Marketing is sometimes a thankless task in business. While sales get money in the bank it is often marketing that lays the essential groundwork upon which selling is based. Awareness, consumer education, onboarding and storytelling are all part of marketing, good marketing at least. That said marketing is a costly exercise, for the most part. There are free marketing channels that are currently not being utilised by many businesses. Not only will we tell you what those channels are, but we are also going to give you a bit of insight and detail on how to use them.

Social Media

We should all be aware by now how much of an integral part social media can play in the marketing efforts of a business. The best part is its all free. However, once in a while I still businesses (and not just small ones) struggling with using social media as a marketing channel. So I’m going to skip over the discussion about what we already know about social media as a marketing channel and focus on the part that many need help with. If you cannot see any other virtue of social media just remember this; it has allowed people for people, ordinary consumers to feel closer to businesses than they ever have. Social media allows a unique opportunity for conversation, engagement and storytelling for any business that is willing to use it. Properly that is. It’s good to tell your customers that you have products. It’s better to show your customers you have solutions to their problems.

Google My Business

Google my business is a free tool that is very useful to your business if you can harness the power of it. Nothing like finding the perfect solution to your problem and then not knowing where to get it. Google my business allows you to list your business for free and your business will appear on google maps. This could be a real handy thing especially in times of restricted movement. People will naturally gravitate towards solutions that are closer to them when moving around is restricted as it has been. Even without restrictions, all other things being equal one would prefer a provider that is closer to them. To sign up for Google my Business all you need is a google account and a working phone to verify your business via SMS. You can read about the full process here.

Happy customers

This shouldn’t be on the list because it’s one better than being free, these people will pay you to market your business for you. How crazy is that? It sounds like a stretch but it really is that simple. The first thing you have to get right is making sure that you are giving your customers great service and value. To know this for sure you will have to ask. While there is a tendency not to pay any real attention to customer opinions after (and even during) a transaction these are the most critical learning moments for a business. If you are certain that you are providing customers with excellent value and service then you need to take steps to encourage your customers to market your business for you. With the advent of social media, some of the practices used to do this are now commonplace. Customers freely share experiences and recommendations (plugging as they call it on social media) with their connections and audiences. Storytelling is another thing you can encourage your customers to do from their perspective for the benefit of others. You will likely have to ask customers to do this and while there have been cases where business owners have come across as entitled for demanding some of this feedback and publicity you should know that you can always ask nicely.

Free marketing channels still exist. The 3 discussed above can of course be augmented with paid marketing such as social media advertising, google search advertising and affiliate marketing or referral commissions for customers who bring new customers to the business. For social media and happy customers, you will definitely need a detailed strategy to make the best of them.