1. Go to networking and other community events
From a chamber of commerce business card exchange, to a town fair—going out and directly meeting new people is hands down the most effective way to spread the word about a small business. Some business cards, a nice smile, and a confident hand shake are all you need to make it in this venue.
2. Generate referrals from current clients
Sometimes spreading the word starts right back at your own door. If you have a big enough client base, you can entice them to refer friends and family. With a little effort, each one of your clients could become your very own personal sales rep. Read this article about getting more referrals if you want to know more.
3. Give a free class or presentation
Schools, chambers of commerce, and many other groups often run regular programs and presentations that are put on by local businesses and members of the community. You can usually get involved just by sending in a proposal; though, I recommend first looking at some of the things they’ve run in the past.
4. Write an article for a newspaper or magazine
While it may cost thousands to get a half-page ad in a newspaper, you can often times secure an entire page by writing a good article. The trick to getting published is to make sure the article is of value to your customers, and not just an advertisement for your business.
5. Host a networking event at your business
There are dozens of groups that do monthly business card exchanges, why not invite them to your store or office? Hosting an event is a quick way to introduce your company to 50 or more people without paying a dime.
6. Put an ad in the yellow pages
This might be the most expensive suggestion in the bunch; but, as some small business owners will tell you, a well placed yellow pages ad can literally put dinner on the table. You might also put one in the online yellow pages too, just for good measure.
7. Start a blog and use the power of social media
I can attest to this one personally. Our blog has been an excellent way to build traffic, gain credibility, and make new relationships. You can start one for your business for $0, and begin making new connections immediately. For more information, check out our other article about social media marketing.
8. Place booklets or fliers in strategic locations
A friend of mine just told me a story about how he typed up several pages of home repair tips and placed them around town in various hair salons. Even with only a single logo and contact number on the entire collection, he was receiving calls within hours. Sometimes a little helpful information can go a long way.
9. Go to trade shows and table-top mixers
I know that trade shows can be expensive, but if you look carefully you might be able to find a mixer at your local chamber of commerce where you can secure a booth for a few hundred dollars. I’ve seen these shows help skyrocket some small businesses into the limelight. Just make sure you have a plan for engaging and following-up with people at the event.
10. Partner with another business
Partnering with another business is a great way to combine and leverage the resources of two companies. You can share contact lists, split marketing costs, and give referrals back and forth. You’ll want to make sure you partner with a company that shares the same target market as you.