Saturday, January 31, 2009

How to Advertise Your Business For Free Every Day

Online and offline businesses of all types have one thing in common - they all need traffic. More traffic means more sales, which means more success.

Basically, traffic is the lifeblood of any business, and, especially for a new business, some sort of advertising is the way to start creating that traffic. Now the key here is "cost per lead" - how much money do you spend in advertising for each new person joining your mailing list, or hitting your website? However you measure this - and you absolutely MUST measure what your advertising is doing - you cannot beat leads that you get for free! So here are a few key ways to generate that free traffic...

The first one is really core to your business anyway - create good content. For a physical store, that means an attractive, easy to navigate layout - and it means the same for a website. Then make sure that what you put into your store has value - good quality products and information will bring in more customers and more referrals than any amount of marketing. Finally - give something away. That could be a "two for one" deal, or it could be a free ebook or free email course related to your business - what we want here is something to keep people coming back to your website - they are more likely to buy something the more often they visit.

So now we have a great business to bring people to - it's time to start advertising. There are many free advertising websites out there - these are a great and simple way to start generating interest in your website. Though be aware that, because they are free, they can be swamped in spam very quickly. Start placing your ad on any valuable looking sites every few days - be aware of their policies though. Some sites you can post the same ad every few days, others you have to create an original each time. Keep it simple, and place lots of these!

Next up is your business blog. You will read a lot about search engine optimisation on the net, along with lots of ways to "game" the system - but there is only one true way to get good search engine placement long term and that is to create good content. Luckily, that's also the thing that will keep bringing your customers back, so creating a blog to share news about your business, new products, results from your products and so on will be very valuable. Start making big posts, smaller updates and the occasional video on a regular schedule - then just let the search engines do their job - they will find you very quickly.

An often overlooked advertising method is other people's blogs. Pick blogs in your field and leave relevant comments - adding something of value to that blog - and remember to leave your calling card. If you make valuable comments, the blog owner will happily include your comment, and you just got a link back to your website - bringing more traffic to your business. Then - in a similar spirit - make sure your blog allows people to place comments - that generates new content for your website. Don't be afraid of a little conflict - keep control of the comments that are posted, but a good debate will get much more attention than banal comments - you need to keep a little control here.

Given that you have a business - you presumably know more about this area than most other people. So start to share that knowledge with others, first on your blog, but then develop some of the meatier blog posts into full blown articles and submit them to the article directory. These articles then get republished by others wanting to put original content on their websites - and they include your signature which, of course, has a link back to your website. Again, these links will bring in traffic from similar websites, so you will get those targeted visitors.

Possible the most important key to this approach to marketing is to do it consistently. Personally, I have a schedule of what needs to be done each day - which websites to advertise on, which days to write articles, which for videos and so on. By doing that, I make sure that there is a steadily growing reputation for my website out on the internet - which gets noticed by the search engines and brings in a steadily increasing stream of visitors. Take 90 days and build your reputation like this - you may be amazed at how much impact you have out there - and all for almost zero advertising budget!

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