Many small business owners would love to be better able to compete with their much bigger rivals but don’t know how or don’t have the funds to launch a massive marketing campaign. But you don’t always need to spend a lot to have a big impact. Here are some low-cost (or even free) ideas to market your small business that will get you more customers.

  1. Know your customers

Spend some time getting to know your current customers so that you can not only better serve them but you’ll also be able to attract similar customers with your marketing. You can research your customers using formal or informal interviews or you can set up a free account with an online survey platform such as Survey Monkey to enable anonymous responses. If you’re selling to businesses, you can find a lot of information by looking up your customers online. Your own invoicing system will also have a lot of useful data such as what products, how many and how often your customers are buying.

  1. Stay in touch

Staying in constant contact with your clients and prospects is the best way to encourage repeat sales and enhanced engagement. The best way to stay in touch is via email as research show this is most people’s preferred method of contact from businesses. Sign up to a freemium email marketing platform such as Mail Chip or Drip and set up a regular newsletter to send to customers and leads. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t send too often or you may be seen as spammy and result in too many people unsubscribing. While it will depend on the type of business you have and your target audience, a general rule of thumb is to send your email once or twice a month.
  • Don’t be self-absorbed and only talk about yourself. Instead, include some useful tips and helpful information so that people are more likely to want to read your email and don’t just hit delete.
  • Don’t send attachments on the email as these are more likely to be blocked by email servers. Try to include all of the relevant information in the body of the email or include links to your website.
  1. Create a blog

Adding a blog to your website is a great way to boost your SEO while establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Create regular articles addressing some of the biggest concerns affecting your customers. Make sure people are easily able to find your bog posts by sharing them on social media and including links in your newsletter.

  1. Be more social

Setting up social media accounts for your business is a great way for not only stay connected with current customers but can also be a source of new ones. There are many social media platforms available with new ones being created all the time so the key is to just choose a few where most of your customers are and focus on these. While it may seem difficult to manager numerous accounts, there are tools available such as Hootsuite which can help.

  1. Listen and respond

Communicating with customers shouldn’t be all one way: it’s important you listen and respond to what they are saying not only about your business but also your competitors. There are a number of tools you can use but the easiest way is to set up a Google Alert for a few relevant keywords as well as your business name and that of your main competitors. This will alert you anytime one of your keywords is mentioned online so at first you may be inundated but by applying filters and letting Google know what’s not relevant, you’ll soon be receiving notifications on what people are saying about you online. You can then respond to any issues immediately before they become a major concern; Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook are becoming the platforms of choice for customer service.

While you don’t have to spend a lot of money on your marketing efforts, it does require a reasonable commitment of your time. But when you have a steady stream of new and repeat customers filling your sales pipeline, you’ll know your efforts have been worthwhile.