{marketing} 13 ways to market your stuff without spending a cent

so you have your online store up and running. or perhaps you have your market stall booked, planned and prepared. maybe your facebook page is perfectly tweaked and optimized. now what? what do you do when your initial momentum is fading and you need a way to boost your sales? here are 11 marketing ideas that won’t cost you anything, but perhaps a bit of your time.


1. start a blog. yes, i know i am on about this all the time, but it is free, creates interest, drives traffic to your site, improves your SEO and more. here is the start of my series on blogging - read that for more info.

2. do a guest post for a blog that your ideal customers read - find blogs that fit the bill and contact the author to see if you can contribute; you would be surprised at how many people will take you up on this. share some helpful information, show that you are an expert at doing your thing, showcase your awesome work.

3. expand your social media presence – make sure you have a twitter account, a personal facebook profile and a facebook biz page. if you have these already, amp up your networking – follow, like and friend people. the more you do they more they will return the favour – more traffic will help your sales.

4. comment on other people’s blogs, facebook posts, tweets – every time you visit a spot leave a comment. this increases your exposure and will drive traffic to your own site. oh, and whenever anyone comments on your stuff, always respond.

5. give away free, helpful information to people on your blog, your facebook, page, your twitter account etc. pamela wilson calls this putting out a candy dish. i love that analogy!

6. partner with another little biz that has a similar target audience to you – direct traffic to each other, display each other’s marketing materials, trade products/services with each other. take a chance and reach out to other little biz builders in your area or your niche. (this might cost you a cup of coffee, but i am still including it as free.)

7. focus on your ideal customer – look for those people, sell to those people. don’t waste time trying to get every person that crosses your path to buy your thing. sonia simone explains why you need to sell to one person. 

8. identify the benefits of your thing – stop selling it on how cute it is, or how cheap it is. what is the real benefit of it? start selling that. the real benefit is the thing you want to promote with every post/comment/tweet/email/ad. copyblogger has a great post that will help you figure out what a true benefit is.

9. offer a referral program to your clients - make it easy for them to refer people to you (give them cards to pass out, emails to forward) and offer them an incentive to do so. let people toot your horn so you don’t have to! (this isn’t really free as you might be giving a discount or freebie to an existing client – but word-of-mouth promotion is free so i am keeping it on this list.)

10. start a newsletter – this is a great way to stay on the radar of existing clients as well as potential ones. have an incentive to join (a freebie, coupon or voucher) and give good content to readers. mailchimp offers a free newsletter service and is really easy and wonderful. (my next post will be all about starting a newsletter. stay tuned...)

11. contact old clients – people are busy, they lose numbers/ addresses, they mean to call again but never get around to it, things fall off their radar. take initiative to contact them, see if there is anything else you can do for them, let them know about a new product or service that might interest them, offer them a VIP service or price.

12. get onto a forum or site that will allow you to display or talk about your thing. (as a photographer i submit photos onto fun contest sites all the time, on those days i get a spike in traffic on my site!) look for one that is suitable for your thing: handmade items, tips & tricks related to your field etc.

13. start your own contest or sharing forum – target your ideal customer and urge them to share a favourite photo, story, questions & answers, tips & tricks etc. then feature these contributions on your site/page/twitter/blog etc. if you feature one of my photos on your site i am going to get everyone i know to go look at it. just sayin....

don’t do all of these things at once. pick one or two to focus on right now, and really kick some ass at them. then add another and really kick ass at that one. well, you get the idea =)

have a free marketing idea to share with us? have some marketing advice to add to this list? have a question or need some help brainstorming an idea for your biz? please leave a comment below, i would love to hear from you.