Many companies see marketing as an expensive waste of time. But unless you can work solely on referrals, you're going to have to find clients and prove your worth. Sadly, too many businesses falter at the first hurdle because they're wary of upfront cost. In reality, these companies are marketing to the wrong people, causing them to not see an ROI.

ProOpinion is a professional network that promotes success in business. "Research proves that 39 per cent of small business owners in the US don't invest in marketing at all," its spokesman said. "That's despite the fact that effective marketing is their main profit driver. These businesses need to look at ways to allocate a small budget to marketing, and use that budget with laser-guided precision to achieve high ROI."

While some startups benefit from venture capital or investment funding, this kind of resource is fairly unusual. Most businesses need to work on marketing to the right demographic from the start to avoid going out of business. To help here are 7 tips to help you avoid marketing to the wrong people:

Avoid casting the net too wide
Pour money into your long tail keywords
Nurture qualified leads only.
Align content strictly to personas.
Segment your marketing databases.
Look at reconverting existing customers.
Hang out where your customers are.

Remember: marketing agencies offer plenty of flashy marketing solutions that cost hundreds of dollars per month. Most of the results above can be achieved using free tools and a little effort.

Small businesses are not alone in struggling with marketing expenses. In larger companies, budget cuts tend to affect marketing departments first. The key is to make better use of the money you have, and use surveys to draw more information out of your clients.

Your customers cared enough to spend with you. Have the confidence to believe you're good enough to convert more. Allocate a marketing budget, and see it as an opportunity--not a waste. If you can efficiently motivate a niche audience, you can unlock the leads that could transform your profitability in a matter of a weeks from today.