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Marketing has become an increasingly polarizing topic for small businesses. It works for some and fails miserably for others, usually those who don’t have a lot of money to play around with. This suggests that the only way for marketing to work for your small business is to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on billboards, radio ads, or mass social media campaigns. You have to remember that marketing is a long-term initiative that requires experimentation with numerous different strategies. So, even if you have no problem investing heavily in marketing, why jump right to the most expensive methods before trying your luck with the many less expensive alternatives you can get started with right now?

It doesn’t make sense to make marketing a serious investment without at least a decent amount of data to tell you which direction to go in or whether or not a specific strategy will work. The following inexpensive marketing tactics are where you get that data, while spreading brand awareness and generating leads in the process.

Here are three inexpensive and unconventional marketing tactics for your small business:

1. Joint Efforts With Other Local Businesses

Owners of brick-and-mortar stores must take full advantage of their environment, and this doesn’t just include the storefront itself. Odds are, there are other small businesses located nearby that have the same target demographic as you. They aren’t your competitors; they just sell something that is complementary to your products or services. A sandwich shop, for example, is likely located near a frozen yogurt shop, while a yoga studio might be around the corner from a juice shop or women’s clothing retailer. These businesses have nothing to lose by promoting each other, and they can do so in various ways.

One business could give its customers coupons to another business, or place the other business’s logo on its website. They could post on each other’s social media pages, promote each other to their email lists, or post flyers inside each other’s storefronts. Regardless of which tactic you choose, you are much better off being friends with other businesses rather than enemies. If a group of businesses make products that attract people to the same area, there’s no reason they shouldn’t try to capitalize on each other’s foot traffic.

2. Visual Tools You Can’t Miss

Many brick-and-mortar businesses have found success with visual marketing tools. Restaurants and bars often have chalkboards on the sidewalk advertising new discounts or specials accompanied with a witty remark that caters to their audience. This can be effective even if you don’t have a sale or new product to advertise, especially if the sign is clever enough to go viral.

If your business involves driving around on a regular basis (like a cleaning business or tutoring service), you might want to consider branding your company car with your logo, information and eye-catching decals. Some local delicatessens do this so pedestrians will know they deliver and get a sense of what kind of items they serve.

3. Referral Incentive Programs

Your current customers are your greatest salespeople, but only if you give them an incentive to refer their family and friends to your business. A referral could be rewarded with a freebie, unique discount, or membership to a loyalty program that offers discounts at certain points throughout the year. In this case, you would only pay to gain a new customer, as opposed to spending loads more on a campaign that may or may not work. Current customers are also more likely to refer people to you when you give them a memorable “customer experience.” After a purchase, tell them that if they give you their email address, they will receive coupons, promotional offers and news about your industry on a regular (weekly) basis.

Ready To Take The Plunge?

There’s a chance that once you know what kind of marketing works best with your audience, you still might not be ready to invest a significant portion of your operational funding into marketing. This is a perfect example of a dilemma that can be solved by alternative business financing companies like United Capital Source. We provide unsecured business loans that are specifically tailored for marketing campaigns and other long-term investments. Our selection of small business loans can be used to outsource private digital marketing teams and keep cash flow stable before new sales start to come in. We can tailor programs where largest payments would be made when sales volume increases, giving you plenty of room to pay your digital marketing team and cover other regular expenses in the months beforehand.

Terms That Actually Make Sense

The aim of most marketing campaigns is to advertise new products, services or promotional deals, which are strategically announced around your industry’s busiest times of the year. Busy periods, however, usually follow slow periods, when you can’t afford to experiment with marketing strategies while paying off a small business loan.

But if you choose to work with UCS, we can tailor your payments be smaller when sales are down and you are busy gathering data. With no fixed, monthly payments or due dates to worry about, you can devote all the focus you want to marketing because your success in the busy season depends on it. No marketing campaign can succeed if you aren’t confident about its execution, and that’s why the terms for UCS’s small business loans will never force you to make any negative changes to your business in order to make payments.

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