Mobile video will be particularly important. Based on current trends, we can expect to see a decline in video consumption on laptops and computers for the first time in 2018. Video consumption on phones and tablets, on the other hand, is forecasted to grow 25 percentwith the average viewer watching 36 minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, and just about 19 percent (half as much) on a computer.
To tap into this trend, make sure all of your videos are created with the mobile-first mindset. An easy way to do this is to double down on your engagement on live-streaming platforms like Facebook. Studies find viewers watch live streams 3x longer than prerecorded video.
Shift to “purpose marketing.”
Cause marketing — that is, initiatives tied to a sense of corporate responsibility or giving back — is great. But consumers are increasingly driven to brands that go a step further, infusing purpose into their overall ethos by identifying (and then trumpeting) an aspirational mission that’s tied to day-to-day offerings and operations.
In 2018, smart marketers will place brand purpose at the cornerstone of their business and brand strategy, creating experiences, products, and campaigns that all drive back to their unifying theme.
Foster emotional engagement.
On a similar note, brands that stand apart in the new year will do so by fostering an emotional engagement with their company rather than a transactional one with their products. This will require a shift in thinking around the customer journey. It’s not about leading with the sale, but rather the experiences or touchpoints that nurture customers along toward that point.
These could be storytelling initiatives (like videos), brand experiences (like events or workshops), purpose-driven campaigns, or anything that creates a lasting emotional connection with the brand beyond the sale. To do this well, a robust omnichannel marketing strategy will be crucial.
Chatbots (software programs that mimic human conversation) help customers get their questions answered quickly and drive engagement by offering suggestions. In a recent study by Oracle, 80 percent of businesses reported that they already use — or plan to use — chatbots by 2020. Chat apps have actually already surpassed the use of social media for answering customer service questions and audiences will soon expect them from most businesses.
Create content for “micro-moments.”
An astounding 96 percent of people reach for their smartphones the very instant they feel the need to inquire about something. Savvy marketers will anticipate these “micro-moments” and take advantage of them with content directly targeted at popular consumer questions within their industry.
To nail this, brands need thought leaders to produce rich, engaging, helpful, and relevant content, and SEO experts who can help ensure that content surfaces high in Google search results.
Let’s jump right into our list of the best social media marketing ideas to help you increase engagement and boost sales:
1. Share user-generated content from your fans and followers.
Sharing user-generated content is a great way to give your fans and followers a fresh prospective on your brand while building stronger relationships with your customers and leads. Often, consumers trust content from the average person more than they do from brands. According to AdWeek, 76% of people surveyed said they were more likely to trust the average person, and almost 100% of consumers trust other consumer recommendations.
User-generated content is a great social media marketing idea because it is a way to show followers that you aren’t the only one that thinks your company is great. Here’s an example of an effective user-generated content campaign on Instagram:
Here, furniture store and home décor retailer, Wayfair shows followers how their products can be positioned in the home with content shared by a customer. They then provide a link in their profile to the products shown in the image so that customers can purchase it for themselves.
2. Hold a giveaway or contest.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Contests can be a great way to engage your fans and followers while working to increase exposure and grow your audience. In fact, Tailwind reports that Instagram accounts that run contests on a regular basis grow about 70% faster than the accounts that don’t.
Here’s a fun example of an Instagram photo contest from Dominos:
The rules here are clear and simple. And not only does Dominos gain new exposure among their super fans’ follower-base, but they also get the awesome opportunity to share user-generated content on their own page.
3. Create “tag a friend” content.
Often, you’ll see that social media users will tag their friends in the comments of posts that they think their friends will enjoy. You can take advantage of this quick and easy exposure by posting relatable content and inviting users to tag a friend that they think will enjoy or relate to the content.
This Facebook post from MVMT is a great example of a “tag a friend” post that features their product and gives users a feel for the brand without being overly promotional:
4. Post behind-the-scenes photos and videos.
One of the more intimate social media marketing ideas is to post behind-the-scenes photos and videos from your brand. This helps to show your audience that behind your company is a group of people who are working hard to provide quality products and services, which helps you build stronger relationships with customers and leads.
Here’s an awesome example of how Flight Media uses behind-the-scenes content to engage their target market:
This posts gives users a look at the company’s growth and progress through an image of its new office. Not only does it highlight the company’s recent milestone of moving to a new office, but it also gives users a chance to see what the company’s workspace looks like.
5. Take advantage of “reactions” on Facebook.
One of Facebook’s most fun features is the reaction button. With this feature, users can respond to Facebook posts using one of five different reaction emojis. Now, instead of just “liking” a post, users can choose from “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry.” Though these may typically be used to react to content from friends and family, brands can also use these buttons to engage their followers and gauge interest or feelings about a certain topic.
On this Facebook post from Axe, you can see at the bottom where users have reacted to the content:
The like, love, and wow reactions let the brand know that viewers generally liked the content and found it entertaining. If you find yourself getting angry reactions, it may be time to revisit your social media content strategy.
6. Use more emojis.
Using emojis in your social media posts can be a great way to engage your audience while having a little fun at the same time. According to HootSuite, using emojis in tweets can increase engagement by 25.4% and using them in Facebook posts can increase engagement by 57%. If you plan to use emojis in your social media posts or responses, it’s important that you choose relevant emojis that you understand the meaning of.
Though adding a few emojis in your post can certainly help add a little flair to your content, don’t be afraid to get a little more creative. Here’s an Independence Day post from Bud Light:
7. Create a how-to video.
Video is an excellent format to use to break things down for your audience. Video tutorials or “how-to” videos are eye-catching and engaging pieces of content that you can post across social platforms. This type of video content allows you to break things down into actionable steps, providing visual guidance along the way. Not to mention, it’s very shareable, which means you’ll have a greater opportunity to get your content in front of new audiences.
Here’s a fun example of how-to video content that is taking social media by storm:
8. Poll your audience.
Polls are a quick and easy way to engage your audience and learn more about what makes them tick. You can easily create a poll on Facebook or Twitter to start engaging your audience in a matter of moments. This can be a great way to find out more about their preferences so that you can adjust your strategy to improve their online experience.
Here’s an example of a Twitter poll from The Muse:
The Muse is a website that offers career advice and other job-related content. This poll helps them engage their audience while also gaining new insights into what type of content their followers want to see.
9. Run a Facebook Live or live Instagram Story campaign.
Live video is one of the most compelling forms of content that you can use on social media. In fact, according to Sprout Social, people spend up to 3x longer watching Facebook Live videos than those that have been previously recorded. Use this to your advantage by “going live” on Facebook and Instagram. You can hold a Q&A session, do a live product demonstration, or even just vlog.
The real-time interaction of live video makes the experience more engaging for your followers. This can help you build a more personal connection with fans as you are able to answer their questions and respond to comments on the spot.
10. Partner with another brand.
If you have the opportunity to partner with another brand that has a similar target audience, this can be a great way to increase your exposure across social media platforms. The goal is to choose a company that is not a direct competitor but whose audience may also benefit from your products or services.
Here’s an example of a social media campaign that was the result of a partnership between dog toy retailer and 1-800-Flowers:
Both companies saw an opportunity for a partnership that would be mutually beneficial for both parties. By working together to host a social media contest, both companies can benefit from exposure in new markets.
11. Repurpose content like blogs and videos.
Creating great content doesn’t necessarily mean re-inventing the wheel every single time. There are plenty of ways that you can repurpose your content to get the most value out of it over time. This goes beyond just reposting links to your content on your social media channels. It can also include transforming content into different formats that can engage different audiences.
This short Instagram video from First We Feast does just that by showing a quick sneak peak of a longer video on the company’s YouTube channel:
This little sneak peek helps build excitement for the longer piece of content while driving more traffic to the company’s YouTube page, where users can find even more valuable content. Repurposing isn’t just for video. You can also take infographics and make them into longer blog posts or combine articles into an informative e-book. This allows you to get the most out of each piece of content over time.
12. Curate third-party content.
There’s no social media law that states you can’t share content from other sources. Now, of course, you don’t want to share content from your competitors. However, sharing relevant and interesting articles and content from third-party sources allows you to provide even more value for your fans and followers while at the same time demonstrating that your company is up-to-date on the latest news and trends in your industry.
Here is just one example of how you can curate relevant third-party content to share with your followers and fans:
In this Facebook post, Buffer shares an article from Inc. that they think will be valuable for their followers. In order to engage their audience, they share a meaningful quote from the article and follow it up with a question that gets their followers thinking.
13. Jump on trending topics.
If you’re looking for social media marketing ideas that will help you increase exposure, you may want to keep an eye on what’s trending on social media. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to see what’s popular on these platforms by providing a list of trending topics in the side bar.
There are a few things you should consider before jumping on the latest trend. First, make sure that you understand what the trend is and why people are using a certain hashtag. Then, make sure that it’s relevant to your brand or your product or service offering. If you have something valuable to add to the conversation, you can take advantage of the topic’s trending to gain a new audience for your content.
14. Share tips.
Great social media content isn’t just about promoting your products or services. It’s about helping potential customers better understand their greatest challenges. Sharing tips and advice that help users navigate these challenges is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and build stronger relationships.
This Facebook video from Logitech is a great example of a short and sweet video that provides valuable tips for Logitech’s target customer-base:
By engaging with users who work from home, Logitech is working to appeal to and build a relationship with a group of consumers who are likely to use and find their products valuable.
15. Participate in Throwback Thursday.
Throwback Thursday or #TBT is a fun topic that trends on social media every Thursday. Looking through posts with this hashtag, you might come across embarrassing pictures or fun memories from a person’s past. However, this is also a fun way for brands to engage with their users while showing a little of their own history.
In this example post from BMW, we see a throwback to an older car model that most BMW fans will find interesting or nostalgic:
Be sure to use hashtags to indicate that your post is a throwback memory from your brand. That way, others can find your photo on Twitter and Instagram.
16. Post video testimonials.
Who better to advocate for your brand than your current customers? Video testimonials are a great way to show potential customers how others have found success with using your products or services. Ask some of your best customers if they would mind offering a short testimonial video about why they love your brand. If you want to add a live element, you can even interview customers at tradeshows and events and make this live content available for your fans and followers.
This video testimonial from Slack is a unique take on the testimonial:
The video is a testimonial in that the company who made it, Sandwich Video, used Slack to collaborate on their project. However, it also provides a quick demonstration of Slack’s features, which helps the viewer better visualize how Slack can be used.
17. Host an AMA series.
The AMA, or Ask Me Anything, series has become popular on Reddit, and it offers companies an awesome opportunity to truly engage and educate their followers. AMAs consist of questions from the audience that the expert answers. This is a great chance to see what your followers care about while also sharing your industry knowledge and expertise.
You don’t have to host your AMA on Reddit. In fact, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all great channels for fielding questions. Here’s an example of a promotion for a Twitter AMA:
Here you can see that Kaleigh Moore is offering users the opportunity to learn more about growing their freelance business through quality copy. This gives her the opportunity to help potential customers while also establishing herself as an industry expert.
18. Host a social media takeover.
The social media takeover is another creative option for brands that work with influencers and industry experts. The takeover involves allowing another person to take over your social media account for a certain period of time, posting their own content. Not only does this allow your brand to show a fresh perspective, but it also allows you to get your company in front of some new faces.
Here’s a great example of a recent Instagram Takeover on Wilton Cakes’ Instagram page:
For this takeover, American baker and YouTube celebrity, Rosanna Pansino takes over the Wilton Cakes Instagram page for an entire day, sharing her favorite cookie decorating tips for the holidays. Pansino is someone who Wilton’s audience will like and identify with, and Pansino’s follower-base may be more likely to check out Wilton Cakes since Pansino is posting.
When you’re having trouble coming up with social media marketing ideas, just choose one of the options above to help you add fresh content to your social media campaigns. If you need help developing a strategy or getting started with social media advertising, consider partnering with Results Promo & Marketing. Our team of talented social media marketing experts can help you grow your audience and improve conversion rates across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, andLinkedIn.
Help promote or volunteer your time for a charity event
Join a professional organization
Create a business mascot to promote your brand
Take a stand on a controversial industry topic
Getting the word out about your business is one way to make sure it succeeds. Indeed, many aspects of your business may depend on it. And what better way than to come up with some free marketing ideas to attract new customers.
Overall, “marketing” can mean many different things: from advertising and public relations to promotions and sales. In other words, marketing is a process in which your business is introduced and promoted to potential customers. Sounds good, right?
But there are so many ways to go about that these days—with many varying costs and associated expenses. The cost of traditional advertising in a newspaper or TV slot could put you in the red, for example.
But not all marketing tactics break the bank. So if your marketing budget is slim or non-existent, be sure to check out the below list of free marketing ideas—or at least cheap marketing ideas—that can help you spread the good word about your business.
Free Marketing Ideas
1. Develop a customer referral program.
Word-of-mouth marketing is an often overlooked yet super-powerful way to market your business. There’s a reason why word of mouth is number one on our list free marketing ideas. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.
Try offering your existing customers something—a free sample product, complimentary service, discounts, or some other low-cost reward—for referring new customers. Having your customers tell their friends and family about your business can be incredibly valuable.
2. Send out a customer satisfaction survey.
A customer satisfaction survey is not only a great way to learn about your customer base—it’s also a great way for customers to remember you exist! Surveys have taken there rightful place as number two on our list of free marketing ideas!
Consider it like rogue email marketing—though this can also be done totally analog in your storefront or on the street. Customers will feel invested in the results of the survey, which will translate into better loyalty over time. You might learn a thing or two about how your business might improve along the way. Win-win.
3. Tell a story with data or milestones.
This might be one of our favorite free marketing ideas.
Crunch the numbers on your business and see if any significant story comes through the data—maybe you’ve done business with over 1,000 clients in your area, or perhaps you provide your service at a percentage higher than industry standards.
Publish theresults online or put a sign out in front of your store. People respond well to numbers—they’re an easily digestible data point. For example, “The community loves us” will be outperformed by “Over 2,500 satisfied customers in our area!” every time.
Conversely, say an academic study is done revolving around your industry. Use it to relate to the utility of your business by publishing it online and highlighting the most important parts.
4. Make your own infographics.
With all this data talk, it should be noted that infographics are super-powerful marketing tools—and relatively easy to make.
Infographics are visual and easy to understand, which is why many people love to share them. You can use online services right in your browser, such as Visme. No software or design skills required!
5. Publish distributed content.
Most people are familiar with the wonders of social media content marketing, but many sites—like Facebook and Twitter—are pay to play, often with steep costs to reach the audience you want. And while you can still invest in publishing on those sites, consider alternative content distribution networks when you’re searching for free marketing ideas.
For instance, Reddit is an old-school social network that bills itself as the “front page of the internet.” To market on Reddit, you need to find a niche—known on Reddit as subreddits, or message boards—related to your industry or business. There, you can find scores of people already interested in what your business has to offer—if you do it correctly. You don’t want to overtly advertise on Reddit without making it feel authentic to the community, so study your subreddit thoroughly before opting to post.
You might also consider LinkedIn—the business-focused social network is often overlooked but can have great impact. By joining professional groups, participating in industry conversation, and sharing your own content, you can reach the right kind of audience that will bring you business.
6. Engage in one-to-one marketing.
Sometimes referred to as 1:1 marketing, this is a customer relationship strategy aimed at boosting personalized interactions with customers. Examples run from sending handwritten postcards to valued customers or personalized birthday emails. The only thing this will cost you is your time, but otherwise, it’s a free marketing idea.
Personalizing interactions with customers can foster greater loyalty and better return on marketing investment. This is a quality over quantity tactic, for sure.
7. Hold an online contest.
Prizes don’t need to be extravagant—a couple of free products or complimentary services can be enough to get potential customers to invest a few seconds of their time in applying to win.
Contests are a great way to gather potential customer data as well—for example, emails—while also getting them to spread the word about the content to even more potential customers.
8. Develop an industry partnership.
Developing partnerships is a must have on any list of free marketing ideas.
Team up with a business that complements yours (one that isn’t a direct competitor, of course) for a joint project. You can do this by hosting a joint special event or online with a giveaway. They can be for a short period of time or extended. Either way, partnering with another business will give you access to their customer base and vice versa. This kind of access would cost you big bucks otherwise.
9. Try your hand at guerilla marketing.
It may sound scary, but it just takes a little ingenuity. Guerilla marketing uses public space to make itself known—a little sidewalk chalk and a good message can go along way at a well-trafficked intersection. Stickers and graffiti (with correct permits!) can also serve as eye candy for potential customers.
10. Host an event or class.
Plan an event to host or class to teach that will attract new customers to your business while educating them about your industry. The event or class will be its own form of advertising, as well as a good reason to advertise.
Print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards at the library, a coffee shop, or other local establishments where interested pupils might hang around. Most community bulletin boards won’t let you post business advertisements, but they’re often more than happy to post a flyer promoting an educational event or class.
We love this free marketing idea because it’s offering great value to your current or potential customers.
11. Hold business card drawings.
This might not be one of our most innovative free marketing ideas, but it’s an oldie and a goodie.
Put out a fishbowl at your place of business and ask visitors to drop their business cards in it for a chance to win something—a free product or service, for example.
By the end of the month, you’ll have collected tons of business cards—likely with email addresses you can use to reach out to customers about joining your email mailing list so you can notify them of future giveaways and special offers.
12. Send email newsletters.
Email marketing is a great way to get new visitors engaged with your business, as well as maintain relationships with your existing customers. Not to mention one of our favorite free marketing ideas.
Even the most basic email marketing plans can have a big impact.
Consider these statistics from Entrepreneur Magazine: 72% of U.S. adults prefer companies to communicate with them via email, and 91% would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with.
Advertise your email newsletter on your website or in your store so people can sign up. It’s a great way to establish customer loyalty or nurture subscribers to become paying customers over time. Start your email campaigns with a free email marketing service like MailChimp—prices scale up as your business grows.
13. Help promote or volunteer your time for a charity event.
Charity events are a great place for brand visibility—and for a good cause! Potential customers will associate your business with a feel-good attitude, and you’ll just have to donate some time or possibly some product.
14. Join a professional organization.
A chamber of commerce or other B2B organization is a great way to engender camaraderie for all parties involved. Connecting with them will give your business more visibility to your community.
15. Create a business mascot to promote your brand.
Chester Cheeto, Ronald McDonald, the Geico lizard—these mascots extend market visibility to your customer base and make customers feel like they are in a relationship with a living thing rather than a soulless business. Have your 5-year-old help with the concept if you’re struggling to be imaginative—the more unique the better.
16. Take a stand on a controversial industry topic.
Last but not least on our list of free marketing ideas—take a stand.
Politics and business are more entwined than ever, and taking a stand on an issue important to your consumer base is a great way to get their attention.
Anti-smoking? Stop selling cigarettes at your store and issue a press release.
Care about the environment? Take the steps to make your business eco-friendly, and then write a post on a publishing site like Medium.com about the experience.
Take a stance, act on it, and then tell people all about it.
17. Create a Blog
A company blog filled with useful posts for your industry and customer base is a great way of connecting with current customers as well as generating new ones. For example, Fundera’s blog has thousands of articles on starting, growing, and managing one’s small business, making it a hub for growth-minded small business owners.
To get customers, you must market your business. But if your business is running on a shoestring, you probably can’t spend on billboards, radio ads, and mass mailings. You need to find effective, low-cost marketing methods that provide ROI.
Low-Cost Marketing Ideas
Marketing on a small budget is possible; you just need to be strategic about what you spend on. Try out these seven inexpensive marketing ideas for small businesses.
Almost everyone is on social media, so your business should be, too.
You can pay for advertising on social media. This will get your business in front of a lot of potential customers. But, this can be expensive. You can also do some free small business social media marketing.
Some social media sites let users leave reviews on business pages. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your profiles. Then, when potential customers come across your profiles, they will see the praises from other customers.
You can also post content that encourages people to buy from your business. You might post photos of new products, coupon codes, and online contests.
Every small business needs a website. When people do a web search for your business, your website should show up at the top of the results. And if people are looking for products or services in your area, your web page should be among the results. You can improve your website’s chances of showing up in search results through SEO.
So, what makes a website effective? Your business information must be clear. People should be able to easily find your location, hours, and contact information. Your website should at least have basic information about your products or services. You might also have customer testimonials and a blog.
Try teaming up with other local businesses. You can promote each other’s businesses. For example, you might give your customers a coupon to the other business, and vice versa. Or, you can promote each other to your email lists.
Look for complementary businesses. Obviously, you won’t want to partner with competitors. You might look for a business that sells a related product. For example, a sandwich shop might partner with an ice cream store.
If you have a company vehicle that you regularly drive around, consider branding it with your company logo and information. A full paint job can be expensive, so you might opt for magnets that stick to the sides. Or, you can purchase window decals to put on the side and back windows.
If your business is located on a main street where a lot of pedestrians go, try putting a sign on the sidewalk outside your business. You might list a sale or announce new inventory. As people walk by, they will hopefully stop in your business to learn more.
You might try getting your local media to cover your business. You can do this by sending out press releases and networking with local reporters.
Keep in mind; reporters won’t cover promotional things, such as sales. You’ll have to buy an advertising spot for those. But, if your business has something unique or newsworthy to share, you might get some free publicity.
Marketing to existing customers is a great way to improve your bottom line in business. You know these people will buy from you, so you just need to turn them into repeat customers.
When people buy from you, ask if you can add them to your email list. Then, send them coupons, inventory updates, and news about your business. Send regular emails to keep your business in customers’ minds and to give them ample opportunities to purchase from you.
You can also start a customer referral program. You would offer incentives for customers to introduce new customers to your business. For example, you might give referrers free products or services, or a discount off their next purchase.
Push your handles – If you’re really looking to bump up those Twitter followers, you can’t be afraid to be a bit shameless. Speaking at a conference? Put your Twitter handle on the slideshow (heck, keep it in the corner the entire presentation). Ordering new business cards? Better include that adorable handle!
Join in on weekly hashtag themes like #ThrowbackThursday – If you want to build your social media following, you need to be an active participant in the community. This means posting regularly, and also joining in on fun weekly social media traditions that already have a loyal audience. Show the kids how hip you can be!
Vines – Vines, quick 6-second video clips, are largely under-utilized. With a little work and some fun content, you could become a big fish in a small pond on Vine.
Pin your own images (and others) – Don’t underestimate the value of this image-sharing site. Post your strongest visual assets (templates, infographics, etc) on Pinterest and link them to your webpages for some serious traffic.
Keep social tabs on competitors – Facebook business pages allow you to follow other accounts via the Pages to Watch feature. Follow your competitors and see what they post, and which of their posts get the most shares and likes. See what works and follow their lead.
Urban Marketing Ideas
Living in a concrete jungle allows for some pretty creative concepts.
Step out on the streets – In an online age, there’s something to be said for going au naturel and exercising a little IRL marketing. Go old school with flyers and poster in local cafes, do some sidewalk chalk writing. This strategy is most effective for locally oriented businesses, but it can work for anyone.
Commission a mural – Try getting permission to decorate the side of a prominent building with a large mural.
Use your surroundings – Get a little imaginative and think about how you can use your urban surroundings for potential marketing magic.
Unusual sponsorships – Urban living results in some unique marketing opportunities you won’t find elsewhere. They secret is, you need to think creatively to capitalize on these opportunities.
Contest Marketing Ideas
Photo Contests – Photo contests are great for a number for reasons – they’re relatively easy to enter (anyone with Instagram and a few spare seconds can submit), and they also provide sponsors with a great form of user-generated content that can be reused and implemented elsewhere.
Submit your vote contests – Voting contests get a ton of entries because they’re so easy to participate in (just click a button, in most cases). What’s cool about voting contests is that you can use the data obtained from the votes to create a mini data study. Share what you learned in a blog post!
Caption Contests – Post a photo and ask users to submit their best caption – this kind of contest can get some pretty great laughs.
Sweepstakes – The most traditional of contests, sweepstakes/giveaways are a tried and true classic. They are quick and simple to enter – plus it’s easy to ask for email subscriptions as part of the submission form.
Marketing Ideas for Contest Promotion
Post to deal sites – People love free stuff, some more than others. The people who really love a good deal tend to frequent deal sites and forums. There’s almost always a sweepstake/contest forum section where you can add your contest into the mix.
I’ve seen contests in which 90% of traffic is driven from these types of sites – alright, they aren’t always the most qualified leads, but if you want quantity over quality, this is a sound strategy. Start of submitting to Slickdeals and go from there. This can be a great form of restaurant marketing.
Hashtag-ify your contest – Adding a relevant (and unique) hashtag to your contest helps you keep track of entries and makes them easy to scan through and organize. Besides, they’re just plain fun.
Make contests super sharable – This means adding “share this contest” buttons if you have an entry form on a website, or simply encouraging social sharing in general. The more people who know about your contest, the merrier (for you anyway)!
Offer bonus points for sharing – If you offer users bonus points for sharing news of your contest via social media, they’ll be much more likely to concede. Tools like Rafflecopter make it easy to offer users extra entries for different actions (e.g. Joining the mailing list = +5 entries. Sharing contest on Twitter = +2 entries).
Notify email subscribers of contest – Remember, you already know that your email subscribers like you and are interested in what you have to offer. If you’re running a contest for a free year of your software, you know your subscribers are going to want in!
Promote your contest on (all) social media – If you’re running a photo contest via Instagram, make sure you still promote the contest on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. You want all your followers, across all social media networks to know about your great giveaway!
Write for your audience – The best pieces of content are the ones directed at your key audiences. Understand your customer: know their pain points, what gets them psyched, and what keeps them up at night. Killer content address your audience’s needs and concerns!
Add a visual element to ALL your content pieces – People get bored with text really fast! To keep visitors reading, it’s essential to have images breaking up your text paragraphs. Don’t overlook the importance of a visual element, even in blog posts that are predominantly text-based.
Infographics – We know readers love visual content, and infographics are a prime example of beloved, linkable visual assets.
While the idea of creating a top-notch infographic may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t need fancy software – in fact, you can make a decent infographic just using Powerpoint. There are plenty of infographic guides templates out there to get you started. Speaking of…
Useful templates – Templates are another powerful form of visual assets that visitors find extremely helpful. Templates serve as a visual framework that can help users create custom piece without completely starting from scratch.
Graphs and Charts – The infographic’s less cool cousins, one-piece graphs and charts still have their place as formidable pieces of visual content. They may not be as impressive as infographics, but they require considerably less time and effort to create and are still shareable, so don’t be afraid to use them generously. For visual learners, a graph will be much easier to interpret than a chunk of text and numbers. Make sure you appeal to all kinds of learners!
That’s why you find so many dragons at the animal shelter (image from Reddit)
Videos – Video is incredible when it comes to drawing in and retaining the attention of users – retention rate for visual information can reach 65% vs. 10% for text-based info. Plus, customers who view product videos are much more likely to convert than those that don’t. Video content is a powerful tool, whether you’re trying to demonstrate how your product works IRL or educating visitors.
Statistic lists – Are you hitting a content idea wall? For an easy content marketing fix, collect interesting statistics on a subject matter related to your biz and create a blog post about what you’ve learned. Massive stat lists are easy to make and extremely sharable. Plus, some of the wilder stats may get your gears turning about other content ideas, such as…
Future predictions – Play the soothsayer by predicting future trends in your industry – just make sure you have at least some data to back up your hypothesis.
Controversy – Controversial content always earns attention, but it’s not for the faint of heart – playing with fire can get you burned! Rather than stirring up controversy yourself, the safer road may be to answer or respond to larger industry controversy with your own interpretation.
Rumors travel fast
Aggregate awesomeness from other sources – Another easy way to create killer content is to curate quality content from elsewhere. No, it’s not stealing … at least, not if done properly.
It’s completely kosher to borrow content from other sources if you’re doing something new with it. For example, take our guide to the best SEO Reddit AMAs. The content we quoted from was originally posted on various Reddit forum threads. We took what we deemed the “best” portions of the Q&As from different threads and put it all together to make a super SEO advice guide. This new post is much easier for users interested in SEO to read, rather than scouring through various Reddit threads. NOTE: Play it safe by always giving credit where it’s due.
Ask the experts – Another great content marketing idea is to interview industry thought leaders with set questions and share their responses in a blog post; for example, our interview with industry experts on the future of PageRank. This kind of content tends to do well, and it’s always interesting to see where industry gurus agree and where they don’t. One great thing about sharing expert opinions – chances are, the folks you write about will share your write-up with their own followers! (Pro tip – ask the opinions of groups with large Twitter followers!)
A very impressive panel of experts
Top 10s – People go nuts over top 10 lists – top 10 tools, top 10 blogs, you name it.
Lists – Piggy-backing on top 10s are lists in general. Starting your title with a number can make it stand out more in search listings (e.g. 3 Ways to Slice a Pineapple). Why do people love lists? Because they are super scannable and quick to read. This is probably why over a third of Buzzfeed’s posts have a number in the title. Great content strategies involve a mix of quick, snackable content pieces and more in-depth, long-form articles. Variety is the spice of life, yo.
Product comparison guide – Decisions, decisions – oh, the pitfalls of capitalism. It’s tough being a consumer with so many products to choose from. Help out users with a marketing comparison guide, especially if you have a series of product offerings for different needs. If you’re comparing your product with competitors, be objective and fair; maybe you’re a better fit for small businesses, while a competitor is better for larger corporations.
Alternatively, write up a comparison guide for a product you don’t offer, but which relates to your audience’s business. For example, a video game reseller could write a product comparison guide for different video game controllers. This is helpful content that gets relevant users familiar with your brand.
Content is an open door – Don’t just create awesome content and abandon it – feature your best stuff in other related blog posts as well. You can link to or call out other pieces of content mid-post, or list some related articles at the end of your post. Something along the lines of “Want to learn more about ________? Check out our _________ guide and our __________ infographic.”
Content, love = apples, oranges. (Image from Disney’s Frozen)
Slideshare – The slideshow is back and better than ever! Repurpose PowerPoint presentations for audience-friendly slideshares. Check out these tips from Jonathan Colman on getting more views on Slideshare.
Webinars – Host your own free webinar or partner with another business for twice the expertise (and twice the promotion power). Webinar are a great source of business leads.
Google related search – Checking out the Google related searches (found at the top and bottom of the SERP when you perform a search) for a keyword query is a great tool for generating content ideas. Just Google a term and see what related searches turn up. You may be surprised!
Pop-up opt-in – There’s a lot of debate around newsletter opt-in pop-ups. They’re annoying, they’re intrusive, but quite often, they also work! A/B test one and see how it affects your newsletter subscriptions. If newsletter subscribers have proved to be valuable leads for your business, do what you must to obtain them.
Continue your lucky streak – Not sure what to write about? Go into your analytics account and take a peek at your most popular posts to see what subjects users get excited about, then write a variation or extension of one of your most popular posts.
eBooks – Another great marketing idea is to write a comprehensive ebook on a known pain point or popular industry topic, then create a quality landing pagearound the offer. Better yet, don’t start from scratch; repurpose past blog posts and articles into a mega e-book collection.
101 guides – There’s always someone just starting out in the biz; beginner’s guides and Industry Knowledge 101 content pieces will always get linked to and shared around by newbs.
Even great content needs promotion– Don’t just publish your content and expect it to promote itself; share it with your email subscribers and social media followers.
Post about industry hot topics – What’s the buzz in your field? Post about topical news and trending topics related to your industry to get in on the burst of action and show that you’re in the know.
Guest Posts– While the SEO value of guest posts has been called into question, there’s nothing wrong with guest posting if done right. Just focus on the value of getting your brand in front of a new audience, rather than the links.
White papers – Guides, e-ooks, white papers – they’re kind of all the same thing, but labeling your assets differently can help your message resonate with different audiences. Test your labels to see which works best with your prospects.
Quality content – This should go without saying, but only produce quality content that you can be proud of! Google hates thin content, and users don’t like it either.
Show some skin – I mean metaphorical skin of course – show that you are not a robot. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and show off your company’s personality. Express yourself; and if that means literally showing some skin, well then, more power to you. You’re human after all.
Online magazine – Producing your own virtual magazine is another epic form of content marketing. For a great example, check out Dark Rye, a stylish online magazine produced by Whole Foods. For a quick and easy fix, make your own online newspaper with Paper.li.
Podcasts – Podcasts are great because users can download them and then listen on the go! Possible podcast concepts include discussing hot industry news or interviewing experts, in your space.
Cover events – If you attend a conference (or even an online event), consider writing a post about what info you gathered from the event, what you found valuable, etc. Chances are others will find it valuable too! Use the hashtag from the event in your promotional efforts.
Collaboration – Collaboration can extend your reach and build your reputation. Consider all the different partnerships you could build – partner with a charity? A related business? You can co-author a blog post or guide, co-host a webinar, etc.
Memes – Memes are fun and familiar for internet-goers. Get a little cheeky with some fun memes – it’s easy to make your own with sites like meme generator.
Social proof – Sometimes great content marketing ideas also serve as fantastic forms of social proof. Take this inventive content project by a haunted house called Nightmares Fear Factory. They take photos of victims…er, I mean guests, and post them to their Flickr feed. The photos are absolutely hysterical and prove that Nightmares Fear Factory is as scary as they claim to be!
Divvy up your content – Don’t go content-overboard or you’ll end up overwhelming users. We live in a competitive attention economy, and if you’re creating new stuff every single day, people may tire of you, even if everything you share is excellent. Them’s the breaks, kid. Figure out what pace works for your audience.
Conduct a content audit – Is your existing content up to snuff? What is driving conversions? What isn’t – and why? Asking these questions might make you sweat, but you’ll be better off knowing the truth. Finding the answers to these questions will ensure that your marketing strategy moves forward in the right direction.
Branded tools – Create awesome, valuable tools that your audience will find useful. You can use parts of the tool to push towards your product offering, but make sure the tool itself is high-caliber – don’t just make it a glorified sales pitch. Providing free tools will make users think fondly of you and extend your brand as more people share your awesome free tool!
Mobile! – With 79% of internet users conducting online shopping via mobile devices, you should be embarrassed if you’re not mobile-friendly. This is not optional, although many still treat it like it is.
Gameification – Gamification is a great marketing idea to get users excited about engaging with you. As on Whose Line is it Anyway, the points are meaningless, but you’d be surprised how much people really enjoy getting points. We all love instant affirmation – it’s like virtual crack!
Apps like Belly and Foursquare combine gamification with customer loyalty programs. Starbucks also has its own tame version of gamified loyalty programs in which you earn stars for Starbucks purchases. Consider if gamification could work for your biz.
Get by with some content help from your friends – There are a ton of great tools out there to help you find quality content (Storify & Buffer to name a few). Remember, you don’t want to just share your own content – sharing great pieces by others in your industry shows that you’re a team player and valuable source of unbiased knowledge.
Comics – While newspaper funnies are a dying breed, online comics are alive and thriving! Consider making your own internet comics that relate to the absurd and surreal aspects of your industry. Try free tools like Pixton or Strip Generator to get started.
Copy the masters – Watch to see who is creating great content, and follow their lead. Take a close look at clickbait sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed that get a ton of shares; while their audience and content subjects will be different from yours, they serve as an excellent study in how to improve your marketing strategy. What are they doing right? Can you implement something similar?
Take your time with titles – While we’re on the subject, Upworthy is famous for their killer, clickable headlines. Even a superb blog post won’t get the attention it deserves without a good title. Should it be clever? Eye-catching? SEO-friendly? Think about what will appeal to your audience. It’s recommended you write as many as 5-10 titles for every article, then choose the best!
4-1-1 – The 4-1-1 concept comes from Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping. Davis’ social media sharing strategy dictates that for every six pieces of content shared on social media:
4 should be content from other industry influencers that is relevant to your audience
1 should be your own original, educational content
1 should have a sales aspect (coupon, product news, press release), aka, a piece of content most people will simply ignore.
The philosophy behind the 4-1-1 concept is that when you share industry thought leadership, you’re building relationships within the industry and demonstrating a certain level of selflessness which earns serious reputation points that come in handy in the long haul.
Creative Marketing Ideas [Summary]
Ready to grow your business? Try out these 64 creative marketing ideas:
Promote your social media handles, even in person
Join in on popular hashtags
Create short, engaging Vine videos
Pin your site images and graphics on Pinterest
Keep tabs on competitors’ social profiles
Try urban marketing like flyers, posters, and sidewalk chalk
Commission a mural
Use your surroundings to your advantage
Consider unusual sponsorships
Host a photo contest
Host a video contest
Host a voting contest
Host a caption contest
Host a good old-fashioned sweepstakes
Post to deal sites like Groupon
Add a hashtag to your contests
Make contests super sharable on social media
Offer bonus points for sharing contests
Notify email subscribers of contests
Promote your contest on (all) social media
Write content catered to your audience
Add a visual element to ALL your content pieces
Create data-packed infographics
Use templates to make content creation easier
Include graphs and charts in your content
Use videos for interactivity
Leverage the power of lists
Make bold future predictions
Inject controversy into your copy
Aggregate awesome content from other sources
Create an “ask the experts” roundup
Write relevant top 10 lists
And other lists, too!
Write a product comparison guide
Link to your existing content with CTAs
Post presentations on Slideshare
Host free webinars
Get ideas from Google related search
Use pop-up opt-ins on landing pages
Use analytics to take advantage of popular content
Create 101 guides to teach the basics
Promote your content
Post about industry hot topics
Write (and allow) guest posts
Create white papers
Only generate quality content
Give your company some personality and don’t be afraid to use it
Here are 20+ marketing ideas for small businesses working on a small budget.
1. Publish Great Content. I don’t think I even need to say this, but it’d be neglectful not to mention the importance of kick-ass content. If you can create it yourself, all the better (isn’t free always better?). Even if writing isn’t your strong point, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting someone on your team to crank out some articles for your blog. Try top 10 lists, tip collections, best practices for your industry, etc.
2. Create Instructional Videos. Video content is really valuable, and while it can cost big bucks to get professional YouTube videos produced, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a shot yourself or hiring a film student off Craigslist. Wistia offers a great video tutorial showing you how to shoot expert-looking footage on your regular old iPhone!
If video sounds like too much of a challenge, try making slide decks and sharing them on SlideShare.
3. Get Ad Promo Credits. While massive ad campaigns may be out of your budget, there are often discounts and coupons floating around for paid Facebook ads or Google ads. Some web hosting services offer advertising discount codes as part of their membership offerings. Check and see if yours does.
4. Reddit. Reddit, a bare-bones social network self-titled as the “front page of the internet,” can be a powerful tool when used strategically. Reddit is composed of a very tech-savvy audience that bristles at any obvious marketing tactics.
To win at Reddit, share only truly awesome content, and post only to extreme niches. In Reddit, there are subcategories (known as subreddits) that deal with some of the narrowest, most specific interests in existence. There’s a subreddit for lockpicking (/r/lockpicking ), a subreddit for unicycles (/r/unicycling), and there’s even a subreddit for admiring beautiful handwriting (r/PenmanshipPorn). (And of course there’s one for SEO.) Find your niche and dominate.
5. Be a Savvy Social Networker. Create business accounts and participate in the big social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Add Instagram in there too if your business is image-oriented. If you need help with your Social Media Management, you can submit a request here.
6. Stumble Upon Advertising. If you want to try some paid advertising but you’re not looking to break the bank, Stumle Upon’s Paid Search Discovery could be for you. Paid Discovery delivers users straight to your site, ready to engage. What works best on Stumble Upon? Photography, visual assets, and humorous content.
Stumble Upon is pretty cheap compared to other paid ad structures. You start with a base price of 10 cents per click, then add +2 cents for age targeting, gender targeting and device targeting. You can see the whole price list for detailed info. Whichever way you spin it, Stumble Upon’s paid offering is leagues cheaper than most other social media ads; Facebook ads, for example, can cost as much as 80 cents per click.
To really benefit from Stumble Upon, use targeting options to make sure you’re hitting the right audiences and niches.
7. DIY Infographics. Infographics are insanely powerful marketing tools. They’re visual eye candy, they’re easy to digest, and people love to share them, so they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and links. Hiring a designer to make you an A+ infographic can hit your wallet hard, but you can make your own on the cheap if you don’t mind a bit of a challenge, or for a small fee, we can help you with your Infographics needs.
If you have some understanding of Adobe Illustrator, try out these free vector kitsthat provide all the elements needed to make a stunning infographic. Not sure where to start? Check out Visual.ly for inspiration. They have beginner and advanced examples for you to browse through.
8. Give New Life to Old Data. If your marketing budget it tight, you might not be able to always afford content writers to whip up content for your blog. If you’re in a dry spell, instead of making something new, breathe new life into something that already exists on the web. There are a ton of data studies and stats available on the internet. While some of these studies may get initial traction, many often go unnoticed.
Find a study that relates to your industry and polish it up. Highlight the most important or interesting parts of the study, add images, crank out some charts, and make your own thoughts and predictions based on the data.
You don’t need to be a master writer for this strategy – the data will do most of the heavy lifting for you. One man’s throwaway data is another man’s content success story! Just be sure to cite your sources and give credit where it’s due.
9. Lounge About on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a major social media site that is often under-utilized. Don’t just add network connections and sign out – join groups, enter into dialogue with connections, and share your blog posts. There’s a ton happening on LinkedIn, and it can be a great place to promote your content, share ideas, and build your brand.
10. Recycle Your Content. Just as you can repurpose existing data studies, you can rehash your old content into new creations as well! Turn a webinar into a video tutorial. Transform a collection of blog posts into an ebook. Never be afraid to mash-up your old content – chances are there will be a ton of people who never even saw your old stuff, so it’ll be a fresh, 100% new content piece for a large segment of your audience.
11.Develop a Customer Referral Program. Offer existing customers a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.
12. Online Contests. You’ll need to cough up some dough for a prize, but the number of participants and new potential leads you get will be well worth the price. Really tight on budget? You don’t technically need a super expensive prize to get participants. Even a couple high-end water bottles or fancy backpacks might be enough of a draw for some users.
Not sure how to host a contest? Go with Rafflecopter – they make it super easy to set up a contest and embed the contest entry form on your website.
13. Industry Partnerships. Team up with a business related to your industry (but not a direct competitor) for a joint project. This can be done locally offline through some kind of special event, or online with a webinar or promotional giveaway.
Partnering with another business means twice as much notice. If you’re partnering with an industry-relevant business, you’re getting introduced to a whole new audience related to your niche. People pay big money for that kind of access!
14. Apply Online for Business Awards. Most industries have business awards you can win, providing you with an online badge you can place on your website. Badges like these can boost credibility, and as a result, increase sales.
If there aren’t any awards for your industry, host your own! You’ll get a ton of attention from other industry businesses who want to apply for your award, which means even more connections and more possible future collaborations!
Local Marketing Ideas for Limited Budgets
Local marketing can often be less expensive than massive online campaigns. Your reach is smaller, but if your business is regional, there’s no better (or cheaper) way to build your business.
15. Awesome Business Cards. Get yourself some snazzy business cards, then give them to every person you lay eyes on. Every handshake should come with a business card. The more people who find out about your business, the better – even if it’s just a quick glance at a business card.
16. Guerilla Marketing. Guerilla marketing emphasizes creativity over budget, and strategies are often cheap and easy to implement, especially when localized. Broadcast your Twitter handle with sidewalk chalk, use an abandoned storefront as a canvas for street art, or plaster custom stickers on urban décor that makes those who stroll by look twice. There’s a ton of room for invention here, and you don’t need a big budget to be successful.
17. Host an Event or Class. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards (libraries, coffee shops, local colleges and adult ed centers). While most community bulletin boards won’t let you post business advertisements, they’re often more than happy to post a flyer promoting an educational event or class.
18. Business Card Drawing. Put a fishbowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in for a chance to win something from you (for example, a restaurant might offer a free pizza party).
At the end of the month you’ve collected a ton of business cards, and while you can only have one winner, there’s no reason those other business cards have to go to waste. Use the email addresses provided to let users know that while they haven’t won this time, they are more than welcome to join your mailing list, which will notify them of future giveaways and special offers.
19. Email Marketing. Email marketing is a great way to get new visitors engaged with your business, as well as maintain relationships with your existing customers.
Get new website visitors to sign up for your newsletter by offering a bonus content piece for subscribing (e.g. get your free ebook detailing how to make a homemade pizza when you sign up for our First Slice newsletter). Slowly nurture your subscribers via email until they are ready to become paying customers. Start your email campaigns with a free email marketing service like MailChimp.
20. Car Magnets for the Company Car. Slap a magnetic sign on your company car to build brand awareness as you drive around town (just be sure to obey traffic laws). Bumper stickers and window decals work as well!
21. Give Away Balloons at Local Events. Get a few hundred custom balloons printed with your business name, rent a helium tank, and watch the smiles roll in.
(balloons = happiness)
Kids love balloons. Adults love them too, but are embarrassed to admit it. Stop the shame – balloons and bubbles will always be awesome, it’s OK to say so. You’ll have a bunch of happy people marching around with your brand floating above their heads, all for less than $200.
22. Join in on Local Contests. Consider donating a product or service of yours as a prize in a local contest or event.
Low-Budget Small Business Marketing Ideas [Summary]
Here are all 22 ideas to market your small business: