For those that start a small business, they know that cash flow is key. In fact, it’s their lifeline. Without cash, their business would cease to operate and they would simply have to shut it down. While it’s obvious that a business needs money to purchase materials, labor, and delivery, many business owners forget about the cost of marketing their product. Television spots, radio ads, billboards – all of these marketing opportunities cost money, and sometimes lots of it! But are these the best forms of¬†advertisement? Is a TV ad always the most effective method to get your product or service noticed? Sometimes, it most definitely isn’t, and the costs associated with it can far outweigh the benefit.

Grow Your Small Business Without Spending Any Money

So if spending a bunch of money on TV ads isn’t the answer to grow your business, what is? Is it possible to create a marketing campaign that will attract customers without spending any money whatsoever? The simple answer – it certainly is!

1) Find Free Advertising Sites

Advertising sign which shows how branding and marketing lead to salesThanks to the internet, there are free advertising pages everywhere. You can easily list your business with major search engines like Google and you could also put up a quick posting in the YellowPages¬†and Craigslist. You could even list your business for free on Angie’s List. The possibilities here are seemingly endless, but just having your business listed in a few search engines does not necessarily mean that you’ll be an overnight success. There is still more to do.

2) Perform Amazing Work

Do you know how often people talk about a positive experience vs. a negative one? I’d say it’s probably one positive for every ten negative. For whatever reason, people just gravitate toward negative experiences and want to talk about them far more than a routine positive experience. However, if they have an experience that is over-the-top positive, and they simply can’t believe how great of an service it was, then that’s what will get them to talk as well.

In order to get free, word-of-mouth advertising, you need to perform at a level far above and beyond your competitors. Be on time, give quality estimates, be kind and compassionate. In short, underestimate and over-deliver. Go far above and beyond what your customer would consider a “good” experience. This will get them to talk and they will voluntarily recommend your services to their friends and family. It just so happens that this is the most effective form of advertising as well – word of mouth. If you can perform so well that you can get this to happen for free, then your business should be secure for a very long time.

3) Form Alliances With Other Businesses

Sign promoting small businessesYou may not realize it, but your business likely has a complimentary business. In other words, there is another business out there that fields your customers before they get to you. If you instruct a boater’s safety class for instance, your customers would need to buy a boat first, right? So, before sitting in on your course, your customers will have probably visited the local boat dealerships in the area.

This is another great way to advertise. Drop by the local boat dealerships in your area and make some friends. Let them know what it is that you do, and how you’d appreciate it if they would send some of their customers your way. And of course, you would return the favor for them as well. If you have clients that have not yet purchased a boat or watercraft, then you would agree to send them to the boat dealership. These are fantastic alliances to have and can really drive some solid business within a group of business owners.

4) Offer a Referral Incentive

Since word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising, why not sweeten the pot on this a little bit and offer an incentive to your customers for doing so? Here’s how it works. You serve a customer and are certain they are satisfied . You then tell them that if they refer someone else to your business that leads to a sale, then you will pay them $25, or maybe you’ll give them a free product of their choice under $40. Something like that. In other words, if they help you make a sale, then you’ll pay them some money for the help.

I know that I said this article would teach you to advertise without spending any money, but this is a little different. Instead of putting an ad on TV and hoping that it will drive some customers your way, this is actually bringing customers into your shop and then you pay out some money or merchandise to the client that referred them. So actually, it’s more like discounting a product than it is paying out for advertising. And most of the time it is quite effective!

Are you ready to start growing your business today? Will you try out some free marketing ideas?

Derek Sall
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