5 affordable small business marketing ideas when you have no budget

August 03, 2022

Small business marketing is vital for brand awareness, but it’s hard to find money in the budget for it. Try these low-cost small business marketing ideas that are easy to execute and deliver results.


Promoting your small business is essential for reaching new customers but finding additional dollars to create and distribute a marketing plan might not be an option right now. To keep getting the word out about your small business service or product, here are a few scrappier low-cost marketing ideas that you can easily and affordably put into action.


1. Utilize your supporters

One powerful way to demonstrate the quality and legitimacy of your small business is through real voices. This can include customer reviews, star ratings, testimonials or even case studies. Here are some examples to give you an idea of how to use positive reviews as part of your marketing plan:

  • Post positive reviews on social media. Does your business get 5 out of 5 stars? Share this good news on social media to let others know.
  • Send out a customer satisfaction survey. Prompt your clients to share their experience with an email survey. Share the results on your website.
  • Add consumer quotes or ratings to your site. If you need to source this material, reach out to a few of your best clients and ask for feedback — you could also pair this request with a coupon or discount to incentivize participation.
  • Build a case study. Coordinate with your best customers to create a case study. Focus on how your product or service has improved their lives, in detail.


2. Try content marketing

Content marketing is a modern, organic way to bring in new business. Traditionally, when one thinks marketing, their mind goes to TV spots, magazines or billboards. In content marketing, however, the advertising piece is much more subtle and there is usually some “reward” for the consumer, such as receiving valuable information. Content marketing includes educational blog posts and articles, webinars, videos, recipes or tutorials and e-books. Not only is this kind of marketing more engaging to the consumer, but it also poises you as a thought leader in your industry. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Write a blog post highlighting your expertise. For example, a real estate agent could publish a blog about what to look for when touring a home, followed by a call-to-action to book a viewing with them.
  • Send an email newsletter. Email marketing is a powerful tool as it gets delivered to inboxes of customers who have opted in. Relay news, insider tips or recommendations through a monthly email send.
  • Try video. Using video in content marketing is very engaging, as consumers will typically watch a video longer than they’ll look at a static message or image. Ask some of your best clients if they’d be comfortable sharing their experience with your business while you record on your camera or phone, then share the results online or on social media.


3. Engage on social media

Social media lets you engage with your customers firsthand and promote to an audience that has already shown interest by subscribing to your accounts. While many social media sites exist today, it may not be necessary that you create a profile for each one, depending on the industry you work in. While Facebook is a great platform for almost any content, Instagram tends to be a place for B2C (business to consumer) content, while LinkedIn works well for B2B (business to business) companies. Here are a few small business marketing ideas that cost little to no money that you can bring to life on social media:

  • Host a giveaway. Everyone loves a contest and hosting a giveaway on your social channels is a terrific way to bring attention to your business. Set content rules that will encourage engagement, such as asking users to tag a friend to participate. Partner with similar companies to offer a bundled giveaway featuring products from each of your businesses to encourage cross-promotion and reach a wider audience.
  • Go live. Whether you’re making a product, running a doggy daycare or packing orders to be shipped, you’d be surprised at what people will tune in for on social media. Before going live, create some buildup by letting your followers know when and where to watch. Live sessions can be hosted on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, and viewers can ask you questions or leave comments as you stream, letting you engage with them in real time.
  • Boost your social posts. Give your social presence an extra “boost” using a few of your marketing dollars to turn your post into an ad. If you’re a local company, be sure to target to your area only.


4. Network and make connections

Don’t think of others in your field as competition, but rather as peers. There are plenty of customers to go around and creating partnerships with like-minded people in your industry can be a huge boost to your business. Not only will you be able to compare notes and strategies, but networking will also keep you in the know about news, trends and opportunities. Here are a few ways to leverage networking to market your small business:

  • Develop industry partnerships. Building relationships with others in your industry presents opportunities to create engaging events like webinars or Q&A panel.
  • Apply for awards. Bring attention to others in your field by applying to small business awards. Bonus, if you win an award, you can share the good news on your site, in email and on social media.


5. Incentivize word of mouth advertising

Your employees, and even your customers, can be some of your biggest ambassadors. Offering incentives to get the word out will help you generate organic leads. Here are some examples of how to encourage others to share passion for your business.

  • Offer a friends and family discount. A discount might be just the thing a potential customer needs to turn into a new one.
  • Set up a customer referral program. Offer coupons to both the current and new customer when the referral is a success.
  •  Use micro influencers. Micro influencers have smaller audiences, making them a less expensive way to market your business. The influencer will promote your product or service on their own social channels, opening your business up to a wider audience.



Learn more about ways to build your brand and differentiate your business.

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