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You don't usually find the words "free" and "business and finance" in the same sentence. Do free things earn you money? Not usually. However, there are some very effective free marketing tools that actually do work by growing your small business and increasing sales. Marketing is key to business development. I am a small business owner of a shaved ice company and have found quite a few free marketing ideas that have been very effective in business growth.
The Internet just so happens to be one of those tools that can reach millions quickly and efficiently. Social media sites have grown tremendously over the last decade. Facebook narrows down the millions of users and targets potential customers by using filters such as age, interests, location, among others. Therefore, you can tightly target and reach customers who are more likely to be a potential customer. Businesses can then create pages that can be 'liked' and groups to join that open up a communication link between business owner and customer and increases traffic to your site and actual location as well. This is an extremely effective free advertising tool that tracks viewing results, is extremely accessible to potential buyers every day, and reaches a mass amount in a very short period of time. There are other free venues such as Twitter and LinkedIn that can be utilized as well.
Today's world is so busy and stressful, that I wanted to make my business a place customers could come relax and have a good time. I invited bands to play for tips only. The bands enjoyed the venue to showcase their talent and exposure and the customers enjoyed the entertainment. I also set out cornhole and ladder golf, two fun games that many families enjoyed spending some quality time together. These were all additions that increased the traffic flow, didn't cost a thing, and enhanced some family values that are sorely missing these days.
Promotional incentives were another free avenue. For every 10 snow cones a customer purchased, they received a free snow cone. This was a way of rewarding existing customers and keep them coming back. The frequent buyer card with our name and logo was also a constant subliminal reminder to them every time they opened their wallet. I also offered free samples so that customers could taste test to help them choose their desired flavor which was good for customer relations which will lead into my next point.
There is no substitute for connecting with and building relationships with your customers. This is the single most important free marketing strategy in existence. This is done by providing a good quality product or service and creating a genuine, friendly, warm atmosphere. Customers truly appreciate this exchange and remain loyal to your business.
All marketing strategies don't have to carry the burden of being a business expense. Business and finance don't always have to be associated as negative terms. There are lots of free marketing tools available to promote and grow your small business.
More from this contributor:First Person: Inexpensive Marketing for My Small Business