Here’s a hypothetical: you’ve allocated your budget for the year and barely have any funds left for marketing. You probably feel like you’re stranded on an island (not the holiday kind). How can you draw in customers and increase your revenue without marketing dollars?
What you need is a survival kit of sorts—some easy ways to market your business on a tiny budget. Here are 25 great ideas:
1. Get blogging!
Blogging is the cheapest, most efficient way to keep readers and consumers engaged and up to date with what’s going on with your business and the industry.
Use your expertise to create unique content that’s helpful to your customers, and from there you can build a readership.
Start with 1-3 high-quality, well-researched posts a month, and add an email signup on your blog so you can build an audience of dedicated readers.
Be patient: This strategy can take several months of consistent content creation to pay off.
Where to start a blog:
2. Answer questions on Quora
Quora is full of people inquiring about everyday problems, and among these people are your potential customers.
You can use Quora to your advantage by finding topics relevant to your business and becoming an authority on those topics. For example, if you have an online pet supply store, you can answer pet-related questions to let people know you’re an expert when it comes to grooming and training pets.
3. Try email marketing
49% of consumers said that they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis. With free email marketing services, your email marketing campaigns won’t cost you anything—at least not at the beginning. Collect your customers’ contact details by having email signup or opt-in forms on your homepage, checkout pages, and blog posts.
Connect these signup forms to your email marketing account to automatically build a list. As your list grows, you can create a schedule for emailing promotions, newsletters, and other announcements.
Email marketing platforms:
4. List your business on online directories
Getting listed on online directories is an effective way to get publicity and advertising without spending a single cent! Once you add listings on directories like Facebook Pages and Google Maps—or update them with an accurate business name, address, and phone number—you’re bound to appear on local searches in a short time.
Remember, there at least a million people doing searches on these types of directories, so don’t delay in getting your business listed!
5. Design your own brand
Building a strong visual brand identity is an important part of digital marketing. You can use an online tool or marketplace to find free designs without having to hire a graphic designer or learn Photoshop.
Several ready-made templates, illustrations, icons, fonts, and photos exist, which you can use to create social media posts, website announcements, and even design your own logo!
6. Write guest blog posts
It’s a simple process: Research authoritative blogs in your industry, find the site owner’s contact details and pitch your article ideas to them.
By publishing articles with your name and a backlink to your site, you can improve your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) over time. You also increase your exposure by infiltrating other audiences.
But don’t fill your guest post with too many links to your website! One backlink from the article and (possibly) another from your author bio are more than enough.
7. Learn from competitors’ negative reviews
Another way to help your business grow is by researching your competitors’ negative reviews on sites like Trustpilot or social media. Two things you can learn from this research:
- What customers are complaining about what you can do better
- What you can offer that will differentiate you from the competition (and how you can message that on your website and in your email marketing)
8. Join online communities
Online communities are a great place to build networks and authority in your niche. Find communities that relate to your business and the entrepreneurial space. From there, you can share blog content, join discussions, and meet other business owners (which can lead to more marketing ideas or partnership possibilities). Very budget-friendly!
Commit the time to try a few of these marketing ideas, and you’re bound to see results despite spending much less money than most others.
This is a great list of online communities with over 1 million users but Facebook and Linkedin “groups” are also great places to start!
Top online community hubs:
9. Speak at workshops, seminars, expos, and podcasts.
Speaking is great for both your business and your personal brand. Perhaps you as an entrepreneur have an interesting story to tell. Use interviews, panels, and workshops as a way to share your story and increase exposure to your business. Not only is it free marketing, you might even get paid for it!
Not only will it build credibility, but it will also give people a uniquely personal way of first finding out about you.
Where to find speaking opportunities:
- Facebook events
- Your local coworking spaces
- Community centers
- Local studios
- Local startup communities
- Public libraries
10. Optimize your website for mobile
With more consumers actively browsing from their smartphones over a computer, having a mobile site is one of the most crucial budget-friendly marketing tips that will either make you or break you.
Here is a quick link that allows you to check to see how mobile-friendly your site is/needs to be!
11. Show off your customer testimonials and reviews!
Once your customers have purchased, simply ask them for their feedback and showcase their success stories on your website. We wrote a blog about leveraging customer testimonials if you want to learn more!
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12. Get on social media
Using as many handles as you possibly can, without going overboard, is a great, easy, and very cheap way to be in the ‘know’ with the industry. People like being a part of something viral, so if you are consistently sharing, posting, and commenting, you will quickly build a bigger following.
You have about eight seconds to engage your viewers and with more and more studies showing that social media posts with graphics (pictures, GIFs, videos) get more interaction, this is a great way to capture your customers.
13. Build your personal brand
Your business brand and personal brand go hand-in-hand. Both support each other in a never-ending cycle of warm and fuzzies.
But seriously, some people prefer to get to know the person behind the brand, while others form an attachment to the brand itself. Putting effort into both will ensure you don’t miss any potential opportunities to connect with new customers.
This is as easy as having a solid “about the founder” section on your website, to doing Q&As and podcasts about YOU.
14. Start a referral program
Word of mouth is the biggest form of advertising. Compensate those with a discount of some sort who refer others to your product.
15. Celebrate and share company milestones
Celebrate company birthdays and holidays with customers by sending them special messages and promotions. Spreading joy doesn’t have a price tag, and you’ll encourage people with these personal touchpoints to continue interacting with your business.
16. Run a Google AdWords campaign
Okay so, not ALL marketing is low budget or free. Google AdWords is a great tool to start getting yourself familiarized with, bidding on keywords can enhance your credibility when users are searching for a product you are offering.
Here we have a resource we like to call “AdWords for Dummies” it helped us when we first started, and we like to consider ourselves pros! Just click, download, read and we promise you will have it mastered!
17. Make some cool infographics
Creating infographics on your website is a great way to visually connect and execute your businesses’ story for your customers. Posting infographics on all or most of your outlets will allow for a larger audience to view interesting posts about your product or service.
For those of you not so familiar with info-graphics, here are two of the platforms we recommend from time to time:
18. Start a customer loyalty program
Your best customers are the ones who’ve already bought from you! Don’t lose out on the chance for repeat business. Once a customer has made a purchase continue to keep up with them through customer promotions and referrals.
19. Great customer service sells itself
Great customer service can make or break someone’s day let alone their experience with a brand. Prioritizing exceptional customer service will encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
Try to respond to all messages within 24 hours, be kind, friendly, funny. Use humor when possible. Go out of your way to find solutions for people. Customer service might be more time-consuming—but the business results pay off in spades.
20. Create a contest/giveaway
People love free stuff! Consider running a contest or challenge on social media and offering them packages or products. Set conditions that require people to share, repost, like, and follow your business on social media. You will likely get a massive increase in followers and elevated brand exposure. That’s a budget-friendly win for sure!
21. Apply for awards
Look up local small business awards to apply to. Winning might often include a cash prize, listing on the award website, and shoutouts on social media. Applying for awards can take some time, but they’re a great way to increase exposure to your business and be recognized for all the hard work you’ve been doing!
Look for awards in different categories related to your industry, customer service, product, and entrepreneurship in general!
22. Give back to a cause that matters to you
Supporting anything from a charity to a social cause, to giving back to the environment is extremely important if you are able. Not only do you get good karma points from the universe, but it also shows you care about something more than just your own business. Added bonuses include possible free exposure from said charity, for certain taxation benefits in the long run.
23. Partner with other brands
Reach out to other small businesses in your industry and see if there’s a creative partnership you can come up with! Maybe you develop a product together, or combine your products in a photoshoot. Running a social media contest together is a great first-step at starting a partnership with another brand.
24. Be consistent
Consistency is key. If someone reads one thing on your website, they want to know it is going to be the same on all other brand touchpoints. This includes your newsletter and any other email communication, your social media, and blogs. Be sure to keep your content relevant to your product and business. Brand consistency encourages customer trust and loyalty, which in turn, encourages cash in your bank!
25. Be passionate
Passion goes a long way! If you strike up a conversation with someone and they sense your passion, they’ll be more interested in learning about you and your business. If you ever feel down, check out this blog on overcoming creative blocks to reignite your business passion! Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but your business is worth working hard for!