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Building a Brand on a Budget To elevate their digital profiles and carve out entrepreneurial niches, more businesses are turning to social media and other free digital marketing alternatives.

By Jason Ankeny Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Building a Brand on a Budget

Chances are that anyone seeking a place to live in and around the trendy Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, Mich., eventually will come across property investment and management company Urbane Apartments. In fact, type "apartments Royal Oak" into the Google search toolbar, and the first result that pops up is the Urbane website--a destination highlighted by photos of the firm's modern, inviting rental units and the young urban professionals who occupy them.

With 16 apartment communities spanning across Royal Oak, Urbane has emerged as one of the region's fastest-growing property management companies. But the virtual prominence of its brand has little to do with its real-world scope. Credit instead founder Eric Brown's decision to extend the firm's message into the social media realm--a move that not only slashed spending on paid property listings, but also afforded Urbane the tools to more accurately communicate the contemporary lifestyle experience so integral to its business.

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