Many entrepreneurs feel discouraged because they don’t have the funds to spend on huge marketing budgets and they, wrongfully, assume that it isn’t possible to find effective ways to market their business without having stacks of cash in their pockets to help promote it.

However, this really isn’t the case at all.

Marketing is simply about getting your message in front of potential customers. And without a huge marketing budget to fall back on, it just means that you have to come up with smart and creative ways to get your business out there.

When working with a small marketing budget, you quickly realise that creativity becomes your biggest asset.

Here are five ways to market your business for virtually no cost at all:

1 – Build a loyal and engaged social media following

It’s no secret that social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat give you direct access to millions upon millions of people who could be potential customers.

To build a decent sized tribe of social followers, you can’t be an average Joe who blends into the background. With so much content whizzing around these social platforms at any given moment, you need to cut through that noise. And you do this by being creative, being different and being interesting.

As you continue to grow your social audience you will have before you a tribe of interested prospects who you can market your products and services to over and over again.

Once somebody follows, likes or connects with you online, they are clearly showing an interest in you, your company and, ultimately, the products and services which you can provide.

With all that said, you must bear in mind that the purpose of social media sites is that they are…well…social (the clue’s in the name). So, if you constantly flood your news feeds with advertisements and sales pitches, you will drive your audience away in droves.

Instead, provide valuable and interesting content. And encourage your audience to engage in your content, either though likes, shares or comments.

2 – Develop a referral system

Referrals are one of the quickest ways to grow your client base.

The reason for this is simple. If your existing client who uses your current products or services refers a friend to your business, their referral comes with a personal testimonial. They speak from first-hand experience of how your product/service helped them to achieve their goal.

To set up a quick and easy referral system, you could offer a discount or a cash bonus to anyone that refers customers to your business.

Say you run a software business – if one of your clients refers a friend, you could offer them one month’s free subscription to your service as a reward for introducing a new customer.

Not only can existing customers be introduced to a referral system, but you could approach similar companies to your own and ask them for referrals. As an example, if you own a carpet cleaning company, you could partner with an Estate Agent for referrals when they sell a house to somebody. And you could either pay them a flat fee for doing so, or offer a percentage of the sale.

3 – Communicate regularly with existing customers

If you have an email list (which you should) of all your customers, it’s crucial that you touch base with them on a frequent basis. However, rather than bombard them with sales pitches for what you are offering, use this opportunity to bring them true value. You could share a link to an interesting blog post or write an email about what is going on behind the scenes of your company.

Communicating frequently with your customers keeps your business fresh in their minds. This way, next time they are in the market to buy something that you can provide for them, you will be at the forefront of their thoughts.

4 – Hit the road and be everywhere

Sadly, for a lot of entrepreneurs, they come up with a great business idea, they put up a website, send out a few tweets and then sit back and wait for the sales to come rolling in.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way and you need to grow your business by telling everyone who will listen to you about it.

Imagine what would happen if you spoke to five people each day and told them about your business and what it is you do. Now you might not be fighting off customers with a stick using this approach, but you never know, that person might have a need for your product, or they know someone else that has a need for that product.

Networking is another great way to tell people about your business. You can attend local business events and workshops close to where you live and, quite often, they are free or only cost a few pounds to attend.

It doesn’t cost you anything to tell people about your business, and you might just find that the results can be quite rewarding.

5 – Shoot a video and spread the word

Video marketing is one of the most effective methods of marketing right now.

You’ve probably noticed that your Facebook newsfeed is full of video content, and with the introduction of Facebook Live, it doesn’t look like video content is going away anytime soon.

Instagram is full of 60 second videos – and with Instagram Stories, there are millions of people now getting in front of the camera to promote their businesses.

You could shoot a quick video giving tips on a subject in your industry. Or maybe host a live Q&A on Facebook Live. Perhaps you could demonstrate how your product or service works with a 5-10 minute tutorial video on YouTube.

With the invention of smartphones, everybody carries around with them their very own video player in their pocket. So, get creative, and start generating video content to promote your business.