When figuring out your marketing strategy, cost is always a factor. There are some baked-in costs, like paying your employees to create articles, ad copy, infographics, photos and videos. However, there are places where you can save money without sacrificing effectiveness.
Posting content on social media sites can reach specific audiences, while encouraging the use of review sites can create glowing testimonials for your business.
To find out what works best, we asked 15 members from the Young Entrepreneur Council what free advertising platforms small business owners should leverage in order to get the word out about their business.
"We are an IT service provider, and we listed ourselves on Clutch, a B2B platform for IT service providers. When customers search for providers by keywords in Google, they find the Clutch listing and come to us. Clutch does thorough research on each service provider and adds its own ranking for customers to see. Every industry has this type of platform, so find one for you. –Piyush Jain, SIMpalm
2. Create content
"Content, whether your own blog posts, guest posts on other sites or social media posts, gives you the ability to rank for keywords and provide your audience with helpful information. This is more effective than paid advertising, which people tend to tune out. Creating content is the best way to establish yourself as an expert and get targeted traffic from potential customers." – Shawn Porat, Scorely
"I still rely quite a bit on email for my business. We answer every single email that comes through the inbox personally. Yes, it takes a lot of time, but it pays off. Just recently I've had a handful of emails from people who said they'd heard about the site through someone else and wanted to get in touch." – Sean Ogle, Location Rebel
4. Facebook Live
"Facebook is heavily promoting its Facebook Live product, and it's the best way to guarantee free organic social traffic. Facebook posts receive little organic visibility. Facebook Live videos, however, can reach the majority of a page or individual's friends. These videos can be stored and used on other channels for cross-channel marketing." – Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance
6. Google My Business
"Google My Business is a perfect way for restaurants and local businesses to attract new customers. It allows your listing to appear when people are searching for your business or a business like yours on Google Search and Maps. Additionally, with Google Maps' Explore feature, Google will automatically suggest your business to people exploring in your area." – Duran Inci, Optimum7
"Nextdoor is an open forum that discusses what is going on in the neighborhood. For small businesses and service companies, it works miracles. Most people trust their neighbors, and if you can have customers leave great comments and suggestions about your company, the calls will come rolling in." – Tommy Mello, A1 Garage Door Repair
"I went into Quora and answered the top questions for my given vertical. The number of people who went to my page after was incredible. It was free, completely organic and extremely targeted traffic. If you want to build a reputation and brand within your niche, go become an authority on Quora. You have nothing to lose: Share your knowledge and watch the traffic pour in." – Bryce Welker, Crush the CPA Exam
9. Stack Exchange
"We're a tech company providing cloud and bare metal infrastructure for businesses. Stack Exchange, a tech question-and-answer site, is the perfect venue for us to demonstrate our expertise and build relationships in a community that most of our customers take part in." – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.
"Snapchat may seem unconventional, but it remains a valuable social platform to reach today’s generation of buyers. Try using it interactively to promote incentive-based coupons, build hype for events and share engaging product demos. With the new update to link your snaps to websites, you could use these tactics to target a new audience." – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
11. Text messaging
"Advertising by text by using your contact list of interested prospects is a great and proven way to get messages to your audience in a somewhat unobtrusive way. You can even attach photos or links that drive them to your website to close the deal or encourage them with coupons to stop by your store." – Drew Hendricks, Buttercup
"Create an active Twitter presence, one that gets people talking about your industry or the problems you solve. Don't simply broadcast messages; search for topics and trends that relate to your business and put a strategy in place to offer useful responses or additional tweets on the topics." – Shawn Schulze, CallerCenter.com
13. Word of mouth
"This is still the best way to get people to hear about your business. Once you have loyal followers, they will talk about you to their friends, family and social circles. You can't beat this free advertising because it's also considered more credible than many paid channels." – Peter Daisyme, Due
"If you have a brick-and-mortar or service-based business, make Yelp a big part of your marketing strategy. Yelp is the go-to place for business reviews and can truly make or break your business, depending on the industry. Make an effort to get the word out by generating authentic positive reviews as often as possible. Those reviews will snowball and jumpstart your business." – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck
"As a guided meditation platform, we made the conscious decision to share a sample meditation through YouTube. This gives our brand more exposure and contributes to better SEO. It also provides new potential users with high-value content and shows them a portion of what our app provides." – Mark Krassner, Expectful