Let's be honest, I can't remember the last time I actually bought something after seeing an ad online. Ads just don't work anymore. In fact, if you're anything like me, if you see anything that says "sponsored", you quickly scroll past it. Ads are yucky, and people these days don't want anything to do with it. There is a way, however, you can market yourself online successfully without ever having to pay a dime.
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret...since 2016, I haven't payed a single cent to market myself online. The only money I pay is for my website but I do not pay Google to advertise it. I do not pay to participate in Bridal Shows, or have a membership on a wedding planning website, yet I still keep booking new weddings.
Curious to know how you can do that too? Here are the 5 most foolproof ways to market yourself successfully without ever paying a single dime:
1. Tell stories in your business
Perhaps the most impactful way to sell your product or service is through telling the story of yourself and your clients. I can't tell you how many people have booked me because they know that I can relate to their parent's death, or because they loved the way I presented one of my client's stories through a blog post....or simply because I also have a Great Dane. Stories get people to buy with an emotion behind it, and if there's an emotion behind why they're buying, they'll be more attached to the product or service you sell. Meaning they'll likely have a better experience with you, which will also create referrals.
Actions: send questionnaires to your clients that allow you to get to know them outside of the service they're seeking from you; Introduce yourself on social weekly; ask your past clients for reviews, and share those reviews on social.
2. Send client gifts in the mail
Ok....you are spending money here, but you're NOT spending money on another service that will (hopefully, but maybe not) generate leads for you...Client gifts are one of the best free marketing tools. If a client loves the gift you send them, you're automatically creating a "talk trigger" for your business. I.e. free marketing for you! Clients who are blown away by something you do for them will talk about you. Whether they post about it on their Instagram, or simply in conversation with a friend.
Actions: I understand it can be scary treating your clients, but it's actually not. Even a small gift like a $10 gift card and a hand written note, or a bag of your favorite coffee can go a long way. Build client gifts into the package or product price of what it is you're selling so you will feel more inclined to give!
3. Show up constantly
When you show up constantly on social, you're keeping yourself front of mind for your potential clients. If you only show up once every other week or so, you're allowing the opportunity for someone else to slide in place and show up in front of who you might want to book.
Action: Since it's a LOT of work to show up constantly on social media, here's some things you can do so that it doesn't become too much of a hassle:
- Plan your feed ahead of time. (I will often plan 2 weeks-1 month of content ahead of time)
- Post a personal photo at least once a day in your Instagram stories
- Take 30 minutes every day to just engage with other people in your feed; genuinely comment or like their photos
- have a list of hashtags already on hand in your notes app so you don't waste time every new post coming up with new hashtags
4. Ask your clients for reviews once you've delivered your product or service.
Reviews give you better rapport and guess what? They're FREE! Have you ever bought from a company that didn't have any reviews? I haven't. I want to know that who I'm buying from is legit; that they'll deliver on what they say they will, and won't truly know until I see those reviews.
Action: Every time you finish with a client, send them a quick email asking them if they would be willing to leave you a review. You can even offer an incentive like a $5 gift card, or shout out on social media.
5. Make your client experience A M A Z I N G
Since we're talking about marketing yourself for free, I'm going to end on what I think happens to be the most important point. If you're able to give your clients one of the the BEST experiences, they will rave about you forever. People are more likely to trust their family or friend's recommendation than a random person's recommendation they found on the internet. If you can continue to wow your current clients, I promise you, you will be set for life.
Action: There's a lot you can do when it comes to making your client experience top notch, but here's a few of the most attainable actions I have for you...show them that you're the expert. You want your clients to trust you whole-heartedly. Answer their questions before they even get a chance to ask them. Again, client gifts. Under-promise and over-deliver. If you say you'll have something to them by the end of the week, send it to them on Wednesday instead. Show up (always) with a great attitude!
Do you pay for marketing? Or do you do it all for free? I'd love to hear what has worked and what hasn't worked for you!
Have a question? Email me directly at email@example.com and I'll gladly dedicate a blog post to you!