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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Five ways to promote your business for free

You’ve set up your website, you’re ready to take on the world with your products and services. But where are your customers?

Building a website is the first step - but the expression "if you build it, they will come" isn’t quite true when it comes to your new site. You need prospective customers to visit - but if they don’t know you’re there, you won’t get traffic.

Marketing is simply letting people know what you do, and promoting the value you offer. And to start, you don’t need a massive budget.

Here are five ideas for advertise your business for free.

1. Citation building

Directory, listing and review sites such as Google My Business, TripAdvisor and Apple Maps are a really good way of getting yourself in front of a wider local audience. Online citations act much like a academic citation, where one person cites another as a source of information, or sometimes as a recommendation. Like links to your website, search engines takes these into account when judging the authority of your business and website.

Setting up a Google My Business page is free, and once optimised will help you engage with customers, get more visibility and increase the authority of your business and website.

2. Social media

Social media is another excellent way to get discovered by more people. However, be careful not to treat it as completely free advertising. It’s not - it will cost you in time and effort.

You need to spend your time where it matters most, so think about which platforms you’re going to invest your time in. Some platforms are more suited to particular industries, or at least work better for them. For example, if you are a clothing store or make-up specialist, Instagram is the choice for you.

This isn’t to say Instagram won’t work for other businesses; just the audience is much more interested or invested in these particular subjects.

If you’re unsure, LinkedIn has a lot of organic reach, which means there is an opportunity there for every type of business.

3. Blogging

Blogging is an underrated marketing strategy that people tend to ignore. It’s easy to start, but hard to be consistent with.

There is a reason marketers talk about blogging - it works. Telling your story and validating your expertise brings a huge amount of value to your audience. And if you’re smart, you can use it as an SEO tactic by targeting specific keywords relevant to your business.

Simply start a blog on your website and write about topics in your niche. Try to write detailed articles with 750 words or more. People want step-by-step, real-life examples, and the more effort you put into writing your blog, the more people will connect with it.

4. Forums and groups

A great way of building connections with people and again, bringing value! As long as your contributions are genuinely valuable, that adds credibility. Business forums, Facebook groups and question sites like Quora are a great tool to get involved in the discussion.

You can also target niche-specific sites relevant to your business. This will ensure you are already connected to the right audience. Make valuable and useful contributions to the community, and become genuinely invested in the community.

Make sure you check out the community guidelines before posting; it’s generally a good idea to lurk for a few days and become familiar with the group.

5. Networking events

A local chamber of commerce or business networking event builds real-life connections with like-minded people. These contacts have the potential to become real-life friends and lifetime contacts. There is an incredible amount of value here.

Networking events, especially local ones, will open up opportunities beyond the event itself. Make sure you bring business cards, and restrict yourself to a few very relevant events. It’s better to be invested in two or three than to spread yourself too thin.

Summary

There are a few crucial elements in marketing which you should apply to all your efforts:

  • What you want to talk about might not be interesting to others. Try to bring something of value to your audience.
  • People genuinely want to hear your story. Be authentic, be you.
  • Consistency is really important. You probably won’t see results for a good long while - so it’s important to stick with your tactics and not expect instant results.

A good digital marketing agency can help you create a valuable advertising strategy and get the best return for your efforts (for example, by cross-promoting your blogs on social media), maximising the value.

Copyright 2019. Article was made possible by site supporter Zack Fowler at Sprida UK

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