Are you looking for new ways to stand out against the competition? Here are some creative marketing ideas to help you promote your business.

Marketing is a neverending story. A rule of thumb for businesses is to spend 2 percent of annual sales on marketing and advertising.

But for many small businesses, this figure isn't enough to cover the high expense of buying ads. Turning to creative marketing strategies are the best way to get the most out of your budget.

Check out these 10 creative marketing ideas that will help your business stand out amongst the competition. 

1. Do Community Service
One of the easiest ways to market your business locally is to volunteer with a charity. The win-win situation allows you and your employees to connect with a great cause while creating an opportunity for press coverage.

Wear t-shirts bearing your company logo while you volunteer. Be sure to get photos of your team involved with the charity.

An ongoing partnership between your business and the charitable organization opens the doors for marketing exposure throughout the year. 

2. Share Your Story
Send out a press release each time your business reaches a milestone that's relevant to your community. Partnering with a local nonprofit to alleviate a social issue is a great story to share.

Increase your visibility by reaching out to neighborhood newspapers and email newsletters first. The competition to get stories into these publications is much less than pitching to the top magazine in your city. 

3. Create Video Content
Videos are important in building a personality for your brand. Share your journey as a business owner or the stories of your customers over video.

Customers like to hear testimonials that reveal the value of products and services. Videos are a tool that can be repurposed as advertisements, social media content or footage for TV screens in your office lobby. 

4. Host a Social Media Contest
Giving away free stuff will get your audience's attention. To make this creative marketing idea successful, it's important to first know your target market.

Research their pain points to learn what giveaway is most relevant and when. Good timing means getting more participation and opportunity for press coverage.

For example, giving away a beach vacation is best in late winter and early spring when families are planning for spring break or summer. Knowing the lifestyle of your customers or clients means more engagement to your social media posts promoting your event.

The more your customers like or comment on your post, the more likely the post will appear on the timelines of their friends. 

5. Giveaway Promotional Items
Promotional items such as wristbands are a must when marketing to clients during events and conferences. Make your wristbands in advance of a tradeshow to have on hand to those who visit your booth. 

The benefit of the promo item is keeping your company name top of mind. These promo items will find themselves on the desks of your customers for months to come. 

6. Sponsor an Event
Supporting the community doesn't always happen through volunteering. Your business can sponsor a local or national event for brand exposure.

The strength of event sponsorships is brand association. When you sponsor alongside major Fortune 500 companies, your brand awareness increases.

Event attendees associate your brand with the credibility of other participating sponsors. 

7. Host an Event
Another creative marketing technique for business owners is hosting a special event. Events that promote goodwill in the community like a 5K for charity or family festival give you ongoing chances to promote.
Collaborate with other business owners to expand your resources. The more people you can attract to your event, the more brand awareness you receive. 

Events hosted in your store or office are helpful because it brings customers to you. Be sure your space can easily accommodate the crowd you plan to attract.

A negative event experience can be detrimental to your reputation and sometimes means getting fewer attendees at future events. 

8. Create an App
Launching an app for your business is a great way to get exposure. Organic searches in the app store can yield thousands of impressions per month. 

An impression is the display of your company in search results. The key to creating an app for customers is relevance.

For example, if your business is a day spa, an app that automatically checks in clients when they enter your business is a win. It automates a task for your company and saves the client time.

9. Join the Local Chamber of Commerce
Networking with other business owners has its benefits. Nonprofits aren't the only partners who can help your company get exposure.

Cross promoting goods and services with other businesses opens the door to customers you could not access on your own. Established businesses can offer leads on creative marketing opportunities as well as advise you on how to avoid local scams. 

In most cities, the chamber of commerce requires an annual membership fee to get started. They host regular events to bring businesses together to promote commerce in your city or neighborhood.

10. Get Certified
Getting certified is a form of creative marketing that gives your business access to new contracts. For example, the Small Business Administration's 8(A) certification qualifies you for certain government contracts.
Women and minority-owned businesses have separate certification opportunities than can be used to market themselves to professionals in supplier diversity programs. Add the certification logo to your business cards and website once you complete the process.

Financing Creative Marketing Campaigns
The return on investment for creative marketing campaigns is not always immediate. Marketing that relies on relationships requires that you spend time nurturing a partnership before expecting results.
Financing a marketing campaign can be tricky during these times. It's important to be patient knowing that the investment will pay off exponentially in the long term.
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