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Cost-effective ways to market your business online

You don’t need a large marketing budget to get your business noticed online because the internet offers an array of inexpensive marketing opportunities.

Getting your brand out there doesn’t require a large marketing budget because the internet is teeming with inexpensive marketing opportunities

With the number of active internet users in South Africa growing steadily, it’s vital for start-ups to utilise marketing platforms to generate sales and drive growth. Executive coach Pat Roberts says the first step is to determine the online activity of your target audience.

“Online marketing can be very low-cost in comparison with other media formats. How skillfully you use it relates to your understanding of your target audience as this will enable you to design a strategy to reach them via the online space that they relate to and believe in,” she says.

In order to better understand your market, Roberts suggests doing focus group research. “This way you learn more about what they like and don’t like, and you will have the opportunity to expose them to your product. The aim is for you to observe your target market’s online activity so that you can get closer to them to build a relationship,” says Roberts.
Cost-effective ways to market your business online
She suggests the following strategies for marketing your business online:

Ensure you are visible
Having a website isn’t enough in today’s competitive online space so it’s crucial for new businesses to be easily found on Google searches. Set up a Google My Business page to enable your business to be listed on Google Search, Google Maps and Google+. Wikipedia is another free platform where you can list your company’s background, ethos and accomplishments.

Get social
Social media is a must for all new companies to as it enables you to enter into a dialogue with customers. Use Facebook or Twitter to build a relationship with your audience so that they feel like members of an exclusive club of users. Give them access to special offers, new information and special events. Post links to relevant industry articles, partake in debates and hold free webinars on your website.

It’s also advisable to join industry Facebook and LinkedIn groups to offer advice and support within your sector circles. This will enable you to interact with potential customers and establish yourself as an industry expert.

Add value to your audience by writing articles, giving tips on how to do things more easily or better, and express opinions that will get people talking. Write guest posts for well-known blogs, as this will help get your and your company’s name out there.

Online media
Build relationships with online journalists who are followed by your audience, and provide them with content they will find useful. Whenever your company does something newsworthy, send out relevant and concise press releases to industry writers. Any mention of your company or product in articles and blogs is great publicity.

Create multimedia
Thousands of videos are uploaded and shared on Facebook each day. Clever videos and memes bring a lot of attention to brands – think Red Bull and Nandos. Creating funny, interesting or heart-warming content increases your chances of going viral and gaining free publicity.

Start a YouTube channel for your creative promotional material and post the links on Facebook and Twitter. Flickr is also a useful free tool that allows you to create albums of business photos and link them back to your website.
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