FREE marketing strategy
Our free marketing strategy is aimed primarily at startup businesses with little to no budget for targetted marketing campaigns. Most of the items below cost nothing and ultimately come down to time and admin. We hope you find the information below useful, we would be happy to help with any of the aspects along the way!
For service providers: “The best way to get work is to be working.” If you are struggling with insufficient work or just starting out, offering free (or in-kind) services might help to:
- Solidify your experience and provide you with a portfolio/ case study.
- Help you make a few mistakes without it being too big a deal.
- Get the word-of-mouth wheel turning and provide you with opportunities to network.
Word of mouth and referrals
This is by the far the best form of marketing!
- Your clients are the ones who reach out to you.
- Someone has already vouched for your credentials and abilities – you don’t need to do the “hard sell.” Just be professional and on budget and the likelihood of a conversion is high.
- Treat every customer like gold as they may be your ticket to your next client/job/sale.
- Share your customer reviews to make your business more trustworthy.
- Create feedback prompts for your customers to build positive relationships with them.
Increasing word of mouth opportunities
Incentivise your current client base with a % discount on repeat business or if they send someone your way.
- Offer a finders fee for referrals.
- Make it easy to share your credentials/show off your work with shareable assets.
- Facebook page
- Business card
- Email newsletter
- Forwardable email/PDF of your services
Incentivise new customers with a % discount
This can be done for free through your social media channels or you can provide a set budget for social media or Google ads.
Early bird discounts/ loyalty programmes
Early bird discounts are a great way to create excitement around your brand/ event and offer your loyal customers a bargain. It is also a great way of increasing your short term cash flow. Creating special loyalty programmes for your customers will also ensure their happiness and retention.
Basic search engine optimisation (SEO)
Most aspects of SEO you can do yourself, it ultimately comes down to time. There is a host of online information on how to create and implement an SEO strategy.
Public relations (PR)
PR is editorial content – i.e. websites and magazines writing about you or your service. Publications are always looking for fresh content, as long as you or your service is current/ newsworthy, they may write an article about you. This is easiest when you are new or have a unique offering (preferably both). Research which publications cover your field, make a list and contact them with a press release.
- You can engineer the press release to what you think they want to hear.
- Make a list of relevant publications and contact them.
- A discounted offer of your services attached to the article will make the proposition more attractive.
Innovative ways to reach your target market
Understand who your target market is and try to figure out how best to reach them. Contacting customers directly might be difficult but try to figure out who does have contact with your potential customers and reach out to them. For example, if you are a tour guide, connect with Concierge staff at hotels as they could be able to recommend you to their clientele. Make a list of potential partners, create a simple two-sentence pitch (it can be an email) and communicate with them.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you – maybe someone would be prepared to display your flyers or business cards on their front desk or send an introduction on your behalf.
Existing customer base
Your existing customer base is a tangible source for new business.
- Offer your existing clients discounts for repeat business.
- Consider how you add value to your existing customers by marketing new products and services to them.
Quid pro quo
Favours for favours
- Find people would be prepared to display your flyers or business cards on their front desk and offer to do the same.
- Offer to do social media posts/ shares in return for them doing the same for you.
- Offer to include them in your newsletter/ media posts in return for them doing the same for you.
- Offer to link to their website from yours if they do the same.
Email newsletters are a good way to periodically send relevant information to your supporters, past, and potential clients and most importantly to remind them of your existence. Here you can:
- Keep yourself at the top of people’s minds.
- Launch new products and services.
- Competitions (discount/free service) are a great way to get people to engage.
- Offer deals and specials to them.
Ways to collect subscribers are:
- With a sign-up feature on your website.
- Incentivise submission to your database with a discount.
- Posting engaging and informative content on your website could naturally entice people to subscribe.
Always be looking for ways to gently tell people you meet about what you do and offer them your business card. Consider the events you can attend where you can network. Remember, be passionate but not too pushy 😉
Social media marketing
Most major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are free to set up and have the potential to take your business to new levels if implemented effectively by creating relevant and engaging content.
Social media is also a useful tool for creating user-generated content (USG) and sharing the content your clients create/ the electronic word of mouth (eWOM) about your business.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Basic SEO comprises of research, creating a strategy and then implementing that strategy. A basic SEO strategy will include:
- Determining suitable keywords for your website.
- Writing text content to support those keywords.
- Implementing technical SEO elements to your website.
- Link building.
SEO does require periodic updates and results can take months to show. For the above services, you will need to pay a fee.
Google & Facebook advertising
You can target specific demographics of people in your city and set a budget that you can afford. This type of marketing is useful as you can use analytics to track how effective the spend is and how many inquiries lead to sales.
Associations and business networks
Registering with these types of organisations usually carry a small annual or monthly fee but can be a good source of contacts for future business.
Join a networking group – be proactive and attend networking sessions.
Flyers & posters
This is an inexpensive way of raising awareness about your brand or product offerings and can work perfectly instore or on your premises. The challenging part is distribution if you plan to have your collateral seen by the outside world. Unfortunately, you cannot measure the results. For that reason, we would recommend a digital campaign through Facebook, Instagram and Google.
If you do decide you need to print flyers, please ensure you print on recycled paper using non-toxic vegetable inks. See http://www.theethicalagency.co.za/ethical-suppliers for a list of ethical printers in South Africa.
Enlist your own sales force
Enlist the help of people you know to help sell your services/ products for you – offer them a referral fee/ commission for each lead that turns into a sale.
This form of marketing can be executed without a large budget and involves creating innovative and unconventional activations to make more consumers aware of your product offering and create viral conversations about your business.