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Whether your business is new on the block or has been around for generations, effective marketing is essential for success. But that doesn’t mean you need to take out a Super Bowl ad. In fact, you might not have to spend a single dollar to win your next loyal customer. Here are 15 free (or low cost) marketing ideas you can run with:

  1. Claim Your Search Engine Listings.
    This should only take you a few minutes, and it’s the best way to make sure that when your customers look you up on Google, Yahoo, or Bing, they’ll find your location, hours, and contact info instantly.

  1. Meet Your Neighbors.
    Getting to know the businesses on your street is a tradition that time forgot. Consider bringing around some product samples or vouchers so nearby businesses can recommend your products or services from personal experience.

  2. Reward Social Proof.

Your happy customers are a free marketing force that can’t be underestimated. When you see people posting about your business on social media, reach out to say thanks, and maybe offer to send them a coupon.


  1. Be a Podcast Guest.

These days, there are podcasts about every topic under the sun. Follow a few in your industry or region and see if there’s an opportunity to be an interviewee or co-host on a future episode.

  1. Start a Blog.

Fresh, original, and relevant content is a key way to boost your website’s search engine rankings, and it can help to build trust with prospects. Don’t be afraid to show the human side of your business.

  1. Respond to Online Reviews.
    Today, many consumers trust online ratings as much as recommendations from friends and family. You can demonstrate your commitment to exceptional service by gratefully acknowledging five-star reviews and offering to rectify any bad experiences.

  1. Leave Reviews for Your Vendors.

Do it for goodwill and good exposure. Vendors can be prime vectors for word-of-mouth publicity, and future customers may also see your review and store that piece of information away (consciously or subconsciously) for later.

  1. Hold a Contest or Giveaway.

People love to win, so giveaways can be a worthwhile avenue for promotion and retention*. And if the prize is your branded product, it’s not only free (or low cost) to you – it’s also a marketing tool itself.

  1. Give Customers a Sneak Peak.

If you have a smartphone, you have a powerful video production studio in your pocket. Video outperforms all other media types on social platforms, and behind-the-scenes or coming-attraction footage will pique your viewers’ curiosity.

  1. Speak at a Local Event.

Your local Rotary Club or other civic organization is probably on the lookout for featured speakers. Pitch a relevant topic that will inform, entertain, and tie into your business’s offerings – without turning into a hard-sell pitch.

  1. Cross-Promote with Nearby Businesses.

If you own a movie theatre and there’s an Italian restaurant across the street, see if they’ll co-launch a date-night special with discounted tickets and tiramisu. Get creative and activate your local network for mutual benefit.

  1. Host a Free Class or Webinar.

Demonstrate your expertise and invite community members to explore your venue and offerings in a new light. If you’re a retailer, consider asking a local creator to lead a hands-on workshop – great exposure for them, too!

  1. Serve as an Expert Media Source.

If you’re looking to establish yourself as a thought leader on a national or global level, check out the free version of HARO. It’s where journalists go to find subject matter specialists for their stories.

  1. Sponsor a Charitable Event.

While being a title sponsor of a major event is definitely going to cost you, providing in-kind support to hometown festivals or fundraisers can be a great way to boost your brand and give back to your community.

  1. Make the Most of Your Banking Relationship.

At Citizens Bank, we’ve been helping small businesses in East Tennessee to grow and thrive for over 85 years. We’re always happy to share our expertise and support our region’s entrepreneurs in any way possible. Reach out today.

*Be sure to review all applicable local, state and federal laws as well as platform terms and conditions to ensure that your contest is compliant.