Low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses

When a company is small, getting your name out can be tricky, especially if your marketing budget is tight. It’s important to be heard and seen, from announcing a new product on social media to customizing your stand at an event. And it is often the small ideas that bring great results. Are you wondering how to promote your business without having a big budget? We are here to help you.

Why Invest in Small Business Marketing?

Don’t be afraid that you have only a small amount of money devoted to promotion: when done right, small business marketing works even on a low budget. You will need to:

– make yourself more visible to potential customers
– have a range of tools and platforms to help define your brand
– learn to understand how customers see your products and your brand
– add value, attract and entertain your customers, especially through content and social media marketing
– get new skills and useful contacts.

Combined marketing strategies

Before you start outlining your marketing strategies, stop and think about combining offline and online tools. It doesn’t matter what your preferred approach is, as you need to take the best of both. It is important to learn how to make the most of them: here’s how.

– Online marketing takes place in the digital world and includes social media, website, email and online advertising.

– Offline marketing is based on activities carried out in the “real world” by printing promotional materials, retail and trade shows.
Read on to discover the most common methods for offline and online approaches, along with small business marketing ideas that you can put into practice even on a tight budget.

Social media tips

When it comes to marketing, social media weighs heavily. They are free and offer easy to interpret statistics, and communicate with a huge and loyal audience. That’s why they’re the right place to put inexpensive marketing strategies into practice.

Choose a platform that works for you and your audience
Small business marketing ideas become a winner on social media if you already know how to navigate your chosen platform. Look for the social media channels you already use and check if your audience is active there too. If not, broaden your range of action: exploring new digital shores, you may find that a change of scenery now and then can be good.

Focus on the visual content

As the online attention threshold is getting smaller and smaller, image feeds like Pinterest or Instagram allow you to create fast and immediate content, capable of grabbing attention and communicating your message. We recommend curating your updates with a mix of inspirational content and promotional links to your products and services.

Add value to Instagram Stories.

Stories on Instagram are the trend of the moment, and brands, large or small, are looking for creative solutions to use this “social media within another social media”. An Instagram Story is short by nature, as it disappears after a day (although you can highlight it or repurpose it to insist on an important message). It’s perfect for communicating product news, offering a behind-the-scenes look, or answering questions from followers.

Blog and editorial content

If there’s one thing everyone agrees on in small business marketing, it’s the value of storytelling. Start a blog and turn your business journey into content that can entertain. Blogs have been around longer than social media, but they remain a great way to tell stories that inspire your audience. Also, thanks to an SEO strategy, they can grow your website. Here are some very cheap marketing ideas to win over readers (and customers) …

Add images to the blog.

Make your blog more attractive with quality photos and visual content. Not only do they break the text and keep interest high, but they also help customers understand your products and services better. If you have the resources to make it happen, even an infographic could be perfect for winning over readers. Infographics allow you to illustrate or explain an idea or process through a graphic image. Since they are easy to read and help you better understand the content, they are one of the most shared formats: that’s why they can’t be missing on your blog.

Expand your audience with guest posting

Bloggers can join forces to reach more readers: just get hosted on someone else’s blog and then return the courtesy. As this practice is called, Guest posting allows you to make your name known to an audience who may not yet know you but who may be interested in what you have to offer. This type of partnership gives you access to a wider audience, but it’s also a fun way to network. Find potential partners using social media hashtags, such as #foodblogger.

Show your readers’ content.

From the beginning, blogs have focused on creating communities of readers. Celebrate your customers and fans by posting the content they have submitted to your blog. This is also a handy way to enhance your product, as you can include reviews, recommendations from those who have used your products and services and share the stories of those who have benefited greatly. Collecting all these types of content on your blog makes them more visible and less “passing” than posting on social media.

Tips for email marketing

Encourage customers to sign up for your newsletter (perhaps including articles from the awesome blog you’re dedicating to), and you’ll have a much better chance of grabbing their attention without breaking the bank. If you don’t know anything about digital marketing, don’t be put off by the too specific terminology: yes, we’re talking about conversion rates, click-through rates and engagement. Start with the simple stuff, and if you find email marketing is for you, you can start evaluating everything else. Here are some tips for a winning email marketing strategy.

Form and substance

Earn the space you deserve in your readers’ inbox with content that deserves to be read. It can be news about your business, selecting interesting reads from the web or exclusive promotions and early access to sales. In any case, your emails must be awaited with great interest from your customers. Remember, many of your readers are viewing emails on their smartphone, so make sure the template is designed for desktop and mobile.

Plan a drip campaign

The term “drip campaign” means a set of emails automatically sent to your subscribers in response to certain actions. Simply put, they allow you to spend less time on email campaigns using automation. For example, it can be an email sent automatically when someone signs up or when they haven’t opened your emails for a while. You can also use your site behaviours, such as shopping or browsing certain pages, to schedule automatic submissions.

Use segmentation to get the right message across

Email marketing is a great strategy in providing you with insight into the segments that make up your audience. In addition to separating informational and promotional emails, divide your list according to different behaviours. Write specific content for each group of readers, such as customers who have already bought new subscribers and those who have not bought in a long time. Sure, you’ll have to spend more time writing, but you’ll have more effective email marketing campaigns.

Offline marketing strategies and techniques

Small business owners can take their business to a new level using offline marketing tactics as their primary strategy locally. This marketing type may reach a smaller audience than digital, but it can bring you quality results in customer loyalty and business relationships with other small businesses. And there are also many possibilities for those on a tight marketing budget – some are even free.

Use the affiliate system.

A win-win and cost-effective marketing idea is to team up with other small businesses to promote each other. Knowledge of the local area, customers and the shared community can turn affiliate programs into an excellent opportunity for small business owners. If the two companies are not in direct competition, there is no risk of losing sales opportunities. On the contrary, it is possible to increase your audience and improve the convenience for customers.

Offer an affiliate discount.

Recommend an affiliate partner to your customers and offer a discount if they mention your name. It works really well for companies with a shared audience, such as real estate agents and interior designers. For example, a designer might offer 10% off furniture to the real estate partner’s clients. A reciprocal affiliate program like this is beautiful to new customers for two reasons: they can save money and waste less time doing purchase research.

Team up with print marketing

Offline marketing ideas often include print, and there’s a good reason to do it. Printed material makes a good impression and lasts longer than online content, and stimulates other sensory levels. It can reach people that no online marketing campaign could touch, such as those who do not use social media or those who have escaped the attention of the other campaigns we have listed for you. But what if the budget for marketing ideas is low? You can use your affiliate network to share the cost of Flyer, Postcard printing and posters, using them to promote the business group. This could mean including a shared logo for your network (if it includes a few businesses) or allocating half a page or section of the poster to your partner in exchange for their share of the printing costs.

Public relations advice

Getting your small business known to the local media can offer great benefits. In addition to increasing your company’s sense of authority, it can introduce you to a wider audience. It also helps people connect with those who work for your brand and even builds trust. However, to take advantage of this low-cost marketing strategy, you have to “make the news” for the right reasons. Try one of these little PR strategies …

Send press releases

A press release is a form of marketing aimed at journalists. This is a short article that reports news about your product or brand to invite journalists to talk about you. Writing a press release about your business can be a great low-cost marketing idea. You may have to spend some time compiling your list of journalists and bloggers, but just one or two of them talk about you to achieve a result, especially if they do it in their referral channels, and you can share—the news about yours. Ensure you only send the release to journalists who cover your industry and follow the best methodology to introduce the topic.

Try to get awards and certifications.

Nothing increases a brand’s authority more than an award received for its business. Seeks to earn awards and certifications that recognize excellence in customer service, innovation and product quality. This is a great way to increase confidence in your vehicles and even the satisfaction of your team. And awards and certifications also look good on promotional material and allow you to inspire a sense of trust in new customers. This translates into an increase in financial results, especially if you have logos to insert that demonstrate your results.

Become the protagonist at events

We have already explored public speaking benefits for small businesses in terms of marketing and public awareness. This is a great way to get your voice heard locally, even if you don’t have any news to share about your business. And, of course, it costs nothing. Read this article on how to find small business public speaking opportunities.

How to measure your marketing strategies

Why implement all these marketing strategies if you don’t measure the results? Checking your hard work’s success will help you better understand your business, customers, and what works for your brand to understand how to implement even more effective strategies in the future. Fortunately, you can measure the results of your online and offline marketing campaigns without using expensive software. Here are some low-cost tools to get you started:

Measure social media results with a platform

There are tons of free social media performance measurement platforms. Alternatively, you can also use free plans to get started. Popular sites include Hootsuite, Buffer, and Zoho. Start with a free program and upgrade to a paid upgrade if you like it.

Many social media already have statistics systems that allow you to check your audience’s responses, engagement, and age. They are usually free and, therefore, great for small businesses that have a low marketing budget. However, using an external platform is often the best solution.

This is because using a third-party platform, you can compare different channels and save time thanks to automatic post scheduling tools. Many of these sites also offer a broader view of your audience to help you review your key performance indicators (KPI) campaigns and plan new ones.

View your site stats with analytics software

Google Analytics is the number one software for site statistics, but it’s not the only one. Alternatives include Kissmetrics, Matomo. Whichever option you choose, always check the incoming links (who comes to your site from an external link), the views for the different pages and the nationality of the visits.

Use CRM software to measure email goals.

A CRM (customer relationship management) is an essential program for email marketing to manage mailings and check opening statistics. Mailchimp and Hubspot are two much-loved CRM platforms that offer free plans and built-in statistics tools. A CRM can also be used as an ideal platform for automated marketing activity, thus optimising your investment.

Explore results offline with personalized surveys and codes

While offline marketing doesn’t offer you the same data measurement tools like digital marketing, you can still use some methods to check its effectiveness.

Custom codes

Add a personalized code to your marketing campaigns, so you can immediately recognize the customers who have taken advantage of your special offer thanks to a specific promotional channel. For example, use the code “POSTER” for those who discover your offer through a poster. Once the promotion is over, you can compare each channel’s data and focus on what works best. While it requires a discount to work, using custom codes is an easy way to optimize your marketing strategy.


The good old survey can offer you a lot more useful information than you can imagine. And the beauty is that you can have quantitative and qualitative data: you get votes and true opinions. You can use free software plans like SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics to entice customers to have their say, test your marketing plan and advertising effectiveness, and increase brand awareness.

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