When I started my first small business, I simply couldn’t afford to spend a lot on marketing. I knew I was offering something people would like — but I needed more people to know about it if I wanted to make things a success. I’d actually had a few quotes from “expert” marketing companies in my local area that seemingly offered me the results I wanted. I was even tempted to take out a loan to pay for it — because the quotes I got were huge. But I knew there must have been another way. Slowly but surely, I started looking for alternatives. These 7 tips helped me market my new business without spending much in the process. They worked for me, and they could work for you. #1. Create an effective social media marketing strategy The great thing about when I started my first business was that it was just when social media was taking off. A lot of people at the time thought it was just for keeping in touch with friends or celebrities. While it is great for that — it’s also a hugely powerful marketing tool that more and more big companies have started to utilize. They key to success on social media is to stay as active as possible, relevant, and engaging. People are taking a big leap of faith when they “like” your business as they’re associating themselves with something. Not only does this open up a great communication channel (that used to be incredibly difficult to foster before social media) — it also makes them ready to spread your message for you. Don’t take your followers for granted — offer them something valuable and they should repay you. Every “like” you get does the marketing work for you by spreading your message to your followers’ extended friends network. Keep relevant, entertaining and engaging and your followers should help you by doing a lot of the marketing legwork. The extra communication channel you create with your followers makes them an easy place to go whenever you’ve got a great special offer, new product, or exciting sale. In the old days of business, it used to be hard to communicate with people — even those who’ve done business with you before. Now, if you can get them to follow you on social media — you’ll be much more likely to do business with them again. Make sure your social media presence is obvious and clear. Put up posters, print your profile info on receipts and get your staff to encourage people to follow you as often as possible. A strong social media presence doesn’t cost much — but it’s a hugely powerful marketing tool for your business. #2. Syndicate content One of the cornerstones of a successful web-business is great content. You might have been able to trick people into visiting your website in the past — but not any more. Even if it works initially, they won’t return. To build a good web-presence — you need quality information that people will return for. That’s why you need to make sure you create great content. Not only will it help grow your online web presence, it’ll also help for things like social media — by getting people to share it. The next step, once you’ve got great content — is to syndicate it. Reach out to some relevant authorities in your niche and get them to publish it. Offer value, and present yourself as an expert in your field. You’ll get high-quality backlinks and residual, relevant traffic in the process. #3. Look for local marketing opportunities One of the best decisions I made was to have a look at what my local area could do for me in a marketing sense. Far too many web-based businesses ignore their local area when it’s often one of the easiest places to make a marketing dent on a budget. People in your local area feel an extra level of loyalty towards businesses they know are also local. Make the most of it. There should also be a number of local events you can join to promote your business. Like charity fundraisers, networking events, or the local chamber of commerce. Not only do they provide places to find new clients – they offer networking opportunities to help find other like-minded businesspeople that could help you in other ways. You could even print leaflets and hand them out or go door-to-door. This helps reach people who might never have visited your or heard about your product online. #4. Share your expertise Volunteer with local business organisations and other local events. This is similar to the previous point – but if you can foster a tutoring relationship with young businesspeople, you’ll create an environment that could help you in the future. Not only can they spread your message and help your marketing efforts, but they could have relevant ideas that are useful for improving your business in other areas. You could also write an ebook and give it away online, in return for a link back to your site or a sign-up. #5. Offer contests and competitions This ties in great with an effective social media presence — give people incentives to visit and be active with your business. You don’t have to give away a lot of stock — just make the contest fun and imaginative so even more people talk about it (or “share it online). #6. Offer discounts and refer-a-friend bonuses Again, more incentives. You want people to spread your word for you — so offer them a discount if they refer a friend or return to make another purchase. You always want to make sure you’re making a profit even with a discount — but something like 20% should be enough to work for both you and your customer — so they can start spreading your word for you. #7. Target niche keywords Try thinking outside of the box by adding some long-tail additions to the keywords you target. Add things like the current year, or “discount” to get people who are close to making a purchase. Don’t compete for the same broad terms as everyone else — find a niche and get some untapped traffic.