Have you been struggling with your budget and worrying about how to grow your business with no money? Don’t sweat it.

Funding for marketing can help, but you don’t need to spend a dime to attract new customers and increase sales.

Small business owners often face the dilemma of having too little cash to prioritize growth, leading many to put growth on the back burner. But your business can thrive if you adopt the right tools to streamline your processes, while applying creativity and innovation to your marketing efforts.

The 11 tips below answer the question of how to grow a small business on a shoestring budget and have the power to open doors for bigger developments in the future.

But First, a Few Small Business Marketing Statistics…

For most small business owners, customer acquisition is one of the toughest challenges. Many also struggle with driving website traffic to generate leads. Building a growth strategy can help you hone in on the steps you must take to overcome these hurdles and achieve your goals.

A lack of cash, however, can be a big roadblock. 22 percent of small business owners say they lack the time and resources for marketing.1 in 10 don’t do any marketing at all. If you’re among the 15.3% of business owners handling the process without a marketing team, it can be tough to develop and execute a viable plan.

The good news is 37% of small business owners put less than $10,000 toward advertising per year. In 2018, the overall average spend in 2018 amounted to only 1% of revenue. These numbers show you can find and implement small business marketing strategies that work without spending yourself into bankruptcy.

How to Grow Your Business: 11 Strategies & Tips

No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a lot of competition out there. It’s time to streamline processes, differentiate yourself and provide amazing value to your customers – all while staying within your budget.

Here’s how to market your business for free and get on the fast track to growth.

Thrive on Referrals

Referrals aren’t only easy to get; they’re also generally the easiest customers to close. Because your network understands your business model, the leads they refer tend to be better customers, too.

Offer existing customers a perk in exchange for referring friends and family to your business. They’ll happily talk up your brand for a chance to get discounts or free products.

It may even make sense to develop an affiliate program, allowing interested customers to sign up for personalized links. This way, they can refer people to your website and earn rewards in the process.

Connect Personally with Customers

It’s a sad fact that 14% of small businesses fail because they ignore their customers. People want to know you’re listening, so review your customers’ profiles, order histories and buying habits.

Set up targeted campaigns with personalized discounts for the products they purchase most. You can also put in the extra effort to send handwritten appreciation notes to your most loyal customers on birthdays and holidays.

Forge Strategic Industry Connections

Find other small business owners catering to similar audiences but whose products don’t directly compete with yours. Set up a collaborative promotion, such as an online contest or a local event, to attract more customers than either brand would on its own.

Don’t Neglect Your Email List

91% of the people already doing business with you want to receive promotional emails. With email marketing tools like MailChimp, this can be completely free.

But you need to send more than advertisements. Craft regular, relevant, interesting updates to nurture connections with customers. When you apply these tactics while steadily growing your list via your website and social media, email can generate an average ROI of 122%.

Win an Award (and Get Recognized)

Look into local and national business awards, and apply to any for which your company is eligible. Getting recognized as the “best of” in a local category, voted as a top place to work or included in a high-profile blogger’s roundup of small businesses in your niche distinguishes your business as special, piquing your audience’s curiosity.

Make Social Media Interactions Meaningful

Don’t waste precious social media space posting in-your-face ads. Instead, leverage your presence to connect with your customers. Respond to their posts. Have real conversations. Use their feedback to make your business better.

Engaging with customers this way can prompt them to spend 40% more in the long term.

Embrace Digital Collaboration

Efficiency is essential for growth, but 80% of small businesses are still wasting time using pen, paper and spreadsheets to manage tasks. Switching to cloud-based business apps reduces errors and enables collaboration by bringing your most important information together in one place, where it can be updated and shared in real time.

Automate Everything (or Nearly Everything)

Use tools like IFTTT, Zapier and Buffer to automatically push data from one app to another based on specific triggers. Setting up custom workflows streamlines business processes and puts marketing on autopilot, enabling you to work in less time.

Maintain Prominent Online Business Profiles

Claim your Google My Business profile to increase brand visibility in local and mobile searches. Fill in all the details completely, including contact information and hours of operation. Add pictures of your location, your team and anything else you think will generate interest. You can also post updates and special offers to attract interest based on limited-time deals.

Do the same with your personal profile on LinkedIn; this makes it easier for other business owners to find you and reach out to network.

Be Generous and Charitable

Customers appreciate businesses that give back, so show your caring side by partnering with charities whose causes you believe in. To promote your brand as a proud supporter, share the story of why you chose a particular charity on your website and in your marketing materials.

Help the Press with Your Expertise

Reporters are looking for stories, and your business could be featured in the next big economic or human-interest piece. Get in touch with local newspapers and TV and radio stations, and offer to share your expertise in an interview.

Having trouble finding people to talk to? Check out HARO—Help a Reporter Out. This site connects reporters with sources to flesh out stories, and getting your business name in one of their publications has the potential to attract a lot of attention.

Take the Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business to the Next Level

Let National Business Capital get your small business on track for growth. Through our marketing services, you can take your business to the next level!

Once these practices begin to spur growth for your business, you’ll be ready to move on to more advanced tactics. A business line of credit expands your marketing budget and allows you to invest in paid advertising on search engines, social media and local media outlets, as well as trade show booths and event marketing. Growing your business before applying for funding can give you a better chance of qualifying for more credit, which you can use to purchase equipment or start expanding your location.

To get started, apply now!