Low-Cost Site Promotion:
Use Everything You’ve Got
Many site owners don’t have the financial resources to heavily promote their sites through paid advertisements like banners and PPC links from other sites. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get proactive – even on a bare-bones budget.
Here are some no- and low-cost methods of getting your web site address into the hands of the market you’re trying to reach.
Stationery, Business Cards & Print Marketing
If you have a business (web-based or otherwise), chances are you have company stationery, biz cards, brochures, flyers, invoices and other print marketing or collateral materials. Great if you do, but are you taking full advantage of what you’ve got?
Does your web site address appear on your letterhead? How about your business card? Since you need these printed materials anyway, be sure to include your URL on every company document intended for public consumption. It won’t cost you any more for the printing but it will drive traffic to your site. After all, the readers of that brochure already know something about your company, so a URL just might do the trick to get these interested parties to drop by your site.
Same thing, here. If you advertise in the local newspaper or the telephone book, you can amortize some of those promo costs by using print ads to herald your site’s web address. Even a small classified ad should include a URL so interested consumers can find out more about your products, services and location.
Local Cable Adverts
Local cable companies have to sell a lot of TV adverts to turn a profit and these media outlets are competing for print advertising dollars. So, to entice you to spend your tiny advertising budget on local cable ads, these companies offer great deals that might surprise you.
First, cable companies will produce a 30-second spot, usually for free, if you sign up for a lot of spots. Second, the more spots you take the cheaper each spot will cost you. One business cut a deal with the local cable company to run 100 spots in 30 days. Because the business placed such a large order, the cable company produced a nice looking ad and charged $5 per spot – a total of $500 for production and for running all of those ads. Finally, cable companies usually offer targeted marketing for small business owners. If you own a sporting goods company, for instance, you should be able to purchase ad time on sports channels and during sports broadcasts only. That’s something you can’t do with print adverts.
How About a Newsletter?
Weekly or monthly, e-newsletters are a no-cost means of keeping your clients or customers up to date on sales, coupon offerings, new products and the latest insider news. If you can string words together and you know your topic you should be able to write a simple newsletter every four weeks and send it out to all of the customers in your database. It’s free and easy.
If you can’t write a lick, ask friends and family if they could write up a few pages. Someone you know wants to be a writer and here’s a great opportunity to get on-the-job experience and help build your business.
If you (or your friend/writer) can develop some informational articles about your products or services, you can submit them to other web sites where they’ll appear with your URL link. This does a couple of things.
First, it gets other sites to promote your site in exchange for useful content – something every site needs. Second, as you syndicate more and more articles you define yourself as an expert in that particular field. And third, as more sites carry your content and you acquire more links back to your site, search engines will identify yours as an authority site – a site to which other site owners refer visitors. This is very, very good for your site’s search engine page rank.
Use Social Sites to Make Contact
Sites like myspace.com and youtube.com offer free advertising opportunities. Create a profile on myspace, or one of the many other social sites, add some pictures and personal information and be sure to provide a link to your site. If links aren’t possible, at least print the site’s URL so your on-line “friends” can find your hand-made jewelry site and make a purchase. It’s not just a great way to build your business, it’s also a great way to make new friends.
Join News Groups
News groups are like-minded people who gather at some cyber spot to discuss a topic of interest – everything from competitive cycling to dentistry. These news groups are accessible through portal sites like Yahoo and AOL, and there are also directories of news group activities available when you Google ‘news groups’.
Now these sites are usually focused on very narrow topics so do some research first before you barge in and start hawking the wares. If you run a rug cleaning business, why join a news group made up of would-be actors? Instead, hook up with realty and home improvement news groups.
Once you’ve become a member, don’t push your site too hard. Bring it up in casual discussions as a potential resource for the other members of the group. This is not the place for the old hard sell, but it is a free way to spread your URL.
Send Out Press Releases
With hundreds of thousands of web sites out there, you can imagine how much copy is needed to fill all of those site pages. So, routinely issue press releases whenever something newsworthy happens in your industry or on your site.
There are on-line businesses that will distribute press releases either free or at minimal cost. And don’t forget to include your URL at least a couple of times in the PR. It’s another low- or no-cost means of spreading the word about your site.
Are You an Expert?
If you know a lot about your products or services, you’re an expert and there are people who want to ask you questions. You can become an instant expert simply by signing up for Yahoo Answers at http://answers.yahoo.com or Google Answers at http://answers.google.com/answers/.
Here, you’ll be able to create a profile listing your areas of expertise and your credentials. You’ll also be able to list your site’s URL. And once you’ve helped out a few people by answering their questions, some of them are going to want to learn more about you and your site. And again, it’s 100% free.
Join the Chamber of Commerce
An especially good way to market your site, especially for site owners looking to drum up local business. Chamber of Commerce members meet regularly (usually for lunch!), sponsor events and bring in guest speakers. (You, perhaps?) It’s one of the best ways to network, meet other business owners in need of your products, and to hand out your business card with your URL printed in BIG letters. It’s also a lot of fun and educational. So sign up and spread the word.
Appeal to Visitors
If your site offers good, useful information and especially good prices, you’ll appeal to a lot of visitors who may not be in a buying mood at that precise moment but somewhere down the line, maybe. Ask visitors to bookmark your site and be sure to let them know that fresh, green content is posted regularly on your site’s blog. (You don’t have a site blog? That’s another low cost way to market your site.)
Low-cost marketing doesn’t require a lot of cash (thus its name) but it does require a great deal of imagination. The list of low-cost marketing options continues to expand as more and more small site owners hone in on their potential buyers.
Bumper stickers, posters and signs, web cards with nothing but your URL shipped out with every order, free give-aways, public speaking opportunities, local press and news media, a booth at the town fair – you get the idea.
There are endless opportunities to get your site noticed locally and globally. So, don’t sit around waiting for the world to find you. Go out and shout it from the rooftops – “I’m here and I’m open for business.” With a little creativity and some legwork, the world will learn about your site a lot faster if you tell others that you’re here.