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Marketing on a small budget

Marketing is important for any business, but when you're still in the early stages of setting up, your budget can be squeezed and marketing is often pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do.

Marketing your business is not only important to raise awareness, but it also doesn't have to be expensive. We've compiled a list of marketing ideas to help you find your feet and broadcast your business to its target market. Remember: the way you market your business should be tailored to your business to ensure it's seen by the right audience.

1. Networking

This is no doubt a term that you've come across before and will time and time again, but networking is vital. The saying of it's who you know couldn't be more important in this scenario - people use their associates and contacts to provide the services they need. Networking events are often free or low cost and allows you to seek potential clients and advertise what you do to those attending.

2. Keep a Social Network Presence

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a great way to present your business, especially for B2C businesses. Setup a page on Facebook or account on Instagram or Twitter, make sure your branding is aligned and consistent, and then you're ready to start publicising it. Tell your customers, showcase it on your flyers and business cards. Social networks are not only free, but they can help you reach the right people at the right time.

3. Hashtags & Follows

If you're all set up on social media, make use of popular hashtags; little keywords that start with a hash (#). If a topic is trending you can join in the conversation. Some users of the social networks keep a watchful eye on hashtags.

You could also pick out key people to follow on Twitter and Instagram, or pages to like on Facebook. Mention them in posts using @ before their name and they'll even be notified of you mentioning them. Hopefully they'll follow and like you back and maybe even reply giving you a broader coverage yet again.

4. Facebook Boosts

Boosts are great to raise the awareness of one particular post you publish on Facebook, even targeting it towards a specific audience. They're straightforward to set up and you can cap your spend to keep your costs controlled. Post something useful on your page, attach an image to make it eye catching, set up a boost and away you go!

5. Start a Blog

Blogs are great, not only because they provide content which could keep users coming back to read new posts, but because the original content works well with search engines such as Google. It is important however, to keep it updated so visitors don't lose interest. Seeing a blog that hasn't been updated in a few months can be off-putting for visitors to your web site. The best part about a blog? They can even be started and run for free!

6. Business Cards

Some people will say business cards are old fashioned, but when you're talking to someone about an opportunity, giving them a business card with all your details on is really convenient. You could even pin them up on local noticeboards allowing you to leverage their potential - passers by may be interested and take one along with them.

7. Run a Competition

This highly depends on what your business offers, but if you've just set up a new business and are keen to build up your portfolio, a competition would be a great way to get going. This works well with social networks and even hashtags like #competition. You may have the expense of providing the product or service for free, but you'll be showcasing what you offer, how you offer it, and the quality you provide too.

8. Email Marketing

Look at any business and they all have one thing in common - a database. Every business has a database of some sort full of customers or potential customers details. Its a great way to target those who have shown an interest in your business, or those already using your services, to upsell or cross-sell to them. Building a database can be free - to start with you could use a simple spreadsheet of names and email addresses. To take advantage of your database, drop them an email using tools such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor.

Not sure what to send out? Send a newsletter with a quick update about your new products or share your success stories.

These are just a few affordable marketing methods to help your business find its feet, but of course there are many other alternatives. You may find none of these work for your business, but a bit of trial and error will help you find the right mix of marketing for you.

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