Whether you’re starting your first business or are a seasoned owner, these websites and platforms will help you promote your business—without spending so much as a penny!
Running a business can be a costly endeavor, especially for those who are just starting out. You will likely find yourself spending more money setting up your business before you start to see any real profit. You’ll need a location, equipment, furnishings, product and employees to help your business come to life. And once that’s all said and done, you need to find a way to get the word out.
Advertisements and flyers work decently, but they cost money, and there is no guarantee that they will be seen (and not immediately thrown away). Instead, use one of the following five free tools (or a combination!) to promote your business. The only thing you’ll spend is your time.
This list has a website that works for any type of business—from a hair salon to a financial investing firm—and any type of business owner—from the technologically savvy to new denizens of cyberspace.
Quora is a social platform for the curious. Users can ask and answer questions on a variety of topics—politics, knitting, ancient Greek history, baking and water polo; if you have a question, there are thousands of users who could have an answer.
You’re probably wondering how answering questions can help you promote your business. Pretend you’re the owner of a home carpet and wood floor cleaning company. A Quora user’s child spilled nail polish on brand-new carpeting, and the user is asking for the best way to remove the polish without permanently damaging the carpet.
You can respond to the Quora user by letting her know that you own a carpet cleaning business (establishing your expertise) and then offer step-by-step directions to take care of the problem. Even better, you can link back to your website to a blog post on the same subject. The user gets the answer she needs, and you get to promote your business for free!
- Social Media
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are just a few of the popular social media platforms utilized by millions of people each day. These sites offer paid options to promote posts and other advertisements, but with hard work and creative, attractive posts, you can easily promote your business without spending anything.
In order to successfully promote your business on social media without spending money, you’ll need to generate organic reach. Organic means that your content reaches other users naturally through shares, retweets and reposts without promotion from the site itself.
Your best bet to see this organic reach is to create posts, tweets and images that are helpful, easy to relate to and/or humorous. The more creative and interesting your content, the more likely people are to want to share it—and then their friends and followers share it, and so on.
Crunchbase is a website that offers information on trends, news and investments for thousands of public and private companies, from startups to Fortune 500s. You can have an personal Crunchbase profile — as this example shows— or a business profile. Crunchbase helps you look for businesses and individuals that match your business needs. If someone is looking for a professional with your expertise and qualifications in a specific industry, they can find you on Crunchbase and connect with you.
All your business’s information is laid out on Crunchbase, giving others an inside look into your company and helping them make the decision to invest with you or utilize your business’s product or services. While the database does offer a premium subscription with more features (Crunchbase Pro), the free basic Crunchbase profile is all you need to get discovered by potential clients and investors.
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
As with Quora, Help a Reporter Out allows you to utilize your expertise. On HARO, you can sign up as a potential source for journalists to contact. You’ll receive three emails daily; keep an eye out for requests that match your expertise and business. If you’re a chef who recently opened your own restaurant, you’ll likely want to answer a request from a journalist reporting on new, fresh restaurants in the city. It’s a win-win: The reporter finds a source and completes his assignment, while you get free coverage and a feature on your new restaurant.
Since others are also competing to be used as sources, you’ll need to learn how to craft a pitch that showcases why you are the ideal source for a given story. So don’t be afraid to do a little bragging!