Are you trying to figure out how to start a business without breaking the bank?

The only way to succeed as an entrepreneur after starting a business is to figure out a cost-effective way to grow your business. As a small business owner, you may be struggling to come up with marketing strategies that are cost-effective and that reach your target audience.

The solution is pretty simple. When it comes to marketing, you need to put in the time and effort, do your research, and think outside the box. It is important to employ different marketing methods that you haven’t tried before. Don’t be afraid of some trial and error to find techniques that work for you. Remember that in the quest of starting a business, you cannot be afraid to take chances.

Here is a list of some marketing ideas for you to try:

1. Be unique.

What distinguishes you from your competition? Find out what it is and promote that difference. Maybe you have a unique slogan or a variation in your product, or maybe you’re seen differently by the general public. All of these are unique aspects to highlight in your advertising.

2. Cultivate alliances with other businesses.

Do some research and try to find businesses that reach your target audience. Once you’ve identified them, brainstorm some ways you could work together. Strategic alliances can expand your reach and increase your profits.

3. Divide and conquer.

Take a close look at your market and see if you can segment it into smaller groups. Look into creating products or services that appeal specifically to the needs of those smaller segments. When you focus and speak to smaller markets your marketing messaging becomes much more effective.

4. Consider expansion.

Research the possibility of expanding into new markets. For example, if you sell coffee, look into selling to local restaurants or banquet halls as well as directly to customers. Or, if you offer IT services to small business, look into larger companies or government agencies. Or, if you are building websites for attorneys, start offering content marketing services for law firms.

5. Survey your customers.

Talk to your existing customers and ask them for feedback. Find out what you’re doing well and what you could improve on. If you see a trend emerging, then take steps to act on it.

6. Get a website.

If you are not already on the web, get a website. There are several affordable options out there. I do recommend you hire a website professional if you expect results.

7. Put your name on the map.

Take the time to get listed in Google Places. It is an easy process and only requires verification of your address and phone number.

8. Socialize.

Put some effort into getting involved on social media. Find out which social networks your customers use and open accounts. Make sure you fill out your profile completely and with accurate information. It only takes a few minutes a day to post and it can make a huge impact. Also, add share buttons to your website and encourage visitors to use them.

9. Use snail mail.

Direct mail may seem a little old-fashioned, but it is still an effective tool. Sending customers coupons or fliers may get them in the door.

10. Use email too.

Contact your customers regularly with special offers, tips, industry information or other content that may get them to visit your website or store.

11. Don’t forget the telephone.

List your phone number on your website and in all of your print advertising. You can also add a click-to-call link to your site to make it easy for smartphone users to call.

12. Take advantage of local advertising.

Place ads in weekly shoppers and the classified section of your local paper. You can even run ads on online editions. This is great for local small businesses.

13. Give it away now.

Offer your customers an incentive, like a gift for spending a certain dollar amount.

14. Be tenacious.

Keep trying different techniques until you find the ones that work for your business. Don’t give up. Remember, you didn’t learn to walk on the first try. It took a lot of falls before you got it right.

15. Don’t procrastinate.

Start formulating these marketing ideas and putting them into action today. If you put it off, it may never get done. A good technique is to try a new idea every week. Keep the ones that work and discard the ones that don’t

At the end of the day, marketing will be very specific to your business. If you put in the time and effort to find strategies and techniques that work for you, the results should be nothing but positive.

photo credit: fènghuáng on 10000 yen note