10 Simple Budget-Friendly Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
January 26, 2021
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, let alone be complicated. In fact, there are plenty of targeted and low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses that are as effective and strategic as they are budget-friendly. Let’s discuss a few creative ideas that you and your brand can implement and execute for your next campaign.
Create Quality Content
We’ll talk about some low-cost campaign ideas as we go. But most of those tactics start with the creation of high-quality and compelling content that both aligns with your brand and resonates with the right audiences you need to reach.
Thankfully, this is actually the easiest bullet on the list as long as you make the effort and not cut corners in quality. As a small business, nobody knows your company and your industry better than you. You already possess a ton of knowledge about what makes your company unique, how it fits within your industry and where your customers’ pain points exist. You just need to translate that knowledge, along with your company’s best features, into high-quality content to support your campaign. Think eye-catching visuals, from photography to video, to sharp and optimized copy that both tells your brand story and supports your marketing efforts in a way that creates customer curiosity and intent.
You can choose any number of mediums or channels for your content. Blogs remain a pillar of content marketing and email is here to stay. Social media also remains essential and YouTube continues to prove invaluable; however, other opportunities like podcasts or re-emerging tools like SMS (text messaging) marketing is also back in vogue.
Use Google My Business (GMB)
More than half of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. If they end up searching directly for your business, you want to make sure those individuals get the best information possible. And, there’s no better way to do that than through Google My Business. In fact, a majority of consumers will see your GMB profile before they ever visit your website. It’s a free tool that can prove essential to your bottom line.
You’ve almost definitely seen Google My Business before. It’s that window that appears on the right side of Google search results, containing information such as the store’s address and hours, as well as photos and the company website URL. In short, it’s everything a shopper would want to know. And because Google My Business also allows you to add posts about current promotions or flash sales, it’s even better than social media in some respects.
And, again, it’s completely free to use Google My Business so it makes clear sense to utilize to its fullest and leverage effectively. After all, if you don’t tell people how they can buy from your company, some other company will—and that business will get the sale instead of you.
Optimize Your Social Media
Many businesses have social media simply to have it. Either they don’t realize the full potential of social media, or they’re not able to make it work for them.
Fortunately, you now have the tools you need to get the most out of social media. Shareable content will help you get the word out there about your brand, giving people an actual reason to care about what you have to say. This turns social media from an obligation into a legitimate way for you to spread the word about new products, industry developments and upcoming promotions.
Utilize Email Lists
When people order products online, they typically have to submit their email address to get a confirmation email or to create an online account. That email address is an absolute goldmine, and it can be the single biggest aspect of any marketing campaign—no matter how big or small the budget behind it.
Email is a marketer’s dream. It’s a one-on-one conversation with a customer that has demonstrated interest in your company and what you have to say. You may not be able to fully automate personalized emails like those with huge marketing budgets, but you can absolutely use segmentation and automation in some areas. For instance, you can email people that haven’t ordered in a while, or you can automate follow-ups with people that have bought your products, using your content to reinforce your marketing message.
It’s important to note that you can still get most of these benefits from email marketing even if you are strictly a brick-and-mortar outlet with a minimal online presence. If you provide enough value, people will care what you have to say—especially if there’s a coupon or promo code in that email.
Go the Extra Mile
So far, we’ve discussed concepts that every business of every size can and should employ. But as a small business, you have a decided edge over the bigger names in your industry—and it’s time to start using that to your advantage.
One thing you can easily do is go the extra mile for your customers. If you’re the business owner, personally thank customers for a significant purchase. Send a personal letter or email showing your gratitude toward your consumers. Train your employees to make customer service their top priority. Provide personalized answers to customer inquiries, as opposed to directing them to your website.
These are all relatively small things that cost nothing, and quite frankly, they’re things that every business should already be doing. But as businesses grow, these are the small touches that disappear in the name of bigger revenues. Don’t let that happen for your business. Make sure your customers know they matter to your business.
Enter Partnerships with Other Businesses
Local small businesses don’t necessarily have the resources of larger brands. But their size does make it easier for them to enter strategic partnerships with other businesses in similar situations. This is one area that can really help a small business to grow, at no cost to you.
Of course, you don’t just want to buddy up with any random business. Identify what you’re looking for in a partnership—exposure, cross-promotions, expansion into a new industry—and see what potential partners might have something to offer you. Don’t go for the biggest name; instead, find a partner that will benefit just as much from working with your brand as you will with theirs. If you can find the right mix, it’s a win-win.
Get Involved in the Community
Small businesses have the unique opportunity to reach people at a personal level. It’s another thing that bigger companies seem to lose on the way up. While this is an opportunity for your business, this isn’t just another branding exercise—it’s a way for you to truly give back.
Get out into the community and be an active participant in improving what you see around you. Sponsor a little league baseball team. Provide products to homeless shelters. Donate to local environmental initiatives. There are tons of ways to get involved, and each of them will help you to make your community a better place.
You can also use charity as a competitive advantage. It’s become commonplace for small businesses to identify the causes that matter to them, and to support those causes through their work. These initiatives are often accompanied by content on their website explaining the owner’s personal connection to these causes. Letting your guard down and explaining the human side of your business can go a long way with modern consumers, who are more inclined to support a business that aligns with their own beliefs.
Take Customers Behind the Scenes
Along the lines of embracing charity, you can also bring people inside your business in another way. Go behind the scenes and show what goes into making your products. Interview employees and talk to them about what they do to make your business run smoothly. Give a history of what made ownership choose this industry, in this location. Discuss goals for the future, and how the lessons learned along the way will help to make those goals become a reality.
The best medium for this type of content is on YouTube. You can shoot a video on an iPhone and upload it for free, making it a truly no-cost investment. The benefits of this approach can be quite significant. People always love seeing how things look behind the scenes. That personal touch will be on display in this type of content, and it’ll encourage even more loyalty from your customers.
Encourage User-Generated Content
One of the most effective forms of modern marketing is user-generated content. Based primarily in social media, user-generated content is when a business encourages consumers to create their own content based on the products created by that business.
User-generated content usually revolves around a social media hashtag and a prize for the best entrant. But it’s so much more than that. For a business, it’s not only a tremendous avenue for exposure—it’s also the ultimate test of how much people really like their brand. If people are willing to make their own posts promoting a brand, they’re truly loyal to that business.
User-generated content isn’t one of those marketing ideas you can rely on the whole year-round. But for a semi-annual deal, it’s an incredible promotion that can spread the word about your business, with the only cost being the prize that goes to the winner.
We mentioned social media earlier, but LinkedIn deserves its own category. Why? Because LinkedIn is the ultimate B2B tool.
Technically, LinkedIn ranks second to Facebook in terms of B2B marketing popularity. But businesses on LinkedIn aren’t just there to collect likes. They’re ready, willing and able to grow their businesses. After all, there’s more to growing a small business than simply selling more products. Small business owners must also be on the cutting edge of business developments and goings-on within their industry. Maintaining a presence on LinkedIn not only gives you this education, but also makes you able to participate in these activities.
Virtually everything we’ve discussed thus far can take place on LinkedIn. For that reason, it’s a must to not only be on LinkedIn, but to take it seriously and to use it to its maximum potential. You can identify potential business partners and community initiatives. You can post content and gain a following. You can take people behind the scenes of what makes your business tick. And best of all, you can do all of this for free.
In some ways, having a small budget opens the doors to possibilities that might not exist in a bigger business with bigger obligations. There are many more budget-friendly marketing ideas you can deploy to help grow your small business and to gain market share. Stay aware of new marketing developments, use your imagination, and above all else, have fun! If you’re having fun, customers will pick up on it and they’ll be more likely to do business with you.
For more information and tips about how Commit Agency can help your small business prioritize its marketing strategy efficiently and effectively, reach out today.