With 2017 here and company budgets top of mind, there seems to be a misconception that most businesses need heavy-hitting resources to effectively market themselves.

While marketing can be costly, it doesn’t have to be. There are several tips and tricks that can help you promote your business on a large level for little cost.

Here are the top five ways to market your business on a shoestring budget:

  1. Email, email, email. Email marketing is one marketing strategy that should not be ignored. According to a study by the Direct Marketing Association, every $1 spent on email marketing returns $44 on average. What’s more, there are several e-newsletter and email marketing service companies you can try for free or purchase with as little as $20/mo. But good rule of thumb: keep your email ads, e-newsletters, etc. useful, informative and exclusive. For example, if you own a restaurant, you could email special deals, discounts or highlight any seasonal dishes and recipes.
  1. Get social with giveaways. It’s no secret that social media has become a major marketing tool. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another network, make your profile worth following. Running contests and giveaways will help attract potential customers while providing fun and interactive posts. Leveraging often searched and relevant hashtags (e.g. #tiptuesday #moneymonday) can also help you expose your business and reach a greater audience.
  1.  Network like it’s going out of style. Business networking is a valuable way to expand your knowledge and learn from successful business owners. The benefits of networking include new referrals, better connections and even increased confidence. While the effects of networking will not be immediate, in the long term it will help your company’s growth.
  1. The power of recommendations. Asking for referrals comes at zero cost and it’s crucial for customer growth. Set aside your squeamishness and force yourself to get into the habit of asking for referrals from satisfied customers. Entrepreneur.com offers lots of useful tips on how to tactfully ask (and get) referrals.
  1. Build relationships with existing customers. Sometimes we forget that building existing customer relationships is just as important as getting new customers. Your loyal, long term customers are more likely to share their great experiences. Ask customers for their email address when they visit your store or website. This is a great way to keep in touch and communicate information about your business while also building your network.

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