In a business climate where big brands are able to outspend small businesses on advertising, entrepreneurs are forced to be scrappy and creative when it comes to their marketing. With budgets tight, maximizing the impact of every dollar spent is crucial to you as an entrepreneur.

Blindly spending on ads without a well thought out strategy is synonymous with lighting money on fire. However, having some creativity, strong work ethic and an advertising strategy can help small businesses punch above their weight-class to compete with big brands in creating bonds with customers.

1. Start a blog/podcast/Youtube show.

Using your expertise as a vehicle for content is a great way to gain exposure. When you're getting started with content marketing create content that is some mix of entertaining, inspirational and informative.

The barrier to entry to create a podcast, blog or YouTube show is extremely low. You can create all content from your smartphone, quickly edit and get online in a matter of hours.

2.Create partnerships with other businesses.

Strategic partnerships with businesses who share a customer base with you but are not competitors are great for marketing--especially if you're just starting out. The agreement could be to co-promote each other or even to directly refer business to each other.

This could be as simple as a local gym partnering with yoga studio to offer discounted memberships at each other's establishments.

These B2B relationships can be the fuel to your marketing machine.

3. Leverage paid and organic social media.

Social media is an amazing tool for marketing your business--if used correctly. Using social media to generate conversations and build a community organically is a great strategy. There's an in-depth article on brand building through social media right here on Inc.

Paid social media is still highly underpriced. I predict the cost for impressions, and clicks will most likely be three to four times higher by 2020.

4. Double-down on your current customers.

The best customer to acquire is the one you already have. Your current customer base trusts you and has already opened their wallets for you.

Looking for new ways to engage your current customers with increased product offerings or price-breaks when someone buys multiple products are great ways to see a bump in sales.

5. Establish yourself as a thought leader.

Positioning yourself as an expert can provide exposure to your business you never thought possible. This can be done through consistent content creation of either blogs, podcasts or video. 

The biggest roadblock in most entrepreneurs' way is putting themselves out there online. Setting up yourself as a thought leader means you'll be simultaneously putting yourself in a place to be judged.

That's fine.

If you're genuinely helping your customers at large then you have nothing to fear.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.