The following article was contributed by Carol Wood, People Operations Director at Homebase.
Getting more customers in the door is the goal of every business owner, but it can get expensive. Today we’re going to review some free marketing tips for your business so you can see a bump in foot traffic without having to shell out any cash at all.
1. Social media marketing
Building an organic following on social media is certainly a time consuming endeavor, but it can pay off in the long run. There are a wide range of things you could post, but some of the most effective are posts about your products, customers, and team. Thinking of innovative ways to showcase your products will show customers why they need to come in sooner rather than later. Each time you have a new item in stock or added to your menu, you could introduce it on your social media accounts, from Instagram to Snapchat.
Featuring your loyal customers could also be a nice touch, whether that’s a picture of friends gathered for dinner around one of your tables or a repost of them rocking one of your new shirts (with permission of course!). User generated content creates authenticity and is a great way to supplement the posts you and your staff think up each week. Try out different posting times and hashtags to find the optimal time and cadence. Lastly, you could try a contest to gain more followers and foot traffic, asking participants to follow you and share a certain image with specific hashtags to be entered to win something free at one of your locations.
2. Create strong relationships with your neighbors
If your business is one of many in the area, there’s a good chance that the neighboring businesses could do a bit of your marketing for you, making this one of the best free marketing tips that will save you time. Make sure you’re known in your area as the expert in your niche. If your neighbors know exactly what you sell and maybe even stop by to buy something or chat every once in awhile, they’ll be much more likely to suggest your business when someone is looking for something in your realm of expertise. You chose your storefront locations for a reason, so it’s time to leverage those communities and build relationships that will take your business to the next level with word of mouth marketing.
3. Revamp your website
You already have a website, so updating the copy and images could be a great free way to market your business. Set a recurring task each month to rethink the images you feature in case you might have new products you’d like to feature. Each page on your website should keep a keyword in mind and mention it a few times in that page’s copy, as well as the meta title and description. Search engine optimization could have it’s own article on our blog, but the core of this free marketing tip is to keep your content, layout, and images fresh to put your best foot forward when potential customers happen upon your site.
4. Start a blog and a newsletter
Just as you share new products on your social media sites, you could also offer longer form spotlights on your blog that highlight customer stories, company announcements, thoughts on your industry, and upcoming sales. This free marketing tip goes along nicely with an updated website when you have fitting keywords picked out for each blog post to optimize for search engines and make sure you are using lots of appealing images. These blog posts can be the cornerstone of your monthly newsletters, offering announcements that your customers would find interesting. You can build up your email list with a pen and paper near your cash register or, if you use a digital rewards program, you can collect them automatically. Either way, staying in touch with your customers, offering promotions and news that are relevant to them will keep them coming back.
5. Offer a great employee experience
When your employees are happy, customers will notice. Your employees will be more helpful and cheerful when your business is meeting their needs in terms of providing a positive work environment, fair shift scheduling, and addressing their questions and concerns. Boosting employee retention will lower your costs, not to mention keep your business staffed with deeply knowledgeable team members. And on top of all of that, your employees will encourage their friends to apply and give you business as well.
Carol is People Operations Director at Homebase. With free online tools and mobile apps for managers and employees, Homebase eliminates the paperwork and headaches of scheduling, payroll, and team communication for local business.
At Homebase, Carol focuses on providing thought leadership, tips and tricks, and scalable HR solutions for the 50,000 businesses that Homebase serves. Prior to Homebase, Carol focused on helping small and medium businesses navigate the tricky waters of human resources, working with companies across the retail, food service, oil and gas, and healthcare industries through her roles as HR Director at Fuddruckers and Achilles Group, a Houston Based HR consulting firm. In her free time, Carol enjoys spending time with her son Dayton, and watching Alabama football (RTR).[image: Retail experience, Santa Monica by La Citta Vita on flickr]
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