Advertising on-line for Free
One way that people look for products is to search for an item on the Internet. Getting your own website could be costly if you are not clear on what you want; it also needs to be maintained to be meaningful, so you have to keep the information on there up to date. A method of getting your name on the Internet without having your own website is to add information about your business to an existing Internet business directory. Some examples for the forestry sector are:
This is a directory that started in Kent and East Sussex and is spreading across the region. Advertising is free for classified adverts – (as at December 2008), adverts are entered both in the hardcopy directory and on the Woodlots website. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
This directory is managed by the Greenwood Centre (now part of the Small Woods Association). It is free of charge and allows coppice workers to add contact and product information. The search facility allows you to search by product or by coppice craftsman. Although sponsored by Hampshire county Council, it contains details of businesses across Britain.
Google Maps: www.google.co.uk/services
Google Maps allows people to search for a business by postcode, place name or the area of the map displayed. Markers are shown on the map, which when clicked, give details of the business at that location. It is free to add your information to this directory.
From the main Google search page, click on the words Business Solutions or enter the web address above. This will display the Google Local Business Centre page. You will then be asked to log in with your Google account or to register to get one. Once you have logged in select the ‘Add new business’ icon.
Your business will then be shown in any relevant searches on Google Maps. It has the advantage that people can see how close your business is to them and they can obtain directions and contact information from your advert.
This directory is a commercial venture dedicated to the forestry sector and covers Britain. It is free to advertise your business name, address, telephone numbers and email address. There is a 6 monthly fee of £50 if you wish to add more information and a website address. An advert can be added through the click-forestry website.
This is a community classified site which carries adverts for items including logs and hurdles. This may be a site that is known to the more urban dweller which could therefore be a way into a potentially large market. Advertising is free. The adverts are associated with particular towns.
Marketing is defined as the business of selling goods. It is a skill of its own that not all producers are comfortable with. Marketing will involve researching your particular product area using standard marketing techniques regardless of your product, therefore look beyond the forestry sector for tips and training in these skills. Money is available under RDPE for small businesses to develop their marketing. The following are some suggestions for marketing on a shoe string:
- Find some business and marketing training to attend – there may be local evening classes. Create an arrangement with a complementary business where the owner has stronger marketing skills and will market your product for you
- Create business cards or small advertising leaflets. Everytime time you make a sale or delivery, give them to your customers for them to pass on to their customers. Hand them out to your friends as well!
- Place a free advert on a website, e.g. Woodlots, Google Maps (see above).
- Identify relevant papers that carry free ads. (Adverts need to have a location and a contact number that will be answered or responded to within a few hours. They should give the impression of a local, friendly service).