People often ask me how they should market their business without spending a fortune.  We all know that advertising can become a black hole to throw your money into and that it can be difficult to monitor and keep track of what is working — before you know it you’ve spent thousands on a marketing campaign that simply didn’t reach your potential customers.

Why not try all the free and very cheap methods of marketing your business first? Most entrepreneurs will launch into a highflying marketing campaign with all those flashing lights and bells, yet overlook the simple, free methods of publicising their business — which can actually be more effective!  Why not consider the following suggestions and save yourself some money…

Editorials and articles

Spend some time hunting out all the local and national newspapers and magazines and create a short list of publications that are relevant to your business.  Don’t forget some of the more obscure trade journals and subscription magazines, many of which are only found online.  Then, think up some ideas for editorial copy and articles that would highlight your business.  Most local papers are desperate for news stories and magazines of all types welcome articles and features with some human interest, new information or a novel approach to an old issue.  See what you can come up with in order to market your business for free — you may even get paid for writing an article or feature!

Give a presentation

Could you put together an interesting or entertaining presentation on something related to your business?  Groups and social networks everywhere are always on the lookout for speakers — particularly if you don’t ask for a hefty fee.  Use this as an opportunity to spread the word about your products and services — but do it subtly — your presentation must not look like a blatant marketing campaign.  Try groups such as the Rotary Club, the Women’s Institute, the Chamber of Commerce, camera clubs, social groups and so on.  You can also join your local Toastmasters,, where you will meet useful contacts and get some great tips on effective public speaking.

Viral marketing

Viral marketing is a very cost effective way to spread your marketing message.  Sending out e-mails is cheap and easy, and if you have something catchy that people will be happy to pass on — you could be onto a winner!  Get people to click onto your website by offering something for free, or giving away some juicy secret they won’t be able to resist!

Start a newsletter

Whether you run an online or offline business, you could start a newsletter to send around to your subscribers and prospects.  It is a great way to build a relationship with potential customers and target your marketing message to the right audience. If you do it online, you can make it extremely cost-effective.  All you need is a little time and some innovative ideas!

Offer a free downloadable product

Whenever you market your business, whether it’s through advertising, viral marketing, a newsletter, or by any other means, a freebie can get people flocking to your site.  By choosing a downloadable product, it won’t cost you anything in terms of time or money to administer.  How about a free e-book, an audio book, an informative article or some free software?  Once people are on your site, you can wow them with your sales copy and hopefully convert visitors into customers.

Offer a free course

As with free downloadable products, a short free course could be a good way to add people to your list of subscribers and win customers.  Try to think of something new or interesting that you could teach people related to your products or services that will get them coming back to you for more.  Courses could be offered alongside your newsletter and can easily be incorporated into an autoresponder, saving you time and effort.  Try a short course consisting of three or four parts spread over a few weeks.

Leaflet drops

A fairly cheap way of spreading your marketing message is with a leaflet drop.  You can use the Royal Mail to get leaflets into homes and businesses in a particular postcode area, or, if you run a local business, you can get some exercise and do-it-yourself.  How about offering a leaflet dropping service to other local businesses to cover your own costs, and even make a profit on it!  If you’re feeling sociable, you could hand out leaflets to people at various events, outside shops and so on.  Don’t forget to put your leaflet on notice boards in shops, post offices, libraries, doctors and dentists surgeries, bus shelters — in fact anywhere where people are hanging around.

Find a business partner

Finally, a great way to increase your marketing power for very little outlay is to team up with somebody else in a relevant business.  Find partners who have huge lists of subscribers that might be interested in your products or services and work together to get your messages across.  You could even share the cost of advertising and do some great joint promotions.

Good luck!!