You’ve finally decided that you’re going to follow your passion and create your own business. Now you just need to figure out how to properly market your startup on a tight budget. Some things may be running through your mind, like; how will I be able to afford effective advertising? What can I do to gain traction without breaking my small bank? Take a deep breath and read these five tips that will help you overcome this not so big obstacle.

Create eye-catching business cards.

Some people think business cards are old news, but they are still an easy way to get your business name out there. Not to mention, cards are one of the cheapest ways to advertise. Hand them out to every person you meet, walk into businesses and ask if you can leave some by the entrance, lay them on your table as you’re leaving a restaurant. Not only does it get your business noticed, but it can lead to potential clients.

Speak at events or to classes.

  • Check your local community calendar and figure out what professional events are going on and get in contact with the coordinator to see if you can do a quick presentation.
  • Get ahold of college professors and let them know you’re wanting to speak to their class.
  • Marketing business? Present to a majority of the marketing classes.
  • In the finance business? Speak to the mathematics classes about your background and your company’s goals and objectives.
  • If you’re reaching out to these groups, you’re not only doing yourself and your business a huge favor, but you’re educating the community and future graduates about who you are and what your startup stands for.

Be active on social media…but be selective.

When you’re just starting out, you don’t want to be all over the place trying to get on every social media program. Focus on your audience. Figure out the top two social media sites your clients typically use. Cater to those sites. You don’t want to be spreading yourself thin on trying to reach every person on the online world, just starting out. Create your business accounts and start posting once or twice a day, every day. Invite your friends and family to the page and encourage them to bring their friends. Your business won’t be famous overnight, but you will be gaining people who will be seeing your content continuously.

Create online contests.

Once you start gaining followers (like, when your parents and close friends are not your only supporters), start a contest. Aside from the prize, contests are free. The prize can be a gift card or a basket full of cups, pens, magnets, a shirt, anything that has your logo on it. Granted, you don’t want the prize to be too lame where no one participates, so your prize does need to be somewhat interesting. Make sure your rules are beneficial to you. For someone to be entered, have them tag three people, like your post, share it and like your page if they don’t follow your business already. That way the three people that get tagged are looking at your post and hopefully entering in the contest.

Donate to local events.

Take swag from your business and donate it to the local fundraising event happening this weekend. Not only will your donation get your name out there, but you can make it a priority to attend the event and network with the community. Don’t forget to bring those awesome business cards you made.

So, if you’re just starting out or you just have a tight marketing budget, these five tips will help get your business some traction and hardly cost a dime. Remember, marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. What are some of the low or no cost marketing tactics you’ve used for your business? We’d love to share it with our members. Let us know in the comments below!