Virtually every business has a fixed budget for marketing and advertising and they are always evaluating ways to get the most bang for their advertising buck. Advertising on a tight budget is common and fortunately there are a number of different ways to reach your target market for free or a minimal expense. The key is to be creative and consider advertising in locations you normally wouldn't or developing business relationships which are mutually beneficial.
Newsletters have been around forever and are a great way to reach customers or potential clients who are already interested in your product or service. Newsletters are voluntary meaning visitors to your website have shown an interest in what you have to offer and have submitted their e-mail address to receive more information in the future. Keep in mind that you must provide an unsubscribe option to be compliant with the federal CAN-SPAM Act. The law was meant to put power in the consumer's hands about what if any information they receive via e-mail.
If you're knowledgeable or are considered an expert in a specific area then significant exposure can be derived from sharing this information on other websites. A common approach is to write articles for e-zines or article repositories which aggregate multiple sources of information. The benefit is that there will often be an author bio with additional information and a link to your website. You can also write articles directly for other websites which share similar interests in order to reach your target market. The goal is to become a subject matter expert for a particular topic which can increase traffic and sales for your business.
While not as good as getting actual advertising revenue, ad swaps are established business relationships between two online entities willing to host each others ads. You can either contact similar websites directly or use one of the many ad swap websites which connects like-minded individuals and businesses. This may require investing in some graphic design or other advertising creativity to make your ad look as professional as possible. Placing a well-designed ad on similar websites can lead to significant click through rates if both the article and advertisement are of a high-quality.
Question-and-answer sites, bulletin boards, discussion groups and forums are all locations where your brand can be developed and visibility increased. Discussion lists are particularly helpful because they allow an interaction between you as a subject matter expert and others seeking advice or information. Be careful however not to spam users or continually place links to your website or content. Let the discussion of your website or business grow naturally out of a discussion thread. In fact, the best way is to be so convincing or informative that users request more information about your business or website.
While not exactly free, a great low cost marketing idea is issuing a standard press release . There are a number of high profile public relations websites which allow you to submit a press release for a nominal fee with wide coverage. Other websites, news organizations and print publications commonly reference and use press releases to disseminate information to their readers or users. Be sure to include information about your business, yourself and applicable phone numbers and e-mail addresses so that any person reading the press release can contact you directly.