Marketing is a daunting task—especially for new small business owners. Sure, there's TV commercials and billboards—but those traditional avenues are reserved for big businesses with big budgets. While small-scale options like getting on social media and spreading the word face-to-face are a bit more obvious, there's also a handful of out-of-the-box ways to market a home business. One Work At Home Mom reader asked, "What are some other avenues to market a small business?"
Seasoned work-at-home moms responded with a few creative strategies of their own—here's a few nontraditional and low-cost ideas to market a small business.
Craft Fairs and Bazaars
Even if your business is based online, those who sell products may have some luck selling at local events. Think craft shows, farmer's markets and expos—anywhere your potential customers might be in a large number. Many consumers like to buy from local businesses, and setting up a booth at a local event is a good way to get the word out.
Consider who your typical customer is—if you sell homemade products on Etsy, you may have some success at craft shows. If you specialize in natural products, try a farmer's market. Business expos are also valuable because they often reach out to a specific audience, like women.
Classified sites such as Craigslist and Backpage are an often overlooked marketing opportunity. Most of these sites allow businesses to post for free, or offer low-cost packages to promote a listing. Many people use classified sites to find products or services—just think, your customers could be looking for a business like you, and just aren't sure where to find it.
When using a classified site, be sure to post in the right category. Craigslist, for example, has a services section which is further divided into categories like childcare providers. Choosing the right category will help the right people to see your post. Remember to keep posting frequently, since the newest posts are the ones that are seen the most.
When working on platforms like YouTube, consider your audience—what information might they find useful? A home-based company selling homemade scarfs, for example, might find success by posting a video on 25 different ways to tie a scarf.
Along with information like how-tos, interviews with experts also make good videos. One WAHM reader suggested hosting a Google Hangout with an expert and inviting as many people as you can to the event to ask questions. Once the event is over, the video can still be shared with website visitors.
Marketing by sharing valuable information is a growing avenue—and a blog is a good way to do that. Small businesses can start a blog on their website and post information relevant to their audience. A beauty company might share makeup tips and style insights, just to name a few. Blogs gain followers, who eventually begin to trust the business and later become customers.
Along with starting a blog on your business website, you can reach out to other blogs. Many blog writers are happy to write up a review if they receive a free product—the trick is finding blogs that cover the right topics. If you sell children's toys, for example, mommy blogs would be excellent sites to contact about doing a review. Since it costs you a product and some shipping, it's not free, but still relatively inexpensive and an excellent outreach.
Small businesses shouldn't overlook local opportunities. Meetup groups, where people with similar interests gather, can often be a good place to expand your word-of-mouth outreach. Find a meetup with an interest related to your product or service and bring a few business cards. This might be a little time-consuming, but doesn't cost more than a few hours and some business cards.
Social Media Advertising
Yes, social media is now one of the first things many business owners think of when it comes to getting the word out. Starting social media profiles and sharing regularly is great—but you can do more through advertising. There's a cost involved, of course, but in most cases social media advertising is relatively inexpensive and can have a large reach.
Facebook advertising is one option, and another WAHM reader suggested using Twitter Lead Generation Cards, which promote a tweet and drive more followers to your profile. These followers probably won't make a purchase on their first visit, but if they follow your profile or sign up for an email list, they'll keep hearing from you.
Search Engine Optimization
Every business should have a website—Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way to send traffic to your website, for free. By using the right keywords and sharing valuable content, you can earn new customers simply through the search results. First, produce content worth reading, and then incorporate keywords. (Learn more with these 5 SEO tips).
Even an excellent business can fail without the right marketing in place. Home-based businesses often have very small marketing budgets, but by getting a bit creative, there are ways you can market your small business with little to no money.
Interested in learning more? Join in on the conversation in the forums.