Alternatives To Running Paid Ads to Promote Your Business


In 2022, many small businesses still struggle to promote their brand and products/services because they are competing against more established businesses with big enough marketing budgets. Despite numerous alternatives to promoting their businesses for free, some small business owners believe that a good product will sell itself with little or zero promotion. Sadly, this neglect of consistent marketing is why some small businesses face challenges with penetrating new markets and increasing their sales.

Why Should You Promote Your Small Business

First, there’s no unique product or service in today’s world. So, it doesn’t matter whether you have a high-quality product/service or the best pricing in your market because buyers have multiple options. Businesses with more active marketing and promotion strategies tend to win in the competition for the attention of buyers.

Look at the smartphone industry. Some will argue that Apple and Samsung don’t produce the best smartphones when you factor in pricing versus smartphone features. Yet, Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone industry because both companies make buyers believe they are buying a lifestyle when they buy either product. And that is genius-level marketing.

10 Free Alternatives To Paid Ads

Guest Posting

Reach out to reputable websites in your industry to guest post on their blog. You can also guest post on generalist websites such as Forbes and Inc. As a small business, you will face many rejections when you start guest posting because reputable websites only publish content that will add value to their audience. But you can prove your worth by pitching engaging and valuable topics they haven’t covered on their website. Ensure to research the websites you want to guest post on to discover topics their audience might be curious about.

You can also work your way to the top when you start guest posting. If established websites reject your pitch, start small.

Free SEO Practices

Search engine optimization (SEO) will reward anyone who can be consistent in their practice of it, whether they are practicing free SEO or spending money. So, get familiar with free SEO practices you can implement to promote your website and products/services.

Three free SEO practices that are rewarding;

  • Generate backlinks: create guest blog posts on reputable websites that allow you to share your website link. You can also guest post on peer websites to exchange backlinks.
  • Use keywords: conduct keyword research regularly to discover keywords that will help you extend your reach on search engines. Use long tail keywords to avoid competing with websites with high domain authority for the same keywords.
  • Create content for SERPs Snippet: Google Snippet is an element on search engine result pages that can boost your website traffic. Learn more about it and write content that can get your webpage to feature on Google Snippet.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Encourage buyers to make user-generated content about your brand and products/services. Buyers will make UGC if you offer them incentives such as coupons, freebies, brand merchandise, etc. In fact, just the promise of publishing their video on your website and social media can get some buyers to make UGC. So, don’t hesitate to ask buyers to make UGC.

Influencer Outreach

Carry out influencer outreach regularly to build healthy relationships with micro and macro influencers in your industry. You can get the attention of influencers by offering them your newly launched product before general sale with the condition of reviewing the product. Ask them to create video content or a blog post about your product.

Another way is to collect and publish guest expert tips on your blog. Reach out to a bunch of influencers and experts in your industry, asking for their professional opinions about a topic. Write a blog post with their tips and publish it linking to their socials and website. You can bank on most, if not all, to share the blog post on their social media, thereby driving traffic to your website.

Affiliate and Referral Programs

Although affiliate and referral programs are not free because you might pay to sign up, and you will pay when affiliates fulfill their agreement, it promises immediate return on investment. You can also run affiliate campaigns by yourself.

Tips for effective affiliate marketing

  • Use affiliates who share similar values with you
  • Use affiliates with high engagement rather than high followership
  • Define your terms clearly before starting the contract

Free Content Marketing

Content marketing can help expand your reach and keep your customers engaged, so take advantage of it to promote your brand and products/services. You can start a blog to publish content your target audience will find valuable. Content ideas you can explore are how-to’s, tips and hacks, etc. You can also practice video marketing for free using platforms such as YouTube. Share explainer videos, UGC, expert interviews, and more on your YouTube channel.

Email Marketing

As a small business, email marketing is a treasure chest that keeps on giving. For one, emails guarantee an average open rate of 21.33% across all industries. Hence, you stand a higher chance of getting the attention of your target audience with email marketing compared to other forms of digital marketing. 72% of customers also prefer email for communication from businesses.

It is important to understand how segmentation and personalization optimize email marketing.

You can use email marketing for the following;

  • Send welcome email — welcome emails have an average open rate of 82%. You can almost do no wrong with a welcome email.
  • Publish newsletters
  • Share exclusive deals
  • Announce product/project launches

Free eBooks

Create eBooks with valuable content to solve common problems your target audience faces, and give them out for free. You can use the promise of a free eBook to collect the email addresses of your website visitors and invariably build your email list. Additionally, you can generate free word-of-mouth marketing if your eBooks solve a real problem for your audience.

Social Media

Use popular social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote your brand and products/services, and engage your target audience. The key to free benefiting from marketing on social media is to be active and consistent.

You can

  • participate in trends and challenges
  • Join fun conversations — be witty
  • Host live chats

Review Sites and Online Forums

Claim your Google My Business listing. Also, ensure to create a business profile on other popular review sites and online forums such as Yelp and StackExchange. Finally, be active on review sites and online forums, engaging customers and posting high-quality media about your business.

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