Great marketing ideas that don't involve press releases

5 alternatives to free press release distribution

Disclosure: Just so you know, we may sometimes earn a small commission from affiliate links on this site.

If you have been tempted into using an online press release distribution service (free, or otherwise) then I'm here to warn you about the risks.

Search marketers used pr distribution services to quickly spread "news" and articles of dubious quality around the Web. This lead to a huge increase in targeted backlinks that improved organic traffic listings and PageRank in Google.

Essentially, press release distribution services became a great black-hat SEO strategy that worked well - until Google caught on.

Now that Google has introduced algorithms to tackle this type of spam, in particular, the Penguin algorithm, online press release services are more of a hazard than anything else.

So what are the alternatives?

1. Distribute your own press release

There's nothing wrong with creating a press release. Google has a problem when you use a distribution service that spreads it around, creating piles of duplicate content and spammy backlinks.

But, if you really have something newsworthy, then creating a press release and getting in touch with relevant publishers might still pay dividends.

Of course, it is much harder to network and find contacts in the press (which is why companies prefer to use a distribution service), but once you have made those contacts they will continue to provide value for a long time to come.

You might also consider tailoring your press release on a per-publisher basis - to make the content as relevant as possible. Again, making custom press releases is hard work, but it will increase your chances of being picked up by a news service.

2. Build a mailing list

Email marketing is one of the most effective of all online marketing strategies. And, if you can build and grow a decent, opt-in mailing list, you'll never need to worry about press releases.

Learn how to start your own email marketing campaign and share your news and other relevant content with existing clients and customers.

If you can do a good job of offering valuable and engaging content, the people on your list will do a great job of sharing your newsletter articles around the Web - becoming your own army of online marketers.

What's attractive about this particular option is that there are excellent online email marketing services that save costs and make the process of managing and growing your list quick and easy.

3. Create content

Become proactive about building an awesome online resource for potential and existing clients and customers. Create guides and tutorials, video clips and podcasts that help them achieve what they want. The more you create, the more exposure you'll get.

Building up a solid base of high quality content on your blog or company site takes time and effort, and it is important to offer great quality stuff - otherwise no one will be interested.

But, if you can do that, then the content you create will form the basis of a whole host of other marketing activities - not least of which are email and social media marketing.

There are a few handy tips for corporate bloggers over at our top 5 blogging tips for 2014.

4. Network aggressively

Having an awesome website with lots of great content is often not enough to kick-start buzz and drive sales. Instead, you have to get out there face-to-face with the people who can make a difference for you.

Find out how and where to meet up with influencers in your industry - they could be industry experts, bloggers, business leaders, whoever.

Always dedicate time to meeting the right people and nurturing relationships with them. For example, how many journalists do you know personally? None? It's time to get out there and start meeting and greeting.

The truth of the matter is that 'it's not what you know, it's who you know'. So don't be coy about getting in front of people. It's amazing how easy business can be when you have friends in the right places.

5. Advertise creatively

Instead of spending marketing dollars on press releases, use that cash for something out of the ordinary, away from the mundane. Do something that will attract attention.

For example, you could get creative about your business card. Assuming your doing a decent amount of networking, then a really interesting business card might make the difference between being forgotten and getting that call.

What about branding your vehicle? How about finding a sports team that needs a sponsor? Do something unusual to help your local community.

Find a way to make a difference and get people to take notice. The coverage and buzz you end up generating from doing something fun, helpful, or truly great can catapult your business into the limelight.

What other advertising or marketing strategies would you use in place of a press release service? Share your tips and ideas in the comments.

Check out this list of ten great hyperlocal marketing strategies, by Carlo Pandian, that can help to drive local consumers to your site.

3 common affiliate marketing mistakes

Starting an affiliate program to market your business online is a great way to get real growth - but it comes with dangers that you must manage pro-actively from the start.

By definition, affiliate marketing hands a degree of control over to the publishers who market on your behalf.

Because these publishers are incentivized with sales commissions, they may end up using advertising and promotional strategies that your own company might not be comfortable with.

Online lead generation. Pic by Fe Ilya

For sales and marketing people looking to get more leads for their business, the Internet offers great opportunity wrapped up in some interesting challenges.

Customer service is a great marketing opportunity

Any company that outsources their customer service is being silly, and are inviting competitors to swoop in and pilfer their client base.

Customer service is one of the few real opportunities you have to forge a solid relationship with people. Why on earth would you want to hand it over to someone else (who hides you from the people that sustain your business)?

And while handling customer complaints and queries can seem like a chore, it can be converted into one of the most powerful marketing strategies available to you.

Sample press release template. Pic by Matthew Guay

The other day I decided to get some coverage in the news - actually, I wanted to get some exposure for a particularly nice bit of research we'd done - and st

How to increase site traffic an conversions. Pic by Tony Alter

Everyone knows that in order to make more money online you either have to increase the volumes of website traffic, or increase conversion rates (or both

Big brands, especially ones in trendy, fashionable industries should be killing it when it comes to social media marketing, right?

Actually, there's fairly obvious evidence that they are wasting a lot of money on social marketing campaigns that are not generating returns.

This is good news for smaller businesses that are prepared to use social media correctly, because it levels the playing field for those without endless budgets.

7 ways to network effectively

When I started my first company some years ago I placed all my focus on creating a great offering, but almost no effort went into sales and networking. Needless to say that it took an incredibly long time to get off the ground - 6 years in fact.

During that time I learned a lot about how business works, and my focus has shifted almost completely onto sales, marketing and networking.

Nowadays, a good idea with a quality product backed by excellent service is the bare minimum required to succeed. Because there is so much competition (especially online), what sets companies apart these days is how effectively they can network and promote themselves.

Drive traffic without SEO

I am an ardent supporter of creating great quality content that ranks well in Google search for marketing purposes.

Recently, however, I have been forced to concede that organic traffic from Google is no longer reliable enough.

Since 2012 Google's search results have been in upheaval, and while the general thrust of the changes are to improve search results and cut out spam, there has been significant collateral damage along the way.

great marketing ideas

Coming up with marketing ideas for small business can be a challenge.

Affiliate marketing beginner guide. Pic by Caleb Roenigk

Learning how to be an effective affiliate marketer on one of the top affiliate programs is a great skill to have for entrepreneurs and anyone looking to star

top digital marketing questions

Online marketing is about much more than introducing carefully selected keywords and phrases into content to optimize for organic search; or build up backlin