Following on our series of startup tips from altspace Coworking Office we are re-visiting marketing. Last week’s blog covered how to get creative to think of a business idea. Leading on from this the topic is early stage exposure to help get your business going.
Any form of promotion can be a costly experience and appear daunting to those starting a company or working for themselves, however there are some effective methods of marketing that are completely FREE.  If you work hard, plan effectively and importantly be consistent you can amplify your launch and hit the ground running when you decide to go it alone.

Network with the local business community – There isn’t any better way to promote yourself than plain, old fashioned networking. By meeting others face to face you can learn of their challenges, refer business and find support.  All of those you meet will have started out at some point and can really help either directly or indirectly. Word of mouth recommendations are a strong pull when we are all looking for a service and this is best achieved by a personal meeting. There will be free local networking groups in your area or maybe some that charge a small fee to cover overheads. Get involved, it will be time well spent and any small costs will be paid back in time.

Build your legend in the social space – Connect with businesses and customers by getting a presence on some of the following networks.  Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram, Tik-Tok and if a visual business Pinterest.  In short you should post interesting content regularly and it needs to be relevant to your target market.  Twitter allows you to produce free business cards that link to your website.  FB can help you gain awareness with likes from your friends from a separate business page. You can also post some great photos on these two to make your offering tangible.  Instagram and Tok Tok are important to reach a younger market and can be aligned with your tweets or FB account.  I would personally reserve Linked In for business blogs and customer recommendations, this site can magnify your profile and give your business much needed credibility.

Blog – Create content that resonates with your community and then post it on the media sites above.  This give you a point of difference and can help you to appear an expert in your field (which of course you are! ). Importantly put this on your website too and include some keywords.  For example, if you are a local sports shop reference your town, the sports you specialise in, services etc in the first paragraph on your site.  Collectively new content and the inclusion of keywords will help Uncle Google give you a more favourable listing when customers use the search engine.

PR – This is critical and can be really elusive.  Contact local press and influencers about your business with a press release, some great photos and significantly a good angle for a story.  Have you raised a lot of money for local charities? Are you driven to give a social benefit to the community?  Do you offer something completely new to the town?  Think like a reporter and try to establish what they would like to write about to gain readers.  If this does work you can get some lovely column inches for your startup.