How to market your business: 30 proven ways entrepreneurs built their brands

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You may not have wads of cash to spend on marketing in the early stages of your startup, but that doesn't mean that there aren't effective ways to get your brand out there.

What is the best way to promote your business?

The single best way to promote your business is a combination of understanding what really moves your audience, where they consume content, and how to access them for a relatively cheap price. If you’re a local business, that often means leveraging digital marketing platforms where your potential customers spend the most time: Google, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, (and if you’re a B2B business, LinkedIn).

The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a detailed landing page on each of those platforms. Next, explore their ads interface and test out how much it could cost you to advertise to their users (more on this later). Lastly, make sure your website is set up to give them all the information they need to buy your product (or service).

How do I market my business in 2020?

Consumer trends in 2020 and beyond really focus on digital consumption, mobile phones, speed of delivery, and diversity and accessibility for everyone. So in order for a small business to really thrive in 2020 and beyond, business owners should make sure to include the following in their marketing efforts in 2020:

  1. Make sure your website looks good on your phone. More people now browse and shop online with mobile devices than they do on computers.
  2. Make sure your website loads fast. If a page can’t load in under 1 second, users are more likely to bounce and leave to a competitor.
  3. Make sure you’re where your customers consume content. We’ll talk a lot of about SEO in a minute, so we won’t go into detail here. But it’s the cheapest and most consistent way a business can bring in more customers. (If you want more info, see the first 3 bullet points in the next section)
  4. Make sure you’re being a conscientious member of society. Consumers now know that they can help impact causes they care about by how and where they spend money. So let them know where you stand on issues, and how you’re supporting causes you care about.

How can I advertise my business for free?

Getting your business name out there for free is a huge advantage for local and small businesses. Here are 20 ways professional marketers and other successful entrepreneurs have built their brand:

  1. Use Google My Business to optimize for potential customers searching for your products or services locally.
  2. Check out Yext or Moz Local to synchronize all your local business information across all online local directories (This will help you get higher up on search results and get more people looking at your listing in local search results).
  3. Create a website that is focused on SEO. Search engine optimization cannot be underestimated in the world of constant Googling. Pick up a book or head over to an online how-to-guide on SEO and make sure your site is primed for performance on search engines.
  4. Write guest posts for other blogs. Simply email blogs that talk about the industry your business is in, and offer to write a post for them.
  5. Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. The majority of people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own.
  6. Answer Quora questions (and link to your business).
  7. Publish content on LinkedIn. If you’re a B2B business, this is a no-brainer. Currently, LinkedIn has one of the largest organic reach of social media platforms.
  8. Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote. You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, or bundled promotions 
  9. Offer to do interviews on podcasts or local radio stations.
  10. Promote your website on your email signature.
  11. Send email newsletters to existing customers once a month.
  12. Network at in-person events around your area.
  13. Speak at an event. Feel free to ask the host of any in person event you attend if they’d be open to guest speakers.
  14. Do a free product giveaway in a way that will surprise and delight your customers. If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more. Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample.
  15. Put up brochures or flyers.
  16. Create YouTube or TikTok videos. Make sure to get creative.
  17. Post on social media and work with influencers in your area.
  18. Encourage happy customers to give online reviews. Many places will offer an incentive for leaving an (unbiased) review.
  19. It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing.
  20. Start a blog. A blog not only helps your company get its name out through followers, but is a way to connect with your consumers more directly. But remember that one of the major keys of blogging is to keep your website updated as frequently as you can. A dormant, abandoned blog is worth nothing.

How can I promote my business locally?

First, set up and claim your business online. Whether you want it or not, information about your business is and will be on the internet. Wouldn’t you rather proactively control what people read or see about your business when they Google it? Do a search on different browsers to see what information you see about your company and then claim or create a listing for your business. You can do this by going to Google and Bing and create (or claim) your business listing. After, head over to Yext to make sure to update all local directories that Google and Bing use to verify your information.

Secondly, try utilizing Google AdWords to specifically target the types of products or services you offer. Remember to focus on the quality of a few keywords instead of choosing too many. Another thing to keep in mind: there are different ways of targeting keywords. To keep your costs low, try “phrase match” keywords (this will help limit all the different random words that include your keywords, and instead focus on just the relevant ones). AdWords are great for targeting specific geographic locations too. You can also control your budget with flexible pricing options (like setting a maximum CPC (cost per click).

PRO TIP: If you find a strategy that works with Google ads, do the same thing on Bing. It’ll be cheaper and have a higher conversion rate. So you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Third, create local awareness and establish a network. Join your local chambers, business associations, and community groups. Find ways to get involved. Networking is a great way to capture business leads as long as you don’t come on too strong. It allows you to meet new contacts and create more brand awareness and new referrals. Sponsor sporting events, nonprofit events or anything that is for a good cause. Get your name out there while also being a good community steward. Give away SWAG (promotional items with your business name, logo and contact info on them). T-shirts are a great example of free walking advertisements for your business. Just make sure you don’t cheap out on the material, or no one will wear it.

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