Here at WeddingIQ we've talked at length about determining which wedding shows to attend, weighing the options when it comes to advertising, and building your brand. We’ve also stressed the importance of high quality collaterals and hiring creatives and coaches for support, as well as joining professional groups within your industry. All these suggestions require an investment of not only your time but also a decent percentage of your business income. Purchasing expensive letterpress business cards or joining exclusive (and pricey) networking groups may help establish your brand, but don’t ignore all the free ways you can market yourself and your business. You can implement the items on this list today with nothing more than a little time and effort.
1. Attend free networking events. If you get invited, go. If you were not invited, go as someone’s guest and make sure you’re on the list for the next event. In the Baltimore/DC area Biz Brainstorming, Metro Event Specialists and Thursday Therapy are all free to those in the industry and require nothing but your attendance. Practice your 30 second intro, strike up some conversations and follow up after the meeting.
2. Work it on social media. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat, the options are endless. Toot your own horn. Let people know what you are doing. Share events and accomplishments. Tag your clients, vendors and friends. Use relevant and popular hashtags to promote your business.
3. Create an email newsletter. This does not have to be elaborate to be effective. Even a quarterly mailing will let your clients and colleagues know of any upcoming changes, promotions or projects you are working on. There are several paid programs such as Constant Contact, Aweber or MailChimp that can help you out or you can simply create a downloadable PDF.
4. Call a colleague. No one talks on the phone anymore. I’m guilty of this myself, but picking up the phone and reaching out to fellow colleagues might drum up some unexpected business. Just by having a conversation and catching up, you will learn more about each other’s business and the types of clients you both need.
5. Write a blog, write a guest blog. Blogging is a great way to share your story, talk about your work and give clients a more in depth look into your business. If you don’t have a blog of your own, consider guest blogging for a popular local blog, another vendor friend in the industry or any niche blog that interests you. You can ask them for topics that interest their readers or you can write a blog that interests you and then shop it around.
6. Volunteer in your industry and community. Giving of your time and services to a worthy cause is not only personally fulfilling but also free advertising. Sponsor an event, physically help out or donate your services in kind. The grateful hosts and hostesses will usually give you shoutouts online and in print.
7. Reach out to past clients. This is an untapped goldmine. Not only might your past clients need your products or services again but they might know someone else who does, too. Planting a little reminder of what you have to offer could bring in much needed revenue. Also, following up after services have been rendered will help to bring in testimonials and reviews that you can then use to attract new business.
8. Get comfortable with public speaking. What better way to establish yourself as a leader in your field than to speak to a room full of receptive listeners? Seek out professional groups, conferences and clubs that may be interested in your business and your expertise. You can tailor a topic to appeal to their specific audience. It’s a great way to let people know who you are and to attract the right clients.
9. Make an offer. Giveaways, free consultations and specials are all great ways to give potential clients a taste of what you have to offer, commitment-free, or encourage them to purchase more from you. Who doesn’t like to get a deal? Just make sure you’re not giving away more than you can handle and that it’s something of value to the client. The goal is to bring in revenue, not to waste your time working for nothing.
10. Barter your services. Each one of us has some talent that others are lacking. Exchanging products and services with other professionals, even clients, is a great way for both of you to get what you need. Think outside of your own industry on this one as well. I’ve helped people with social media and design as well as photography. You never know what someone has to offer.
So get out there today and promote yourself for free! Combining these suggestions with paid marketing campaigns will give you a more well rounded strategy,as well as add a personal, creative and hands-on approach to your brand.