Running a business is not for the faint of heart. Trust us, we know! Especially if you’re a start up, every dollar that leaves the door is felt like a blow to the gut as you tediously comb through your spending like your life depends on it (Because well, it does.) Big corporations like Facebook and Instagram are tightening the gaps for you to get your business name and info out there without money going into their pockets. Fear not, you can still advertise for free! Here are the top 5 ways you can shout your business from the mountaintops without paying a cent.
Word of Mouth
Let’s just cut to the chase.. Word of Mouth is still, by far, one of the most effective forms of free advertising and it only costs a bit of extra effort to win the hearts of your clients and set yourself apart from the competition. In a recent National Harris Poll, data concluded that 82% of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase and 67% say they’re a little more likely to buy a product after seeing it shared via social media or email. If you want to advertise for free, t’s safe to say that referral marketing still pulls quite a bit of weight in the marketing industry!
If this isn’t already the case, you want to ensure that your customer support is just as good as your product or service, if not BETTER! Your customers want to feel special and important and each extra mile you take will increase your chances of being shared, for free, to their sphere(s) of influence.
Once you’ve got customer support in the bag, there’s a little more you can do. First, CASE STUDIES. We cannot stress enough the importance of sharing case studies with your followers. Show step-by-step the details of real people who have used your product successfully. This will always be your biggest asset in the word of mouth arena.
Lastly, while you can’t force people to say nice things about your business or share your product or service with their friends, you CAN give a little incentive for those who already truly love what you have to offer. Start with clients who you know love your business. Offer them a coupon, freebie, or discount in exchange for their honest review of your product or service. Or at the end of your funnel, you could include a pop up that enables them to share your business info on their social media pages. In return, they’ll get a promo code to use! It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship. They’ll advertise for free for you and doesn’t cost you a dime.
Never underestimate the power of a hashtag. They’re not just for hipsters and tweenagers… Using the right hashtags for your business not only allows you to advertise for free, it’s also residual! To advertise for free using hashtags, find tags that have low competition (but not too low.) This will ensure your post shows up long after you’ve posted it. You can also post popular hashtags which will be seen by a lot of people in a short amount of time. This will bring you some bots/empty leads, but also exposure to a large amount of people who happen to be visiting that hashtag at that specific time. Personally, we like a good mixture of high competition and low competition hashtags. It provides you the best of both worlds. Instagram currently has a feature that allows you to see “related hashtags” at the top of the page after typing a hashtag in the search bar. Utilize this tool so you’ll never be short on hashtag ideas.
Here’s where some of you may need to swallow a little bit of pride. Some of the most successful marketers understand that when you work together, your reach multiplies. Finding the right person/company to collaborate with means you reach a whole new audience that has likely, never heard of you. And vice versa. It’s a you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours type of situation that can even be somewhat fun. Some unique ways to collab are:
- Social Media Takeover – swap social media accounts for the day and allow your followers to get to know this “guest” on your page AND you get to connect and interact with their followers.
- Feature – Ease yourself in by featuring them on your page and they’ll feature you on theirs. This can be done in the form of a Follow Friday or even showing their product/service on your page and letting your followers know how much you love them.
- Meet Up – If you’re comfortable, find someone local and meet up with them. Be sure to take and post lots of photos together and your followers will be intrigued!
Everybody loves a good freebie and while this doesn’t technically cost you ad dollars, you will have to part with a product or service in order to access this type of free advertising. Studies have shown that 85% of people who receive a promotional product have done business with the advertiser.
A great way to double-up on these advertising options is to combine collaboration & giveaways. Once you find someone you gel with, see how you can combine forces in the giveaway arena. Let’s say you offer a service teaching how to paint and you have a good friend who sells beautiful paintings, you could team up for a giveaway including a free one-hour Skype session with you plus a free one-of-a-kind painting. The only requirement is that people have to like both of your pages. Ta-da, new followers galore! Look at what you have already and use those things to your advantage to advertise for free.
As a side note, if you do have a little extra cash to spare, finding a few other Instagram accounts to pitch in and do a Loop Giveaway is a top notch way to quickly gain new followers and expand your audience.
This one seems somewhat obvious, but it’s not always easy to be relatable! And no, we aren’t saying to try to be someone you aren’t and PLEASE for the love of pizza, don’t use clickbait titles to get people to view your content. But, be original and be yourself. Find what people like, what they’re talking about, and post your original take on it. Speaking of pizza… Pizza is relevant every day of the year no matter what day, time, or year it is 😜
The key point here is to find a good balance by posting relatable/interesting content in between your sales/informational content but not deviating too much from your business. There’s a delicate sweet spot when combining personal with business. People want to see that you’re both successful and a real person. A face behind the business. If you’re struggling with where to begin, food is a language that transcends any barrier. Everybody eats! So if you’re out and eating something interesting, find some good lighting and post it! If you’re visiting an interesting destination, post a photo about your travels. You can find relatable things in every day life that will keep your followers engaged and more likely to pay attention to future posts.
Maximizing Your Efforts
So once you’ve gotten into the routine of utilizing these tips to advertise for free, you want to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste! Be sure you’re directing all of your followers to the correct links. Include the most current link in your Instagram biography and always include a link in Facebook and Twitter posts.
Then, to REALLY get the most out of your advertising efforts, make sure these links you share are trackable. You want to be able to see how many people are clicking your links, where they’re coming from, and what they do once on your site. ConversionFly is an excellent way to do this. It is the only tool available that has Lossless Tracking Technology, which means if someone were to take an action on their mobile device and then come back later and complete the action on their laptop, ConversionFly counts them as one person. This prevents inflated numbers/duplicates and gives you, the marketer, REAL metrics you can work with. With CFly, you can also see where your drop-off points are so you can fix the holes in your net, change the world, and win at life!
Happy marketing, friends.