If you are starting or growing a small business on a shoestring budget, there are lots of cheap ways to market your business. That said, you do not want to waste your time on cheap advertising tactics that do not work. Here are six that work.
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Six Ways to Attract Customers Without Spending Lots of Money

Coupons

Coupons area great because they are simple and effective. They get people's attention, and you do not have to be a good salesperson for them to work. There are free coupon makers you can use online to create your design. You can also download software that gives you extra design options. Then you can let customers download them from your website or print them out and give them to clients at your place of business, events, neighborhood mailers, etc.

You can focus your coupon marketing campaigns around holidays, local activities or seasonal events. You can test different offers to see which works best: a free trial, a 2-for-1 offer, a percentage discount, etc. Along with your special offer, make sure you include the expiration date, the location and contact information of your business, business name and just a little information about the products or services you offer. If you have a website address, include that as well.

Contests or Giveaways

Contests and giveaways help to get people involved in what your company is doing. People like that. Offer a prize that many people will want, keeping in mind that the bigger the prize is, the more people will get involved. If you make your contest crazy and interesting, you are likely to get free media coverage as well.

With a basic raffle with prize giveaway, you can collect names in exchange for raffle entries. Start a "preferred customer list" where you send out monthly newsletters or invitations for upcoming sales. This can be a great way to follow up with customers long after the raffle has ended. Be sure to get their permission before adding them to any type of mailing list.

Events

There are all sorts of events you can hold, and they do not need to be big and expensive. Open house events and after-hour sales are ways you can have events "on location". You can also be part of community events, festivals, farmers markets, music events or charity functions. Rather than pay to be a vendor, you can sometimes volunteer your time and help put on the event in exchange for some free publicity.

Workshops

You can put on a workshop in your office, store, local library, community center or city park. It can cost you virtually nothing, and is a great way to meet potential clients face-to-face in a low-key environment. You do not have to worry about being a salesperson, because you are simply presenting information on a topic rather than directly selling a product.

If you present valuable information in your workshop, you can become that "go-to" person that people want to do business with. A nice benefit to hosting these events is that several organizations are regularly looking for speakers for their meetings. They can provide a group of qualified prospects for you - without you having to go find an audience yourself.

Cross Promotions

Partner with a business similar to yours but not in direct competition with you. Advertise each other's products or services to your clients, and it can be a win-win for both parties (for example a florist and an event planner, or a hair stylist and a massage business). In addition to being a source of free advertising, this is a quick way to directly reach your target market.

Press Releases

You can hire a public relations consultant to carry out an effective but expensive PR campaign, but you can also write a basic press release to your local paper yourself - for free. There is a strategy to writing a good press release that will get your news published, so look at a few sample press release before you send yours out. You can find a few on the web by doing a simple search. Focus on presenting interesting and exciting news that people will want to read (news about your business, but also how it may affect the readers). The more interesting it is, the more likely it will be to get published.


Home Business Center, Inc. lists a variety of do-it-yourself marketing tools and resources that small business owners can use to grow their businesses, see 32 more ideas at Home Business Marketing Ideas

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