If you put marketing on the back burner during the ongoing crisis, you’re not alone. Here are some ways to bring marketing back into your operation without breaking the bank.

Franchise Your Business

Schedule a FREE one-on-one session with one of our Franchise Advisors today and we’ll help you start building your franchise organization.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the world of entrepreneurshipmarketing is everything. Regardless of the quality of your idea, the skills of your team, or even the amount of capital you’ve raised, you’re in for an uphill battle if you can’t develop a large and loyal customer base.

With all of the uncertainty of the past year, many businesses have struggled to remain afloat, let alone to focus on growth-oriented marketing. In order to survive, they’ve had to adapt flexibility on everything from their business model to their mission statement. Because of this, marketing strategies have had to take a back seat in favor of higher priority initiatives. However, over time people have become more acclimated to the ways the business world has evolved, both in the way businesses are run and their client-facing operations.

Entrepreneurs are now beginning to move beyond mere survival towards a growth trajectory in 2021. However, many traditional marketing strategies come with some unfortunate downsides that amplify for businesses still recovering from the past year’s volatility. For instance, we know that social media advertising works, but is expensive to sustain. Content marketing is also effective, but often time-consuming and requires a degree of consistency and oversight that might be difficult to maintain for an entrepreneur focused on many things at once. 

Those examples are just a few of the downsides that may make you think that effective marketing strategies are still out of reach for your company.  Yet if you wait until you have ample time and capital to dedicate to marketing, you might miss out on some valuable customers. Here are four easy and inexpensive (sometimes even free) marketing strategies that you can implement right away. 

Related: Make Sure to Ask Yourself These 3 Business Questions for 2021


There are few things in life that bring more joy than getting something for free. Particularly, if you hold a giveaway for a set number of customers or clients, you leave the winners with a lasting positive impression and sense of value. Simultaneously, you’ll implicitly encourage others to become or remain customers in hopes of winning the next giveaway.

One of the keys to good marketing is to target customers individually and make them feel noticed, so you reap extra benefits if you can cater the giveaway to your customers’ interests. If your clients or customers are local, you can give away gift cards for local businesses, like a neighborhood coffee shop. This will also help you form relationships with other small businesses and might even score you some discounted giveaway materials.


2020 may be over, but cold weather and continued restrictions make it feel like we’re still stuck. As the winter continues in some areas, it may be a great time to run a seasonal promotion for your services. Whether the promotion is a big discount or caution of a future price hike, it can help give both returning and new customers a sense that your company is focused on the future. 

Related: 9 Ways to Support Your Local Economy During a Crisis


Most business owners want more referrals, but they rarely take the time to create a comprehensive referral system. While this strategy does require some added time and energy, it will actually save time and increase your revenue in the long run.

A referral is valuable not just for growing your customer base, but also for obtaining credibility with your new clients. Small incentives, from personalized notes to Amazon gift cards, will encourage people to continue making referrals and make them feel like your business values them and their networks. 

Community service

Showing kindness to your company and ommunity at large is crucial for all aspects of your business. Whether it’s making a donation or having your team help give food to the homeless, helping out not only makes you feel good, but also shows your customers that you care. This helps win and retain business from clients who prioritize community well-being, while simultaneously instilling confidence that your company has a strong sense of community values. 

When clients and customers see you as an active community member, they’ll want to support you even when times are tough. This unparalleled loyalty will help you maintain and grow your customer base as you scale your business. 

Related: How to Build Your 2021 Business Strategy in the Face of Uncertainty