Growing businesses often need to get creative in marketing their companies to cut promotional costs and use cash flow for other purposes. You don’t need a monster marketing budget to get the results you’re after.

Whether you sell products, services or a combination, basic principles of promotion-on-the-cheap apply, and are needed now more than ever in today’s unpredictable economy.

Here are several ways to help build your business without spending a bundle.

1. Customize marketing materials for different market segments. Even if a market segment is just one major company you’ve been courting, a customized write up with segment specifics can assure prospects that you have the solutions to the challenges they face.

2. Reward your best buyers. Which companies in your client base deliver the most business – Which customers buy most often? Which have the highest cost-per-order ratios? Offer your best clients “velvet rope” VIP Club offers such as better terms, free shipping, upgraded delivery, or discount coupons via smart phone. These regulars are likely to buy more and buy often.

3. Interact with customers. If you run a retail outlet or restaurant, greet customers as they come in and offer assistance in finding the “right” product for them.

Update your website’s content frequently with easy contact information, and a strong “call to action” that invites visitors to drop you a line with any questions or problems. Include an email module on your website’s contact page that makes it easy to contact you with a question or complaint.

Respond to every email. If a prospect or client takes the time to write you an email, take the time to respond, and do it quickly.

4. Increase your community presence. Sponsor, or participate in, local community events. It builds your brand as a good corporate citizen and an involved member of the community. Take a booth at a job fair.  Volunteer your time and invite your staff to participate  at the regional health fair. Teach an adult education class on your business specialty.

To develop online community presence, update your website with fresh informational content – content that helps, not hypes. Focus on the needs of site visitors, update frequently, and you’ll probably see return visitors interested in your latest post.

A blog is a simple way to update website content. Consider adding a blog to your website to turn first-time visitors into regulars – regulars who eventually make purchases or engage your services.

5. Join service organizations and business development groups. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada State Elks Association, the Nevada Jaycees – this is where you’ll meet some of the region’s leaders – the men and women involved in their businesses and their communities. Volunteer to speak at a monthly meeting. Provide good, useful information, don’t hype your own business, and come prepared with a handful of business cards. This is how business synergies are created.

6. Integrate your business website.  If you own a brick-and-mortar outlet, integrate website and storefront. Offer a printable coupon online that’s good in the store or at your restaurant. That may drive more traffic through the doors.

Point real-world contacts to your website by printing your site’s URL on menus, business cards, and all printed business materials – including the company stationery.   

7. Keep at it.  It takes time to gain a loyal following and build a stable client base. Keep at it. It may take a week, a month, or a year, but low- and no-cost promotional activities can pay dividends over time.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.