Smaller businesses can be more constrained when it comes to marketing budgets. Yet, without promotion and publicity, how do you get the exposure to grow your customer base? Even with the best products and services, you won’t be able to thrive if you don’t have someone to sell to.

Fortunately, entrepreneurs who can’t invest thousands on expensive campaigns do have a number of strategies to leverage. Some of these cost little to nothing; others require small outlays. For the best results, apply a few or all of these tips to amplify your profile and really notice a difference in your sales.

1. Offer discounts

Everyone loves saving money, and freebies are even more enticing. They might not only help your business convert leads into paying shoppers; they could create loyal patrons. Discounts and complimentary gifts capture the hearts of potential leads in a number of ways.

First of all, they capture attention and produce an immediate positive emotional association. Second, they give companies a chance to showcase the value of products or services and demonstrate efficacy, to individuals who’d otherwise be hesitant to try. Paying less or nothing eliminates some or all of the risk associated with a transaction.

Best of all, this approach doesn’t mean losing revenue. In fact, it can be a low-cost tactic allowing providers to offload excess stock. Also, businesses can limit discounts to the first 20 or 50 buyers. The element of scarcity can motivate people to act quickly to explore offerings or buy more due to the attractive pricing.

2. Leverage advocacy

Well-targeted paid advertising can play an important part in expanding your customer base, but what about the best kind of advertising – word of mouth? This kind of exposure is entirely free, but that doesn’t mean it happens by accident. At the core of this strategy is happy clients. The happier and more satisfied a consumer, the more likely they’ll make recommendations to family, friends, and colleagues.

A recommendation from this kind of trustworthy source can be a more powerful driver to buy than advertising. In many cases, creating a fantastic in-store experience can be a powerful way to win over buyers and turn them into evangelists. Explore good space design as a methodology for getting more people to value the in-store journey, in a time when online shopping is growing. Good service and the overall shopping journey can be essential factors to strategise about. You can also nudge individuals to share their feedback by adding links to leave reviews and to share on social media. Incentives, such as rewards for referrals, can also be effective.

3. Network with businesses

Have you thought about networking with other companies? Clients make great evangelists, but so can other businesses. Connecting with local entrepreneurs and networking with them can amplify your reputation through a similar word-of-mouth effect.

Link up with other places that have a similar clientele but who are not direct competitors. Do some research and make a list of operations who might benefit from a mutually rewarding relationship with you. Work with them to consider cross-promotional efforts with potential for impact. This could be something as simple as putting brochures and discount offers in your respective reception areas.

You could offer freebies conditional on purchasing something from the partner organisation. Charities, non-profits, and community groups could also be potential partners in this type of strategy. These reciprocation partnerships cost virtually nothing and can massively boost your individual profiles.

4. Build online presence

Individuals go to the internet when they want to research a product or service. As such, every business, from the smallest to the biggest, needs to have an internet presence. An online presence can involve a bit of investment in marketing, but keep in mind the information and content will continue to drive engagement with prospective purchasers.

A significant part of this should involve a website and search engine optimisation, so search terms by your target market lead them to your site. For example, if you operate an accounting firm in a certain town, you’ll want to focus on keywords like accountant and the name of your town. Other essential elements could be getting listed in directories, social media channels, and ads. What’s for certain is your operation needs to be on the internet to be found.

5. Share expertise

Communicating expertise is a wonderful technique to generate interest, engage with leads, and make a strong impression while strengthening a brand. Small organisations in any industry can set themselves up as experts, since every product is addressing a pain point. Share expertise on your website and other websites, or through videos and podcasts. Upload demonstration videos and photo series to show how an offering solves a problem. Becoming a volunteer and providing free advice or information in the local community is another channel for engaging with consumers. For some sectors, seminars and in-person events can facilitate building a reputation as an expert. For other industries, sponsoring services at local events could be an appropriate and effective option for reaching out.

Your company might not have access to a multimillion-dollar budget, but that doesn’t have to be a hurdle to growth. Using creative, low-cost strategies, smaller operations can grow their client base and achieve sustainable expansion. In addition to these cost-effective marketing efforts, be clear about target audiences. Investigate how they make decisions about purchasing and the process they go through to make a final decision. Engage with them to probe their preferred channels for communications. It’s also wise to quantify your goals, with quarterly and annual numbers in mind for new customer numbers. This provides a basis for measuring performance, so readjustments, where necessary, can be made. If you take charge and be proactive about expansion, you could reap considerable results.