I know they say you have to spend money to make money but if your finances are stretched at the moment, there are still some highly effective ways to market your training business for free. Why not give these free marketing ideas a try?
1. Read about marketing
The internet is packed full of articles about how to market your business. Even if you’re rolling in cash, you’ll still need to read as much as you can about marketing so that you can keep coming up with fresh and effective ways to tell your target audience about your business.
For deeper insights, there are some fantastic marketing books out there, from tried and tested classics to new releases. These titles all come highly recommended from within my network:
- #AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Youtility by Jay Baer
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- Purple Cow by Seth Godin
- The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Even if you can’t afford to splash out on new books, your local library should be able to obtain copies for you.
2. Identify your target audience
I believe that identifying your target audience is the single most important thing you can do to make your marketing more effective and to give you a better return on any financial investment you make.
Once you know who you want to work with, it’s much easier to create marketing that speaks directly to them rather than talking to anyone, everyone and – ultimately – no one in particular.
If, for example, you work within a niche, you can then begin to write blogs that talk specifically about issues your clients may be facing within that niche. Your target audience will feel as though you are talking to them personally, and seek you out because of that connection.
3. Focus on referrals
Last year, I wrote a blog article about how to win more training contracts through referrals. Prospective clients love to receive word of mouth recommendations about training providers because it means that the provider already comes with a vote of confidence from a trusted source and saves the prospective client the time and energy needed to source an unknown provider. Why not try these free steps today to attract new referrals?
- Reach out to your current clients and ask if there is anyone in their network who they feel could use your training services
- Add ‘Referrals welcome’ to the bottom of your email signature
- Create a short document outlining who you are, your skills and experience, and give this to existing clients
- Update your LinkedIn profile to tell people exactly what you do – this will help them know what to say when they tell other people about you
- Email your mailing list and ask for referrals
- Ask your existing clients for their recommendations on LinkedIn or to leave a review on your Facebook business page
- Make referrals and connections between other businesses
4. Send out an e-newsletter
If you have a mailing list, you might want to think about sending out a regular e-newsletter. Even one e-newsletter per month or quarter will remind your mailing list about your presence in the marketplace.
The great news is that you can design and send e-newsletters free of charge through email marketing service providers such as MailChimp or Mad Mimi if you have fewer than 2,000 people on your mailing list.
5. Review your website
Is your website attracting visitors? If so, how long are visitors staying on the site? How many pages are they reading? Are they picking up the phone or sending an email to enquire about your services once they have visited your website?
You can log on to Google Analytics to find out the answer to these questions, as well as where your web traffic is coming from and how people are using your site.
As well as looking at the data at your disposal, regularly review the content of your website.
- Is your message clear?
- Is there a call to action on each page?
- Are you talking to ‘you’, the potential client, rather than about ‘we’ or ‘I’?
- Is the site easy to navigate?
- Is your website mobile friendly?
Small tweaks to your content can make a big difference to the number of web visitors who turn into clients.
6. Update your SEO
A good starting point is to look at your meta description for each page – this is the text you see under the heading links on a Google search (see the example below).
Your meta descriptions should ideally contain less than 156 characters (including spaces) and be written in a way that entices people to click through to your website. Your meta descriptions may be the first thing anyone ever reads about your business, so it’s important to make what you do clear and inviting.
By regularly reviewing your SEO, you can help to keep your website higher up in Google’s organic rankings, increasing the visibility of your business without spending a penny on advertising.
7. Network online
Although there’s a fee to attend most face-to-face networking groups, there are plenty of free online networking opportunities available. Search LinkedIn and Facebook for relevant pages and groups, and dedicate just 10 minutes a day to commenting on other people’s posts and being active within the groups. By becoming a familiar presence in online networking groups, you should find that you attract referrals or are well placed to respond to opportunities.
8. Post to Facebook
Social media can be an incredible tool for marketing a training business. Before you go online though, it’s important to know what you want to post, when and why. Without a plan, it’s all too easy to get sucked into hours of aimless browsing. I find it helpful to plan my posts and then post them in batches, using the scheduling tool to make it appear that I’m active and online a lot more than I really am.
Just remember to keep an eye on your notifications so that you can respond quickly to comments and messages.
9. Do a live video
Videos are a brilliant way to connect with your customers. You can hop on a live video – using Facebook Live, for example – at any time and share tips, insights or thoughts about topics that matter to your audience. As a trainer, this lets you preview how you communicate and what it might be like to be in one of your training sessions. You can find out more about live video marketing here, and I’ve even got tips for when you’re feeling camera shy.
10. Write a guest blog
Do you have a contact in your network who shares a similar target audience to you? Perhaps someone who’s not a trainer but who works with companies in your niche? If so, you might consider approaching them to ask if they would be happy for you to write a guest blog to feature on their website. If you can offer valuable and relevant content, both you and the blog’s host will have an incentive to share the article with your audiences.
If a high authority website features a guest blog it can also serve as a vote of confidence in the writer, both in the eyes of the reader and of the search engines.
Bonus suggestions for free marketing ideas:
Other free marketing ideas that can work brilliantly include:
- Recording some videos about your services and posting them to social media
- Creating a YouTube channel
- Taking pictures of your day and featuring them as an Instagram story
- Emailing your existing clients with an exclusive offer
- Writing some blogs for your website
- Writing an article for LinkedIn
- Adding your contact details to high-quality online directories
- Hosting a free webinar or Facebook Live event
If you’re struggling with how to market your training business, you’ll love the resources available through The Trainers Training Company. You can find them all here. There are plenty more free marketing ideas and tips to find clients.