12 Budget-Friendly Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Is your small business working with a limited marketing budget and few (if any) company resources? You may not have the money, time, or people to produce billboards, TV/radio ads, mass direct mailings or the like.

Not to worry. There are still lots of high-impact ways you can market your business and stay competitive, without breaking the bank.

Here’s a list of effective, yet affordable marketing ideas that can go a long way on a short budget.

Low-Cost Marketing Ideas

1. Yes, blogging works!

You just need to post the right kind of content. Routinely. Generating relevant and engaging blog content is one of the most cost-effective ways you can market your business.  It’s a free way to promote your products, services, expertise, and passion for what you do—all while boosting your search engine optimization (SEO).

The more you can publish interesting content, the better chance you have of climbing up in search engine results and building credibility with your customer base.

Content is king2. Breathe new life into existing content

Once you’ve created a blog post with compelling content, you might want to share it more than once with your target audience through social media, email, and any other channels that you use for communication with customers.

Pumping new life into your existing marketing materials—including print and video—by updating content with new insights allows you to re-publish and share materials again, continually leading folks back to your brand.

3. Market to existing customers

Add existing customers to your email list and send them any interesting updates and news about your business. Be sure to include a CTA (call to action), like “Contact us for more info!” or “Learn more about our products and services”.

Organize an email and social media communications calendar so that you send updates on a regular basis and keep your business at top of customers’ minds. This increases the chances of them choosing you over the competition.

4. “How many stars do they have?”

How many times have you asked this same question about other businesses? In today’s digital age, reviews and ratings dominate our decision-making process when choosing just about any shop, service, restaurant, or business in general. That’s why it’s so important to request Google and Facebook reviews from your clients—especially those who love your work!

Be sure to share brand-specific Google and Facebook links with your clients that make it easy for them to give you a review and rating. As you start to compile reviews, you’re not only helping people to choose your business (who doesn’t click on the ones with the stars?), you’re making it easier to find your business online as your search engine rankings climb.

5. E-mail marketing is alive and well

Email marketing is not only cost effective, it can also cast a wide net. But it’s important to be strategic about how many emails you send, when you send them, and the content that’s included within. You don’t want to end up in your customer’s spam box.

Develop campaigns around topics or announcements that you know will impact people. Be sure to include links to blog posts, web pages, social media posts, and other content that they might find helpful—and make sure to capture their contact info when they reply.

6. It’s called “social” media for a reason

Nurture your online relationships by offering advice and showing support for customers and prospects when they pose certain questions or challenges.

Connect and engage with other professionals who may know someone who needs what your brand has to offer. It’s best not to come off as being too “salesy” in your social media communications, but instead offer sincere insights and promote meaningful conversation. (It still puts your name in front of them, right?)

7. Team up with other local businesses

Creating promotions with other businesses in your community or industry gives you access to a broader audience. Promoting your products and services in joint efforts can generate free advertising while cross-marketing your business.

By choosing a partner that has an excellent brand reputation, new prospects will come to associate your brand with excellence. Working with another company that is somewhat related to yours is usually most effective (e.g., a financial advisor might want to cross-promote with an estate planning attorney).

8. You’re awesome—you deserve an award!

You deserve an award!Awards amplify your credibility and reputation. Try applying online for business awards and, if you win, you’ll want to get the most mileage possible out of it. To our point about generating great content across all marketing channels, here are a few ways you can use these awards to market your own business:

  • Announce the award (that hopefully came with a badge) on your website
  • Generate a press release to be distributed online and posted to your site
  • Write a blog post about what the award means to your business
  • Share the announcement on your social media pages

9. Join local networking groups

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Getting to know other folks in your community and industry helps build meaningful relationships and lasting partnerships that could serve your business over the long haul.

Attending professional networking events gives you the opportunity to share who you are, what you do, and exchange contact information (don’t forget your business cards!). Sometimes there’s just no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face.

[Sidenote: Groups like this exist online, too. Google it!]

10. Start a referral program

Don’t be afraid to ask customers who already love you to refer you to others. Not only does it not cost you anything, but because they already know what you have to offer, chances are very good that they will refer you to other people who need the same products and services.

Start a referral programIf they offer you contact information of friends and family, be sure to personalize your messaging and approach when reaching out to these new leads. And direct them to your website if possible.

11. Be charitable

Think about teaming up with a local non-profit organization to gain more exposure in the community. Whether you volunteer your time or donate products and services, show how your business makes a positive contribution to the community.

This is a great way to gain more visibility and do something good for those around you—while also getting the word out about your business.

12. Include your web address—on everything!

You already know your company-branded web address is a major channel of communication with customers and prospects, but don’t forget it’s a marketing tool as well.

Add your URL to your social media pages, online directories, business cards, ads, email signatures, brochures, newsletters and any other collateral you give to customers. It will help drive traffic to your site, which can have a positive effect on your search engine rankings.

No Cost, Big Impact

Whether you’re repurposing content or getting the most out of your social media connections, these marketing ideas can go a long way in helping your business maximize your marketing efforts. The great thing about many of them is that—along with being low-to-no cost—they don’t have to be super complicated. Of course, finding time to follow through is always the challenge. If you’re too busy to get to some of these, the good news is…you’re busy! But with a little time and creativity, these marketing ideas can help you get a lot more bang for your marketing buck.

Do you need help getting more out of your marketing? Contact us today for a free estimate on beautifully designed marketing materials of all kinds to help you successfully promote your brand.

Joe Tigan
Written by: Joe Tigan
Joe Tigan has provided writing and content strategy services for global, national, and regional brands across several industries including finance, consumer goods, business consulting, and education. With over 20 years of experience, he has written for almost every medium possible.
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