Some ways to promote a business for free include using social media, networking and asking for referrals, hosting special events, sponsoring local events, and using email marketing. Many communities have free or low-cost advertising options on local websites and blogs. Local stores sometimes allow businesses to post flyers on bulletin boards.
Social media is an inexpensive marketing tool simple enough for any business owner to use. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are popular social networking sites that let business owners increase brand awareness. Successful online marketing using social media involves engaging current and potential customers by being responsive and providing interesting and useful information without bombarding them.
The in-person equivalent of social media marketing is connecting with other business owners and customers in the local community for networking purposes. Joining or starting a business owners group lets members share ideas and cross promote. A wedding photographer and a wedding planner might provide referrals to their own clients, or a freelance writer might refer clients to another freelance writer if she doesn't have room to take on another client.
Keeping customers satisfied is a way to turn them into free, walking advertisements. Customers are likely to share their experiences whether positive or negative. Focusing on existing clients and encouraging them to spread the word provides the business more exposure for free.
Special events or sponsorships help get a business recognized locally. A special sale or open house event draws in extra customers. Sponsoring a local team or volunteering at a local event puts the business's name in front of people in the community.