Business can get expensive. If you are like most people starting an online business you may quickly find your savings tapped and your credit cards maxed. That is, unless you know how to market your online business for free – or nearly free. There are many ways to market your business, but not all methods deliver the same results to every business. While you learn your way around the online business world it makes sense to start with the cheap or free methods of marketing before spending a lot of money on a system that will not work for you. Here are three methods for marketing your business for little or no cost. Some will work better than others and some will take longer to show results. Find out the costs as well as the Pros and Cons of each method. MARKETING METHOD ONE: TRAFFIC EXCHANGES Traffic exchanges are very popular for new online businesses. They can be free or charge a monthly fee. The way they work is that each member views other members websites, usually for a specified period of time, to build credits. Their sites will then be displayed to other members depending on the number of websites they have viewed. PRO: Usually free. Lots of traffic quickly. CON: Traffic is not targeted so usually works better for businesses that appeal to a wide audience. Viewing other members websites is time consuming. MARKETING METHOD TWO: ONLINE FORUMS Forums are online communities that discuss specific topics. There are forums (or discussion groups) on just about any topic you can think of. You can find these by doing a search for ‘forum’ and your topic. Or you can go to Google and search the Groups for your key word or phrase. Forums are usually free to join. Most forums do not allow commercial solicitations. The focus is on exchanging information. Be prepared to add useful comments to the discussion and follow the posted rules. You may be allowed to attach a signature to your comments. Put your website in the signature to attract the search engine spiders and send visitors to your site. Develop a reputation as an expert on your topic and give free advice when possible to build credibility. PRO: Targeted traffic. Builds credibility CON: Have to be careful not to be labeled as “spam”. Must spend time answering questions and posting comments. Depending on where you post and what you say you may or may not see a lot of traffic initially. MARKETING METHOD THREE: NEWSLETTERS Start your own newsletter right away. While this does not bring traffic to your site it does take advantage of the visitors who do come. The code for collecting emails can often be obtained from your host provider for free or an autoresponder service which is free or paid depending on your service. Have a place for visitors to enter their email address and name. Send them a free report or email once a week with tips or news about your topic. This will permit you to build a relationship with prospects as well as grant you permission to contact them again with your offer. It often takes up to seven contacts before a prospect will buy, so don’t let them leave without getting their email! PRO: Permits you to contact interested prospects again. Builds relationship with customers and potential customers. CON: Effort is needed to provide quality information on a regular basis. Does not attract new visitors. Each of the marketing strategies outlined above are proven to work. What works best for you and your business will depend on various factors such as; what your business is, what time you can spend marketing and what information you can provide. Start using two or all three of these methods and you will be creating a solid marketing foundation for your business.

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