Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months, you know that the economy is having its struggles. Because of this, companies are trying to cut back on spending wherever they can. One area where many businesses are trying to get the most out of their budget is marketing. While I don’t think you should cut your marketing budget unless you absolutely have to, I do feel it’s important to point out some of the free ways you can market your company.

While this list doesn’t include every free promotional opportunity out there, it does give you 5 great places to start marketing your business for free online.

Social Networking– Without a doubt, social networking is the hottest online promotional tool for businesses of all sizes. Twitter, Facebook,  and other social networks give you the opportunity to connect with others who share your interests. This helps you build authority, trust, and new connections with both other business people and potential consumers. Remember, it’s called social networking. Be a contributing member of your network, and you’ll experience more success on these sites.

Online Press Releases– The Internet has completely changed the face of press release distribution. No longer do you have to fight tooth and nail to get your press release picked up by the local newspaper. Now, you can distribute it yourself to millions of potential readers online. Free press release directories allow you to publish business pieces online. The great thing is that since Google and other search engines crave fresh content, your press release will rank very well for relevant keywords. That’s why you should make sure to place keywords in the title and body of the content.

Guest Blogging– The number of people reading blogs has increased significantly over the past few years. For many Internet users, the blogosphere is their preferred source of information. What does this mean for your business? You need to be blogging. But in addition to contributing to your own blog, you should be looking for opportunities to guest post on popular blogs in your industry. Build relationships with other bloggers, and ask them if they’d like you to contribute a piece to their site. Most of the time, they’ll say yes. This gives you the opportunity to write to a whole new audience and to build your authority in your industry.

Local Listings– Is your business listed in Google Local, Yahoo Local, and other directories? If not, you’re missing out on a free opportunity to get your name out there and to appear higher in the search engines. With Google Local, whenever someone searches for your type of business in your city, your company name will come up on the map listing. It’s a great way to increase your online visibility for free.

Never stop promoting your business. Building a strong brand requires hard work and a long-term commitment.

What free promotional strategies do you use to promote your brand online? Tell me about them in the replies!