Baristas take a photo of latte art to promote cafe on social media.
You can utilize free resources to promote your business and even reward loyal customers. — Getty Images/ Eva-Katalin

Marketing your business doesn’t always have to be expensive. Sometimes, all it takes is energy, creativity and 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 full advantage of Google

Customers most often turn to Google first and foremost to find a specific product or service. Google is one of the most powerful ways to bring in new business. And, you don’t need to hire an SEO expert to take advantage of the many free tools Google has to offer.

If you haven’t done so already, start by creating and verifying your Google Business Profile. “Your Google Business Profile (Google's term for your Google listing) is what allows your business to show up in Google Maps results, the local section of Google Search results, and also — when someone types in your business name and location — the right-side Knowledge Panel in Search results,” explained one expert.

Once you’ve verified your Google Business Profile, you can update your store hours, link to your website, and provide contact information to customers. Ask customers to provide Google reviews to boost your listing even more. Restaurants can use TheOrdering.App, a Google product that’s free until January 2022, to offer customers a way to order right from your website, Google Search, Google Maps and more. The more effort you put into filling out your Business Profile — which is free — the more likely Google will show your business in search results.

Reward customer loyalty

It costs, on average, five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Attracting new customers can be expensive and time-consuming. If you aren’t rewarding repeat business, you’re missing out on a marketing opportunity with high ROI. Showing a little extra love to loyal customers doesn’t have to be costly.

Rewards can be as simple as a discount on a future order, or points earned on every purchase. Determine the type of consumer behavior you’re hoping to encourage and design your rewards program accordingly. For instance, if you hope to encourage customers to purchase more frequently, a tiered loyalty program might make more sense than a points-based system. 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].

Create video content

Social videos generate 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. Video content dominates our online activity, and the good news is that it’s not expensive to create your own videos. Marketing videos can take many forms, from tutorials to customer testimonials to interviews and live streams. In a time when many customers have shifted to shopping predominantly online, and can’t handle an item in-person, video can play a key role in encouraging customers to click “buy.”

Creating effective video content will cost you time, but not necessarily money. Sites like Biteable, Adobe Express, Animoto, and Canva all offer free options to create high-quality video content with stock footage and licensed music. If you have a smartphone, you can shoot your own videos and post them to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Instagram Live is an extremely popular way to share behind-the-scenes footage from your business — such as a new product launch, for instance.

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

Share the knowledge you’ve gained from starting your business with others to build trust and a great reputation.

Use email marketing

Speaking of video: combining video content with email marketing can be an unbelievably powerful way to promote your business. First, email marketing campaigns have been shown to generate $38 for every $1 spent. That’s a 3,800% ROI, making email one of the most affordable and impactful ways to reach customers. And, adding video to your emails can increase click rates by 300%.

There are plenty of free email marketing tools on the market. Check out our guide on How to Choose the Best Email Marketing Software to learn more about your options.

Network with your community

If LinkedIn is your go-to channel for networking outreach, that’s a good start. You should be taking advantage of all the exposure that 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.

It’s also important that, as a small business, you become part of the local community. Get involved in community charity drives and fundraisers. If you’ve got a product or service that you can donate to a good cause, look for opportunities to do so. Genuine, well-intentioned acts of kindness and generosity will speak for themselves.

Share your expertise

Whether your expertise lies in plant propagation, pop-up greeting cards or house painting, positioning yourself as an expert can open marketing opportunities for your business. Share the knowledge you’ve gained from starting your business with others to build trust and a great reputation — so that next time someone needs gardening equipment, for instance, they come straight to you.

Beyond video content, blogging and podcasting are obvious ways to show off your knowledge. 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. Reddit and Quora are also free ways to reach niche communities. Offering incisive, valuable comments in those forums will allow you to organically build a reputation as a knowledgeable player in your field.

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, TikTok and Snapchat are all popular platforms 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.

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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