Affordable Marketing Ideas for New and Small Businesses
As a new or small business owner, you probably have a tight marketing budget, which can make promoting your business difficult. Fortunately, there are numerous ways in which to market your company – without spending any (or much) money.
In this article, you’ll find many free and low-cost ways to market your business.
1. Create a free Google My Business account
A Google Business Profile is one of the most impactful free marketing strategies available. This tool allows your business to show up on Google Maps, the local section of Google Search, and the right-side Knowledge Panel for branded searches.
For your Business Profile to show up higher on Google Maps or local results, you need to optimize your Business Profile. To optimize it, you need to have verified ownership of it, which is done through your Google My Business account.
Increasing social media engagement and building a community online is a free way to grow your small business while expressing your brand’s personality and building trust with your audience. Create business accounts and participate in the big social media sites—Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
3. Tag people and brands on social media
Tagging your loyal customers, brand evangelists, or even neighboring companies and vendors on social media can broaden the organic reach of your business to a new potential audience, help you grow your following, and potentially even attain more clients.
4. Use hashtags
Another free marketing tactic that can broaden your reach is to incorporate hashtags into your social media posts—on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
5. Take advantage of LinkedIn
Don’t just add network connections and sign out; enter into dialogue with the connections you make, share your blog posts and offers, join and contribute to forums, and share others’ quality content.
6. Local SEO
The best part about Google’s algorithm is that it is designed to serve up the most accurate, high-quality, and relevant content for any given search query. It’s not pay-to-play, so this levels the playing field and enables small businesses to compete with large competitors for page one real estate.
Local SEO is free, but it can take some time, so start now and keep working; the benefits over time can be huge.
7. Institute an email marketing plan
Email marketing is a great way to get new visitors engaged with your business, as well as maintain relationships with your existing customers. And though email marketing isn’t new, it’s still one of—if not the—most reliable ways to achieve a strong return on your marketing investment. Here’s how to ensure that:
Put thought and creativity into your subject lines.
Make sure every email has an offer that encourages your readers to take a next step.
Track your performance and run A/B tests to see what copy and offers resonate with your list.
8. Create infographics
Infographics are insanely powerful as marketing tools. They’re visual eye candy, easy to digest, and people love to share them, so they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and links.
9. Claim free ad promo credits
While massive ad campaigns may be out of your budget, there are often discounts and coupons floating around for Facebook or Google Ads. Some web hosting services offer advertising discount codes as part of their membership offerings. Check and see if yours does.
10. Apply for business awards
Most industries have business awards you can win, providing you with an online badge you can place on your website. Badges like these can boost credibility, and as a result, increase sales.
11. Try guerilla marketing
Guerilla marketing emphasizes creativity over budget, and strategies are often cheap and easy to implement, especially when localized.
12. Create great content
Content marketing, if done with care, is a highly effective tactic that doesn’t require a huge budget. Not only does this serve to demonstrate your authority, expertise, and genuine desire to benefit your audience; but also, Google prioritizes high-quality content that best answers the questions its users are asking. So it makes your website more visible on Google and brings in more free traffic.
A few things to remember here:
Most things that are second nature to you are often foreign to your customers. You are the expert! Original, authentic, and useful content is the key here—how-tos, top ten lists, tip collections, best practices, data insights, thought leadership pieces, and the list goes on (some of these will be mentioned later in this post).
Keep your technical SEO in mind. If you’re creating content at scale, a content delivery network might be worth looking into to keep your site loading quickly. Some CDNs are available as a separate services while others come as a part of your CMS. For example, HubSpot offers a free built-in CDN with its CMS.
13. Start a blog
One great way to make content a regular part of your marketing efforts is to start a blog.
Small businesses use blogging to drive traffic to their website, increase user engagement, improve their online visibility, and strengthen their overall SEO. It’s a completely free way to promote your small business online, through tales about your business and useful information your potential clients are seeking out.
Blog posts don’t have to be long and complex—speak in simple terms, target a different topic with each post, and incorporate the keywords you’re targeting into each post in a natural way.
Team up with a business related to your industry (but not a direct competitor) for a joint project. This can be done locally and offline through some kind of special event, or online (which could still be locally) with a webinar or promotional giveaway.
Partnering with another business means twice as much notice and exposure to a whole new audience related to your niche.
15. Post helpful videos
Video is a highly popular medium for consumers, and while it can cost you a lot to get a professional video produced and uploaded to YouTube, you don’t have to hire a professional. DIY video marketing is easy with today’s personal devices and social media apps.
To strike that vital connection with your audience, you can create:
Instructional videos and how-tos
Behind-the-scenes coverage of what it’s like to work at your business
Interviews with your staff or industry experts
Slideshows with images and captions
16. Reuse your old content
Make the most of the work you’ve already done. If you have a content hit, repurpose it for other channels!
17. Host classes and events
Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards (libraries, coffee shops, local colleges and adult ed centers).
If you can’t host an event, attend any local events that you can find that might benefit your business.
18. Host webinars
Webinars are a free way to promote your business by providing helpful information to potential interested customers.
Webinar platforms such as Webex and GoToMeeting allow you to broadcast your webinar with just a few button clicks. Make sure to promote your webinar on social media or through an email newsletter one to two weeks before the event and include reminders to registrants so that they don’t miss it.
19. Attend industry and networking events
Attending trade shows and industry conferences is a smart way to market your small business. These events bring together business minds from all industries who want to find new marketing strategies to grow their business. It’s also a way to network with like-minded people and develop new B2B contacts.
20. Hold a social media contest or giveaway
Running a social media contest or giveaway is a smart and effective marketing strategy requiring minimal resources. You don’t technically need a super expensive prize to get participants. Even a couple high-end water bottles or fancy backpacks might be enough of a draw for some users.
21. In-store business card drawings
Put a fishbowl at your place of business with a sign inviting visitors to drop their business cards in for a chance to win something from you.
While you can only have one winner, use the email addresses provided to let users know that while they haven’t won this time, they are more than welcome to join your mailing list – which will notify them of future giveaways and special offers.
22. Create a customer referral program
Offer existing customers a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, and customers referred by other customers are so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.
23. Attend local events and contests
If the town or city in which you are located hosts annual celebrations, weekly farmers markets, or other contests, make it a point to attend these events to get to know your local audience. This is the best form of market research.
24. Design awesome business cards
Get yourself some snazzy business cards, then give them to every person you lay eyes on.
25. Magnets on the business’ car
Stick a magnetic sign on your company car and you have a brand awareness campaign on wheels, spreading the world all over town (just be sure to obey traffic laws).
26. Run Facebook ads
If you only have a tiny advertising budget, it might still be enough to run some Facebook ads! The cost per click for Facebook advertising can be very low.