You want more effective marketing, right?

Marketing is essential to a company’s success. It gives you a chance to get the word out, differentiate, and attract customers to your brand. A successful marketing strategy can have a drastic effect on your bottom-line. Contrary to popular belief, even great products need to be marketed. You know that’s true when a company as creative and successful as Apple spent over $1 billion on ads in 2012.

As an entrepreneur, you’re looking for the best return on your marketing investment. Traditional advertising platforms like newspapers, radio, and television don’t always find your target audience and can be expensive. The goal is to create a marketing strategy that reaches your desired customer, doesn’t break the bank, and gives you exceptional returns.

Try these low budget marketing ideas to get tons of exposure and big returns.

1. Team up for giveaways.

Partner with other companies to promote large contests with large prizes as opposed to offering small giveaways from just your company. The businesses involved can pool support and marketing manpower, combine contact lists, and immediately gain social media followers. This results in a big bang for a fraction of the buck.

2. Encourage user-generated content.

Users market your company each time they post to your website or social network pages, so make it easy for them. Many popular companies have websites which are largely community-driven. Consider creating a contest for the best post. User-generated content is free, make it a part of your low budget marketing strategy.

3. Stimulate customer referrals.

Give your customers incentives to refer their friends and family. Boost your referral program with cash incentives or discounts to the customer and to the referral. One very important thing for you to remember, only satisfied customers will refer your business.

4. Leverage social media.

Social media offers an abundance of cost-free venues like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter for advertising your brand. For a little more money, consider creating a YouTube video. The possibilities for low budget online marketing are endless. Many companies are good at creating social media accounts and bad about actually using them. Don’t be that company with the last Facebook post from last December.

5. Got brand ambassadors?

Brand ambassadors act as company representatives by getting the word out about your business using social media and industry websites. Hiring a couple of college students for a few hours each week to act as your brand ambassadors is low budget by anyone’s definition.

6. Old campaigns are new again.

Repurpose and reuse, and it works for your previous campaign ads too. Reuse what works and toss out the aspects that didn’t perform as well. Update a previous marketing campaign with current products and services. This practice will also help you maintain the consistency of your message,

7. Utilize online marketing tools.

Many online marketing tools are typically low-cost or free. SurveyMonkey is a great resource for free online surveys and questionnaires. Use it for polling your target market. MailChimp is another free service for managing email lists. Hootsuite is a great tool to maximize your social media marketing efforts. And these are just three examples!

8. Get rid of weak ads.

Poorly performing ads are a waste of money. When you consider how people watch television or get their news, it’s not surprising that 46% of ads go unseen. If you do not see results from current ads, why are you still using them?

Marketing your brand on a budget can be an overwhelming process, try these tips to save money and time. There are plenty of free or inexpensive marketing tools and lots of free professional advice online, take advantage!