Wednesday, 15 September 2010

13 Ways to Promote your Local Business for Free

Many local businesses struggle to find ways to promote themselves, get links, rank in search engines, and ultimately drive traffic to their websites. Most small businesses also have limited budgets making the task more difficult. For those businesses here are 13 ways you can promote your business online for free.

Google Local: If you don’t already have one Create an account on Google Local. emty-pocketsEnter your company name, address, phone number and website. Verify the information with a postacard or telephone call. In a few weeks you will help you get a map listing for your company name or industry and town.
Google Coupons: Coupons are a great way to bring new customers into your business or remind old customers that you’re still around. Google has a free coupon tool that puts your coupon on relevant local searches.
Google Base: Google base is part of Google’s one box service. Google uses it to try giving the most appropriate answer from different data sources. If you are selling products you can upload feeds automatically into Google Base and often get preferential placement. You can also upload your business, or special event.
Yahoo Local: Yahoo local is a directory organized by category and geographic location. You can get a basic listing in Yahoo Local for free. People searching for your business or industry can find your listing
Get Reviews: An integral part of the Yahoo Local listings are reviews. Ask your good customers to write reviews for you on Yahoo local. Businesses with higher ratings will get preferential listings. Yellow Pages have a strong brand name and recognition, and are still used by many people today. They offer a few levels of listings the most basic is free.
Press Releases: Doing something newsworthy? If you are you can always submit a press release for free at Be sure to check out their tips like 25 Action Words for Writing a Newsworthy Headline and Why Localizing a Press Release to a ZIP Code and City Matters.
Free Blog Promotion Tools: Does your company have a website or are you thinking of adding one? Websites like Technorati and mybloglog can help you gain exposure, visitors, readers, and subscribers to your blog.
Free Directory Advertising: It doesn’t get any easier than trying free advertising. Go to and sign up for a free 60 day advertising listing.
Create a Lens at Squidoo: Squidoo has a nice easy to use interface that allows you to give information to your visitors. You can talk about your business specifically or the services or products you provide.
LinkedIn: Join LinkedIn and get connected with people you know and make connections with people you don’t through introductions. Look at the new Questions and Answers section and try and be genuinely helpful. Follow the axiom of ‘Givers Gain’ and you may generate a few leads for yourself from your goodwill.
Email Signatures: Be sure to add your URL to all of your outgoing email. Try adding your mission statement, or a catchy phrase to help people understand what you do. Change it a several times a year so people notice it again.

Top 10 ways to advertise your business for free

Advertise your business for freeAs a small business you will recognise the need to promote your business.
With a bit of creativity and some work on your part there are a number of ways to advertise your business for free.
1. Write a press release
Writing a press release is the best way to generate some free publicity. Basically most journalists do not have much time to write stories, so if you can provide them with easily written text it becomes quite easy for them to publish it. But be careful don’t presume that your story will be interesting. The fact that you sell a product is not very interesting. Interesting stories are more likely to be human interest, or about a new business opening. Look inside a publication to see what sorts of stories that they publish and write your press release like one of these.
2. Personal profiles
Add on personal profiles of yourself and your business on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Ecademy, Friends Reunited, and Facebook. These will need to be quite subtle - avoid the hard sell. Then start building links in to other people that you know.
3. Use your car window
Make a poster and put it in the back window of your car. This could be just a simple web address for your business.
4. Add comments at the bottom of web postings.
If you do a resonable job at an answer then many sites will be quite happy to include a link back to your website.
5. Put up an advert on craigslist.
This may generate something interesting, but it may also get lost in all the crud.
6. Shop windows
If you are holding a local event many shops will be quite happy to put up a small A4 poster in their window. Many web sites have events pages that do not charge to promote an event.
7. Free directory websites.
There are a number of web sites that offer a free directory. These include
Yellow Pages
Touch local
Blue boomerang
8. Link swapping
Link swapping has gone a bit out of fashion of late, but it can present a very useful way to get traffic to your we site. The free willy nilly swapping of links was very popular a few years ago, but in the right circumstances it can prove very popular. The best way to go about doing this is to find out who is linking in to your competitors websites and ask if they will link back to you.
To find out who is linking go to Google and type in “” (changing for the website you want to check out)
9. Start blogging
It can be a bit time consuming, but if you start a blog on your website, using software like Wordpress or Typepad
10. Generate reference material for your website
Another useful way to bring people to your website is to write useful reference material such as free how to guides.
One company that is using this to great effect is the hospital company BUPA. They wrote a number of health factsheets that they claim now have one million people a month visiting. While this has taken them quite a bit of effort to generate this it is one of the best examples of free advertising that I can think about. And much cheaper than advertising on TV.
Other ideas include
- Send in articles to magazines.
- Speak at conferences.
  • billboards
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • web page
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • sandwich board
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • Place a car magnet sign on your garage door. When you are gone or have your vehicle parked inside your garage, your neighbors and people driving by can see your sign.
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • go to local networking meetings, Yes ok sometimes these cost around £10 but there a great night out and get you involved in the local business community.
    (Thanks to Adam Faulkner- Staffordshire)
  • flash mob advertising, get a group of friends wearing the logo or slogan and do something noticeable in a crowded area.
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • email marketing
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • Write articles and submit to ezines or regularly visit forums, makesure your signature has your website address.
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • Exchange Links with other websites, this will do wonders for your serps.
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • DROP CARDS - get some cheap business cards printed up from somewhere like - I would definately recommend them. Put a few words to describe your business or what you offer and either your phone number or your website on it, then drop wherever you go…letterboxes (in countries that this is legal), On car windscreens, or hand directly to people you think could use your services. Also leave one on the bathroom bench when you use a public one - you never know who will pick that up.
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • Send out your web address on anything you send out of your business.
    Also sell on E-bay and then send out your web address on the invoice to that new customer.
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • Make Use of BlueTooth
    Set your bluetooth mobile to display your website rather than your name. That way whenever you are in the vicinity of another bluetooth mobile, it will display on their handset.
    ideal income
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • tell ppl u know about wht u do
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • put up leaflets where your target audience lives or in the area of your target audience
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • dont waste money on advertisement
    (Thanks to Anonymous)
  • creat door-knob hangers with yor biz name
    (Thanks to Anonymous)

Promote Your Business - 8 Steps to Success!

1. Get listed
This is one of the most basic methods of business promotion. List yourself in as many business directories, yellow pages, and local business Websites as you can find. Many of these will list your company for free, though some might require you to pay a small fee. This type of promotion is well worth the time and investment, as most people consult these publications when looking for a designer, plumber, electrician etc. You see the point.
2. Contacts
It's not what you know, it's who you know. This little phrase holds a great deal of water in the small-scale Web design industry. When you're first starting out, you'll find that a lot of your work comes in via word of mouth promotion. It's therefore very important to make connections early. Do a few free sites for local charities, community groups and organisations - this is a great way to build up your portfolio and also spread your name around potential client firms. Eventually you'll be approached by 'a friend of a friend of so-and-so' who wants a site designed. This is an example of 'viral marketing' and is one of the most effective methods you can use to promote any business.

3. Your Business Website

This site is it - your big chance to knock the socks off of your potential clients! Here's your opportunity to show them what you can do, to tell them exactly how your company can help them and why they should choose you over the competition. Never forget that first impressions count, and if your portfolio isn't the best you can make in terms of design, layout and content, you're selling yourself short straight away.
A Website for your business is very important. Hey, it's what you do, isn't it? Aim for a crisp, clean design that emphasises your professionalism and skill. Give your potential clients as much information as you think they'll need. Remember, this is most likely going to be your first point of contact with a potential client, and could determine right away whether or not the contract goes to your company, or Joe Bloggs Inc down the road.
4. The Almighty Business Card
Yes, we're living in the 21st century, and yes, it's the digital era, the age of technology, the future and all that, but let's be honest: nothing beats a business card for quick, effective promotion.
Let's take an example: You're out with some friends at a suave local get-together. You start chatting to a friend of a friend; the topic of conversation turns (as always) to work; she asks what you do; you tell her you build Websites for a small to medium sized companies in your area. Eureka! It turns out she's the owner of Jane's Boutique, a fashionable designer clothing outlet in town. What's more, she's been toying with the idea of investing in an e-commerce enabled Website for her business, so she can accept orders online and break into mail order. This gets better and better. So you tell her you'd certainly be interested in helping her out (for a fee of course) and that she should give you a call. Now, do you:
A. Scribble your details on a napkin that she's most likely going to pull out of her pocket and blow her nose on without realising what it is, or B. Pass her one of your high quality, professionally printed business cards that contains every method to contact you imaginable, including of course the URL of your business Website, which she'll place in her purse and most likely use to contact you? The moral of the story? Sometimes, the old-fashioned methods work best.
5. Advertise
Of course, you could always go the traditional route and advertise. Targeted advertising is the key here; billboards and the sides of buses simply won't cut it. Try placing an advert in the local newspaper, or target your market even further by advertising in publications specifically published for small business owners in your local area. These will vary depending on where you are and what the local economy is like, so take some time to research the various advertising mediums available before you commit yourself to anything.
6. Free Gifts, Bribery and Smarm
This method does take some capital investment to start with, but can yield good results if it's done properly and is correctly targeted. Invest in some branded mouse-mats, pens, coasters etc to promote your business. Try to aim for items that executives would keep on their desks. Desk calendars are especially good for this purpose because they'll be in use for a whole year if you're lucky, and cardboard ones are fairly inexpensive. The advantage of these items over traditional business cards is that they're more likely to be kept, plus your contact/business information generally remains on open view, as opposed to being in a wallet, purse or filing system somewhere.
This will help get your company name and details out to your target audience, and will hopefully get your name and details seen by the right people.
7. Dealing Effectively with the Public
Dealing with people is very, very, very, very important in Web development or indeed any other type of consultancy work. How you deal with potential and existing clients can be just as important as your level of technical skill or design competency. Remember: your clients are the reason you're in business -- without them you might as well pack up and start selling vacuum cleaners door to door. Treat your clients with patience and respect, and try as hard as you possibly can to make them happy.
Besides the obvious, it's also a good idea to interact with your clients on a more personal level. Ask them how they are when you meet them, and send them a thank you card when a project is completed. Christmas cards, frequent project updates and other little niceties can make a client feel valued, wanted and appreciated, which will probably lead them to offer you more work in the future, or refer you on to other potential projects. If they do refer you to another paying client, remember to say "thank you".
8. Your Brand Image
You do have a brand image, right? The establishment of a brand is a key factor in any business's promotional activities. Create a corporate image for your company, and incorporate it into all your stationary, documents and business Website -- these techniques echo professionalism and class. If done well and designed in-house, it can also be a good way to demonstrate your design skills. Business stationery is al so worth a mention here. It's well worth designing at the very least a professional looking letterhead and invoice that you can use to correspond with and bill clients.
Getting your business name recognised in appropriate circles is one of the biggest hurdles a fledgling company is going to face, but with a little fore-thought and some shameless self-promotion it's not as hard to get noticed as you may think. Good luck, and happy promoting!

Here are 24 proven methods to help get your business off the ground without spending a fortune

1) If you don't have a business card and business stationery, have them made up -- immediately. Your business card, letterhead and envelope tell prospective customers you are a professional who takes your business seriously.
2) Get your business card into as many hands as possible. Call your friends and relatives and tell them you have started a business. Visit them and leave a small stack of business cards to hand out to their friends.
3) Talk to all the vendors from whom you buy products or services. Give them your business card, and ask if they can use your products or service, or if they know anyone who can. If they have newsgroups where business cards are displayed (printers often do, and so do some supermarkets, hairdressers, etc.), ask if yours can be added to the board.
4) Attend meetings of professional groups, computer user groups and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or civic associations. Have business cards in a pocket where they are easily reachable. Every time you start to say "My name is," reach in your pocket for a business card. By the time you get to "I run a..." (type of business), your business card should be deposited in the hand of the person with whom you are speaking. Don't forget to ask what the people you speak with do, and to really listen to them. They'll be flattered by your interest, and better remember you because of it.
5) Become actively involved in 3 or 4 of these groups. That will give you more opportunity to meet possible prospects. But remember: opportunists are quickly spotted for what they are, and get little business. While you won't want to become involved in activities that require a lot of your time in very many organizations, you can -- and should -- make real contributions to all of them by offering useful ideas and help with small parts of one-time projects;
6) Look for something unusual about what you do, and publicize it. Send out press releases to local newspapers, radio stations, cable TV stations, or magazines whose audiences are likely to be interested in buying what you sell. To increase your chance of having the material published, send along a photo (but not to radio stations) with your press release. Editors of printed publications are often in need of "art" (drawings or photos) to fill space and break up the gray look of a page of text.
7) Write an article that demonstrates your expertise in your field. Send it to non-competing newspapers, magazines, and Web sites such as the Business Know-How Web site. Be sure that your name, business name, reference to your product or service and phone number are included at the end of the article. If the editor can use the article, you get your name in print, and possibly get your contact information printed for free, too.
8) Whenever you do get publicity, get permission from the publisher to reprint the article containing the publicity. Make photocopies and mail the copies out with sales letters or any other literature you use to market your product or service. The publicity clips lend credibility to the claims you make for your products or services.
9) Contact nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges, and even other businesses who have customers who may need your services. Ask for work or leads.
10) Network with others who are doing the same type of work you are. Let them know you are available to handle their work overloads. (But don't try to steal their customers. Word will get out, and will ruin your business reputation.)
11) Offer to be a speaker on subjects utilizing your area of expertise. Volunteer organizations, libraries and online forums often need speakers for meetings. After you've had some practice speaking (enough to feel comfortable doing it and to have gotten some positive feedback), look into working with speaker's bureaus to book speaking engagements for you. You'll benefit two ways from such engagements: the fee you receive for doing them, and the publicity you, your product or service gets as a result.
12) If your product or service is appropriate, give demonstrations of it to whatever groups or individuals might be interested. Or, teach others how to use some tool you use in your work.
13) Find out what federal, state, and local government programs are in existence to help you get started in business. Most offer free counseling, and some may be able to suggest possible prospects for your business.
14) Send out sales letters to everyone you think might be able to use what you sell. Be sure to describe your business in terms of how it can help the prospect. Learn to drop a business card in every letter you send out.
15) If you use a car or truck in your business have your business name and contact information professionally painted on the side of the vehicle. That way your means of transportation becomes a vehicle for advertising your business. If you don't want the business name painted on the vehicle, consider using magnetic signs.
16) Get on the telephone and make "cold calls." These are calls to people who you would like to do business with. Briefly describe what you do and ask for an appointment to talk to them about ways you can help them meet a need or solve a problem.
17) Get samples of your product or your work into as many hands as possible.
18) Offer a free, no obligation consultation to people you think could use your services. During such consultations offer some practical suggestions or ideas -- and before you leave ask for an "order" to implement the ideas.
19) Learn to ask existing customers, prospects and casual acquaintances for referrals. When you get them, follow up on the leads.
20) Use other people to sell your product or service. Instead of (or in addition to) selling your products yourself, look for existing mail order companies that would be willing to include your products in their catalogs, or for distributors or sales agents who would be willing to take over sales chores for you. Be sure your pricing structure allows for the fees or commissions you will have to pay on any sales that are made.
21) Have sales letters, flyers and other pertinent information printed and ready to go. Ask prospects who seem reluctant to buy from you: "Would you like me to send information?" Follow up promptly with a note and a letter that says "Here is the information you asked me to send."
22) Run a contest. Make the prize something desirable and related to your business. It could be a free gift basket of your products, for instance, or free services.
23) Take advantage of any opportunities you have to get free ads, or to have your company and its product or service listed free of charge in a directory. or . Professional associations often publish such directories.
24) If your target market would be likely to use the Internet or online forums, participate in discussion groups and consider putting up a web page. But, if you do make it online, be sure to include your email address and your web page address (if you have one) on your business cards, in your promotional materials, in print ads and even on your letterhead.

Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning