A New York Times classified ad is priceyApparently a five-line classified ad in The New York Times costs $301.60. I guess it depends on your industry, but I kind of doubt the average company is going to see more than a $300 ROI for such an ad. But, that’s okay – you don’t have to! Building your brand can be done for a heck of a lot less money than The NYT’s $300 price tag – not to mention much more effectively.

#1 Build Your Brand Through Thought Leadership

You’re good at what you do – better than most people. Why not let people know about it? Writing articles that demonstrate your thought leadership is a great (free) way to build your brand, trust, and authority. Get started with these 11 ‘Golden Rules’ from Fast Company.

#2 Send Out a Press Release About Your Company

As a PR Newswire blog post recently pointed out, press releases aren’t what they used to be in terms of SEO value. However, the press release is still an effective (and affordable) method for disseminating your brand’s message. Regardless of the SEO value, press releases generally tend to create favorable brand impressions in readers. For SEO-friendly PR-writing tips, check out this advice from Marketing Zen.

#3 Partner With Local Organizations

Let’s say you’re an agency that specializes in email marketing campaigns. Why not host a free seminar on creating a strong email marketing campaign? Partner with a local small business support organization to make the event a success. Promote it through your social media channels and include free giveaways for people who share the promotional content.

This is a great way to build your brand’s image, while making a difference in the community. Plus, no matter how clearly you tell people how you do what you do, some of them will always end up buying your services instead!

#4 When Business Is Slow…

It’s time to stockpile posts for your company’s blog. (Speaking of which, a blog is a very affordable way to enhance your company’s image.) Also, get ahead on your social media editorial calendar. If you put this stuff off until the end of the business week, it’s probably not going to happen!

Last Step: Monitor Results

So, how do you know that you’re actually getting results from all of these efforts? Well, when it comes to your social media marketing, you can track the results with one of these five tools. Three of these tools are free and one costs just $39-$99 per user!

What’s your favorite dirt cheap brand-enhancing technique?