Of course, marketing is necessary for any kind of business or enterprise; otherwise, how will consumers know what you have on offer?

But do entrepreneurs need to spend a lot of money to get the message across?

For large budget Hollywood studio films, an average of 51 cents for every dollar in the budget is spent on advertising and marketing.

No wonder these films need to gross at least half a million dollars before studio executives can breathe easily. Entrepreneurs are unlikely to be running a Hollywood studio, whose marketing efforts tend to rely on the more traditional methods.

With small businesses, entrepreneurs can be more creative- use a combination of traditional marketing and inventive methods to get your message across.  So what are some effective and inexpensive ways to do this?

Social media

Social media is a fantastic way to reach a lot of people quickly with a minimum of effort and cost.

You can take a more pragmatic approach- if you’re starting a café or restaurant; you can send updates via Facebook and Twitter about special promotions and new menu items.

These types of updates can certainly be effective, but you need to create a buzz!

Is there a member of staff who has a quirky sense of humor?

Perhaps entrust them with the duties of being your business’s Social Media Coordinator, and your Facebook/Twitter can be updated with amusing anecdotes, inspirational quotes or amusingly stupid Youtube clips. These updates might not exactly have anything to do with your business, but they actually come from your business.

It’s about creating a personal relationship with your customers; they get a laugh or something to think about- an emotional reaction to something that came from you and they therefore feel closer to your business.

Network!

Networking with peers (yes, even your competitors) is a great way to build a sense of community and foster productive working relationships.

Consider joining the local business association or chamber of commerce. Sponsoring an event is also a fantastic way to get your name out there and be remembered.

In large Australian cities there’s an annual touring French film festival, and while they have their key sponsors who you probably couldn’t compete with (such as the French Government Cultural Affairs Department and Air France), a lot of smaller businesses also sponsor the event in each city.

This is targeted sponsorship: the local sponsors of the event have chosen it because those who attend a French film festival are likely to take an interest in their product (so sponsors tend to come from company’s such as restaurants and bookstores).

There would need to be some money spent for this, but to be associated with a successful event always looks great.

Everyone loves a party

While your budget probably won’t extend far enough to make it a regular occurrence, some sort of celebration is always well received.

For your opening and perhaps your company’s yearly anniversary, think about holding a small street party with a free BBQ; balloons and face painting for the kids; and marketing material pertaining to your business for their parents.

Your business then becomes connected with a moment of happiness/enjoyment (once again creating an emotional connection with your consumers). Of course, during this event, your business name and logo will be everywhere: on outdoor banners, perhaps even on the kids’ balloons.

There’s no “right” way to market your specific business, although there are plenty of wrong ways.

When you don’t have the budget for traditional means, you can of course be a bit creative, although each step needs to be thoroughly thought out, with a clear end goal in mind to minimize the risk to your business.

You might not have the marketing budget of a Hollywood film, but sometimes it’s nice to not be bound to tradition…

Zohaib Akhlaq is a Digital Marketing Specialist and freelance writer. He is also the founder of HowEntrepreneur.com, a site dedicated to sharing advice on entrepreneurship and small business. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

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