Five Free or Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Starting a new business can be challenging. Even if you have a great idea or product, you may not have many customers right away. Money for marketing might be tight, too. Here are five free and low-cost ways to help you market your small business:

Network At Community Events

Go to your local Chamber of Commerce events and take part in the conversations. Join local associations of professionals in and connected to your field. Strike up conversations with people who aren't direct competition. Ask how you can help them; chances are, they'll reciprocate. At your kids' activities, introduce yourself as "Sara Jones, owner of Sara's Salon and Spa," to get the word out.

Give Away Content on Your Blog

Creating a website doesn't take much time or talent. Make it a habit to post helpful content weekly that's relevant to your customers. Done right, you'll start to find that you get clients via your blog. List your website on your business cards, email signature and social media profiles.

Offer to Speak At Events

You don't need to be an A-list speaker to get speaking gigs, paid and unpaid. As a tutor, you might offer to speak at a PTA meeting. A dentist might offer to do in-office field trips for preschools. A dietitian might go to a Girl or Boy Scouts meeting to talk about health. Even if you don't get paid, you're getting speaking experience. Plus, you get exposure to people you might not otherwise meet.

Ask Customers to Give You Reviews

Having good reviews, and lots of them, give others social proof that you're the real deal. Kindly ask customers to review your services on sites like Angie's List, Yelp, and Google. Consider holding a monthly drawing for a discount or free gift to encourage reviews.

Visit with Potential Business Partners

Let's say you have a cleaning service. Real estate agents and moving companies are people who could refer clients to you. Take your flier or business cards, and a box of cookies, to them. Introduce yourself and ask them to refer business to you whenever possible. Of course, offer to do the same for them.

As always, make sure your business insurance is in place. Potential customers, and business partners, may ask about this. Some may even want to see proof of it. This gives them peace of mind knowing that, should an accident occur, it will have coverage.