The most difficult aspect of starting a new business is the challenge of reaching out and retaining customers. The way to do this is marketing, and with a new business or product it can be time consuming and very costly, something many entrepreneurs don’t have

Small businesses and startups generally don’t have the luxury of outsourcing their marketing needs to professionals.  However, there are a handful of marketing strategies available to entrepreneurs that don’t require burning through valuable resources to get this challenge under foot and get their business humming.

Creating local awareness

Gaining coverage in local papers, magazines and websites can increase the name of your business greatly and inform people about your product. Many competitive business may look into hiring expensive public relations firms to help set up, however there are cheaper ways to do it yourself.

Start by researching publications and writers that cover your industry — or local business.  Once you have a grasp on the writers you want to reach and the stories they typically write for their publication, craft a pitch around your business that will pique their interest.

Email marketing

According to a recent survey conducted by “Ascend2”, email is the most effective digital marketing strategy. To help build a community with your customers, starting a newsletter that offers timely information about the business, special promotions or even an inside look at the company will keep your company on their minds and this could build word of mouth.

There are free email services available such as “MailChimp”, which allows small business owners to send marketing emails, automated messages and targeted campaigns to customers. There are also other free sites such as “Sidekick”, which allows you to send one-on-one messages to your customers and notifies you when someone opens an email from you, this is great for a more personal approach.

Using Email allows you to communicate with thousands of potential customers from the comfort of your own home. Whenever a customer uses your service, offer them the option of signing up to your newsletter, this will help build up a list of email addresses for you to contact.

Social media

It’s free, easy to get started and offers a massive network of potential customers.  The hard part is increasing your followers without wasting your precious time.  Make sure you focus on value over volume.  Identify the social channels that reach your customers best – including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.

The goal is to provide your followers with something that’s useful, interesting and shareable. Start small, post a few times a week and learn who your audience is. Once you have an understanding of who’s consuming your content, and what they’re interested in, you can start increasing the efforts.

A website

To be successful today it is essential to have a website. The first thing a customer will do when trying to find out about your business is Google it. An attractive and easily laid out website can make your business look extremely professional and should be the home of your online presence. Your social media channels should link back to your website as much as they can. This will help drive traffic to your site, and is another way of creating sales.

A memorable business card

Business cards are cheap to create and a great way to ensure people remember who you are and your business. Meeting potential customers at an event with contact information to give them right there on the spot is a sure way not to miss the possible opportunity of gaining a client. If it’s fun and memorable they may show it to friends – Effectively they’re marketing your business for you.