Marketing is fundamental to the growth and success of every business, but it’s particularly important for entrepreneurs. Small business owners face the unique challenge of getting the word out on who they are and what they do on what often is a shoestring budget, so it’s really important to find ways to stretch those marketing dollars and make them work as hard for you as possible.

Some marketing tactics are out of reach for entrepreneurs – they’re simply too expensive, so there’s no chance for a return on investment. Luckily, there are plenty of clever ways to reach customers that don’t break the bank – and others that don’t cost anything at all. With a little insight, ingenuity, and good old fashioned hustle, entrepreneurs can create great buzz for their businesses in really cost effective ways.

Of all the affordable options available to small business owners these days there are certain tactics that should be part of every entrepreneur’s marketing arsenal. The following five are sure-fire ways to create a strong, professional image for your business, leave a lasting impression, and reach a lot of potential clients and customers without spending a lot of money.

  1. Have a Professionally Designed Website

Having a website is non-negotiable in today’s business world. If you’re in business, you need to have one, and if you’re a small business owner it’s important to make sure your website not only looks professional but operates smoothly too. Yes, it will cost you a bit of money to have a website professionally designed, but this is one marketing cost that’s worth every penny. The first thing people do when they hear about your business is look for you online. If you don’t have a presence there, how are they going find you? Once they’re on your website, those people will immediately (and often subconsciously) make a judgment call about you based on what they see and experience there. If your website feels amateur, your business appears amateur – and that’s not the impression you want to make. Hire a professional web designer and content writer to create your website and let them devise a strategy for making sure your link comes up at the top of the list on a Google search. You’ll be very glad you did.

  1. Have an Active Social Media Presence

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter have made it possible to reach mass audiences quickly at little to no cost. Used the right way, social media is a highly effective brand building tool and offers business owners an exceptional way to connect with customers in real time.  A well-executed social media strategy can create broad awareness of your business almost immediately, will drive traffic to your website, and has the power to expand your viewership (and followers) quickly through “likes” and “shares.” If you want to take it to the next level, you can invest some of your marketing dollars in targeted social media ads that are guaranteed to be seen by just the right people as they scroll through their social feeds.

  1. Devise an Effective Email Marketing Campaign

Some people think email marketing campaigns are a waste of time, believing that the messages land in recipients’ junk folders or get deleted without ever having been opened. There’s a risk of both of those things happening, it’s true – which is why you need the help of an agency that’s got the know-how to get your messages seen. Email campaigns aren’t just ad-hoc typed messages, they’re carefully crafted and designed messages that are jam-packed with valuable content – stuff your target market wants to read and see. Done right, the people on your email list will come to look forward to receiving your next message, and will read it top to bottom. Email campaigns aren’t only affordable – they’re great for generating sales. Calls-to-action are the key to this tactic, and conversion rates between receiving messages and jumps to your website are usually high.

  1. Get a Great Business Card

This may seem like a small thing, but a sharp looking and uniquely designed business card makes a big impression. You’ve got to think out of the box with it, but a good designer can do that for you. Your business card should be reflective of your brand and professionally printed on sturdy paper stock. When you hand it out, you want to be proud of it, and you want the person you’re giving to to remember you when they look at it.

  1. Network, Network, Network

As a small business owner, you are the face of your company. The more you can get in front of people, the more likely they are to do business with you. Networking generates leads and opportunities, builds relationships, educates you on what’s happening in the marketplace (there’s no better way to check out the competition) and promotes good will. If you want people to get to know your business, get in front of them personally. There are all kinds of networking events in every city at all times of day – but if you can’t find one that works for you, start your own. We did. WJ hosts Ryan’s Roundup on the first Thursday of every month at Ranchman’s. Why not join us next time and get your cost-friendly marketing strategy off to a great start? http://ryansroundup.com