small business marketing, small business ownerAs a small business owner, it is often difficult to increase brand awareness on a limited budget—so it pays to get creative. The following four tips can jumpstart your business marketing plan and expand your reach.

1. Team up with other small business owners to double your exposure. Possible ideas include co-hosting customer events, co-branding your offerings, or bartering your services with other small business owners, which will enable you to add them to your client list.

For example, a colleague recently provided me with two hours of media training in exchange for two hours of instructional design advice for an upcoming train-the-trainer session she was developing. As a result, we were able to leverage each other’s expertise to enhance our own customer offerings.

Talk to your tax advisor about how you can account for the value of an exchange such as this one. But for purposes of increasing your exposure, bartering services can help you obtain new customers—and you may also get enhanced visibility where you might not have had any.

2. Sponsor or utilize marketing opportunities at local fundraisers, such as golf tournaments, chamber of commerce events, and association meetings. You can pay to be a sponsor, ask to be a speaker, host a vendor table, or donate items for silent auctions, depending on your budget and availability.

3. Utilize the power of blogs for brand awareness. Regular blog posts can be added to your own website or submitted as guest posts for other sites. These posts may come up in Internet searches, and they will introduce your business to a wider audience.

Choose topics that showcase the expertise your business provides and address common concerns and needs of clients. Writing a 200- to 500-word essay on a topic forces you to craft simple and impactful messages—a key marketing skill that will transfer to other marketing efforts.

4. Tap into social media—an important part of today’s business world, where people connect to network and share ideas. Relying solely on traditional marketing methods like direct mail or cold calling limits your exposure to new customers who may spend a good deal of time online. If you don’t have a social media marketing plan in place, ask other small business owners how they utilize free or low-cost social media outlets and sites.

Each social media outlet has a different audience and style, so get acquainted with and create an online presence for each one. Then, create a plan with weekly marketing themes, posting items in the appropriate format for each outlet. Market your blog posts and sponsorship events in each outlet so you have double exposure. Once you have established a presence, ask clients and other small business owners to endorse you or share your postings with their client base.

Remember: The key to marketing, no matter what channels you use, is to get your name out there and make positive connections with potential customers.

Deb Hornell has been helping individuals and companies grow and succeed for more than 25 years. She is a visionary whose personal brand of “Cultivating Environments for Growth” extends into her consulting practice, her family and friendships, and her newly released book, Good Things for a Full Life. Follow Deb on Twitter and on Facebook.