By Christian Nellemann, founder and CEO of XLN Business Services,

1. Understand how you’re already marketing
What is it that you do to get customers through your door week after week? Is it your presence on a busy street, your shop signage or word of mouth that is bringing new customers in? Understanding where your customers are coming from can be as cheap and easy as asking them the simple question “Where did you hear about my business?”

2. Find new and improved ways to market
You now understand what brings people in already, but are there other ways you could attract customers that wouldn’t cost too much?

Identifying new marketing opportunities is important as you cannot assume that one form of marketing which has worked for you once will continue to work in the future. For example, if you open a new shop you might expect to get some new customers as people become curious about what you do. But as time goes on, people’s curiosity soon wanes and the amount of customers drops. Your existing marketing channel (having a shop premises on a busy street) is no longer effective.

But what else can you do to appeal to more customers? How about an ad in the Yellow Pages, or perhaps distributing a leaflet with a map of how people can find your shop? How about something imaginative like giving out balloons or offering free product samples? Depending on your product or service, you might find internet marketing channels effective —for example, setting up a website or asking your friends to recommend you to others via Facebook or Twitter. You don’t need to be an expert to begin using any of these forms of advertising as the costs can be very low indeed. So why not ask a business owner you know if they have tried any of these forms of marketing - and then give them a go for yourself!

3. Eliminate any ineffective ways of marketing that you pay for
One simple way to see if a form of marketing is effective is simply to keep a record of the dates when you distributed the leaflet or advertised in the yellow pages. Then compare your takings with the amount of money you made before you began using that form of marketing. If there is an increase, then maybe you’ve found a new way to market your business! The key, however, is to not spend any money on marketing activities that aren’t increasing the amount of money you make in return.

So in summary, if you want to increase the amount of customers you get, start by take a hard look at what you do, spend a little money to see if you can find new ways of marketing and then cut back if they don’t work.