Free Marketing Ideas to
Grow Your Business

Free Marketing Ideas from expert Dave Smith

Marketing your business is a vital part of actually having a business in the first place, yet so many of us cringe at the thought of having to sell our products and services.

So, in order to help you understand why getting the word out is so important, I would like to introduce Dave Smith, CEO of

He is here to offer us some great free ideas and tips to help us get business rolling. Do a few of these regularly and you will see your business grow.

Hi Dave,

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today about these free marketing ideas. As you may know, writers don't like the idea of marketing themselves, and we need small business marketing tips.

1) First of all, what is marketing?

A standard definition for marketing is something that doesn't exist. Ask the experts and you'll get a lot of different answers. I actually have two definitions, depending on the context.

1. Anything you do to get or keep a customer.

2. Selling to a specific market segment.

The first definition of marketing is broad and vague, but I use it to help people think about the big picture. The second definition is used when we are talking specifics, like "How will you market your book?"

2) Why is it so important to market your business?

Using my broad definition of marketing, it's all about getting and keeping customers. No customers, no income.

Most people start a business because they know how to do something, and they want to work for themselves. For instance, if you know how to make cookies, you might start a business making cookies. It's only after you start making cookies, you realize that you need to find some people to buy them. Marketing doesn't have to be costly, there are plenty of free marketing ideas you can use. We discuss several of them here.

Every business - and I mean every business - has one goal that is most important to its survival, and that goal is selling its product or service. Some of you may disagree. If you're thinking to yourself that you don't write for the money, then you have a hobby, not a business.

3) What should we focus on when preparing to market our business?

Here's the big picture view.

First, figure out who wants what you are selling. Not who needs it - who wants it. You may think somebody needs what you offer, but you can't sell it to him unless he wants it. Understanding this distinction is critical.

Second, figure out how you will reach these people in a cost-effective manner. By cost-effective, I mean what you spend to get the customer is less than the expected lifetime value of the customer. There are many free marketing ideas you can use.

Expected lifetime value means how much you can expect to make from your customer from all transactions with that customer. If you only sell one product, you expect to have one transaction. If you sell many products or a service, you'll have repeat sales with the customer.

Third - and this should be the easy part for you writers - is to craft a message that gets attention and convinces your prospect to buy from you. Tell them how you can help them. Offer a few free marketing ideas that will be beneficial to them.

4) How do we decide what marketing methods will work best?

Oh, that's a secret! (laughs)

Seriously, the "secret" is that there is no secret. The fastest way to get results is to copy what is already working for someone else.

For instance, let's say you are writing a book. It is a fiction book, and it would be appealing to people who liked "Fried Green Tomatoes". So, how was "Fried Green Tomatoes" marketed?

You may not be able to afford all the same methods used to market "Fried Green Tomatoes", but you can study what was done and learn from it.

The other thing you have to do is track and test. If you advertise in a magazine, or use direct mail, or use pay per click advertising, you can track how much you spent and what your results were. This is a subject too detailed to go into here, but I have to mention it.

5) Is there any formula for putting together a plan to market our business?

There's not a single magic formula that works for every type of business.

As writers, you would use one group of strategies to market your freelance services. You would use a different group of strategies to market products such as books, e-books or a website.

6) How often should we be implementing our plan?

I think there's great value in planning, but the value in planning doesn't come from that finished document that follows a per-defined format.

The plan is out of date almost as soon as it is committed to paper. The value you get from creating a plan is in the planning itself - in having a guide for what actions you should be taking. Action is the key to your success.

If you feel like you are very busy with no results, then take time to review your plans. Maybe it's time to update them.

7) Are there some powerful free marketing ideas and low-cost ways to market a business?

Absolutely! There are quite a few, but which ones you use depends on a few things:

1. Are you selling a product or a service?

2. Is your buyer a business or a consumer?

3. Are you selling only to your local area? Or to anyone in the world by using the Internet?

If you are marketing a service to businesses via the Internet, such as freelance copywriting, your focus is on building awareness and credibility. It's important to get your buyer to come to you.

If I were selling freelance copywriting services, here are some things I would do.

Create a profile on and keep it updated. Ask for introductions to people that are one step removed from your network. Keep letting people know what you do.

If you are brand new, get some paid work right away. Those first assignments can be for very low pay. You need to establish yourself as someone who gets paid to write for others.

Set up an account on and do some work for practically nothing. You'll learn from the experience. If you need help breaking into an area, find a mentor.

For instance, if you want to do direct mail advertising copy, offer your prospective mentor your work for free to learn the ropes. Or spend your own money and do your own direct mail advertising.

Specialize in something. It will help you focus your marketing efforts. Join relevant associations if you think you can get work from doing so.

Set up a website or find a place to have a web presence. If you aren't technologically savvy or just don't want to deal with having your own web site, find a site where you can post your profile information, portfolio, and get contacted through the site. You don't want your prospective clients contacting you at an email address like, do you?

Those are all free marketing ideas that can get you started and help to grow your business.

8) I keep hearing the term on-line marketing. What are the best methods to market on-line and what would be a waste of time?

I think one of the best ways, if you have the patience to learn about web technologies, is to build your own web site using SBI (Solo Build It!). This is the platform that I use for my web site, and it's also what Maria uses for this web site. You know it works because you are reading this page, so you found us.

If you sell e-books or other digital products, one of the best ways to market your products is through affiliates. Other people sell your products for you, and they receive a commission on the sale. The great thing about this type of marketing is that you only pay for results!

Affiliate marketing is a huge topic. I plan to cover it on my site, but don't have any content about it as of this writing.

As for time wasters, it depends on the situation. Social media sites like have the potential to bring you more business, but they can also suck your time away. Finding the balance can be tough. Not all free marketing ideas are beneficial, so spend your time where you will get results.

9) Do you prefer any type of marketing over another?

I prefer marketing that can be cost justified. You have to know what results you are getting from your efforts, especially if you are spending money.

Affiliate marketing is great, because it is risk free. You only pay when you have a sale.

Advertising that can be tracked includes direct mail and pay per click advertising on the Internet. These two methods are great because you can track and test many things, and optimize your advertising for best results.

10) Do you have any advice for those who really have a tough time with marketing?

Don't try to do it all yourself. Look for ways to leverage others to help you. For instance, affiliate marketing lets you pay only when you have a sale.

Beyond affiliate marketing, look for joint venture opportunities with others. I'm always open to joining up with someone to market a product or service, as long as we can agree on the terms of our relationship.

The great thing about this approach is that we both focus our efforts on what we do best. You make a great product, and I handle the marketing. The resulting sales will be bigger than if you did it all by yourself. It's likely that you will make more money by entering a joint venture than by doing it all yourself.

You can also make a list of the free marketing ideas that bring the best results and use those regularly and add other ideas as you can afford them.

11) Can you refer any reference materials that you use to help writer's to market their work?

Yes. I have several books that I highly recommend for writers. They are:

Although these aren't free marketing ideas, they are very low cost and worth the investment.

Thank you, Dave. We appreciate you taking the time to offer all your great advice.

Return from free marketing ideas to writers resources

Return from free marketing ideas to freelance writing success

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