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The 5 Best Ideas for Free Marketing


When I lived in Nashville, I developed a strong ability to find and take advantage of the best free and cheap things to do and get in the city. My best deals included free events at the park, new music and books borrowed from the library, entertaining stories in a free writer’s group, and best of all – free food.

The same frugalness that kept me entertained in Nashville has stuck with me through the years and even shows up sometimes at work. I love the thrill of finding a way to promote a company that has an extremely tight marketing budget. So, I’m sharing five of my favorite free or cheap ways to promote your company.

  1. Use Social Media

  2. Cost: Time
    Using social media is a no-brainer for most companies. The catch is that a lot of companies either don’t know what social media outlet to use or how to use it. Here’s some quick advice on how to take advantage of social media and all of the free marketing and publicity you can get from it:

    1. Get help – If you have no idea where to start, find a workshop to take. There are all kinds of social media workshops offered in the area (many are free!). These types of classes will give you a basic overview of popular social media outlets, help you get an account setup, and give you some general direction as to how to use it.
    2. Read up on it – The wonderful thing about the Internet is all of the free resources available. Search for articles on social media best practices and case studies. You’ll find plenty of inspiration in just a few searches. In fact, one of my favorites is
    3. Be a watcher – Before you jump in and even after you are going gangbusters on your own campaign, watch what others are doing. See what others in your industry are doing, pay attention to what your customers are saying, and follow companies that are using social media great. By watching others, you’ll get a sense of what to say and do.
    4. Have an imagination – Social media offers a lot of great opportunities to be creative. Do not treat it like a typical marketing campaign, because it wasn’t designed for that. Most social media outlets were designed as a vibrant community that connects people and spreads ideas. Use your imagination to come up with interesting posts, pictures, videos, contests, and more.
  3. Make Your Own Videos

  4. Cost: Investment in equipment and time
    Amateur video will not replace a high-quality professional video, but there are many cases where lower quality videos work well. If you are in a service-related industry, you can make short videos containing tips on how to do something. Own a restaurant or retail businesses? Check out how The Gent’s Place located in Texas and Kansas is using videos to promote their men’s grooming and lifestyle club:

    This isn’t a free deal initially, but it is a powerful enough tool for me to recommend the financial investment. All you need is a camera (even an iPhone or iPad will do), a computer, and a basic web editor. Keep it simple, short, and interesting. Then upload to YouTube, share on your social media outlets, add it to your website, and spread the word to your customers. If you create a great video that is informative, interesting, or funny enough to be shareable, it will get shared. Here’s another great example of what a simple, but good, YouTube video can do for a small company: (Will It Blend – iPad from Blendtec’s Will it Blend campaign – 15,315,200 views).

  5. Share Your Expertise

  6. Cost: Time
    Sometimes you have to be the one willing to give away some free things. No, I’m not talking about coupons and promotional items, though those have their place in marketing. I’m talking about knowledge. As a business owner, you have a unique perspective about the services you provide, products you sell, and the industry you are in. For business to business type companies, you can contribute articles and blogs to media in your industry, sharing your insight on current and future happenings and trends within your industry.

    You can also give away free advice to your customers, colleagues, and potential customers. For consumer-based businesses, help your customer make decisions about what to wear, eat, watch, etc. by sharing trends and advice. Look at how many websites are shared on Pinterest alone simply because someone loved an idea on it.

    If you have a lot to share, start a blog and offer to be a guest blogger on other’s blogs. Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are great places to share ideas too. Offer free classes. A couple of oldies but goodies are to send out media releases and submit articles to industry publications. There’s a ton of other ways to share your expertise, but hopefully this will give you a place to start.

  7. Get Involved in the Community

  8. Cost: Time
    Being involved in the community is more than a “feel-good” deed. While it is wonderful to give your time to the great non-profits in the area for nothing in return, it is also nice when you get a little something back for yourself. Being active in community groups can help you connect with potential customers, strengthen relationships with existing customers, and gain visibility for your company. It is a free thing that helps the community and your business.

  9. Swap Services

  10. Cost: Depends on Service
    Not that long ago, people swapped things instead of money. Needed to pay the doctor? You gave him a dozen fresh eggs and a jar of jam. That concept of bartering often works well for small businesses too. If you offer a service or have a product that another company needs and you need something they can offer, see if they will do a swap. You may get things for free or at a good discount and vice versa for them. Sometimes you have to be willing to be flexible and creative in your swap and sometimes you’ll have to give a little more to get what you really want. In the end, both you and your barter partner win.

    I hope all of this free advice (see #3 above) inspires you to create your own free and cheap marketing ideas. If you come up with a good one, share it with us on our Facebook page ( Who knows, it could lead to a little more free promotion for you.

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