A guest post by Meredith Wood, Editor in Chief at Fundera. 

Major corporations spend a lot of money on marketing. From seven-figure advertising budgets to PR firms kept on retainer, global brands are allocating a lot of money and resources to keeping their products in the public eye.

If you’re a small business owner, you likely don’t have a lot of spare cash on hand to dedicate to marketing efforts; but don’t fret, you can still make a splash and generate attention for your company. Read on for ideas and inspiration that will help you save on marketing your small business.

  1. Master Social Media

Starting a social media account is free, so if you know how to leverage these platforms you can gain attention for your brand without spending a dime.

The key here is to find the social media platform that best fits your business and prospective customer base. Are you a florist who does beautiful arrangements for weddings and events? Focus on Pinterest, where a lot of brides-to-be turn for inspiration. Running a local bakery? Consider Instagram where you can share enticing pictures of your delicious creations. Targeting a younger demographic? Think about Snapchat, where the majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 24.

The other important piece of the social media puzzle is being active. Due to the setup of the algorithms on most channels, the only way to make sure your content is seen is to be consistent and to foster conversation by engaging with the community around you. Don’t set up an account on every platform possible only to let them lie dormant.

A social media content calendar can allow you to harness the marketing power inherent in these platforms; Hootsuite provides an overview of how to effectively create one here.

  1. Offer Up Your Expertise

Before you started your business, you spent a lot of time and energy getting to know everything you could about your industry. That knowledge is what will help you grow your business day-to-day, but you can also leverage your know-how to gain the attention and respect of potential customers.

By starting a blog or podcast, appearing as a guest on an industry leader’s blog or podcast, or speaking at a conference, you’re establishing yourself as a trusted voice in your field and you’re winning recognition for your brand at minimal cost.

  1. Court Local Media

If you can get your business written up in the local paper or featured on the six o’clock news, you’ve gotten your name out there on an established platform at no cost to you. Think about ways to pitch your story that will interest reporters. If you’re opening up a new location in a dreary part of town, maybe a news station want to do a piece about the local business owner revitalizing the neighborhood. If there’s a big annual community event coming up, consider getting involved so that you can become part of the coverage of the larger event.

  1. Be Charitable

Giving back to your community not only makes you feel good, but it can also be a way to generate local awareness for your business. Consider donating your goods or services as a prize for a silent auction for a charity in town, or organize a day where you and your team serve food at a local soup kitchen or participate in a community clean-up at a nearby park. These efforts can get your name out there to a wider audience and introduce you to potential clients who would not have otherwise known about you. Plus, if you’re seen taking an active role in your community, people will feel better about spending their hard-earned dollars with you.

  1. Consider Cross-Promotion

Think about businesses that will complement the goods or services you offer, and reach out to someone who owns that type of business to see if they’d be willing to offer some sort of discount or reward to your customers who do business with them, and vice versa. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement, which introduces your existing customers to them and theirs to you. It also allows you to split any associated marketing costs with another business owner, all while doubling your marketing reach.

  1. Nominate Yourself for an Award

Local business awards not only get your name out there to prospective customers, they also lend your business an air of credibility. Take a bit of time to research local awards, such as “Best Of” lists published in local magazines, or recognition programs run by your local Chamber of Commerce. Consider nominating yourself, or ask a friend to put your business’s name in the running. If there’s an online contest, solicit support from friends and customers on social media or via your email list.

Even if you don’t have a marketing budget to rival a global brand, there are ways for you to generate attention for your business and win over new customers. Some creative thinking and a little bit of hustle will allow you to take advantage of some of the low- or no-cost marketing options available to any small business owner.

Author Bio

Meredith Wood is Editor-in-Chief and VP of Marketing at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.