You’re just starting out. You have big plans for your new company. You know you can take over the world but you just need people to take notice. They’ll soon see the value of your product/service. But the thing is…budget. You don’t have one. What’s a future Peter Jones to do? (Which doesn’t mean mass humiliation on Dragons’ Den?)

Here are our top tips for marketing on a budget –

Social media is your friend – it’s free, and it’s word of mouth on a mass scale. If you don’t have the means to outsource to a social media specialist, you can manage it yourself. Just remember to keep the content relevant, regular, useful, on brand, and engaging. It can also be a useful source of information if you follow accounts relevant to you, so make sure you actually read content too.

Social media and Google ads – while we’re not the biggest fans of advertising, it certainly has its place. And online ads can be both affordable and effective. Your audience can be highly targeted and you can start your ad campaign for pennies. It’s a good way to test the water, and if the ads are driving results, up your budget accordingly.

Data – cherish your data. It’s valuable. Look after it, don’t share it, and treat people’s personal details with respect. Contact your contacts but don’t bombard them. Always think –what’s in it for them, why do they want to receive this newsletter when I sent them one last week?

Be where your customers are – do they love shopping on Saturdays? Are they regular golfers? Down the gym, the local art gallery? Know your customer and be visible. That could be sponsorship of an event in the local shopping centre, or sponsoring the 18th hole in a golf tournament. Digital ads on the screens in the gym, or an ad on the art gallery website. None of these strategies have to cost a fortune and can be cost effective if you’ve profiled your customer correctly.

Get your website up-to-date – it may seem obvious but many people neglect their website, meaning prospective visitors are put off or presume the business has gone kaput. The purpose of your marketing efforts is to drive traffic to your website so ensure that it reflects who you are and what you do. It needs to be informative, accurate, succinct, and include a call to action.

Having the budget to allow specialists to manage your marketing, advertising and web design is all very well. In an ideal world. Until you get there, boot-strap and put your marketing head on. The key is to do as much as you can yourself but know when it’s time to call in the experts.