20 Free or Low Budget Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Published on Apr 22, 2015




MarketingAdvertising is easily one of the best tools available to small businesses and startups. You have a product you believe in, that you know works, and is cost conscious; now all you need is a way to let people know about it. Thankfully, there are many ways you can do just this!

Making every dollar count is key in helping your small business proceed, which can make it difficult to invest in expensive traditional advertising routes. Additionally, traditional marketing campaigns are often not the most cost-efficient way to get the word about your small business out there. Thankfully, there are many ways to achieve far-reaching advertising for a low cost. What follows are 20 effective and cost efficient ways to market your small business:

1. Have a Strong Social Network Presence

Set up a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and every other social media account you can imagine for your business. Encourage customers to share your page and product on their profiles, and you will reach a massive audience for no cost at all. Word of mouth is one of the most valuable endorsements any business can receive and social media platforms are where virtually all word of mouth advertisement is happening today.

2. Hold Online Contests

Most of these tips can be implemented from the comfort of your computer chair. People like convenience and people love free stuff. By offering weekly contests for free products or discounts you can increase your presence in the online world. With the promise of free product, people are more likely to pay attention, and you get a load of free advertising. Additionally, people who win your free products are more likely to endorse you on their personal social media profiles.

3. Offer Discounts for Endorsements

Giving out discounts to customers who “check in” to your business on social media platforms such as Yelp and FourSquare helps build that ever important social media presence I keep mentioning. Money talks, and if your customers are being given a decent discount on your product by simply clicking share on their phone screens, you can be guaranteed loads of free marketing for little to no loss. Going this route is often much cheaper than hiring firms to develop an advertising campaign that may or may not work.

4. Hold Sponsored Charity Events

Throwing a small, low-cost event to help benefit the community you work in is a great way to increase both your customer base and reputation. Hold a benefit walk or luncheon, and you can have people sample your product in an environment that will not reek of insincere advertising. This is an idea that will benefit much more than your company alone, which will gain you the respect of future customers and potential business partners.

5. Offer Discounts for Customer Surveys

One way to ensure your business stays strong is by knowing what customers think about every aspect of your business practices and products. Offer a seductive discount on products if the customer agrees to take a survey giving honest feedback about your business. This will help increase your customer base while ensuring you keep up to date on how to serve that customer base effectively.

6. Carry Other Small Businesses Cards and Advertising

Networking with other small businesses will allow you to build a great support network. Allowing other people in the community to advertize for free in your space will allow you to do the same at their business. This will get your name out to customers who are already keen on frequenting small businesses.

7. Advertise on Your Vehicle

You are bound to run around town frequently when you are running a small business. Consider using magnets or paint jobs to build your own mobile billboard. When you see people in parking lots eyeing your newly amped-up car you can approach them and pitch your product to them. This will increase your reputation as a down to earth business person.

8. Create Business E-Mails

Allowing customers to sign up for E-Newsletters will help you stay relevant in their lives. You will be able to update them on new products and discounts, making it more likely for them to be a repeat customer. If they provide their email you can already be ensured they are interested in hearing about this info, so you do not have to be intrusive about this practice.

9. Hang Flyers Around Town

When doing this, you will want to target areas that you know are frequented by people who shop at small businesses. Coffee shops, community centers, and other similar areas provide a good location for low-budget advertising such as flyers and brochures. This gives a non-intrusive heads up to citizens about your services.

10. Always Include Your Contact Info on Products

Either on your packaging or your receipts, provide easy to identify information about how to contact your business. Keeping it as easy as possible for a customer to relocate your business will be sure to increase your traffic.

11. Offer Free Contact Containing Products

Surely you’ve seen magnets and posters offered at restaurants for free. Creating custom free stuff for your business can help you stay relevant to your customer’s everyday lives. Magnets are particularly effective, as many people use them on their fridge, but few people actually want to spend money on them. It is a common practice for businesses to offer these useful reminders.

12. Advertise on Local Media

A widespread advertising campaign on traditional media can often cost much more than it brings in, but localized and targeted campaigns can be helpful. Whether it is on local TV or Radio, you can increase public awareness of your small business by providing a small advertisement. With radio, you could simply stop in and pitch your product on the air.

13. Offer Customer Discount Clubs

Keeping customers frequenting your business is what allows small businesses to thrive. Offer benefits and discounts to those customers who frequent your store. The money you lose on these discounts will pay for itself in the business they bring in, both by their own purchases and by the purchases of people they bring in through recommendations.

14. Consider Direct Mailing

Junk mail can be risky, but if you include discounts and an easy advertising tone, they can bring in new customers. It is best to focus these campaigns as close to your business location as possible. Target people who are likely aware of your business in some way already, giving them one more little push to give your product a try.

15. Apply for Local Business Awards

If you can place high in a local newspaper or other media’s contests, you will receive a large boost in reputation from your community. Most of these contests cost you almost nothing to enter, and even if you do not win, you are likely to be mentioned within the publication. Raising awareness that your business exist means you must make your presence known by every important voice in your community.

16. Run Joint Promotions with other Local Businesses

In addition to holding other businesses cards in your store, try selling products from them in your store. If you do, they are likely to return the favor. Making your product exist beyond the borders of your business will allow it to become more present in the public atmosphere. Additionally, this will increase your businesses’ reputation as a supporter of local causes.

17. Have a Fantastic Business Card

Speaking of business cards, always keep your company’s looking up to date and visually appealing. People who spend money often love a good business card, and by having one that sticks out you can increase the probability that they will pick yours up. This will be sure to increase the amount of traffic to your business.

18. Include Testimonials in Your Advertisements

Nothing helps a product seem more valuable than the endorsement of a regular Joe. Throw the most glowing reviews from customers on your advertisements and social media profiles. Additionally, offer something such as a discount or free product to those who endorse your company. This will show people that you care about customers who support your business, and will likely help other frequent customers follow suit.

19. Keep Active at Relevant Trade Shows

By allowing people in the same industry to see your success, you will be more able to extend your sphere of influence. Advertising in each other’s businesses can help you increase your presence in places beyond your local customer base. Putting your product on shelves beyond your community is a great way to help expand your small business.

20. Ask Friends and Family to Spread the Word

This suggestion is much simpler than the other tips in this article, but is equally as effective. The more people you know will support you, the more suited this option will be for your business. Always approach this one in a subtle manner, however, as you want the endorsement to be seen as genuine and not simply as a favor.