Free resources can help you promote your business.
You can utilize free resources to promote your business and even reward loyal customers. — Getty Images/scyther5

Marketing your business doesn’t always have to be expensive. Sometimes, all it takes is energy, creativity and a savvy knowledge of where to find inexpensive, high-quality tools to help you get it done. Here are a few free ways to promote your business.

Take your visuals up a notch

When it comes to effective visual marketing, quality outranks quantity, but it doesn’t have to cost more. By taking advantage of some of the myriad free tools available, you can up your posting game without making a monetary investment.

Tools like text, frames and templates—available with free apps such as Canva and Snapseed—will reinforce your brand and elevate your simple photos to marketing material. Create quality animations and graphics with Crello. The extra effort required to leverage these apps is a worthwhile investment.

Reward customer loyalty

If you aren’t rewarding repeat business, you’re missing out on big marketing potential. Attracting new customers can be expensive and time-consuming. Showing a little love to repeat customers is the next best thing—after an excellent experience—you can do for them, and it doesn’t have to be costly.

Rewards can be as simple as a discount on a future order, or something more complex, like requiring the purchase of a specific product. Either way, be sure to take advantage of any tools offered by your current point-of-sale (POS) system. Customer loyalty programs are an effective and inexpensive way to show you care about the people consuming your product or service.

[Read more: How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program for Your Business]

Hold a customer contest

People love a challenge—whether it’s guessing how many marbles are in the jar or submitting a photo of themselves using your product. Fostering a little friendly competition is a great way to connect with current customers and potential new ones.

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all popular places for hosting contests and they work for both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce businesses. For inspiration, read the blogs of marketing experts and spend time on the social sites themselves.

Create a marketing video

It’s a fact that videos get more shares on social media than text and photos combined. If you’ve already established a web presence, the addition of video will reinforce the brand you’ve been building.

Creating effective video content will cost you time, but not necessarily money. If you have a cellphone you can shoot your own videos and post them to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. If you want free production advice, there’s plenty available on YouTube, as well.

[Read more: 5 Video Marketing Tools for Small Businesses]

Customer loyalty programs are an effective and inexpensive way to show you care about the people consuming your product or service.

Be part of the community

Whether you’ve got a shop on Main Street or a consulting business operating virtually, your business can be part of the local community. Take advantage of fairs and festivals, and get involved in community charity drives and fundraisers. If you’ve got a product or service you can donate to a good cause, look for opportunities to do so.

Besides making important connections, good works can generate good publicity, but tread carefully. It’s fine to post about your community involvement if the goal is to bring attention to the organization or person you’re assisting. Posts and tweets should not appear to be aimed at promoting you or your company. Genuine, well-intentioned acts of kindness and generosity will speak for themselves.

Network, network, network

If you think of LinkedIn for making connections, that’s a good start. You should be taking advantage of all the exposure the networking site has to offer. But opportunities to interact with potential customers can be found closer to home, as well. Check out local business organizations. Attend trade shows and conferences, and don’t leave home without a pocket full of business cards and an elevator pitch.

On social media, search out businesses that complement your own and forge alliances. Feature each other’s products in your photography, tag each other in your posts and search for other creative ways to boost each other’s brands.

Become an expert

Whether your field of expertise is plant propagation, pop-up greeting cards or house painting, positioning yourself as an expert can open marketing opportunities for your business.

Blogging and podcasting are obvious ways to show off your knowledge. If time doesn’t allow for what can amount to a second career, consider doing so on a guest basis. Contact publishers of websites in your industry and inquire about becoming a contributor. Join LinkedIn and Facebook Groups as well as industry specific discussion boards. Offering incisive, valuable comments in those forums will allow you to organically build a reputation as a knowledgeable player in your field.

Grabbing the attention of today’s consumers takes a concerted and creative marketing effort. The choice is clear—pay for someone else’s creativity, or tap into your own.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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What the new stimulus bill means for small business

Watch our event replay from Tuesday, January 19, where we continue to discuss and answer questions on the new coronavirus relief bill and how it pertains to small businesses.

Published July 15, 2020