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Marketing is vital for independent businesses, but are you getting all you can out of your efforts? If you’re short on budget, time or resources, or you just need some pointers on what to do next, here are five free marketing ideas you can implement today that won’t cost you a penny.

  1. Google My Business
  2. Social business account
  3. Speak to people in your local area
  4. Tell a local newspaper
  5. Email your customers

1 – Google My Business

The days of listing your business in the Yellow Pages are gone; all consumers have to do is go onto Google and type, for example, ‘hair salons near me’, ‘coffee shops near me’ or even ‘convenience shops near me’. Google then displays all the relevant businesses based on the person’s search within their local area. But how can you get your business within those search results? By creating a Google My Business profile, a free tool that helps small businesses promote themselves in their local area.

All you need to do is create a free Google account, then create a free Google My Business profile. Ensure you include essential information like your businesses address, opening times, telephone number, email address and website, if you have one.

Google My Business is also used to obtain Google reviews, which is another free way to promote your business. If you are unsure what to do or would like to know more about how Google My Business works, then take a read of our helpful blog.

2 – Social business account

There is no escaping it, social media plays a big part of everyday life, regardless of whether you have a social media account. A lot of businesses have found success and seen an increase in sales using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. They are free to set up and use, and the only cost to you is time. If you sell a physical product, then Instagram is a great platform to showcase your products, engage with potential customers and encourage new customers to share pictures of them with products (user-generated content).

It’s important to remember you don’t have to be on all social media channels, find where your audience is, or which one you engage with the most would be the best place to start.

Once you have created a social media account for your business, then it’s time to post things about your business, any promotions or discounts you are offering and new products you have for sale – and don’t forget to tell people to like your page.

3 – Speak to people in your local area

When was the last time you took a walk around your local area and spoke to people about your business? You might have a good idea about who your customers are as they visit your establishment to use your service or buy your products, but what about all the people who walk past every day and never enter. Why not invite them in?

Take a stroll around your local area and ask people if they have heard about your business if they have been in before, what they think etc. It is a great insight into what consumers are looking for and what they expect. For example, if many customers buy online and don’t have a website, it might be time to consider setting one up.

4 – Tell a local newspaper

Does your business sponsor a local sports team, raise money for charity or do something unusual to promote itself? If so, why not tell your local paper? Local papers are always looking for news stories and content both for their printed editions and their websites, so make it easy for them. Even the story of your business might be interesting; why you started, the struggles you have faced, your biggest success, and any changes you have seen. Find a unique angle that makes your business interesting to journalists.

5 – Email your customers

Are you collecting email addresses? If so, are you asking for marketing permissions? If someone makes a purchase or uses one of your services, then sending a follow up email to say thank you and asking for feedback is great for extending the overall customer service you provide. However, if you email people to promote your business, you will need to obtain marketing permission from the individual in line with GDPR (data protection regulations.)

Email is a free and easy way to promote your business, keep in touch with customers and gain Google reviews or feedback.

Stronger Business, Stronger Future

These are just five things you can do to promote and market your business for free, but if you are looking for even more ways to tell customers about your business then our newest downloadable guide is for you. The Retail Mutual has launched its “Stronger Business, Stronger Future” campaign to help independent businesses utilise digital marketing to attract more customers and increase on and offline sales.

Even if you do have an online presence, are you making the most of it? What are you doing to encourage customers into your business? Is your business in the best shape it can be?

We have collaborated with Wonderful Creative Agency to create an in-depth marketing promotion guide. The purpose of this guide is to help business owners (like you) get the most out of your digital marketing.


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