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15 Cost-Free Marketing Ideas

Here are fifteen cost-free ideas to help you engage customers and spread the word on your product or service. Even better, many of them are easy to implement. Their only cost is time and effort.

1. CLEVER SOCIAL MEDIA

Kraft put a twist on the childhood game jinx. When two people unknowingly used the phrase "mac & cheese" in a tweet at the same time, Kraft sent them each a link pointing out the jinx. The first one to click the link got 5 free boxes of Mac & Cheese and a t-shirt.

2. HOST A GET TOGETHER

Use Meetup or Eventbrite to organize a casual get together with your customers. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you can even skip the coffee and donuts, just stick to one of the most overlooked secrets in marketing: listening to your customers. Get a bunch of them together in a room, ask them what they want from you and stand back. I guarantee you’ll learn something.

3. HOST A WEBINAR

A good webinar informs participants and motivates them to to purchase. I recently listened to a webinar that featured a 20% off coupon. Nice! Use free video meeting sites like Google Hangouts or Meetings.io to show customers how your product solves their problem.

4. STREAM A LIVE EVENT

Live online video is great for tutorials, interviews, Q & A sessions and whatever else you can think up. YouTube offers a streaming option. The set-up video makes it look easy, but the official guide seems a bit more involved. Either way, it's free.

5. HOLD A CONTEST

Contests generate media exposure and get customers talking. A contest can be as simple as asking them in what interesting ways they use your product. Be sure to post the best entries on your site and feature the runners up and winner across all of your media.

6. TAKE CARE OF EMPLOYEES

Everyone in your organization is a marketer. Everyone is an ambassador of your brand. To your customers your employees are the face of the company. Make sure your people know you value them and consider empowering them to make the decisions that matter most to customers.

7. IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE

Can your customer service experience be improved with a few tweaks or an easy policy change? Make it as seamless and enjoyable as you can, because happy customers are loyal customers and you always need those.

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8. LET CUSTOMERS KNOW YOU APPRECIATE THEM

When was the last time you said thank you to a customer? Customers who feel appreciated are going to give the love right back in the form of loyalty. Send them an email, make a call, interact with them any way you see fit. Just let them know they are important.

9. FOLLOW UP AFTER A FIRST PURCHASE

It’s important to let new customers know you appreciate them, too. Because they’re new you have a unique opportunity to ask them how they discovered you, what they thought of the sales or set-up process, and how you can help them further while it’s fresh in their mind. And make sure they know you’re glad to have them aboard.

10. GIVE AWAY WHAT YOU KNOW

You probably have enough blog posts, white papers and collateral lying around to create an ebook to give to customers and prospects. Make it relevant and valuable, like a How-To guide or analysis of your market, to encourage the next step: buying.

11. GET ON TV

According to Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling The 4-Hour Work Week, it’s easier than it sounds. He explains his strategy for getting on TV:

“Find statistics that indicate a new trend, tie yourself into the trend, add experts, case studies, PhDs, and other guests to help fill 30 entertaining and credible minutes about this topic. Give it a good headline and pitch it to producers at the top shows. It’s a simple concept and it works.”

12. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern business management said “What’s measured improves“. Google Analytics is free and includes enterprise level tools and resources to help you learn how to make sense of the numbers and improve traffic to your site.

13. GO BACK TO OLD CUSTOMERS

It’s easier to keep an existing customer than win a new one. Reactivating inactive customers is almost as good. Give them a call, tell them you value them and ask what it will take to get them back. You might be surprised. If they say no, consider it a learning opportunity and wish them the best.

14. PUT A GREAT REVIEW FRONT AND CENTER

Get customers to speak about your awesomeness for you. Studies show that social proof–the tendency to look to others for ques on how to behave–plays a critical role in how others evaluate you. If one person says your product is great others will think it must be. That's why Amazon and other online retailers prominently show reviews.

15. REPURPOSE CONTENT

This post was written in 2009. Surprise! I updated the ideas and edited it for length. What have you created that can be freshened up to help you reach customers?

Keith Monaghan