Marketing as an entrepreneur or in a small business isn’t easy when you have a limited budget. You must pick and choose how you market and hope that the resulting decision provides the best ROI. Unfortunately, many small businesses neglect the least expensive, yet most effective, form of advertising: word-of-mouth referrals. No other form of advertising can match the results of personal referrals and capitalizing on this strategy is easier than you think.

Don’t hesitate to ask.

Seriously, just ask. You know which clients love the services and products that you offer, so don’t be afraid to let them know you’re looking for more business. If they have colleagues that could benefit from your services, offer a verbal or written prompt to send them your way. Even if you aren’t actively searching for referrals, posting testimonials on your site or asking for Google reviews is a fantastic way to publicize that existing clients appreciate your work.

Get in front of the right audience.

Sometimes it’s all about broadcasting to the right group of people. This is where good content marketing can do you many favors. Make yourself available, whether on social media or the radio, so that people can start talking about you and the expertise you have to offer. One simple blog post on a trending topic could catch fire and generate several leads. Define yourself as a thought leader and clients will gravitate towards you.

Give and you shall receive.

Encouraging word-of-mouth referrals often occurs inadvertently. Building relationships is a critical component of good business practices, and great personal connections can have professional benefits. If you regularly refer business to your clients, they may be more likely to refer their associates to you, creating a give-and-take cycle that generates new leads for the both of you.

Word-of-mouth referrals may come from your clients, but you still have some control over this brilliant marketing strategy. For all you know, you could be sitting on business leads that haven’t been explored because you’re too nervous to ask for a favor. If you provide an excellent service, your clients should have no issues bragging about you. If you keep hitting brick walls when asking for referrals, you might want to consider why that might be happening. Find out what your customers are looking for and they will find you.