Small businesses usually run on a tight budget. Every penny in and every penny out is closely accounted for, which leaves little wiggle room for “luxuries.” One of the first things business owners tend to skimp on is marketing.

The sad news is, marketing is extremely important to business growth. Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive. 

For businesses operating on a shoestring budget, however, there are ways to promote a business that doesn’t involve actual marketing. Take a look at the list below to learn of several ways you can promote your own business without spending a ton on marketing expenses: 

1. Corporate Gift Giving

Rather than spend a great deal of money on marketing, try giving branded corporate gifts to your customers instead. Corporate gifting is one of the most effective forms of advertising. Many customers say they tend to look more favorably on a company that has given them a corporate gift. In fact, corporate gifting often leads to repeat business as useful gifts help keep your brand in the forefront of your customers’ minds. 

2. Be an Active Part of Your Community

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a marketing campaign to become a known entity in your area. Take a look around your community and find opportunities to participate in events and charities locally.

Sponsor a little league team or donate to a local charity. Visit the public library and drop off bookmarks with your company’s logo on them. When you become a part of the community around you, people take notice and begin giving you their business because they feel you truly care. 

3. Collaborate with Like-Minded Businesses

Get in touch with other business owners in the area and work together to promote each other. With like-minded, non-competitive businesses on your side, you’ll automatically expand your customer base while helping others do the same. 

4. Begin Networking

One of the best things you can do as a business owner is to get out there and meet people. Networking with the right people will help you get your name out and build a strong customer base. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from the people you network with and the customers you’ve served. Most people won’t offer referrals on their own, but if you ask, many are happy to give one. 

Referrals give you a leg-up with new customers as they trust what others before them have to say about you. If you aren’t asking for referrals, then you’re missing out on a valuable resource for promoting your business. 

5. Offer Coupons and Hold Giveaways

People love saving money and love free stuff even more. If they have an opportunity to try your product for free, most people will take it and happily share their experience. This tactic achieves two things:

  • They will tell others about your products, and
  • They will likely become repeat customers themselves

Coupons are also a great way to attract new customers. Studies show that people often go out of their way to use coupons, so don’t be afraid to employ this method to expand your customer base. 

Promoting your business is a big part of growing it, but as the list above shows, there are ways to do it without actually hiring a professional marketing firm and spending a great deal of money. When your budget is tight, try one or all of the suggestions above to promote your business on the cheap.