10 Great Ways To Promote Your New Business

Starting a business is easy, growing a successful business is hard.

One of the biggest challenges new business owners face is how to  market their business without going broke.  luckily there are lots of free and low-cost ways to get your name out into the community without spending thousands of dollars on newspaper ads, despite what the newspaper rep tells you.

Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is.  – Anita Roddick

Today, consumers aren't looking for advertisements pushed into their face, they want to choose how and when they do business with you.  This “self select” consumer is almost immune to traditional advertising and the businesses that think and act creatively can grab their attention.

While there is an endless list of ways you can promote your new business, there are some of the ways I have personally found success when promoting a newly launched business.

Create a Master List

Create a list of 50 influential people, bloggers, and businesses in your community that can reach the customer demographic you are looking to attract.  Right before or soon after opening your business, reach out to them one at a time and let them know about your new business.  I held an invitation only party right before launching one of my businesses and invited the influencers on my list.  We told them it was a select crowd of community influencers attending the event and it would be a great way to network with other influential people.  Over half attended the party and we gained lots of exposure as all of them helped to spread the word about our new business.

Willy Wonka marketing meme

Attend a Community Event

Get a table at the next big event in your community and act like you're the Mayor.  Get out and start shaking hands with the people in your community.  This is a great way to attach a face to your business.  If you have a product based business, giving away free samples is a great way to attract people to your table.  If you have a service based business, run a draw to give away a gift certificate to a local restaurant or some movie tickets.  It's a great way to draw people to your table and at least start a conversation with them.  If you plan on using their information to market to them, make that very clear when they sign up as many people get annoyed when this happens without their knowledge.


Run a Facebook Contest

If you already have fans then go straight to running a content.  If not, you will need to build a fan base first.  Facebook advertising is a quick and pretty inexpensive way to build a Facebook fan base, though you need to post great content in order to keep them engaged.  Learn how to build a fan base organically here.  You can learn how to create great Facebook ads here.  You don't need a gazillion fans to run a Facebook contest, you can pay for some promoted posts to reach friends of your fans as well as non-connected people in your community for a low price, you just need a decent size base to start with.  Some really easy tools you can use to create a great contest are Shortstack and Rafflecopter.  Just be sure to give away something that will get people excited.


Write an Article for a Blog or Media Outlet

If you like to write or know a writer you can collaborate with, this is a great way to get exposure.  Bloggers are always looking for high quality (emphasis on high quality) content to add to their blog, but it has to be really good.  Creating content on a regular basis is hard and it can be a welcome relief for a blogger to have someone helping out.  When it comes to local media, getting an article published is easier that you think.  They don't have large budgets for investigative journalism and usually welcome contributions from the community.  The biggest thing here is quality and timeliness.  Don't suggest an article on gardening in the dead of winter.  I will spend a few weeks connecting, promoting and sharing content with the editor of a local publication before I suggest contributing an article.  It turns a cold call into a warm call, which makes a world of difference.


Attend Networking Events

I have mixed feelings on formal networking events.  I find that they're usually full of people looking to promote, but no one is looking to buy.  With that said, if you find the right event and group of people, networking can be a solid way to generate new business.  The most important thing is looking for events where you have potential to either meet your ideal customer or meet other professionals who can introduce you to them.  The best networkers look to give value first before asking for anything and that's a solid strategy to use when attending these events.  Just avoid the Multi-Level marketers, they are usually a one-sided proposition.

Run a Joint Promotion with Another Business

Hook up with another business that has a similar customer base and run a joint promotion with them.  You can also offer them a prize so they can run a promotion with their own customers.  There are lots of creative ways you can work with another business to get more customers, you can read more about this in one of my previous articles.  The important thing here is that the other business needs to feel like they will be getting a lot of benefits out of the deal or else most of them will ignore you.


Create Brand ambassadors

If you have a few clients already that love you, get them involved in the mix.  Take them out for lunch and turn them into brand ambassadors for your business.  educate and incentivize them to go out and spread the word about your business in the community.  You don't have to pay them, offering them exclusive deals, free samples and a lot of love will go a long way in getting them excited about promoting your business.  Evernote does a great job with turning regular customers into brand ambassadors.


Get involved with Charities

Get involved with local charities to meet people who are connected in your community.  Charities and people who volunteer with these groups are usually deeply involved in the community and are a great source of people to meet.  Not only are you helping a good cause, you're getting great exposure for your business.  When I first opened my business, I contacted several charities and offered them free services that they could either use themselves or raffle off as a fundraiser.  They love anything that helps to raise money and are happy to share your generosity with their members.  7 years later and I still have strong ties with many of these groups.


Start a Blog

Yeah you see this one on every list, blog…blog…blog…blog!  The thing is, if it's done right, it can be the engine that drives your lead generating machine.  The problem is that 99% of people who start a blog, especially business owners, fail miserably at it.  For a business owner it's really simple, think of every possible question that a customer might have about your industry and write an article answering each question.  That should take up your first 25 blog posts, after that you can start to get more creative.  Go here to find out how to market your business with blogging.


Create a Google Pay Per Click Campaign

A properly set up Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign can drive laser focused leads to your website, if it's set up correctly.  Many business owners complain that PPC is a waste of money, those are usually the one's who tried to do it themselves and did it totally wrong.  If you want to create a proper PPC campaign, it's best to spend a few bucks and have someone who knows what they are doing set up your campaign.  If you want to try your hand at it yourself, you can use Google's Adwords Express, which is an easier way to do PPC marketing with them.  I've been doing PPC for over 7 years now and will typically see a 10 to 1 return for every dollar I spend on PPC advertising.  You'll never see that ROI with a newspaper ad.

Go out and get started

So here are some of the things I've used in the past to help promote my new business.  The new ways of marketing reward time and creativity over just spending lots of money, which is a great deal for the new business owner on a tight budget.





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CEO at 3Bug Media
Gary Shouldis is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company that helps businesses create 360 Marketing Strategies to dominate their market. His blog is read by over 20 thousand small business owners a month and has been featured in the N.Y. Times Small Business, Business Insider and Yahoo Small Business.
9 replies
  1. Marcus Schaller
    Marcus Schaller says:

    I totally agree about pay per click. It’s unfortunate that so many people dabble in it, have less than stellar results, and then write it off as a waste of money. With a little bit of practice and hanging on through the learning curve, advertising through Google and Facebook can be a fantastic way to attract targeted customers. I’ve used it successfully for years.

    One thing to add though: If you do consider the Express option, double check that the cost per click isn’t excessive. Last time I looked into that option (it’s attached to one of my Google Places business profiles) it was in the $3.50 neighborhood.

  2. Kurt Frankenberg
    Kurt Frankenberg says:

    Wow, Gary! Found out about ‘cha through BizSugar, which I also just found out about. Great thoughts all through this post. I will be trying FB promoted posts next.

    That charity idea certainly has helped my martial arts studio, while at the same time helping others. We did a fundraiser: one of my Black Belts broke 100 bricks in less than a minute, with local bizzes and people pledging .10 cents, .25 cents, a dollar a brick.

    We raised over $1100 for families displaced by a fire in our community, but we also got free publicity from local newspapers so that was very helpful We WERE going to do the 100 brick breaking attempt anyway, but making it a community event brought attention to the studio as well as helping a lot of people.

    I’ll letcha know how the FB promoted posts do.

    Keep Stepping,


  3. Ti Roberts
    Ti Roberts says:

    Fantastic suggestions, Gary. Starting a blog is one to the best free leveraged ways to get the word out about your business. You’ll attract quality customers and may also attract partners to help you promote.

    The thing about blogging is that most small businesses don’t understand the concept and benefit, which is sad. I think that there should be some sort of blogging 101 course that small business owners should be required to take. It’ll help them really see how going online can save them a ton of money and get even more exposure. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Gary.


  4. Gary Shouldis
    Gary Shouldis says:

    Hi Ti,
    You’re right, most business owners are told blogging is a terrific way to market their business but almost none of them are successful at it. I think most people are impatient and blogging requires a lot of patience if you want to see the rewards. Yes, a good course for small business owners would be great. Thanks Ti!

  5. Gary Shouldis
    Gary Shouldis says:

    Sounds like a great way to involve charities with your business Kurt. Biz Sugar is a great community, lots of activity and good people there. I do Facebook ads and have found they work if done right. Contests and promotions also work well there. Checked out your blog and story, love it! We should chat sometime.

  6. Gary Shouldis
    Gary Shouldis says:

    Thanks Marcus, you’re totally right about Adwords Express, it’s untargeted and can lead to costly CPC’s if you don’t keep an eye on things. Adwords is a great platform and great for small business, it’s too bad Google does a poor job making it easy for a non-marketer to really understand it. I’ve been doing it since 2006 and some of it still makes my head spin. Cheers!

  7. Alleli Aspili
    Alleli Aspili says:

    Hi, Gary! You did a great job here. Since you weren’t able to cover outsourcing in this topic, I just wonder if you think some of these tasks could also be outsourced somehow. Do you think it would also be helpful in promoting a new business?

  8. Gary Shouldis
    Gary Shouldis says:

    Yes, I think outsourcing could help, both locally and abroad. I think the challenge for small businesses owners is trying to manage that relationship remotely. It would be great for research, outreach and just having extra hands to help with all of the work. Thanks!

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