A business can fall into debt much more quickly than it plans. Too often, small business owners overspend on expensive, wide-scale marketing campaigns. Recognize that it’s possible to make an impact without spending a fortune – with some creativity and careful focus, you can make the right gestures that will get your company noticed by new and returning customers.

So how can you make certain that your business carries out efficient, effective marketing strategies that won’t break the bank? Here are five tips to get started:

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

To maximize the value of your marketing resources, first determine your target market goals by researching and defining the primary demographics and interests, wants and needs of consumers who frequently make purchases in your industry. Once you have that information, put it to action and begin testing what works best for your audience.

You do not need an expensive ad campaign to engage consumers and draw them to your brand, products and services. Instead, set up profile pages on all of the major social media platforms, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

Stay active online and update regularly. Post unique, valuable content directly on your social profiles or link to “sharable” content posted elsewhere. Use your posts to promote sales and new products, offer contests, request feedback and generate discussions about topics related to your industry that also show off your expertise.

If you do not have time, hire an inexpensive social media assistant through a temp agency, Craigslist ad or gig website like Fiverr to keep your fans and followers actively engaged every day.

Create Truly Memorable Content

Carrying over from our first point, when you create and distribute information, keep in mind that these images, articles, and statistics confirm industry expertise for your customers.

Search engine algorithms also typically rate a company’s trust level and professionalism based on its ability to produce original, high-quality content.

Create quality posts on your company blog and guest post on websites that feature text supported by full-color images and other extras like infographics, white papers and videos. Consider offering a free e-newsletter that features attractive details, such as company news, interviews, product reviews, helpful tips and coupons or discount codes.

Instead of attempting an expensive offline billboard campaign, for example, try mailing your target audience colorful, glossy postcards with a clear message. Make certain that your brand is recognizable and uniform with the same logo, color scheme and company tagline at all times.

Network Online – and Off

Networking opportunities generate word of mouth advertising and improve brand recognition and expert status. Make certain that your business appears on major business contact platforms, including LinkedIn, Yellow Pages, Google Hangouts, Google Maps, Angie’s List and Yelp.
Create one or more offline/online groups and join existing groups. Write guest posts for different respected publications. Offer webinars, classes and Q&A and educational live chat and stream events. Submit your opinions about industry and topic-specific articles as comments and ask and answer questions on Q&A sites like Quora. Invest in traditional offline networking and advertising strategies.
For example, co-sponsor or participate in local industry and networking events, show your community that you care by volunteering through one or more charitable organizations and talk to local business owners about promotional partnerships.

Take Advantage of Freebies

The internet offers a broad range of free tools. For example, place social sharing buttons on all of your websites and tag clouds on your blog to make navigation easier. Utilize free stock images and graphics from websites like morgueFile, Pexels and Stockvault and check out free SEO tips, trick and tools on industry sites, blogs and Google Search Console.

Perform keyword searches for free tools like Quick Response code generators that create custom QR codes that connect customers to businesses via smartphone barcode scans. Lastly, use free advertising promotional credits or ad credit vouchers offered by companies like Facebook and Google to expand your existing investment in their advertising campaigns or try out other services to find the right ones that fit your advertising needs.

Offer Exemplary Customer Service

When customers have positive experiences, they are more likely to promote a business without the owner’s prompting. Satisfied buyers typically provide word of mouth advertising by telling family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances about their experiences and recommend specific products and services.

Create a customer service plan that incorporates changes which focus on better service outcomes, such as after-sale follow-up calls and real-time online responses to assistance requests and complaints. Offer meaningful incentives – like redeemable points or cash – and consider setting up a loyalty VIP program that offers exclusive money-saving coupons and deals and free branded promotional items and product samples.

As these strategies reveal, you do not have to rack up debt or take out a business loan to create and implement a successful marketing campaign. You just need to know how and where to find inexpensive tools and use a little ingenuity to grow interest in your company and generate buzz behind your fledgling brand image.

About the Author: Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance for millennials and college students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.