A common misconception with wellness center directors is that have to spend lots of money on advertising to grow their businesses. If you're willing to either put time into promoting your business, or hire someone to do it for you, you can generate online publicity that can be more effective than paid advertising.
Here are 30 ways you can create online publicity at little or no cost.
- Build a social media presence.
Building a presence for your business on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ creates ongoing opportunities for publicity. Make frequent, relevant and interesting posts.
- Ask to be featured in a local blog.
Here's the thing -- if you want our center to be talked about, you need social proof that your wellness center is worth being talked about. After building your strong social media presence, then ask bloggers to be featured. Content producers need content; they will appreciate a good story that's relevant to their readers.
- Start a Facebook group.
An active Facebook group that is relevant to your niche can generate lots of publicity.
- Make use of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a wonderful site for online business networking and making contact with members of the press.
- Maintain a blog.
A good business blog is a great for publicity. Keep it updated with relevant and engaging posts -- in fact, if you have to only focus on one online activity, focus on your blog.
- Post linkworthy content on your blog.
Called "linkbait," in the search engine optimization (SEO) world, "Top 5" or "Top 10" lists tend to attract links to them. Even better, see if you can compile a list of 50 or even 100 resources in your niche. It takes more work, but the world will take notice. Other linkbait ideas include infographics, product reviews and self-care tutorials.
- Comment on other blogs.
Find other blogs that focus on your local community, niche and from businesses you would like to form a referral relationship. Keep your comments on-topic and useful, and only include a link to your site in the URL field. As long as you’re adding to the conversation and not blatantly promoting your business, this is a quick and easy way to gain exposure and build relationships with other businesses.
- Write guest posts for other blogs.
Again, content producers are always looking for more content. Many bloggers welcome guest authors as long as they have something worthwhile to say. Instead of shamelessly plugging your business, write a post that their readers will be interested in and save the promotion for your byline.
- Invite other bloggers to write guest posts for your blog.
They will pass the link on to their readers, giving your blog greater exposure.
- Post interviews with fellow online business owners on your blog or website.
Again, they will let their customers know where to find the interview, giving you traffic and publicity.
- Become a columnist for a niche blog.
This is a bit different from guest blogging. Instead of being a one-time or even a monthly guest blogger, as a columnist, you'll be expected to write more often. Be sure you have the time and/or the blogging support to keep this commitment.
- Give away something free.
Freebies are great for generating publicity, building your mailing lists and increasing brand awareness. Choose something that won't cost you a lot of time or money, like a free report or self-care videos. You will spend time (and possibly money) in creating your freebie once; then you'll be free to give away to everyone who visits your web site.
- Give something away in a drawing.
A different take on the freebie-option, host a giveaway on your site or donate something for someone else to give away, it's sure to attract attention.
- Have a contest.
Make them work for the prize! 🙂 Whether you have an essay contest, a design contest or a name our new class contest, you'll get people actively involved and generate lots of interest.
- Have a sale -- and ask for reviews.
The bigger the savings, the more publicity you can expect. Consider using a service like Groupon or LivingSocial. Be prepared to attract more discount-seekers versus loyal clients. Be creative on how to use the publicity to your advantage. Offer the most outstanding customer service. Treat them like royalty. And ask for their honest reviews on Yelp and Google+. Even if they don't become loyal customers, their reviews will increase your online visibility and credibility.
- Exchange promos with other local businesses
Ask other local business owners if they would be interested in offering their customers an exclusive discount from your business if you do the same for them. This will result in good publicity for both parties.
- Do a webcast.
Not everyone will make the effort to attend something in person. Offering a webcast for a product demonstration, a question and answer session, or even an interactive workshop makes it easier for people to "test drive" your services. These types of events are sure to generate buzz -- especially when no one else in your industry or area is doing it. Be the first and stand out from the pack! Google+ Hangouts is a free tool you can try on your own for webcasting. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact me for a referral to a service that will webcast your first two hours for free.
- Put press releases on your website.
A carefully crafted press release is one of the most basic yet powerful publicity tools. Simply adding press releases to your website will attract traffic, and they could be picked up by media outlets.
- Submit press releases directly to media outlets.
This is what business owners did before the internet existed, and it's still effective. Simply find online publications that might be interested in your release, search for the appropriate contact, and email it to him or her.
- Submit press releases to press release distribution sites.
Sites such as PR Web will distribute your release to major news sites and search engines, greatly increasing the chances that it will be picked up.
- Donate money to a worthy cause.
Charitable organizations are usually happy to share the news when a business makes a donation. A donation is also a good topic for a press release of your own. Promote the organization on your blog and social media.
- Donate goods or services.
A good alternative to a monetary donation is a donation of supplies or services. Write a press release and a blog post about your experience.
If you’re not in a position to donate money or goods, donate your time instead. Offer to take photos at their event and share it with your online communities.
- Create a scholarship.
Scholarships are excellent for generating publicity and goodwill. They don’t have to be expensive – every little bit helps when it comes to paying for college. Have applicants apply on your web site and social media sites.
- Make a video.
YouTube is more than just a site for watching funny cat videos. It's also a powerful promotional tool. A fun or informative video about your business could easily go viral.
- Start a podcast.
You don't have to have a lot to talk about to do a podcast. Some of the best ones are short and sweet. As long as you have something interesting to say, podcasting is a great way to reach internet users who prefer their content in audio form.
- Participate in online forums.
Find forums that are relevant to your niche and start posting. You don’t have to actively promote your site, just be interesting and helpful and add a link to your signature.
- Start a forum of your own.
Maintaining a forum can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field and attract traffic to your site.
- Answer questions.
Sites such as Yahoo Answers provide opportunities for you to share your expertise. Include a link to your site in your user profile, and link to pages on your site in your answers when appropriate.
- Use HARO.
Sign up at HelpAReporter.com to receive notice of queries from members of the media who are seeking sources. Respond to relevant queries, and you and your business could be featured in the story.
- Pitch a story.
Don't wait for reporters to come knocking or make a relevant query. You can think up a great story idea that ties into your business and go to them with it instead. If your first media contact is not interested, keep looking until you find one who is.
Gget the word out about your business even if you don't have a huge advertising budget. Take one hour a day to work on generating publicity, or work with someone who can handle the technical and admin tasks for you, you can keep customers coming in without spending thousands on advertising.
What would you add to the mix? What online strategies worked in attracting clients to your center? I'd love to hear your comments below.