Whether you’ve been in business for 6 months or 15 years, marketing your business is necessary in order to get customers through the door. The time to think about your marketing strategy is always and should be revisited often. Writing out your marketing plan is a great way to help keep you on track and is also useful to keep you accountable. You should also update your marketing plan every year to make sure that your strategies are fresh and effective.

The problem is that most small business owners are operating on limited budgets, and allocating money for marketing isn’t a top priority. Although marketing can be a bit daunting and may seem like it requires a big budget and resources, it doesn’t have to. Here are a few tactics and marketing ideas that you can incorporate into your strategy that will provide you with the real ROI.

Social Media – This is a great way to connect on a deeply personal level with current and potential customers. It is also a free and cost-effective way to market your business, highlight offers, and authentically showcase your services. First off, not every social media platform is the right one for your business. To make sure you are choosing the right platform(s), you will need to know who your business’s core audience is. By identifying your audience, you will be able to correctly and strategically choose the platforms you should be using.

Step two is to set up business social media accounts. This step is crucial to track your success and help create strategic content. A business account tracks analytics and the performance of your organic and paid posts giving you a deeper insight into who is interacting and engaging with your content. To create a bigger impact, it is also crucial to set a budget aside to boost posts and create ads. This helps widen your reach beyond your organic audience. Each of the major platforms has user-friendly guides that help novices begin their social media ads. Below are links to those guides to help you get started:

Facebook ads
Twitter ads
LinkedIn ads
Instagram ads

Website – Part of having an online presence means having an updated and mobile-friendly website. Most people search for a business online and through their mobile phone first, the last thing you want is not having a website that will provide users the experience and information they need. There are three things that should be made clear and easy to find on your website. Those three things are your location, hours, and contact information. Putting up a website isn’t just a one time project. In order to have a successful website, you must update it frequently or continue adding new content.

The services your business provides should also be made clear and easy to understand. If people aren’t searching for your business directly, and chances are they’re not, your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will help you show up on search results. SEO includes a series of keywords pertaining to your business and services. A great way to improve your organic SEO is to include these keywords throughout the content on your website. Writing blogs is another great way to help your SEO and engage your customers. Something to note when writing blogs, it is always best to focus on educating your customers. Your content doesn’t just have to showcase your products; it can also provide tips and tricks on using or performing maintenance on a product.

Content Creation – Visually appealing content is continuing to gain popularity amongst consumers. Consumers, however, are evolving quickly and changing the way they engage and choose what content to consume. Video has quickly become the reigning king of content. You could say that video and marketing go together like pasta and sauce or peanut butter and jelly. However, intimidating video creation may seem, don’t let it scare you away. In fact, practice can make you a master at video content creation. All you need is a smartphone with a great camera. We recommend watching YouTube or looking through Instagram for inspiration. Tutorials always make for great content. Another good rule of thumb is to keep your concise and to the point. People’s attention span is short, and so should your videos.

If you’re looking to create great visuals outside of video, you can also rely on your smartphone to take great photos of your business, services, products, and employees. People love genuine, behind the scenes style content. They want to feel like insiders and like they know your business personally. A connection is key in creating meaningful, engaging content.

Business Directories – Don’t let the word directories fool you – we’re not talking Yellow Pages or a physical directory. Think more along the lines of Yelp. People tend to trust their peers and therefore turn to reviews to help them decide whether a business or a product is their best choice. All you need to do is claim your business on the Yelp Business Page, update your business information and make sure to engage and respond to customer reviews. Responding is a big component of making sure this tactic works, especially to the negative reviews. As much as you may want to ignore it, don’t. The best way to combat a negative review is to engage genuinely and honestly with the customer. Find a solution to the problem and see if there is a way to make right, which may even turn into an updated positive review. Here is a great article from Social Media Examiner on using Yelp to market your business.

There really are many ways to market your business that are low-cost or even free; all you need to do is get creative with your ideas. From referral programs to using your employees as marketers, or anything mentioned above, the possibilities are endless. The one thing marketing does require is an active presence. You will need to be engaged with your marketing, making sure you’re updating and keeping everything relevant and current.