Capturing the attention of the masses is no simple feat. Instead of investing in traditional advertising and real world marketing initiatives, many small businesses turn to the web to generate sales. Online marketing and promotional efforts often prove less expensive than traditional advertising campaigns, but it’s not easy to create a viral hit. If you’re eager to get people talking about your product and brand, try using the following five tips to get started.

Give Something Away

Giveaways and promotional contents have long been a staple of the marketing world, for one simple reason: they work. Consumers like free stuff! Introducing a new house special or creating a limited edition beverage to celebrate the season? Talk about it on your social accounts and ask people to enter the contest.

Maximize the impact of your giveaway by thinking outside the box. Many brands ask consumers to retweet or share a contest announcement on Facebook to earn an additional entry. If you’re giving away something of significant value, ask users to submit their own content and solicit votes from the online crowd. In an effort to earn more votes, users will likely share your content aggressively.

Partner with Other Small Businesses

Small businesses are often plagued with limited marketing budgets, which makes it challenging to reach a large audience online. If you haven’t already done so, partner with another small business in your area to create a promotional offer or a special event. For example, why not offer a meal for two in your restaurant and partner with a boutique hotel to create a “romantic couple’s retreat?” If you’re a brewery or winery, make your products available through a local restaurant as part of a limited time “pairing menu.” The possibilities are endless.

Not only does partnering with other businesses make your events and promotions more interesting, but if both businesses promote the event online, you’ll reach a far wider audience.

Engage with Loyal Customers

Word-of-mouth advertising is worth its weight in gold. Consumers don’t like to listen to a brand endlessly extolling the virtues of its products, but they love recommendations from friends. When customers talk positively about you online, reward them! Direct message them and give them a promotional coupon, send them a t-shirt in the mail, offer them a free meal next time they stop by. Engaging in a positive way will encourage your customers to talk, talk, talk about your brand.

Pitch Prominent Bloggers

Building an online audience takes time, which is why it’s often useful to work with established blogs and websites who can share your brand with their existing fanbase. Work to identify some influencers in your industry and contact them with a great article idea. If you find a well-respected reviewer, consider sending them a case of your product for an unbiased review. There are plenty of ways to explore building a mutually-beneficial relationship with these movers and shakers.

Support Charitable Causes

Do you know why so many businesses support charities? It’s not simply because they’re benevolent—it’s also good for business. Whenever possible, sponsor local groups and events. When the marketing materials are published online, your logo will be distributed to the masses, in turn generating interest in your brand.