Do not assume that spending money is required to promote your business. While it certainly is ONE way it is not the ONLY way. Given the current challenges and the recent Merchant Circle Small Business Economic Stimulus Survey showing 73.1% of respondent businesses are experiencing moderate to severe declines in revenue, we offer here methods to increase your sales that require spending no money (unless you wish to hire someone to implement them).
We will start with ways that are fast-acting and short-lived and move on to those that provide benefits that last grow your business indefinitely. Use the fast methods to bring in cash when necessary and then focus on those that generate long-term benefits from one-time investments of your time.
List your business on local classified-type sites that allow you to announce events and/or advertise your business. There are so many free online classified sites that determining which are worth using is a major challenge.
Avoid those that have few ads, only old ads, or contain get-rich-quick schemes or “bad neighborhoods“. Look for sites that are popular with those in your target area and/or market. When you find them be sure to keep the links and make notes on how well they worked for you.
Ideally you will even want to have Web Analytics installed on your site so you can see whether your ads are bringing visitors who become buyers to your site so you can focus your time and efforts on what produces results.
[TIP: You may also want to consider buying inexpensive ads in one issue of your local free printed classifieds because they can be searched for online by anyone anywhere.]
The most well known classified site is Craigslist. You can advertise business services for free. Ads stay online for 45 days in most cities but in some they expire in 7-30 days so check the Craigslist FAQ to see how long YOURS will be live.
You can repost ads as soon as they expire. If this works for you get a calendar or use your organizer to remind you to keep them live.
[TIP: Log in to place new ads so you will be able to manage them in your Craigslist account.]
If you have sufficient followers (OR your Tweets are Retweeted by someone who does) you can use Twitter to increase visibility for your business or recommend someone else’s. If you create an account at TweetBurner you can track interest in what you share at Twitter by using the Twurl bookmarklet.
[TIP: You can log into one TweetBurner account and send and track Twurls from multiple Twitter accounts.]
LOCAL LISTING DIRECTORIES:
Every business – even those that operate entirely online and are NOT local businesses – will benefit from creating the most comprehensive local listings in every decent Local Listing Directory available. This is so important that we feature the link to our Local Listings REALLY Simplified page at the very top in the right sidebar. I encourage you to click that link and go read that page.
We have also created:
- Local Listings Data Form – You can copy and paste or print out that allows you to collect all the information in one place that you will use to list your business
- Links to Verify Your Local Listings – Use these to find out if your business is already listed, review and edit existing listings and verify that new submissions are live and accurate.
- Direct links to the Local Listing Submission pages – So you can list your business yourself.
We’re going to be honest with you. Submitting your business to Local Listing Directories can be very time-consuming and it is NOT much fun; however, it is very important because:
- 67% of people surveyed in Nielsen Consumer Survey prefer using these online directories to using the printed yellow pages!
- Many of these directories have very high Google PageRank (most are PR 7) so they are more beneficial than almost any incoming link your business can easily obtain. Other search engines use similar factors in their rankings.
- Several of the directories provide online reviews and good reviews generate much more business!
- Several of the directories allow you to offer coupons which can be used to motivate potential customers to shop with you.
Some of the major directories are buggy and others time-out while you’re filling out the forms so do use the form we are offering and copy and paste your work before you click submit – especially if you get interrupted while creating your listings. More Tips:
- DO brainstorm all your major keyword phrases and work them into your listings (how much you can fit in where varies between directories because the fields and field lengths vary).
- DO make each listing unique to maximize results
- Do NOT simply copy and paste the same text into each directory.
If you decide to do it yourself and get stuck feel free to contact us at Twitter or leave a comment in this post. We would be glad to offer free advice and answer your questions.
INTERNET ADVERTISING SURVEY:
- Merchant Circle Member Survey on Effectiveness of Specific Forms of Advertising found that Merchants Prefer Internet Advertising.
[NOTE: These tend to be very small businesses and the results show what they believe to be most effective. While some may have measured the results others are relying on their own perceptions of what works best for them. ]
- Craigslist for Beginners
- Advertising on Craigslist
- 24 Craigslist Tips, Tricks and Resources – good general post on using Craiglist
- The Disadvantages of Using Craigslist to Make Money – Good analysis of the pros and cons; Why Craigslist is not very useful for selling products unless sales are limited to one geographic area.
LOCAL SEARCH / SEO RESOURCES:
- Local SEO Resource Guide – EXCELLENT
- Local SEO for Local, Niche, and Small Businesses – Covers keywords, tags, and copywriting
- The Definitive List of Local Search Directories – Very comprehensive
- Local Listings REALLY Simplified – Easy explanation plus Our Special Limited Time Offer for Businesses