10 Free Marketing Ideas for Businesses in Scotland

Dec 18, 2019

We’ve worked with hundreds of startups over the last few years – although very few are still small enough to be called startups now! A lot of our time during the early days is spent designing practical and effective strategies with very limited budgets.

After two years trying and testing various marketing strategies, we think it’s finally time to spill the beans on some of our favourite tips, techniques and ideas.

So grab a seat because here comes 10 Free Marketing Ideas for Businesses in Scotland.

1. Interact and Engage with Your Suppliers

Tap, tap, tap. Ring. “Hello, it’s Eddie Doyle from Digital Impact. I was wondering if you had a finish your testimonial yet?”

Every couple of months our marketing manager personally works round our clients and asks whether anyone is up for contributing a testimonial.

It’s a hard slog for Eddie. Even though our clients are all exceedingly lovely people, they’ve got businesses to run and that puts huge icon-clad limits on their time. We can’t – and don’t – expect them to drop everything and spend a few hours writing up a review for our website.

Every business we talk to reports similar experiences.

While quality testimonials are a pain to get, they really do set a business apart from its competitors. They provide hugely effective social proof which eases prospective clients down the sales funnel and towards conversion.

What we recommend you do is actively engage with your suppliers, the people who want your feedback. For example, every time we use a new service, we offer them a review or blog post and the response is consistently positive.

And why wouldn’t it be? Our suppliers get a testimonial without lifting a finger and we to piggyback on their exposure. Get on Twitter and try it out for yourself, you’ll be surprised with the results.

2. Ask for Reviews

This summer I went to Dubrovnik for a little rest, relaxation and freshly caught Adriatic tuna. In the shadow of the monstrous 14th century battlements, we ate on some of the best food (and wine) of the region. Interestingly, out of of all the meals I ate at all the restaurants visited, I only left a review for one.

That’s not to say that the other meals weren’t review-worthy. They were. In fact, some were better than the place I reviewed on TripAdvisor. However, the place that got a review was the only place that actually asked me for feedback. At the end of the meal they asked how it was, handed us a card with social media details and politely requested to left our feedback. They seemed to genuinely want our feedback.

While some customers will leave reviews without nudging, most simply won’t. Some might mention your business to a friend, some might stick a status on Facebook but the majority will keep quiet. If you want a nice comment on TripAdvisor, Google Plus or Facebook, you’ve got to work for it.

Have special review cards made and hand them out at the end of projects, email your customers a couple days after they’ve used your service, phone up past customers and remind them their feedback is important or simply invest in leather and get out and see your customers. Social proof costs nothing but means everything so go out and get it.

3. Identify Your Consumers’ Watering Holes

Getting your voice heard above the digital din is the hardest part of digital marketing. You’re in a confined space with thousands of other organisations and everyone is competing for the attention of the same audience.

Yes, you could simply shout louder but that tends to be expensive. The alternative is to target your customers where they aren’t expecting it. Find their watering holes, the places they go to talk about work, where they ask for advice and where they discuss the industry. Then give them your pitch.

If you can identify your customers’ watering holes, you can bypass the noise of your competition and start genuine conversations with your customers. This is far more effective than just adding your voice to the cacophony and you’ll see the proof in your conversions.

4. Share Your Knowledge

Your knowledge, skills and experience are the best marketing tools at your disposal. All you need is somewhere to show them off. Thankfully, there’s quite a few places to do so.

One of the simplest ways we’ve found to market yourself is through guest posting, basically finding an organisation which is willing to let guest authors publish content on their website. Follow the steps in this Kissmetrics blog to find the best guest blog posting opportunities out there, get writing and get your content seen by their audience.

You could also look to established traditional media. Contact your local newspaper, business magazines and industry publications and ask if they take external contributions. This is a great way to demonstrate your skills to an engaged audience and generate a buzz around both you and your business.

5. Do It Yourself SEO

While the basics of SEO are technical, they aren’t particularly difficult. Setting up Google Analytics, giving your images ALT tags, generating robot.txt and sitemap files; it’s all time consuming stuff but it’s all work you can do yourself.

Check out our SEO Guide for Glasgow to get a feel for the type of work you can do at home without any specialist training.

6. Build an Email Marketing Database

While some people are saying email marketing is dead, we know that’s not true. By including data capture points throughout our website, we’ve built a tremendously valuable database of genuinely engaged and interested users.

Take a look below to see the type of data capture points we scatter throughout our site.

The benefits of email marketing are two fold. Firstly, our email subscribers act as an amplification point for content, magnifying our reach and giving us access to networks outside of our own. Secondly, maintaining regular contact helps push prospects through the sales funnel, minimising drop outs and maximising conversions.

Email marketing isn’t particularly expensive either. MailChimp has an incredibly generous free tier which allows you to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 contacts every month. MailChimp’s system is a joy to use and it comes packed full of pre-made templates. Just pop in some content and away you go.

7. Teach the Basics of Your Business

Remember when I told you there’s few better marketing tools than your experience, knowledge and skills? Great. It’s time to exploit that again.

If you know how to do something that others don’t, it’s not just a chance to offer that as a service but a chance to teach others how to do it. Now, it’s not giving away your work for free, rather giving prospective customers a bit taste of what’s to come.

If you’re a personal trainer, you could host a free taster session. If you’re a design studio, you could run art classes. If you’re a laptop repair shop, you could host cleanup workshops.

Glasgow’s resident letterpress workshop invited in interested users to an open day via their social media. They allowed visitors to get hands on with their machines and drummed up huge amounts of interest around their service.

The trick is to give away enough to make your session attractive but not too much to make your service redundant.

8. Unplug and Network

While digital networking strategies are all the rage right now, nothing beats unplugging your brain and meeting other professionals face to face.

We are currently in the process of reviewing the best Scottish networking events so look out for some recommendations in the near future. And in the meantime, contact your local Chamber of Commerce for a list of recommended networking events in your area.

9. Be Seen as a Person

Have you ever noticed that some huge brands have employees sign social media updates? That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Having your marketing team sign Tweets that are sent on behalf of the company?

Well, not really, actually. Companies don’t want to be seen as faceless corporate entities. It’s pretty hard to emotionally connect with a conglomerate, after all. Letting your consumers identify with you as a person allows them to form a substantially stronger and more personal relationship with your brand.

How you do that is up to you. You could copy Virgin Trains and have your staff sign social media updates, you could write a personalised About Us page or you could interview your employees and publish highlights on your blog.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Test New Channels (And Ditch Underperforming Ones)

“Are you active on any social networks?”

“Err, yes. I think we’re on Facebook.”

After hundreds of project meetings, this little conversational snippet is one we’ve come to know well. You see, most people don’t really think they have any choice when it comes to picking social media networks.

Facebook is the biggest network so you have to be on it, right? In a word, nope.
Some networks are great for some businesses and dreadful for others. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to picking your social media channels. Check out our post How to Choose Social Networks for Your Business for a more comprehensive explanation.

Without diving into too much detail, I would suggest you try out as many different networks as possible. Test them all and see which works. If you spend a week talking and no one listens, it might be that it’s just not the right network for you. Keep the good ones and ditch the bad. Your time to too valuable to spend it talking to a room full of people who won’t listen.