Just because your marketing budget is down to zero doesn’t mean you have to stop promoting your business. Marketing is an investment – the more you put in the more you (should) get out – and money is not the only thing you can invest.
Here are 8 ideas that will cost you almost nothing in terms of cash. You will need to invest your time so think hard about which will be the most profitable. But bookmark this list and return to it whenever you find yourself with a few spare hours.
1. Get Networking
Get to know all the other wedding vendors in your area. Take a stack of business cards and flyers and get out there. Share ideas, look for opportunities for referrals and joint ventures.
2. Set up a customer referral scheme
Word of mouth recommendations are so valuable. Think of ways you can encourage your existing customers to recommend you to their friends and family (apart from your excellent service, of course). Think discounts (5% off when you spend more than x), free gifts, free upgrades. Use your computer to print up a flyer, postcard or giftcard and give one (or more!) to every customer to hand out to their friends.
3. Free internet directory listings
Go through all the wedding planning sites and look for those with free directory listings. Many will give a basic listing for nothing although you may need to link back to their site from your website.
4. Wedding Forums
While you are on those planning sites, check out their forums. Brides-to-be love to chat and share their wedding planning ideas. Generating business through forum posting is a strategy that some people use very successfully. You must check the forum rules before you start – most will not allow businesses to “sell” but some will allow you to answer a specific question (e.g. “what flowers are in season in November”).
5. Social Media Marketing
It’s the latest buzz and it’s well worth taking a look at whether it might work for you. Set up a Facebook page, start a blog, start twittering – some or all of these could help your business. It’s only worth starting if you are going to carry it through, so make sure you are prepared to put in the effort in the long term – even in the middle of a busy wedding season.
6. Writing Articles
With lots of wedding websites around, many are eager for content that will attract visitors. Offer to put together an interesting, informative article on a particular subject in return for a link to your website.
Public relations is not just for the big corporates and the high profile media – local newspapers, radio stations, websites and magazines are always eager for good stories, pictures etc. You do need something interesting to say – “X Wedding Company launches new product” won’t get you very far. But if you can build good relationships with a few key publications, it can be worth thousands of pounds/dollars/euros in free advertising. We will be writing more on PR soon.
8. Classified Adverts on-line
If you are based in United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa check out Gumtree or similar classified advertising websites. These are growing in popularity and are particularly suitable if you are targetting the budget end of the weddings market.