to you or that you may not be taking full advantage of.
1. Send out a press release to the media when your business opens, expands, diversifies, invents something or innovates a process, partners with another business or organization, hires, takes a position on an non-divisive issue, or sponsors an event or a worthy cause.
2. Suggest feature articles and news story ideas to reporters and editors concerning your field or area of expertise. Offer to be interviewed or to provide quotes for an article.
3. Make yourself available as a speaker at Chamber of Commerce meetings, professional associations, community groups, and seminars. Announce your speaking engagement to the press in the form of a news release, phone call, email, or post card.
4. Write a ‘Letter to the Editor’, but avoid taking a controversial position on an issue which could cost you clients. You don’t want to alienate people. Make it a practice to read the editorial pages to see what’s being written about.
5. Teach a class at the local community college or continuing adult education program. It’s a great way to increase your credibility, visibility, and acquire new clients.
6. Become a columnist. Speaking of credibility and visibility, if you can arrange with a print or online publication to run a regular column of yours, especially with a photograph and brief bio at the end, you’ll gain a lot of valuable, free exposure.
7. Word of mouth is the best kind of free and credible advertising. Keep focusing on providing exceptional service and going above and beyond what clients expect, and word of mouth advertising and new business from referrals is virtually guaranteed.
8. Write informative articles that would be helpful to your clients or prospects and post them on your web site. Let people know about the articles in every way you can think of: talk it up, add a one sentence blurb at the end of your outgoing voice mail or answering machine message, include it in updates of your brochures, flyers, business cards, print ads, and broadcast commercials. If you’re editing and uploading the articles yourself (as opposed to having a web designer or search engine optimization expert do it) make sure you liberally sprinkle the article with a few appropriate and repeated key words that would help Internet searchers find your articles. When choosing key words and phrases, think in terms of what a customer or prospective client would enter into a search engine when looking for the topic or service you’re writing about. One website where you can get a list of keyword phrases arranged by popularity (the number of times they’ve been searched) is at Overture.com . Click on ‘Visit the Resource Center’, then go to the Keyword Selector tool.
While marketing tactics that cost money are a necessary part of almost any strategy, make sure to get the most mileage you can out of techniques that are either free or extremely economical. Remember, even if your marketing budget is tight, there are still plenty of things you can do to increase inquiries, boost referrals, and expand awareness of the unique aspects of your business.