2015 is looking like it will be a great year for many small businesses, much of this due to the number of consumers searching for the latest and greatest in innovation, service and products. This means that right now is the perfect time to begin taking a look at how your company is going to capitalize on growing interests in niche brands, while positioning yourself as a leader through your marketing and promotional campaigns. Below are 15 methods, most of them absolutely free, you can use to jumpstart your small business in the New Year.
1. The Press Release
Believe it or not, press releases are still useful in generating buzz around your business, and can be a cost-effective way of informing consumers and other businesses on what makes your company stand out in its field. There are also a couple of sites that offer free trials for those just starting out, particularly 24-7 Press Release  and PRLog .
2. Community Outreach
Sponsoring a little league football or baseball team, volunteering at charity events, or openly contributing to a non-profit not only shows you’re a business who’s engaged locally, it adds to your overall value as an organization.
Spend some time getting to know others in your area of influence, even if they are competitors. Some of the greatest ways to build trust in a brand, or collaborate with other charitable business owners, is to put yourself in a position to shake hands with those outside of your company’s front doors.
4. Coupons & Giveaways
There are fewer ways to generate interest from consumers who are still on the fence about purchasing your products or service than offering considerable discounts or giveaways on your website and social media pages. This one’s a sure winner.
5. Build a Blog
You’re likely an authority on the items and services you sell, so share your expertise with the public by writing a weekly blog post detailing the finer points of your small business. You can even expand your reach by writing on subjects you’re passionate about but don’t directly relate to your company.
6. Get Social
Social media is not only a way of marketing your small business for free, it’s also a way to engage with existing customers while building relationships with new ones. If you’re not already on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, you should start building your profiles today. If you already have a social media presence, make sure you’re actively connecting with fans and followers on a regular basis.
The art of e-mail campaigns can be difficult, but they’re a tried and true method of inviting a previous customer back to your site or business. Additionally, e-mail lists for various industries are also available, providing companies like yours with a directory of consumers who have purchased products or services similar to those you offer in the past.
8. Set Up Your Local Listing
Search engines provide local listings based on the keywords searched for by internet users, making it imperative to set up your free listing in their directory. Visit sites like Google , Bing , and Yahoo ! and input a link to your site along with a description of what you offer.
9. Printed Marketing Collateral
Make certain your sales team, both internal and external, has a wide range of brochures, product data sheets, business cards, company fact sheets, and press kits prepared to sell your brand. Then make sure they know how to utilize them effectively.
10. Meet with Other Owners
Adjust your schedule so you can regularly attend groups that include the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and civic associations in your community. Engage local leaders and business owners, and always be prepared to hand out business cards while you’re there.
11. Constant Contact
Never let a customer make a transaction without finding some way of attracting them back for repeat business. This can include getting their e-mail address, business or home address, or phone number. Just remember, a little goes a long way, so while you want to obtain a repeat customer, you don’t want to scare them off with an overly intense marketing plan.
12. Brand Everything
Business cards and marketing collateral makes perfect sense, but so does putting your company logo and messaging on pens, t-shirts, letterheads, mugs, and other items that are not only useful to those receiving them, but consistently keep you in their line of sight.
We already discussed contributing monetarily to non-profits and charity events, but you can also offer free products and services to organizations that need what your small business has to offer. Show your community what it is you do.
14. Public Speaking
Seek out opportunities to share your knowledge with both students and entrepreneurs like yourself. There are a number of organizations looking for subject-matter experts covering topics you are knowledgeable in. Not only can you help educate others, it also positions you as a credible expert in your field.
15. Optimize Your Website
See to it that your website is properly set up to target the demographics you cater to. Go over your company’s messaging, calls to action , usability (user experience ), and even the technical portions of your site, such as SEO , title tags , and overall content.
With these 15 tips, you should be well on your way to becoming a promotional juggernaut in the coming year, spurring growth as both a small business owner and organization.