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For small businesses, keeping operations afloat is the primary concern, and marketing is something that is done ad hoc or not at all. However, for businesses to thrive in the competitive marketplace, marketing of some sort is needed. With limited time and resources, traditional marketing plans don’t tend to make the list when it comes to small and micro business. They don’t make sense and end up depleting your energy and time. There are many ways to utilize your existing resources to generate free marketing and build your business’s awareness within its target audience.

We’ve compiled six often overlooked ways to get free marketing for your small business without compromising your time and money.

Develop an impressive business website

Not only are people finding new businesses through online searches, but also word of mouth recommendations are major factors in whether someone looks for your business. According to Vistaprint Digital’s Digital Impact Report,

“36% and 35% of respondents report finding new businesses through online research and by word of mouth respectively.”

With over a third of potential customers looking for businesses online, it only reinforces that small businesses need websites in order to compete. Having an online presence, i.e. a professionally designed website, is the way to present your business as legitimate and trustworthy. There are tons of tools to help you create a business website, and they don’t require you to have any understanding of back end development. Webs offers a simple website design process, and you can even request individualized help in building the website of your dreams. A business website may seem like a no-brainer, but having a quality website has significant marketing power.

Have business cards

No, business cards are not dead even though we live in a highly digital world. In fact, they hold immense marketing value for very little cost. They are physical reminders of your business that can be handed out to new acquaintances or at other local businesses. Business cards offer a way to showcase your business’s personality and have all of your contact information in one place.

In order to create a useful business card, include your business name, logo, contact information, website address, blog, and your social handles. This provides multiple ways for people to find you s well as drive traffic to your sites and social media profiles.

Send weekly emails

Staying top of mind with your customers is key for any small business. Develop a weekly email template that adds value or is helpful to your customers. It is a soft touch way to engage you’re your database and doesn’t require much time on your end.

Come up with something that resonates with your audience. If you have a fitness business, give your clients three moves of the week in the email or if you are a catering business, send along a favorite seasonal recipe. Customers will appreciate this “free” information, but more importantly, their loyalty to your business will grow because they’re seeing value in your business. Email campaigns also boost traffic to your website as your email should contain back links to your site for other relevant information. Don’t forget, people love consistency, so send your email on the same day around the same time each week.

Write positive reviews for other local businesses

Having relationships with other local businesses is so important for small businesses. One way to build those relationships is to write positive reviews for local businesses. It is a way to endorse your community’s businesses, as well as expose to business to all of their customers. When clients or potential clients visit their websites, they’ll see your review and get a taste for your values and brand voice. From here, they can visit your site, and before you know it, you’ll have more customers.

However, use caution when writing reviews. Only write genuine reviews of businesses with which you’ve had interactions and can honestly speak to their products, services, and customer service. You do not want to plaster your endorsement of other businesses across the Internet without them being authentic. This reflects poorly on your business and could have the opposite marketing impact you’re looking for.

Network in your local community

Attend local networking events and go in with a plan. Your every move doesn’t need to be calculated, but determine how many people you want to meet, how many business cards you want to walk away with, and a succinct personal branding story. Inquire more about the person you’re speaking to rather than trying to promote your business.

Networking is about building relationships, and you don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date (well, not usually), so why would someone buy something from you during your first conversation? Networking events are the first steps toward building out a team of ambassadors and referrers for your business. The common locational creates a natural connection, and learning about one another is mutually beneficial. Make sure you have ample business cards available to hand out!

After an event, follow up with each person you spoke to. The power of a personalized note or email cannot be underestimated. Show your consideration and appreciation for meeting them with a short note to keep you and your business top of mind.

Set up a Pinterest account

Pinterest is a phenomenal outlet for small businesses. Not only does your content have a significantly longer shelf-life, as in months instead of minutes, but over 80% of pins are re-pins, which means you’re reaching an exponentially larger audience on Pinterest than any other social media tool. Another staggering statistic is that

“consumers referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to actually purchase than those referred by Facebook,” according to Yohana Petrocvic.

With these kinds of metrics, Pinterest should hold a top spot in your social media presence. The reach is infinite and with promoted and buyable pins now available, your business can realize sales through the site. This is an easy way to promote your business and leverage your marketing efforts for free.

With these six tips, you can exponentially increase your marketing efforts without much time or cost. You may even have some of them in place already, but hadn’t considered them as marketing tools. These tactics drive brand awareness and traffic, and are bound to increase your small business’s presence in the marketplace.

About the Author: Julie Chomiak is the Content Marketing Specialist for Webs and Pagemodo. When she’s not scouring the web for small business trends, Julie loves traveling, interior design, and animals of all kinds. Get more from Julie on the Webs Blog and the Pagemodo blog.

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