By Christine Augustus

When you start a small business, a good marketing strategy is absolutely essential. Businesses don’t often come with built-in clients. You have to put yourself out there to lead the clients to you. This can be difficult to do, however, when all you have to work with is a start-up small business budget. It seems like a catch-22 of sorts. In order to make money, you need to market your business. In order to market your business, you need to have money. Right? Not necessarily.

In this digital age, information is easier to access and it’s becoming more and more affordable for businesses to market themselves. Some marketing tools, like social media accounts, are totally free. Other services are affordable and well worth the cost in the amount of business they’ll bring in. Here are a few small business marketing tools that your business can use, even with a small budget.

Get on Social Media

Facebook was founded just 14 years ago, but since that time, social media seems to have taken over. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t on at least one or two platforms of social media — which is great for your business. Many businesses engage in social media marketing, creating Facebook and Twitter accounts for their business to share any news and special offers as well as to connect with their customers.

Try not to spread yourself too thin when you get started on social media. Do the research to find out where your target audience is most likely to be, set up accounts there, and maintain an active presence. You can also run analytics on the effectiveness of your accounts with certain apps, often for a small monthly fee.

Create a Website

It’s important for your business to have a home base online, and for your target audience to be able to find it. Having a custom website created can be expensive, but creating a website through hosting sites like WordPress and Squarespace is much more affordable and often looks just as good. On your website, make sure you use good search engine optimization (SEO) practices, including plenty of internal links and keywords. Blogs are a great way to boost SEO on your site and draw more potential customers to you.

Start an Email Newsletter

The more you talk about your business and the more you build your active presence online, the longer your email list will become, and that’s great. Now you can start a monthly newsletter to keep your contacts up-to-date about all of your business news as well as any special offers that might be going on. Writing a newsletter yourself is completely free and there are plenty of free templates that can be found online, even through GoogleDocs. If you don’t have the time or the talent to write a newsletter yourself, you can hire a freelance writer or a marketing professional to take care of this for you.

Get Business Cards

You never know when you might make a business contact. You could be at the grocery store, at dinner, or waiting for your bus to arrive. Rather than tearing off a piece of paper and putting down your contact information, invest in business cards. Here again, having custom business cards made might be costly, but you can just as easily choose from hundreds of templates from a business stationery website like VistaPrint for a much smaller fee. Take them with you wherever you go, so that any time you mention your business, you can leave a card.

Starting a small business isn’t easy, especially when it comes to marketing. But financially, marketing your business is easier than it ever has been. With the blast of a social media post or a bulk order of business cards, you can spread the word about your business without running yourself bankrupt before you get off the ground.