We’ve discussed Facebook, but there are plenty of other affordable, grass roots-style marketing strategies you can implement to build your business during lean times.

Many online marketing strategies boil down to having the time to work on them. They are often free (apart from the time spent), and so it’s a case of setting aside a block of time every week to work on them.

Here are just a handful of free or low-cost ideas to help reach existing clients and attract new prospects:

Create video tutorials or talks and post them on video-sharing sites. Most of you will have seen the great Will It Blend? video series — they reach out to millions of viewers for a tenth of the cost of a television advertisement.

Post screenshots of your work on photo-sharing sites. A good way to show off your design work is to post screen grabs on sites such as Flickr and the like. You can even make your username your business name or URL. Be careful though, of looking as if you’re spamming, as they all have strict terms of use.

Create an email newsletter. If you’ve yet to do so, I recommend creating an email newsletter to distribute to your clients. Crafting good content and adding forward to a friend tools means they are more likely to be read and forwarded to prospective clients.

Try out contextual advertising. Services such as Google Adwords allow for low budget, short-term, pay-per-click advertising, which you can trial and then track the results.

Spend time understanding SEO. Spending time on search engine optimization can dramatically increase your ranking and have a considerable effect on prospects making contact with you.

Then there are offline efforts as well:

Try asking for (and rewarding) referrals. Ask existing clients for leads, and reward them with a bottle of wine or movie tickets. Simple gifts like these make your clients feel appreciated, and helps to maximize your marketing efforts.

Become involved with public speaking. Offer your services to local business and industry groups, or hold your own talk at the office or nearby conference facilities, and invite everyone you know to attend.

Best of luck with the above ideas, and I wish you plenty of success!

This post first appeared as part of Issue 434 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I was co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

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