When money is tight, one of the first things many business owners cut back on is advertising and marketing. However, when potential clients don’t know about you, your business can’t grow. So how do you market your business on a shoestring budget? It’s easier than you might think. Here are six key areas to develop.

Marketing Materials Marketing Campaign

The Six Marketing Keys

Marketing Keys – Be Social. Social media offers many free opportunities to market your small business, so it’s time to give your social media accounts a boost. First, you can get more mileage out of your website content or newsletter articles by sharing them on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

A Twitter account for your business is a great way to spread the word about promotions, discounts and events. Giving a talk at a conference? Tweet your whereabouts. Upload photos of your new product line or of your new staff member to your Facebook page. Take a video of how you make your product or film yourself working with customers and post it on YouTube. Got a great infographic that shows why your service is so important? Pin it on Pinterest.

Also make sure your business profiles include a well-worded description of what you do, keywords and a link to your website. Be on the look-out for groups that talk about your services and participate in the best conversations.

Marketing Keys – Be Mobile. According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and three out of four of them report that they use their phones to find businesses. Can those potential customers find you? Make sure your business can be easily found by smart phone users.

Do you have a niche market idea that you could translate into a smartphone app? Having your own app can help you gain new customers and further your image for repeat business. A money management app could promote your investment brokerage business, for example, or a real estate app could showcase properties for potential buyers.

Marketing Keys – Think Local. With the Internet, we all are thinking globally, and that’s a good thing, but getting involved in your local community is more important than ever. Think about how your business ties in with the needs and interests of people in your area.

Are you in the health and wellness niche? How about sponsoring a youth sports team or a charity walk or run? Do you offer building supplies or contractor services? You could lend a hand with a home building project.

Another way to get involved with your community is by joining local professional organizations and service clubs. You will meet many other like-minded small business owners with whom you can exchange ideas and contacts.

Marketing Keys – Work together. After you have made a new contact, you can look for ways you can both benefit by collaborating in your marketing efforts.

You can help promote each other with coupons, fliers and website links to expand both customer bases. Check out the social media platform Alignable for ideas at https://www.alignable.com/ for other ideas.

Many business and professional organizations are looking for qualified experts who can present information at their meetings. By putting yourself out there as an authority in your field, you get valuable publicity for your company.

Marketing Keys – Share your expertise. You can take these talks a step further by leading seminars or workshops in a topic related to your industry for the community. By participating in educational events, you not only get your name out there in the public eye, but, they also force you to keep fresh and focused on the latest trends and research in your field.

Here’s another idea: establish yourself as a news resource. By subscribing to HARO (Help a Reporter Out) at www.helpareporter.com, you can assist reporters who are looking for story ideas and resources. When you and your business are listed as a source in a news story, it provides important name recognition and credibility for both you and your brand.

Marketing Keys – Go old school. “Remarkable social media content and great sales copy are pretty much the same–plain spoken words designed to focus on the needs of the reader, listener, or viewer,”   said Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger, an online marketing service. With that advice in mind, it’s important to realize that some of the best ways to market your business on the cheap are the tried and true ways.

Business cards are a powerful and inexpensive way of promoting your business. When you hand someone your card, you have given them all your contact information in a handy format. You can even put symbols on your cards that clients can scan to link them directly to your website and social media pages.

Have plenty of cards with you with you when you attend business and social events, since you never know when you will meet a potential client.

Another way to promote your small business is by having a good old-fashioned “elevator” speech ready for when you meet prospective customers. Think of new ways you can briefly and creatively state what you do and how you do it differently.

Finally, don’t discount the power of the written word both through electronic mail and through the postal service. A well-written newsletter or a simple postcard can be simple and effective in letting your customers know what you are offering and why you value their business.

A thank you note for past business with a discount coupon for new business is a great way to get in touch with previous customers. And don’t be shy about asking for referrals. They can be the backbone of any business.