When considering all the platforms you have to market your business, you likely think of email marketing, your website, social media campaigns and other traditional efforts for building name recognition and generating leads. Indeed, these are all foundational components of a basic marketing strategy, but even when used effectively, these platforms leave out an essential element to an authentic brand identity – your employees.

Every employee has the potential to promote your company to their friends, family, acquaintances and anyone else they come across. A friendly referral has a much higher value than a cold lead, and is sometimes all it takes to secure a new loyal customer.

That said, this high-value marketing cannot be bought, it’s earned. Sometimes it takes months or even years to build a happy foundation of employee advocates, but it’s worth it.

1. Create a Positive Company Culture
It’s only happily engaged and valued employees who promote an organization and actively represent your brand. So, focus on company culture. Especially in trying times, listening to your employees and participating in their success has the potential to make a big impact on their lives, and costs little more than your time.

2. Create Shareable Moments
Social media is an easy way to involve employees in your business’s marketing strategies. Create authentic, exciting, shareable moments that highlight employees and they will help share the story. Support employee volunteering, organize team-building activities or just bring in bagels once a week. When your employees feel valued, your business only gets stronger.

3. Give Them Swag
If you want employees to promote your small business, why not give them branded items that are fun to wear or use? Give new employees a t-shirt with your company logo on it, or gift the entire company with branded coffee mugs. Your employees aren’t required to advertise your business but if you give them free swag, it’s easier to do so!

4. Share Links to Company Review Sites
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a good review, especially one of your company culture and it’s inner workings. Sites like Glassdoor provide a platform for current and former employees to share their experience at your company. Whether you’re hiring or not, these reviews represent your overall identity. Of course, you shouldn’t pressure your employees to write reviews; it should be their choice.