One of the biggest hurdles to starting a successful home-based business is getting the word out. Even if you have an excellent product or service, you can't turn a profit if nobody knows about you. But there's a problem—if you haven't gotten the business to turn a profit yet, how do you pay for advertising?
It's a challenge many new work-at-home moms struggle to overcome. Fortunately, there's a few options that are rather easy on the budget—or even free. While they typically won't bring in the big bucks like big advertising campaigns, they are often just the right push new businesses need to get started on the right path. Here are five low-budget marketing ideas suited for home-based businesses.
Hold a grand opening.
Even if you don't have a location that's open to the public, you can still market your new venture with a grand opening. Most grand openings are typically held after a business officially opens, leaving some time to get everything started and settled. That “Grand Opening” title is a good way to quickly inform potential new customers of a new business.
But how do you hold a grand opening without a public location? Start by creating a grand opening sale for your products or service. Choose a discount and a deadline, or perhaps create a coupon, which has the added benefit or a physical reminder of your new business. Grand openings can also be held virtually—like in the form of a Facebook event.
Offer free samples.
While offering items for free may seem counter-intuitive to turning a profit, it's a good approach for some types of businesses. For example, I built my photography and writing business by doing a few free projects that allowed me to build a professional portfolio, so I had something to show potential paying customers. Those free projects also helped boost my word-of-mouth marketing.
Free samples can also work for product-based businesses. Even large companies offer free samples, from Honest Company diapers to Twinings Tea. The idea is that giving out free trials will hook new customers that enjoyed the samples. Keep it small though—use sample sizes if possible, or a low-priced item. If your store is online based, you can choose to charge shipping for those free samples.
Take advantage of social media.
So you have a grand opening sale scheduled or free samples available—you still need to let potential new customers know. Use social media to get started. Create a page for your business, then invite all your friends to like and share that page. Paid advertising on social media platforms is also often inexpensive and can be targeted to a specific audience. For example, Facebook allows you to choose a gender, age and even interests to target the ad to.
Contact news outlets.
Media outlets often share news on new businesses. Writing a press release will let different media outlets know about your new venture, and if you can string some sentences together, you can put together a press release for free. Small businesses will find the most success submitting the release to small, local media options, but there are also websites that will distribute the news release for free as well. Be sure to include information about the grand opening, if you plan to have one.
Write guest posts.
Bloggers are often happy to share posts written by others, in exchange including a link back to your business website and/or social media profiles. Guest blogs aren't written as sales pieces, however, but as informative articles. For example, instead of an article that says Buy our all-natural coconut oil body butter, a good guest post blog topic would be 10 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil. Guest posts can help drive new traffic to your website, which in turn often translates into sales.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to build a website.
In case you haven't noticed, having a business website comes into play with many of our low-cost marketing ideas. In the eyes of many consumers, if you don't have a website, you don't exist. While it is best to get a .com, there are free options out there too if it's just not possible to swing a few extra bucks. But the bottom line is, when someone is interested in a new company, they often get information from their website first.
Building a successful customer base is one of the trickiest parts to launching a new business. Small businesses can get started without expensive marketing plans by offering grand openings and/or free samples, promoting through the news media, and taking advantage of social media and guest posts. Starting small helps get you the first few customers—and the start to a profit.