Even if your marketing budget is limited, there are still plenty of ways you can reach new customers and spread the word about your business. All it takes is a little creativity and a willingness to invest your time and energy to grow your business without going overboard on marketing spend. 

There’s also a silver lining to free or inexpensive marketing tactics: you can try out several to see which ones work for your business. That way, you don’t have to worry about investing in a new type of marketing that doesn’t actually reach the right customer base. Once you figure out which different approaches and specific channels are best for your business, you’ll know where to focus your marketing dollars in the future. 

To help get your brainstorming session started, we’ve listed 5 simple but effective marketing ideas below. Some are tried-and-true old school techniques, while others leverage the power of new media. 

Build on these ideas and tailor them to your business model and local community, and you’ll be on your way to a marketing strategy that brings in valuable customers without breaking the bank.


1. Create a customer referral program.

With limited wiggle room in your marketing budget, you may not be able to splash out on lead generation. However, if you have happy customers, you may be able to get them to bring in others who would also love your products or services. We all know word-of-mouth marketing works making it worth the time to find a way to inspire your customers to share their positive experiences with your brand.

Fortunately, in the age of social media, sharing is easier than ever. Consider introducing a customer referral program that rewards existing customers for referring new customers. The reward can be simple, but it should also be something of value, whether that’s a discount, complimentary service, or other incentive. Not only will you earn new customers, but you’ll also leave your current customers happy to maintain their relationship with your brand.


2. Conduct a customer satisfaction survey.

Surveys are great on several accounts. First, they provide you with essential data about your customer base. Second, they keep your brand in customers’ minds and, if they’ve had a positive experience, remind them of that experience. Finally, if a customer responds to a survey with a less than positive response, it gives you the opportunity to fix the problem and win back a favorable review. 

Surveys can be conducted in a number of ways: at your store front, through email, or through a post on social media. The key is to keep them short and sweet and ensure the questions you ask provide you with actionable data.


3. Do some one-to-one marketing.

One-to-one marketing is all about building relationships with individual customers, showing your appreciation by giving them personalized attention. Handwritten postcards and birthday emails are a few examples, but the options are endless and can be tailored to the specifics of your industry and the kinds of interactions your customers will value most. 

Best of all, this strategy can be quite cheap–all it takes is a bit of time and creativity. Plus, if you use customer engagement software, you can easily automate these interactions while still keeping them personalized.


4. Hold a business card drawing and follow up with an email newsletter.

Business card drawings are a classic marketing tactic for a reason. They take little to no effort for both the business and the customer, and there’s some fun suspense involved thanks to the luck of the draw. Just put out a large jar or fishbowl at your reception desk with a note about when the drawing will take place and what prize the lucky winner will receive.

By the end of the drawing, you’ll not only have a happy customer who’s just won a free product or service; you’ll also have plenty of email addresses on your hands. Add these to your mailing list and send out a monthly email newsletter using free tools such as MailChimp.


5. Make informative videos that increase brand exposure.

Consider delving into video to capture the attention of new customers. YouTube offers access to a huge audience. With the right content, you can increase exposure to your brand in a cost-effective manner.

You can choose to film videos on topics that are parallel to your industry or videos about your business directly. Many companies find success filming informative how-to videos or answers to frequently asked questions. All that’s needed to start shooting is a smartphone, meaning this is a tactic even businesses with the smallest budgets can try on for size.

Marketing is all about seeing what works for your business and how your audience responds. Adding a bit of variety to how you approach marketing can breathe some new life into your brand and inspire you to reach out to potential customers in different ways. Give these techniques a try to explore new areas of marketing while sticking to your budget.