There are a lot of places you can advertise your website on the internet and not all of them are created equal. We've wrote previously about various free online advertising opportunities, so today I'd like to talk about other free advertising ideas that you can use to promote your business or website.
Have you ever noticed that so many popular brands sell t-shirts and other apparel with their branding on it? Think about Budweiser, Duck Dynasty, Disney, etc. They all are quite successful and they all are putting their logos on t-shirts and getting people to pay for them. Not only do they get people to go around wearing a billboard on their shirt, they get people to pay them money for the opportunity to walk around and advertise their brand.
So, how can you make t-shirt advertising work for your business? Well, instead of worrying about how to get into large retail chain stores with your shirts, let's look at an example that is smaller and more approachable.
I give blood at the Nebraska Community Blood Bank many times a year. Depending on how many times you give blood each year, you get a t-shirt. I think the first time you donate you get a shirt, then if you donate four times in a year you get a shirt. Also, over time you accumulate points for each time you give blood. You can redeem those points for other branded apparel like shirts, a gym bag, fleece sweater, etc. It's a nice incentive to keep doing something I already like to do.
More importantly, I wear the t-shirts all the time. I think I have something like four or five of them now and I wear them once or twice a week. There are probably thousands of people in Lincoln, NE with those shirts and I'm sure they get worn often. So, I don't know how much extra exposure they get from it, but it's not insignificant.
If you want to get into t-shirt advertising, start small. I would start by giving them away to your paying customers as a nice bonus or thank you for being a customer. Make sure the design is something people want to wear. That is the #1 most important thing. If people won't wear it, there is no point in making the shirt. Also, know your customers. Maybe they don't wear t-shirts, maybe they wear something else. Find what they want and give it to them.
Don't start by selling your shirt, and don't start by getting 10,000 printed. Start in small batches and see how people respond. Do they like the shirt? Do they wear the shirt? Maybe you aren't going to be able to sell your shirts, but they become some nice value add when people purchase from you. You could also use them to reward your best customers.
Co-Marketing or Joint Ventures With Partners
One of the most powerful ways that business advertise is through their business partners. It is incredibly common and you've experienced it without even realizing it. The way it works is if you are in business with another company, you can often use that business relationship to get in front of their customers. This happens all the time and it is not that difficult to do.
Bars are always covered in ads
For example, have you ever been to a bar or a chain restaurant? I bet you saw lots of ads for beer or soda. Most bars are covered with glowing ads for Budweiser, Bud Light, Sam Adams, Dos Equis, etc. Almost every restaurant has ads in their menu for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc. Pop dispensers not only dispense your beverage, but they often have a big Coca-Cola or Pepsi logo on them. That is one more way they build brand awareness.
Another example you may have experienced is when one group is hosting a webinar. The webinar is designed to educate about some topic, while at the end pitching some product. Often, you will see this done not just a business' own products. They will bring their partners in to educate the audience, then pitch their product.
A lot of email marketing happens this way as well. It is how businesses do a "big launch". Usually that means making a bunch of joint venture or co-marketing deals with other businesses who have a large audience or customer base. This is done in advance of the launch. Then, in the lead up to launch you get in front of your partners' customers and pitch them. All of a sudden your product seems like a bigger deal because "everybody is talking about it" and the sales pour in. The same basic idea is used to promote big budget movies and video games.
If you don't have access to larger businesses to partner with, you can always do something simpler. Try getting your company listed on your suppliers websites or in their preferred partner lists if they have them. If you have a great relationship with a business you could try and get some kind of preferred vendor status in their marketing materials.
Give Great Testimonials and Guest Blog
Great testimonials help sell product. That is a fact. So, if you want your business to get noticed, give great testimonials for the products that you use. Contact the companies directly and give them a glowing review. Tell them they can use your testimonial and you'll send a great picture over if they want it. Ask if they could include a link to your website or at least mention your business name.
Guest blogging is another way you can advertise your business for free. The way it works is you write an article about how you used a product or service and achieved some outstanding result. Or, you could write about something that is topical to your industry. The article is not about promoting your business, it is about providing useful information for someone else's audience. Then, at the end of the article you can mention your business in the author bio. This is a way to soft sell your business, and it can get you in front of much larger audiences. It will establish you as an expert in your field.
Along the same lines, if you are invited to speak in front of a group, it is yet another opportunity to promote your business by soft selling. You don't need to make your talk about your business. Instead, make it something useful and just mention who you are and what you do. People will take notice.
Other Free Advertising Ideas
There are always other ways to advertise your business for free. You could do bumper stickers instead of t-shirts. You could turn your vehicle into a driving billboard (though that isn't exactly free). By all means get creative and try new ways to advertise your business. Just remember that your time has a cost and not all free advertising is created equal.
Article posted on February 27, 2014
Top image by: lorenjavier