32 Free Marketing Ideas to Help Your Business Through Tough Times

Many New Zealand businesses look to cut costs in tough financial times, a recession being one of those times. Paid advertising and marketing campaigns are often cut first from the budget. This is completely understandable, but it can have a significant impact upon your profit, if this is the main way you are attracting customers.

So, you need to look for other ways to market your business during an economic downturn. To help get you started, we've put together a list of free marketing ideas.

32 Free Marketing Ideas for Kiwi Businesses

The aims of any marketing campaigns are to put your business in front of your target audience, begin to build an ongoing relationship, entice them to take the next step and buy or contact you, and let them know about what you can offer. But you don't technically need to pay for advertising to do any of these things.

The bonus of paid marketing strategies are that they are relatively easy to set up, require minimal ongoing effort and produce statistics you can track and analyse. Free marketing strategies though, can require more of your time and energy. They are however free, and when cash flow is down, free is great.

  1. follow up on old leads - for whatever reasons, they may not have taken up your products or services at the time, or you didn't follow up on them. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to now. Sending emails and making phone calls to old leads can be slow in terms of success, but it can work.
  2. continue to grow customer/client relationships - from replying to their comments on social media, asking for their thoughts and ideas, acknowledging their support of your business and simply keeping in touch, take the time to grow your customer relationships. If you don't, your competitors will.
  3. provide exceptional levels of customer service - going the extra mile will help you keep your customers for longer. A satisfied customer is also likely to bring in new customers, as word of mouth is the best advertising. 
  4. give something extra of value - this could be support in setting a device up, an increased warranty period or telephone support. It doesn't need to cost your business more, but to be seen by the customer as providing additional value to them.
  5. add new content to your website - think of each bit of content on your website as an advertisement. It's available 24/7, doesn't cost you anything to create, and builds your online presence. By providing information which educates and solves problems to your audience, you will become seen as an expert within your industry; and experts are trusted and sought out.
  6. think outside the square - why not host a class on how to use one of your products? Or do a demonstration at the local playground of your toys?
  7. attend industry events - often there are free in person networking events within towns and cities all around the country. Take the time to visit and introduce yourself. 
  8. make your employees your brand ambassadors - ask them to help support the business by telling their friends, family and wider community about the business.
  9. share other businesses social media posts - share what other businesses are doing on your business and personal pages. Just maybe they'll share yours back.
  10. look out for free advertising offers - Bing and Google sometimes offer free money to begin advertising on their platform. Often they do this once you have set an account up, but then not done anything about it for a week or so. Or they may offer a spend $xx and get $100 credit sort of thing.
  11. customer referral program - ask your existing customers to help share information about your business with their friends, family and community. You could even create a hashtag and ask them to share it.
  12. partner with other businesses - work together to help each other brainstorm marketing ideas and promote each other. Maybe offer to stock their products on your business' website and cross-versa.
  13. contribute to online forums - get your name out there by responding in online forums and commenting on blog posts. It's not a place to share your website details though.
  14. think about vehicle branding - it doesn't need to be expensive. What about a car door magnet from Vistaprint, or a vinyl decal with your website address?
  15. get interacting with your customers - put yourself out there and engage with your customers, in person, online, phone and email. Follow up their product purchases, even from months ago.
  16. enter business awards - often they'll promote your business indirectly by sharing your business name and logo. If you do place in their awards, then promotion can be huge too. Even so, you can tell your customers you have entered and ask for their support, such as if there is a public voting scenario.
  17. volunteer - if you've got time on your hands, help other business out, or a local cause. Getting your name out there as someone who supports others is  great word of mouth marketing.
  18. claim your online listings - make sure you've got your social media pages, Google My Business listing and business directory listing. Give yourself every opportunity to be found for free.
  19. make videos - they don't need to be flash, just easy to watch. Post them on YouTube under your business account. Try for topics which your customers or clients are already and will be looking for and give them answers, demonstrations and even entertainment.
  20. start a business Facebook group - it is yet another free opportunity to build a group of people loyal to your business. Take a read of our articles Does Your Business Need a Facebook Group and How to Grow Your Facebook Group for tips on doing this.
  21. start making more graphics - think about using free programs such as Canva to create the best graphics you have ever made. From Facebook posts, Pinterest pins and info-graphics, spend time on making them look mind blowingly amazing and professional. There is a lot of free help online on how to use sites like Canva, if you are a complete novice.
  22. write a case study - now is the time to spend a few hours writing up a case study which demonstrates just how effective your product or service is. Use the testimonials you already have as starting points, and contact those customers personally for more information to include in the case study.
  23. look for the best articles in your industry, and make them better - Google will show you the best content or what it thinks is the best content on page 1 on any topic. Find a relevant topic to your industry, research the best articles you can find and them rewrite bits and pieces from them to make your own super skyscraper content. For instance, if you can find an article with 100 helpful points, make yours 115 helpful points.
  24. recycle content - you may already have some great existing content you can re purpose. Why not turn it into an eBook (type it into Word, then save it as a PDF) and email it to your email list?
  25. wear your 'uniform' everywhere - if you have an article of clothing branded with your business, wear it everywhere and not just to work.
  26. sidewalk chalk - if you have a physical store, write on the footpath outside, encouraging people to come in.
  27. FOMO - fear of missing out is a great strategy to use. Tell your customers you've only got a limited time for a specific sale, or only this much stock available. 
  28. add calls to action everywhere - be direct and tell people what you want them to do next. On articles, Pinterest pins, social media posts...
  29. create an on boarding strategy - decide exactly what will happen once a new customer or client makes contact with you. What pathway will you direct them down and help them stick around?
  30. offer a free consult - doesn't have to be long, 15 or 20 minutes will work. Take it as a time to identify their problem, explain how you can help and give them some free advice and suggestions for them to take away. Follow this up with an email or phone call within the next few days.
  31. affiliate programs - set up an affiliate program where people promote your business using an affiliate code. If the sale from their code goes through, then they receive a small commission from you. Or you could go the other way around and promote other people's businesses for commission.
  32. add share buttons to your website - if you haven't already, set up share buttons so people can share your articles and web pages through social media. Use a call to action on each page asking them to share it for you.

We're going to add our own call to action here: please share this article on your social media account to help support other NZ businesses. Please; just click the Like button below and then your choice of social media account buttons. 

Tags: marketing  

Posted: Tuesday 17 March 2020

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