Here are 10 fresh ideas you can do to market your online business without spending a fortune.
#1 Track Your Results. Tracking my marketing and goal-progress as I go is one of the most valuable tasks I complete each month. We creatives have a terrible habit of flying by the seat of our pants and scrambling through our promotional efforts.
Each month, I perform a monthly review and compare it to the results I created the previous month.
- In which areas am I growing?
- In which areas am I stuck?
- Where did I create noticeable progress?
- How did I spend my time this month?
- What efforts paid off?
- Which efforts didn’t pay off?
- What subject lines got the most attention?
- Which posts got the most engagement?
- How would I like to improve next month?
#2 Share testimonials. Have you run out of things to say on social media? Good! Share a quote from one of your customers who loved their product with a link to that item for sale.
For better results, get the customer’s permission to use their photo and screen clip that bad boy! There’s no social proof more powerful than a good review next to an image of the person who wrote it.
For even better results, offer a daily deal (aka discounted price) on the item when you share the testimonial!
#3 Blog all about it. Blogging helps everybody in any stage of their life refine their message. It forces you to sit down and ask: What do I want to say to the world? And once you start sharing that message, it only gets better. The writing begins to reveal your inner truth.
If this is the creative business that you were meant to run, you’re probably eating, sleeping, and living your brand. It’s time to share that with the world, and the conversational-style outlet a blog offers is often the best way to do it. It’s an excellent source of traffic referrals, and it also boosts customer relations.
#4 Use | wear | share it wherever you go. I was recently reading a story by Cameron Herold in which he promoted his local painting company by having his employees wear t-shirts emblazoned with the company logo wherever they went. For example, if he wanted to recruit new employees for his business, he’d buy his current workers a beer in exchange for them wearing their t-shirts to the local pub that weekend.
Aside from wearing and using your own products, what are some creative ways you could start spreading your logo and getting it in front of more people? You could …
- send your friends and family a free product with stacks of your business cards to hand out in exchange
- get your logo printed onto a t-shirt and wear it to your next industry-related event or marketplace
- carry free samples and offer them to anyone who inquires in the product you’re wearing or seems to have similar taste
- give your products as gifts to the community each season (think: teachers, hairdressers, favorite restaurant waiters, etc.)
#5 Cross-promote with similar makers. I’m a big believer in industry networks and what they’re going to mean for our future. I love to team up with like-minded bloggers in the creative industry, and I regularly trade notes with Etsy shop owners who sell products similar to mine!
As an example of some collaborations you might try out, one Etsy seller I know emailed her customer list the handmade gifts she was giving to her friends and family. Even I was surprised + delighted by the new makers she introduced! Now imagine if you collected a handful of your favorite sellers and introduced them to your current customers. What if they agreed to return the favor? How many new customers might you share and gain?!
As another example, a friend of mine reaches out to yoga apparel companies and offers to send free product (she also makes energy jewelry) in case they’d like to include it in their photos.
#6 Organize a group giveaway. This is yet another way you can work together with similar markets (for free or low-cost marketing). Gather a selection of complimentary or similar products and organize a giant giveaway. For example, if you contact nine other makers (ideally, you’ll each have a blog), group your products and offer the giveaway to all of your followers, you’ll expand your reach x 10!
If you blog or sell to a specific industry, you can also chip in on one expensive tool or gift card that your readers will benefit from. For example, if you combine efforts and campaign as ten bloggers for one Canon DSLR giveaway, you can offer a huge gift (gaining tons of traffic and subscribers in the process) with an investment of only $50 each.
#7 Provide gift suggestions during the appropriate seasons (Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc.). The above is an Energy Shop example which I created using Artboard for the Mac. I explained how I make graphics like this on the cheap in my article titled, Graphics, Typography, Font, Oh My! You could make a gift guide graphic for your products using a regular word processor; no fancy software is required.
Another way to offer a gift guide is to use a free mail service, such as Mail Chimp. They offer templates that allow you to upload several pictures into an email, and you could provide gift suggestions in the text below each of those pictures.
#8 Pinterest. Best free advertising in the whole wide world! Seriously. Pinterest has become my biggest traffic referrer of all time, boosting search engine traffic in the process, and it has greatly reduced my marketing and advertising costs. I’ve linked to my complete strategy on increasing traffic with Pinterest at the end of this article.
#9 Host a customer appreciation special. I love a customer appreciation special! Here’s the one I created last year. A customer appreciation sale works like this: When I reach a landmark goal, say 100 sales, I celebrate by creating a deal in which I don’t lose, but the customer clearly wins. The listing price pays for cost and materials, but I don’t profit much. I typically lower shipping costs to make it as much of a bargain deal as I possibly can. These sales are fun for the customer, and I know they enjoy the special treatment. I appreciate the opportunity to express my gratitude for them.
#10 Don’t forget the follow-through! For every new project I release, I launch it with a 3- to 6- month marketing plan. It’s not enough to create a product, you also have to make sure people know about it. And oftentimes, the first announcement is only the beginning of the campaign – especially when you’re selling a quality product at a higher price. People need time to consider the offer, but don’t let them forget about it. Make a few notes that span the next few months in your calendar to gently remind your customers that your new creation exists.
I love coming up with new + creative ways of marketing online on the cheap! I’ve collected the following articles to help you do the same:
- How to Increase Traffic Using Pinterest
- How to Stand Out in the Handmade Marketplace & Appeal to Your Niche
- How to Gain PR for Your Etsy Business
If you loved this post, you will absolutely love The Luminaries Club. It’s full of business lessons, creative camaraderie, and helpful resources just like this. Until next time and all the best,
Thanks Lisa, So many great ideas~
Gah! Your articles are always so chock full of great biz info, Lisa! You & your blog are quickly becoming invaluable resources for me. Thank you!!!