00:00 Hello. You’re listening to On Point Conversations. I’m Jacalyn Holsted and I am a content strategist and marketing consultant for my company, which is On Point Thinking. Today, I wanna address a topic that I like, it’s called 10 Tips for Free Promotion. Now, sometimes people will say, “Oh, free is never free,” but these are ways in which you can look at your strengthening and extending your budget, your marketing budget, with activities that are good for your company to do.
00:40 JH: These are ideas, and let me start, first of all, by saying, before you even start coming up with free promotion, free ideas, at this point, I would say you’ve already pinpointed your audience; You understand their motivation, their wants and needs; You’ve got your content strategy in place and your media strategy. So you’re ready to now get this information out. So you have that, and you’re looking at ways to promote your business and your products or service.
01:13 JH: The first one is rather one that is pretty common but it’s one that can get overlooked, and that’s share your knowledge by offering some online, particularly at this point, in our COVID pandemic time, free workshops and classes. Sometimes, when I mention this to my clients, they see it as very, very challenging because they’re looking at things that might be Hollywood-produced. You don’t have to do it that way. You do have to be respectful of your audience and present a good image with the brand that your company and service wants to portray, but you also don’t need an elaborate production. I don’t really want my clients to spend lots of money on this because we’re talking about… The importance of it is what are you giving to people that’s beneficial to them.
02:07 JH: You can invite people for this class, or workshop, via, of course, your blog, your website, your mailing list, social media. And what you can do, here are some examples. If you have an auto shop, you can do things like present a class on car maintenance or handling emergencies or things that would apply to what you’re doing as far as an auto mechanic or auto shop that, it helps people with good information. If you’re a thrift, or let’s say, a hobby shop, you can consider incorporating your products and things that you see in your store in some creative project to help people get their creative juices going.
02:56 JH: If you’re a tax preparer or accountant, you could offer a seminar on how to avoid an audit, which is a good thing to do or tips, tax tips. What do you need for your next tax appointment? What is gonna be your accountant is gonna be asking for? How do you structure maybe one part of your business to keep track of expenses, etcetera? You’re talking about offering classes or workshops that the customers can incorporate and is beneficial to them. Very inventive thinkers, of course, can… The possibilities are endless on what you can do as far as sharing information on tips and ideas for using your product or service or within your product or service area.
03:41 JH: The second tip would be to sponsor or donate or volunteer for a charitable event that you and your company are passionate about. If there’s an event that you feel passionate about, join that one. If there’s not, create your own. There are numerous benefits, really, for doing this. It’s for your benefit, for you, your business and your community. In this pre-COVID pandemic time, there are companies like… I’ve noticed Patagonia, Outdoor Research, who supported the essential healthcare workers by manufacturing masks for them. That makes a good feeling about these companies and what they’re doing in this particular time period. They’ve also… I’ve noticed at Outdoor Research, you can buy… In fact, I have a couple… Buy their masks by the general public, so they’ve also taken that and been able to turn it around and create a revenue source for their company.
04:42 JH: If you want, you can also encourage your employees to participate. It’s not a requirement but if you get the right charitable event, your employees will feel more like they’re part of a company and part of a bigger thing than just the product or service provided. So remember that this is really something… Picking the right event is really something that can benefit your community, your customers, your potential customers, and also your employees.
05:15 JH: Three goes along… This is the third tip, goes along with really… We talked about just a few minutes ago about free workshops and classes, but also offering advice or tips. You can write about that and post that to your website. I do encourage companies to add a blog to their website, but a… Not but, but yes, a consistent blog, so you’re always posting. Whether you’re posting once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, you’re consistent in your blogging approach, and that is helpful to your customers ’cause they see that you’re new and you’re adding new things that are relevant to them now, and also it’s very good for search engine optimization, because Google likes to see you update your website and have it more fresh, which goes along to my tip four, it is periodically update your website.
06:12 JH: That includes… So that people who come to your website don’t think… Oh, this is… I saw this before. There’s nothing new here. You look like you’re a continuing ongoing company that is thinking about the consumer and the potential customer for your company. And you’re also periodically updating your website for search engine optimization. Those kind of go hand-in-hand because a blog will help you update your website periodically. It’ll allow you to have a fresher site, if you promote it on your home page, and sometimes there’s a slider, you can use that to show your most current blog. That is a way, again, to get… Feeling that’s a fresh site versus that site that’s been there forever and ever.
06:58 JH: Point number five would be consider offering current loyal customers some kind of incentive or reward. These are people who’ve been with you and they are worth a lot of money because it takes a lot of money to acquire new consumers, new customers. I was at, really, a seminar recently, this was pre-COVID-19, where a retail establishment that I work with, that I buy from, offered… It was very vocal about offering a 20% off coupon, I think it was a one-time order for new customers. And I felt kinda slighted because I do think new customers should have an incentive to join, but I also think that remembering that your loyal customers are looking for other things, too, within your company. For example, you might have a private page or private pages on your website that your loyal customers can go to. You might have some kind of incentive program, that’s pretty common. Starbucks has their reward program, the airline certainly has a reward program. So it’s offering those incentives or rewards to keep your customer coming back.
08:12 JH: The number six would be speak at applicable events. Now, again, we’re in a COVID pandemic environment so many, many, many events and safe events are online via Zoom, so get to become very, very familiar with Zoom, and look at hosting your own event. You might have a panel that talks about the industry as a whole, where it’s going, or you might have something surrounding your products and services that you offer them to benefit that has an event that you can do with that. Maybe it’s introducing new products or maybe it’s offering some kind of valuable education tips to your audience in that kind of setting.
08:55 JH: To go along with that and another point I… Next point I have is hosting an educational webinar. A number of companies are doing this right now. I probably spend a lot of time on Zoom per week, but I find it very beneficial and I do have an understanding and have learned about companies I wouldn’t have known about before had it not been for the opportunity to get on a Zoom meeting and watch an educational webinar, be included in that particular webinar by using chat. This is a good way to extend your audience outside. If you’re able to go out to a bigger, broader audience versus a community audience such as your surrounding neighbors and things, then you can reach a much bigger audience. Even if you can’t, it’s a nice… Or even if you’re not reaching a huge audience, it’s still a nice way to get your consumers and customers involved, and other people. It’s a very cost-effective way of communicating to your target audience and it’s also a way that you can record your particular, if it’s a webinar or an informational event, and they can go back and play it at a later time, because webinars are at a certain time and not all of us have that time available.
10:16 JH: The next tip I have is plan and implement a public relations program. You wanna have a PR strategy along with your content strategy. That’s part of the content strategies, your PR. And getting to know online resources, that’s where I stress ’cause many of the newspapers are gone, the printed pieces. There are some in communities so you wanna check around your community if you’re marketing in that particular area. But look at places online, there are many places online where you can post events and you can do it yourself. It’s free to do. Or you can post online resources. I still believe very strongly that, when we’re back to our, hopefully new normal, that having one-to-one contact with people that are actually putting on these, developing sites with programs and events and things that reach a larger audience, there’s gonna be a really good way to continue to see your events promoted on their pages.
11:19 JH: You can also cross-promote your event and doing your PR point, you’d have to find another company that complements what you’re doing, not competes, but complements. And maybe those two go together hand-in-hand, your product and your service or your two products and then you could work together from that point. Social media definitely is a cost-effective way of interacting with your current and potential customers and promoting your brand. This, again, will be part of your content strategy plan already in place, so you’ll know what mediums your customers are at, what content you wanna put on, how you want to be in those mediums, and then consistently, when you’re gonna post, how you’re gonna post.
12:05 JH: The way that I do it with both my blog post, my podcast and my social media is that I have a plan in place. But every week before I post those, and I have topics and I have podcasts waiting to be distributed, is that I look at the market situation. I’m very careful not to just automatically post something or plan something, schedule it out, put it on my scheduler and it just automatically comes up because it could be an inappropriate time for it to come up. You wanna look at the surrounding items, things going on in the marketplace before you promote and press post.
12:46 JH: The other thing you can do, and this is a pretty common, is to embed a way for people to go from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever you’re using, from your website to your posts on those particular social media. Or the other way around, where Instagram, you direct them to your website. Your website is really your home page, it’s really your retail establishment or your establishment online so it’s a very important part of your whole marketing program.
13:16 JH: The last thing I wanna talk about a little bit is offering free samples. Now, that was a very much a pre-COVID-19 for the food industry; Offering free samples at a store, you go to Costco, you have tons of free samples you can eat and have and enjoy almost a meal by going around and just sampling. We aren’t doing that anymore, the marketplace is not doing that anymore. It’s a good idea, they’re not doing it anymore, at least for now. But I have seen companies offer free samples that they send to you, and I participated in a couple of them and I’m very happy with the way that it’s worked. It is a cost upfront because you do you have to mail it, put together a free sample, if it’s truly free. You could also, as some companies are doing, when your customer orders, you can offer a free sample with that order. I would leave it up to them whether they want the free sample or not, ’cause it gives them a sense of control over what their order is. Most people are not gonna pass up a free sample, but you can go ahead and do a free sample that way of any new product you have or something that you wanna promote that is not in the marketplace right now and would be better if someone tried it ahead of time.
14:27 JH: So free exposure is very powerful to boost your business and there are many interesting and fun ways to do this. And free is kind of a little bit of an iffy term here because you do need resources to do it, and I mean staffing resources. You might not need the budget, you do need a small budget for some of these things but you might not need to necessarily budget for that, but the resources from a staffing standpoint are going to be a consideration in these types of programs.
14:58 JH: Thank you so much for listening today. I hope you come back and listen again. If you have questions for me or you want me to explain something more or you have a podcast idea for me that you want me to think about doing, please go to my page which is onpointthinking.com, that’s my website. And at onpointthinking.com, you can go to my comments page and send me a comment. I do read all the comments and I respond, so I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your listening.