5 tips to market your small business on a budgetSpending money in business is supposed to lead to profits. As you wisely invest money into your business, you’ll see growth and prosperity as a result. But if you don’t have extra cash flow, business growth can be slow.

Marketing is one of the most important costs for rapid growth. It can be expensive if you’re looking in the wrong places, but you can find creative, budget-friendly marketing tools and tricks all around you.

“Although marketing may take a small chunk out of your finances, remember that money is not all it takes to get your business out there,” says Arash Asli of the online booking site Yocale. “You need talent, a knack for connecting to your target market, and impeccable timing to create a name for your business.”

As you explore more options for creative, affordable marketing, consider these suggestions.

1. Blog

Publishing high-quality content is one of the most affordable and effective methods of marketing. Many small business owners get a little nervous when it comes to blogging. Writing isn’t everyone’s strong point, and the ins and outs of creating an effective blog can be daunting. But just remember that you don’t have to do the writing yourself. It’s relatively inexpensive to hire a freelancer or ask a well-written team member to handle your blog for you.

Comprehensive product guides, top 10 lists, tried and true tips and tricks, and other topics relating to your industry will keep your content fresh and entertaining while successfully promoting your company.

2. Utilize Word of Mouth

One of the best sources for getting new customers is word of mouth marketing. Nearly 80 percent of customers take into account the recommendations of other people when making a purchasing decision. At its most basic level, word of mouth marketing is free and highly effective. If you offer superior products and service to go with it, people will leave positive reviews online and tell their friends.

If you have a little wiggle room in the budget, use some of it to entice word of mouth from your satisfied customers. Incentivize referrals with coupons, gift cards, coupons, and other freebies.

3. Social Media Influencers

Networking throughout social media is a great way to spread the word about your organization. You can often find new clients or customers by joining groups and searching for customers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other relevant social sites.

As you surf these networks, look specifically for influencers. These are social account holders with a large following who approve of your organization. As you build a relationship with them, they’ll connect you with other customers. You’ll get in contact with people you may have completely missed otherwise.

To find influencers, look among your fan base. Find customers who were satisfied with your services and would be willing to share with others. You can also find influencers by searching hashtags and other influential users to locate those willing to spread the good word about your business.

4. Optimize Your Google My Business Page

More than 70 percent of all online searches are performed on Google. One out of every five of those searches involves local business. Therefore, optimizing your Google My Business account is an excellent way to get instantly higher search rankings, should you register with a Google My Business account. This is especially important if you’re a local business. Your account will make it easier for local searchers to find you.

To increase your chances of being seen online, fill in your information fully. Include your business name, a brief description of what you do, your hours of operation, address, and contact information. Encourage your customers to leave reviews to promote your business further.

5. Email Marketing

One of the most affordable and effective digital marketing tactics is email marketing. Small businesses can use tools to collect emails and send them several times per month for free. Emails increase website click-through rates and conversions for your customers. According to research from Wordstream, 80 percent of retailers say email marketing is the best thing for customer retention.

There are many different tools that are good for small businesses, including MailChimp, GetResponse, iContact, and SendinBlue. Explore the many different options available to you and find one that serves the needs of your business.

Great marketing is not out of reach for small businesses on a budget. There are dozens of options for free and affordable marketing if you’re willing to look.