Small business owners have a lot of expenses to cover when they’re first starting out. From business registration fees and insurance to website hosting costs and technology investments, there’s not always much room left in the budget for marketing initiatives. This can be a real detriment, as a business won’t ever get off the ground if no one knows about it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive methods of promoting a brand. Below, 10 members of the Forbes Agency Council weigh in with their favorite methods for creatively (and cheaply) marketing a business.
1. Thought Leadership Content
Establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry is a fantastic method of branding oneself and getting free marketing. Write blogs and regularly submit articles to similar blogs and publications for links back to your site. Link-building will boost your web presence and launch your company up the search engine rankings. Using this strategy, you can quickly become more visible to potential clients for less. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs
2. Provide Behind-The-Scenes Content On Social Media
When a company is first getting started, it is important to find cheap or free ways to advertise and get the word out. The best way to do this is to offer insider looks into the company and even vlog about the startup. A CEO can then share the content on platforms like YouTube, Facebook Live and Instagram to ensure that they are reaching new and potential customers easily. – Jon James, Ignited Results
3. Encourage Referrals And Recommendations
Professional relationships and network building are important at any career stage, but when you’re out on your own, they can be a thousand times more valuable. Your time investment in client, colleague and peer relationships has the power to create a network of fans that can give you something priceless: personal, third-party recommendations. Nothing beats a referral from a trusted source. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP
4. Take And Share Amazing Photos
Put your best self forward. Populate your social and web platforms with eye-catching, intentional photos that consumers will be enticed to click on without spending money on promotions and outsourced copy. Conduct research and see what fixates your target audience. Having a well-populated Instagram and LinkedIn with eye-catching content can increase your SEO without spending the big bucks. – Jason Kulpa, UE.co
5. Allocate A Small Facebook Ad Budget
Small businesses just starting out should become friends with Facebook. Instead of working to get likes or followers, focus efforts on hyper-targeted paid Facebook ads to drive traffic to your site and Facebook retargeting that will keep your business top of mind. Focusing on this simple, one-two-punch approach can quickly drive traffic and awareness with very little investment. – Keri Witman, Cleriti
6. Target Your Prospects With Email Campaigns
Email marketing continues to prove its value as a top marketing channel that delivers results. Small businesses can take advantage of it very creatively and cost-effectively. When it comes to acquiring new customers with email, the key is zeroing in on the right prospects for your business using quality email data and applying segmentation, customer journey mapping and more. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
7. Contribute To Local Publications
You may not have the funds to promote your startup, but you do know a thing or two about your industry. To get free press exposure, submit stories with valuable insight into your industry to local or niche publications. Just make sure your story is newsworthy. Not only will this earn your business exposure, but credibility as well. – Michele Gray, Active Web Group
8. Create And Share Educational Content
Once your website is up, take advantage of blogging and social media — both are free. When blogging, be sure to share educational, in-depth articles with catchy visuals. Google loves detailed content and your potential customers will see it as informative vs. another sales pitch. Then, share your content on social media and consider boosting to reach your ideal audience in the beginning. – Matt Bowman, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency
9. Complete Your ‘Google My Business‘ Profile
No matter how they hear about you, customers are likely to search for information about your business online. More often than not, their first impression will be formed by what they find while searching Google. Google My Business is a free and effective way to tell customers what you’re all about. Deliver great customer experiences and nudge those happy customers to sing your praises there. – Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync
10. Make Your Web Presence Welcoming
All businesses have storefronts. Even if just digital, they should still be considered storefronts. Online or offline, it is important to make sure the storefront is stellar, pristine and welcoming. Start with having a brand and passion that goes well beyond closing the sale. Your storefront should ideally be friendly, upbeat and keep prospects coming back to check it out. – Bernadette Coleman, Advice Local