When advertising on a budget, seeing successful multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns can be a bit discouraging. Not all businesses can afford television commercials, radio, or billboard ads. Smaller businesses often rely on free advertising methods, like social media, to project their promotional messages. Even if you’re advertising on a small budget, or even no budget at all, that doesn’t mean that your advertising effectiveness has to be small, too!

Never underestimate word of mouth.

Don’t neglect the power of word of mouth advertising. Word of mouth is spread by brand ambassadors after they’ve had a good experience, or brand detractors if they’ve had a bad one. Positive word of mouth (WOM) advertising can occur by simply going above and beyond for consumers, giving them a reason to talk or encouraging them to tell a friend about the business. Offering “refer a friend” deals can help with this. The more friends that are referred, the more word spreads about the company.

WOM is especially important because there is more trust in this type of advertising. Which are you the most likely to put your faith in, a television commercial about a great new restaurant in town, or a family member recommending you this great new restaurant in town? Word of mouth is more trustworthy than other traditional ads, but that doesn’t always refer to face-to-face chit-chat with friends or family. Whether it’s on social media, forums or comments on a website, a lot of word-of-mouth occurs online. In fact, this WOM marketing has been claimed to be the most important form of marketing and advertising. Utilize the convenience of social media to generate buzz. Understand what exactly your customers like about you, find something unique about the business that you can talk about and keep the customer engaged online. Your ambassadors will do the rest.

Participate within the community.

Getting involved with the people that reside within the business’s community is a great opportunity to get exposure. Fun runs, golf tournaments, or any other well-publicized community event is perfect for a business to get involved and get the company name out there. You can additionally volunteer your services or products for particular events. Not only does volunteering give you a positive image, but it also gives you necessary exposure.

If you choose to sponsor and event, you can bring free samples, informational brochures, and business cards that can generate brand recognition and raise awareness about the business. For some sponsorships, your company name and/or logo will be put on display or on advertisements for the event itself. There are plenty of opportunities to spread the word. Talking about and sharing events that your company participates in on social media can show others that you’re more than just a business, you’re a part of their community.

Don’t be afraid to campaign.

Creating an advertisement is one thing, but campaigns? You might be thinking that advertising campaigns equals big spending, but that’s not the case. Campaigning doesn’t have to mean shoveling out a ton of money. Figuring out the perfect hashtag, tagline, or big idea for a social media campaign can lead to great success for a business who doesn’t have much budget for advertising. Once you’ve chosen a big idea to campaign, be sure to incorporate it in all of your social media posts. Repetition in a campaign is important. The best part about social media campaigns is that it’s easy to use even if you don’t have much time for it. Outlets like Facebook allow you to schedule posts ahead of time so that you can be on time even when you’re busy. Try using Hootsuite if you operate several social media outlets. Hootsuite lets you schedule and post on all social platforms simultaneously, and is an excellent tool for campaigning.

Keeping the consumer engaged and informed through WOM and social media marketing can be a great benefit to any business, big or small. So, having a short advertising budget doesn’t mean that the effectiveness of your advertising efforts come up short as well. With social media, making a big splash in the giant social media sphere is possible for anyone, you just need to show that you’re worth talking about. Great communication is key to not just gain new customers, but brand loyal ambassadors that can help you generate positive buzz for your business.