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When your company is just starting out, marketing may be the last item on your budget. You want to first focus on perfecting your product or service, paying for the resources needed to keep the business running, and paying your employees. However, once you have your company up and running, marketing is a must to generate new business and keep turning a profit. It can seem difficult to fit marketing into the budget for your small business, but there are cost-efficient options that can provide you with a large return.

Utilize networking

Networking allows you to talk to others about your small business and get the word out about what you’re doing. Tap your current network for help in spreading the word, but also take advantage of new networking opportunities. You do not want to come across as someone simply attending networking events to hand out your business card and then move onto the next person; organically bring your business into interactions and then have a sincere conversation with the person you’re speaking with. Simply having more people know the name of your business can be beneficial down the line.

Research your target audience

Any good business has some idea of who their target audience is. If you put enough work into crafting your business plan, you should have an exact idea of who you’re marketing to. Do some research to find out what types of marketing appeal the most to this audience. What social media sites do they use most frequently? What times are they active online? What are their interests and needs? Once you know this information, it makes finding the best marketing opportunities much easier.

Claim social media profiles

As soon as possible, claim social media profiles for your business. Get your company name into the URLs and use your keyword as much as possible. Even if you aren’t initially too active on these sites, you might need them later. It’s also a good idea to claim your keyword on sites to prevent anyone else from using it down the road and creating confusion amongst consumers.

Create content

One of the best ways to market your small business is by creating consistent, engaging content. Make sure your content is original and draws people in. Create a blog for your company website and update it with regular articles. You can also create other kinds of media, such as infographics or videos to circulate throughout your social media sites.

Host a giveaway

People love to win things. Host a giveaway and offer samples of your product or services. You’ll get a lot of engagement and can spread the word about your company. Have participants share a post on social media to enter or interact with your site and content in some way. Giveaways generate new customers and spread knowledge about your business and what exactly you do.

Get involved locally

For small businesses, some of their best allies are their local communities. Connect with other small businesses and get involved with local philanthropies. You’ll meet a lot of people and they’ll learn more about your business, all while supporting a great cause. Gaining a loyal customer base at the local level can make or break the success of a small business.