Starting a new business or maintaining a current business can be an enormous challenge. It’s a constant struggle balancing expenses with a small, possibly inconsistent income. I have worked with hundreds of new and experienced small business owners who have needed to promote their business with next to no marketing budget. And I’m here to tell you there are plenty of things you can do for free!

Below are 20 ways to achieve great PR for yourself and / or your business with little to no cost. The main thing you need to invest is your time and effort. But as business owners, that’s something I don’t have to tell you.

  1. Ask for referrals

Who better to promote your business for you than your current customers. I’m pretty sure you already know referrals are a great way to gain new business, but when was the last time you actually asked for one directly?

  1. Build local business relationships

Other small business owners know how hard it is and they also know the local community pretty well. Contact other local business owners and set up cross promotions that benefit each of you equally.

  1. Produce great content for use on social media

Social media is here to stay and information is more readily available than ever before. Produce excellent content where people can get the answers from you, they will seek you out and trust you as the expert to buy from.

  1. Start a podcast

Talk about things that you are passionate about, solve people problems, or even interview colleagues or customers to create a conversation about a topic of interest.

  1. Run educational sessions for the community

Offer free educational sessions to your community and show interest in helping others learn about what you do. People will love learning something new from you and it will help establish your expertise.

  1. Offer a free trial of your service

Try before you buy is a common marketing tactic, because it works. Make sure your free trial is a small snippet of high quality. Never forget the value you are offering and never ‘give away the farm’.

  1. Sponsor local organisations

Show your support for local organisations such as schools, kinders, sports clubs and churches. Being community minded helps build your brand and demonstrates you have a social conscience.

  1. Pitch your local community radio station

Have a great story to tell and remember to keep the tone helpful and informative, not salesy.

  1. Write for a blog or emagazine

Comment on a current topic and share your ideas of how you can make improvements (stay in touch with what’s trending with an app like Google Alerts).

  1. Tell your story to a local newspaper

Local newspapers are usually very community minded so ensure you have something newsworthy to share.

  1. Raise money for a charity

A fundraising event generates a huge amount of positive buzz and as a side note, it’s something that local media outlets will be interested in getting behind too.

  1. Work with the local scout group, guides group or cheerleading team

The cheer leading team could practice their new routine out the front of your business. The scouts and guides could deliver flyers for you., or wave signs on the road side.

  1. Talk to your people

Go where your people are. Leave the sales pitch at the office but simply talk to people, be a good person, help a stranger, ask people how their lives could be better, ask them how you can help them.

  1. Pay for someone’s coffee

Pay for someone’s coffee and then leave a business card with the cashier to pass onto the lucky customer after you’ve left.  It’s sure to get people talking!

  1. Donate old magazines or books to any local business with a waiting area

Donate books or magazines that you’re finished with to other businesses who can use updated reading material.  If possible, leave a cover letter explaining who you are and what you do.

  1. Create a tip sheet

Create a one page sheet filled with helpful tips from you, the expert in your field.  People love free tips and will associate your expertise with helping them with their need.

  1. Write good reviews for other local businesses

Help out fellow local business owners by being a good customer and then leaving them a good review. Potential customers who are researching other local businesses will keep seeing your name appear.

  1. Welcome new people into your area

Research recently sold properties and then send the household a warm, friendly letter welcoming them to the area. Let them know you are there, if and when they have a need in the future.

  1. Start your own business network

Reach out to other local business owners in your suburb or in your industry and build your own network to share ideas, cross promote and help each other.

  1. Interview other successful people in your field

Identify the key influencers in your industry and reach out to them to request an interview.  Be knowledgeable about your guest and be clear about what you’d like to talk about.