Marketing on a small budget is tough, but not impossible. There are plenty of creative, low-cost ways to promote your small business without breaking the budget. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective. I've gathered 36 small business marketing ideas to spark your creativity, all you need to do is set aside some time and get planning!
1. If you don't have a website, create one with WordPress. There are hundreds of templates to choose from that you can simply edit to create your content.
2. Create a blog area on your website and post content to it. The hard part is creating interesting and relevant content that is not a hard sell. Try writing about best practices for your industry, create top 10 lists, interview thought-leaders and summarise the conversation, prepare step-by-step 'how-to' instructions with examples or invite others to write a guest blog. Be creative with the format - text, video, audio files, podcasts, slides or PDF.
3. Write an e-book on an in-depth topic and offer it as a free download in return for lead information, such as email addresses.
4. Create a Google business account if you have a physical location and fill it with content about your business, contact information, and good quality photos.
5. Claim other relevant business listings such as Trip Advisor, Sensis, Yelp, HotFrog or Local Business Guide, for other ways to be found.
6. Collect email addresses via a sign-up form on your website and email these people your latest blog post, information about new products or promotions.
7. Create short instructional videos, they don't have to be expensive or elaborate, just ensure you have good lighting and clear sound.
8. Once you have a steady stream of content, you can re-purpose existing content, re-write old posts with new perspectives or up to date information, or turn a written post into an infographic.
9. Offer 30 minutes of free consulting services, but put some basic screening in place so that you're not flooded with time wasters.
10. Contribute an article or write a guest blog post for another website that is in some way aligned or related to your own business.
11. Join social media communities centered around your subject area of expertise. Comment on other people's Facebook, LinkedIn, blog post, or forums with valuable information or advice.
12. Create a customer referral program with a reward to encourage your customers to refer new customers. Or if it's suitable, run a 'bring a buddy for free' promotion.
13. Attend small business events related to your industry and write about what you learned to share with others on your blog and social media.
14. Host a free or low-cost webinar, class or workshop to teach your customers something valuable or to attract new customers.
15. Create a LinkedIn or Facebook Group to share insights about your industry, help, and advice.
16. Google AdWords will often distribute free vouchers for advertising credit, collect and use them when they're available.
17. Create infographics to distribute valuable information in a visual format with your branding.
18. Wear branded work clothing so that you are a human billboard for your business.
19. Vehicle branding is also useful, promote yourself while going about your daily business (but drive responsibly. Otherwise it will have the opposite effect).
20. Provide free balloons with your branding at an event. Kids (and adults) love balloons and will happily wave them around all day.
21. Give free products or offer your services as a prize for charity competitions. You're doing a good deed for your community and getting your company name out there.
22. Volunteer your services in community projects, you'll feel good and may even find partnership opportunities with other small businesses.
23. Sponsor non-profit organisations, such as local sporting teams, what better way to have fun and get your company venture logo in front of cheering spectators.
24. Speak at events, seminars or conferences to share your ideas, thoughts, and experiences to demonstrate your knowledge within the industry.
25. Piggyback local events and offer the crowds something of value, such as free advice or cupcakes with your venture logo on them.
26. Partner up with other small businesses for co-promotions. A few small budgets combine to make a bigger budget with which to pursue new small business marketing ideas.
27. Send hand-written birthday cards and thank you cards for thoughtful and memorable business relationship building.
28. Ask for testimonials and reviews from your customers and put them on your website and social media.
29. Share product samples to encourage trials or free products in return for a review.
30. List your product or services on Gumtree, just be wary these people are usually looking for bargain basement deals.
31. Run a competition with a prize and promote it through your social media networks.
32. professional logo design your email signature with your venture logo and a link to your website; it's simple yet often overlooked.
33. Follow up with past customers, show a little love and see what they're working on and if you can assist.
34. Create a Frequently Asked Questions page on your website and answer all recurring customer questions. It will save you time later on and provide valuable information so that customers keep returning to your website.
36. Take photos of everything to do with your business - of customers using your product or service, finished installations, client projects that you're involved in and all events you attend (whether it's a business conference or the local fair where you're distributing branded balloons). People love photos and it provides content to write about in your blog. Also, tag people and businesses involved in your social media posts (ask permission if required), it increases your reach and engagement.