Marketing your business does not mean you have to hire an expensive public relations firm. For most startups and small businesses, the answer is bootstrap marketing -- working with little or no budget to reach your targeted audience with a message that will cause them to purchase your product or service. With imagination and creativity, you can do it all yourself.

Marketing Goals

Begin your bootstrap campaign by clarifying your product brand, which is the message you want to include in all of your promotional activities. People must hear a message multiple times before they recognize and remember it. Maintaining consistency in yours will hasten recognition. Identifying your market is vital. If you sell to a niche, study its demographics so you can focus your marketing efforts on those most likely to buy. Lay out plans to track the different marketing activities you do. Some will work better than others. Recognize the successes and failures and adjust your game plan to adapt quickly.

Internet Marketing

Some cutting-edge examples of bootstrap marketing can be found on the Internet. You can launch an email marketing effort by sending out hundreds or thousands of emails and waiting for the responses. Or you can hire a tracking company to follow who opened your emails, what links they clicked on and more. With Facebook you can target social network groups that match your target demographics. Facebook will also spread the word when someone becomes your "friend." You can place banner ads on mobile phones. Check the rates, which range from cheap to expensive. Tweet all of your customers and friends regularly on Twitter. The more people who know about you, the more successful you will be.

Go Video

YouTube offers wonderful opportunities to promote your business on a shoestring. With an inexpensive camera and low-cost editing software, you can create promotional videos for practically nothing. If you create a series of instructional videos, you can build a captive audience as prospects and customers will keep coming back for more. Invest in an inexpensive camera, such as a Flipcamera, which has a USB port to load your videos directly onto your computer. With a cheap camera, you can create great videos with no fear of losing your equipment. Think creatively and your audience will build.

Traditional Bootstrapping

Not all marketing goes through cyberspace. Companies were bootstrapping long before there were computers. Begin with a creative business card and use it in unconventional ways. You can tuck your card or a promotional flier in books on related subjects at the library. Work with your employees to be your firm's ambassadors. Reward them with time off for participation in charitable events. Participation with groups such as PBS, Habitat for Humanity or dog rescue groups shows your commitment to the community. Join networking groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, BNI international, Leads Club and Meetup. Join Toastmasters to develop speaking skills, then give presentations for trade shows, civic groups and seminars. Record your presentations and duplicate them on compact discs for distribution.