When budgets are tight, one of the first things many entrepreneurs strike from their list of financial priorities is marketing. However, marketing doesn’t have to take a backseat when resources are limited. In fact, there are plenty of ways to continue promoting your company while keeping costs low.
DIY public relations can be an inexpensive way to gain attention for your business—if you follow the right strategies and best practices. Below, 14 members of Fast Company Executive Board share some creative, inexpensive ways a new business can drum up good publicity or press mentions.
1. BUILD OUT CUSTOMER STORIES.
Focus on your customers by building out customer stories and making them the focal point of all your marketing. It may take time, but if you are consistently telling your customers’ stories, you will eventually gain the attention of the right future customers as well as the media. – Kyle Arteaga, The Bulleit Group
2. FIND BRAND AMBASSADORS.
Marketing is everything. If you have to work with a tight budget, find brand ambassadors who believe in your product, service, and cause. Work with them to leverage their networks and help you promote your brand organically. – Karolina Hobson, Radd Interactive
3. LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA.
Social media is the best way to reach the most people for the lowest cost. It doesn’t require high production values; you can simply film something on your phone and post it. If it resonates with enough people and you include a hashtag, there is a possibility that it will go viral. If that happens, you will gain a ton of publicity for next to no money, and if social media is talking, the press will follow. – Jason Hall, Five Channels
4. MAKE VIDEOS THAT PROMOTE YOUR BRAND.
Start making videos that promote your brand in a fun and creative way. Video is continuing to become more and more important in marketing. The good news is that we have more capabilities with our phones than Stanley Kubrick had when he created 2001: A Space Odyssey. If your videos are engaging, informative, helpful, and/or creative, they can go viral and give your business a lot of free exposure. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP
5. TAP INTO THE POWER OF LINKEDIN.
I’ve always believed in the power of thought leadership. With platforms like Linkedin, you are in control of how far and wide your personal brand can go. Similarly, it helps to find adjacent businesses that have shared customer values and engage in joint thought leadership efforts like e-books, webinars, and so on. – Jessica Thorpe, gen.video
6. TEACH, DON’T SELL.
Entrepreneurs are amazing and insightful people. They see what others don’t and they act. By definition that makes them thought leaders in their area of expertise. That is a secret weapon that I don’t see capitalized on enough. By taking the time to teach—not sell—practical ways their expertise can help people, the community, or a market segment, entrepreneurs can gain access to interesting media channels. – Kermit Randa, Kermit S. Randa
7. ENGAGE WITH JOURNALISTS ON TWITTER.
Lots of people in the press are active on Twitter. Find ways to engage with them and provide value to their conversations, and when possible, weave a little bit about yourself, your product, or your company into the conversation. Building a good rapport takes time, but it can provide a great ROI if you get some press coverage out of it. – Heather Jerrehian, Hitch Works, Inc.
8. MAKE A GIFT OF YOUR EXPERTISE.
Be a thought leader. Take time to write down what you have learned, your point of view, and what you think will help your clients. There are plenty of no-cost methods to share your wisdom with your target audience. Contact industry publications, join social media groups, or just begin by emailing your content to your clients and prospects. Providing thought leadership “gifts” will get you noticed quickly. – Steve Dion, Dion Leadership
9. DON’T IGNORE THE VALUE OF WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing. And the best part is that it doesn’t cost you, as a company, a dime. Focus on creating a fantastic customer experience that will get people talking. Whether your company is praised on social media, in online reviews, or even just in a mention during a conversation, positive word-of-mouth effectively generates brand awareness and interest. – John Hall, Calendar
10. FOCUS ON GENERATING REFERRALS FROM HAPPY CUSTOMERS.
There’s no better way to get more attention and more business than by happy customers referring you to others in their network. Build a product that your customers will love and you’ll gain the attention you deserve. – Scott Burgess, Continu
11. CONSIDER COST-SHARING ARRANGEMENTS.
Share costs with other people in a similar boat to yourself. Other entrepreneurs are looking to figure out low-cost marketing. Why go the distance alone? Look for opportunities to co-brand and stretch your investment further, be it money or time. – Brad Burns, Wayne Contracting
12. CREATE AN ONLINE GIVEAWAY.
Create a massive online giveaway for your audience—the media is sure to pick it up. Giveaways draw attention because everyone loves to get something for free. Make sure that you offer an awesome prize that’s rare and valuable, like a free product, lifetime access to software, or whatever makes sense for your business. A generous and exciting giveaway is certain to create a buzz—and for free, too. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
13. EMPOWER THE CHAMPIONS OF YOUR BRAND.
Everything begins and ends with finding champions of your brand—which should include you, if you’re handling yourself correctly—and empowering them to carry the message and mission forward. Identifying, engaging, and moving a crowd on behalf of you and your brand costs you nothing but selflessness and empathy, and if you view that as an expense, you’re doing things wrong. – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32
14. SHOW YOUR AUDIENCE WHY YOU’RE UNIQUE.
Spend the time to show your audience what is so special about your company. Set up a camera and have the founder(s) talk authentically about how they think and do things. It gives a human side to the magic behind the business. – Phnam Bagley, Nonfiction Design