4 Ideas to Market Your Small Business for Free

Rising ad costs and increasing expenses can be hard on small business owners managing already-tight marketing budgets. 

If you're looking for ways to market your small business for free, check out these 4 ideas from marketing experts and experienced entrepreneurs.

Word of mouth. When it comes to marketing strategies, Kyle Duford, with The Brand Manager, reminds businesses not to underestimate the power of "doing really good business, customer service, kindness, and ultimately word of mouth."

"There is no better marketing—paid or otherwise—to develop brand affinity and connection than word-of-mouth from a great experience," says Duford, executive creative director of the South Carolina-based advertising and marketing agency. 

"It may seem trivial and even simple, but it's the most powerful," he says in a Forbes Agency Council post.  

Leverage free social media. Using social media to increase customer engagement and brand awareness continues to be a great marketing tool for your small business.

And a limited budget doesn't have to stop you from sharing and posting content, from blogs and photos to popular short-form videos or engaging with customers and potential customers. 

"There is no greater free form of marketing than taking advantage of social media platforms," says Tony Pec, a cofounder of Y Not You Media, a New York-based social media attention agency. 

"It is completely free to put out information about your business, products and services along with insights into you, your knowledge and experience in your industry," says Pec, who also contributed to the Forbes Agency Council post. 

With strategic engagement, social media provides the free option to connect with others and create a community, he added.

Use Email. While email marketing has been around for a while, it still works to engage customers, promote loyalty and affect future sales. 

Plus, you can opt for free email marketing services, such as MailChimp, to get started.

Kristen McCormick, senior managing editor at WordStream, calls email marketing one of the most reliable ways, if not the "most reliable" way, to achieve a strong return on your marketing investment. 

To be successful, small business owners need to put some thought and creativity into subject lines and ensure every email has an offer that encourages your email subscribers to take the next step.

McCormick advises enticing new website visitors to subscribe to your newsletter with a bonus piece of content or a voucher or discount.

Nurture your followers gradually through email until they are prepared to convert to paying clients, she writes in a  post for WordStream.

Get out and about. Become involved in community and industry events — find opportunities to become a speaker or panelist to help get your expertise and heighten awareness of your small business. 

Another path to do some free marketing is getting out and heard or seen in other media venues or formats, such as podcasts, which are accessible and popular. 

There were roughly 120 million podcast listeners in the U.S. the previous year and according to projections, this number will rise to 160 million in 2023, with annual increases of about 20 million, according to a post by Statistica.

"You don't need to start your own podcast to get all the benefits that podcasts provide," explains serial entrepreneur, author, and business consultant Neil Patel in a post on his website

"You can take advantage of the audiences that existing podcasts have built by getting featured," adds Patel, cofounder of Neil Patel Digital, as well as Crazy Egg and Hello Bar.

Samantha Reynolds, founder and CEO of Canada-based ECHO Storytelling Agency, points to "a world of independent creators producing diverse content out there" as possible opportunities to appear on a podcast.

"Scout out podcasts featuring small businesses—and the humans behind them," she advises in the Forbes Council contributor post. "Remember to consider their listeners, too. It's the perfect way to authentically share your company story as part of an intimate conversation and gain brand exposure."

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