Many people set up their own business in their spare time. Budgets are limited and are usually only what you can spare from your monthly salary. This can make it very difficult to market and develop your new business.

There are, however, methods you can use which are either free or low-cost. Here we are going to take a look at some of these marketing methods which can help kick start your start up.

Social media

Using social media is an excellent way of promoting your new business and finding customers.

If you create new business accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest you have the potential to reach a very large customer base. The best thing about this is that all it costs is your time.

When using social media you must have a plan mapped out and it is important that you stick to it.

Try to post regularly but do not post so often that potential customers get fed up of seeing you. Social media platforms all operate slightly differently, so, for example, on Facebook you can post less often than you would on Twitter.

When marketing your new business keep your content informative and engaging. You need to encourage other social media users to like and share your posts to spread the word. Just a few things you can create posts about are:

  • A simple post that simply explains who you are and what you can offer. Do not post this every day but mix it in with a variety of other posts.
  • If you find an interesting post which relates the type of business you are starting up share this on your social media. This then encourages others to share this from your own post.
  • Ask questions or create polls. You can use social media as a way of finding out what people want so you know which part of your business to promote first. People love taking polls and will generally add a comment and share it too. If people do take the time to comment make sure you take the time to then acknowledge their post and thank them for it.
  • Add information about your products or services and explain how others can benefit from them. If you plan on having an offer to get your business started, make sure you market this but again, do not post this one too often.

You can also use Facebook ads to help you promote your business. These can be a very cost-effective way of marketing your business. There is no set fee and you can choose your own budget and decide who you want to target. You have the option to promote your advert to people based on their age, interests, location and much more. Your advert is then promoted to other Facebook users and if they are interested they will click to find out more.

Local flyers

We all get flyers come through the door and this is because they do work. While most of us freely admit that we give them a cursory glance before putting them in the recycling bin, that glance is all you need to pick out a flyer which is of interest. How many times have you kept a flyer for a free pizza or maybe a local exercise class?

Producing a simple flyer to market your services does not need to be expensive. There are many companies online who can produce leaflets cheaply and some of them even have templates to help you create your design.

When you have completed your flyer you may decide to include your family and simply go out and post them through doors yourselves.

Depending on the type of business you have you can use the same strategy to target local businesses. You may think that a business will automatically throw all flyers away, but the person who picks them up will still give them that same cursory glance that they would give them if they received them at home. You may need to target businesses when you post your flyers but a little local knowledge and research will soon give you the best businesses to try.

Always carry a business card

One very easy way to promote your business is by using a business card. People have been exchanging cards for many years and business people generally keep them for future use.

You don’t need a fancy or expensive business card when you first set out. There are places such as Vistaprint where you can purchase cards for as little as £12.99. Even the machines you see in the motorway service areas can produce professional looking business cards on a budget.

Now that you have your new cards make sure that you always carry them with you. You never know when you might meet someone you would find your business useful and simply giving them your business card with your contact details and website address may be all you need to create a new lifelong customer.

Business events and networking

Most areas of the country will have regional and local business groups. The Chamber of Commerce is possibly one of the most well-known but if you check your local directories and press you may find there are several other groups for small business owners in your area.

Many of these have regular meetings where you can get together and exchange information. When you do this you may even find other businesses who you can collaborate with to help each another. As an example if you are setting up business as a private hire car firm you may find it useful to find others in the same business. In this way you can help each other as there will be times when you may not be able to fit a customer in, but someone else in your network may be able to help you out.

LinkedIn is an online way to help you promote your business and network. You can sign up with a free and join groups to help promote your business, as well as exchange ideas about marketing, accounting and even finding suppliers.

Local press

We all have a local newspaper and many of these are keen to help new local businesses. If you approach them they may be willing to do a feature about you in the paper if they feel it is beneficial to their readers. If they do this there is generally no cost to you and it is an excellent way of spreading the word about your new venture.

Create a professional website

If you want to promote and market your business, set up a website. You may not need a large one with lots of content, and your requirements will vary depending on your type of business.

At the very least you should have pages which explain who you are and what you offer, along with the option of contacting you.

Websites can be created quite cheaply and most of us know someone who may be able to set this up for you.

Your website should always look professional and make sure any content is well written and informative.

Word-of-mouth

Even in these days of modern technology, word-of-mouth is still a very powerful marketing tool.

Customers who are satisfied with your products or service are generally more than happy to tell their friends and family. If they are not satisfied, they are just as happy to inform their friends and family about why they will not be using your business any more.

Many people turn to social media to do this and try to keep on top of any complaints you may see on your own social media pages. Responding to complaints can often result in a happy customer, who will then spread the word about how good you are.

All you have to do to get the benefit of word-of-mouth marketing, is offer the best service that you can and make sure that your products are always of the highest standard. You could even send a follow-up email after a sale just asking the customer if they are happy and checking that they have no problems which you can help them with.

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