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Everyone knows that you need a successful marketing campaign to enable your business to succeed. When you are small business you don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on advertising. Every dollar needs to be spent wisely with as much value for money as possible. It is hard to know where to start and how to get the best results on your small budget.

The ability to market your business is important to its success, and we want you to succeed. It can be hard to know which way to turn, but there are answers out there for you. Some of these tips won’t cost you a cent, apart from a bit of your time, but the exposure you receive will be well worth it.

It is difficult to decide where you should spend your budget. You want any money that you spend on marketing to have a big impact, and there are some big solutions with small price tags available that won’t send your budget out the window. Here are 15 ideas that will help you market your small business without breaking the bank.

Online Tips

1. Start a blog

You can have a blog regardless of the type of business you own. Always host your blog with the domain name of your business so there is a connection between the two, write good quality information in blog posts, keep it up to date and current with new articles every few days. If you respond to the comments made by readers you will start creating your own online community that is based around your business. Why is this important? Consider companies like KISSmetrics that are receiving upwards of 70% of web traffic from their blog.

Include funny stories about customers or something you read in the paper. This will keep the readers engaged and they will check your blog updates regularly. If they like what they read, they will visit your website.

2. Be a Guest Author on Blogs

Becoming a guest blogger on other blogs will help create links to your website and so you can start making a name for yourself in the online community. When you post on sites that are relevant to your business, you will create a wider network of people who know about your company and its products. You can also start helping people who post questions on blogs that are relevant to your business, which can also increases your reputation in the community.
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3. Emails

Don’t dismiss the idea of email marketing. Companies like Modcloth consider email marketing a good option for small businesses, and they actually cared enough to tell us it was changing certain components of its email marketing program (see a screenshot of the email below). It is a cheap option that will reach a lot of people. There are a few ways to attract customers using emails:


  • Send a follow-up email to every visitor that looked at your site but didn’t make a purchase, offering a special discount or other offer if they come back and make a purchase
  • Make it easy for people to opt out of receiving email updates
  • Include links to informative websites or comical items relevant to the products or services you are selling
  • Don’t bombard people every day with emails, they will soon disregard them
  • Make sure that all emails are informative and people look forward to receiving them
  • If you are worried about spam you can have your emails checked by a spam checker tool

4. Content marketing

With content marketing you are:

  • Creating valuable and relevant content that will keep people on your site longer so they will be more likely to make a purchase
  • Provide information that the readers will stay to read
  • Creating more areas of relevant information for your products such as:
    • Blogs
    • White papers
    • Product descriptions
    • Videos
    • Reports
    • Presentations
    • Articles
    • Links to useful sites with relevant information

Do an audit on all of your current content to make sure that it is up to date and still offering quality information. The better your information is the more likely people are to return to your site.

It is important to update your information regularly and provide new posts on your blogs at the very least weekly.

5. Website strategies

Look at hiring an SEO specialist to ensure that your web pages are at optimum levels for getting noticed by the search engines. Choose a reliable company with a proven track record for this work. The initial cost may be a bit high, but the ongoing effects will last a long time.

Look at the results from the SEO strategies to determine where your visitors are coming from. Connect yourself to all of the local directories for your area and include your address with your business name. This way when people search online for businesses in that location your name will pop up.

Social Media

1. Twitter

Social media is a remarkable tool for getting your business known in the social world, and Twitter holds a key for many small businesses to use.

  • bird13Use tools such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to find people looking for what you are offering and reply to their comments by re-tweeting or adding a comment.
  • Use the location of your business as a keyword as well as your business name. For example, if you are in beautician in Los Angeles, set up a Twitter column for people in the area who use words like ‘nails,’ ‘nail polish,’ ‘beauty.’ You now Tweet these people with offers for specials.
  • Run a competition for everyone who re-tweets a comment about your shop and location and offer a free facial or half price products as the price

In-Person Tips

1. Write a letter

There are so few people who write personal letters today that receiving one is a real treat. Write in your own hand or use a calligrapher to fashion a beautiful letter about your business and what it has to offer. The Giving Card founder Dan Taylor had a huge success with this strategy. You will need to do some research on whom to write to, but you can get customers from this exercise.

Maybe choose to write to all previous customers and thank them for their custom and let them know about new products or services that you have on offer. Possibly include a reward for their return business.

2. Reward regular customers

There is nothing wrong with offering your loyal customers a regular reward, be it a free coffee, meal discounts, product discounts, competition entries or other rewards applicable to your business. A rewards system will ensure that your regular customers will come back more frequently to make a purchase to get closer to the end reward.

For an online business, enter people who comment on a blog into a monthly or quarterly competition or give them a special discount code. Or send them an email with a code for free postage on their next purchase or for a price discount. Even online customers can receive a rewards system for return business. Clothing and accessories company Zappos will often upgrade shipping of regular customers to next-day, which is extremely effective because who wouldn’t want to get an order the next day?

3. Give excellent customer service

The one thing that will have people talking about your business is excellent customer service. People will remember that you were friendly and courteous and could answer any questions they had to ask of you. They tell their friends, who will come to see for themselves, and they tell their friends and so on it goes.

You can offer:

  • Tea, coffee or water. This, of course, depends on the nature of your business, but if customers have to wait, offer them refreshment. They will be less likely to complain about being made to wait for 10 minutes.
  • Loyalty rewards that mean something, even a free coffee card from McDonalds McCafe will encourage people to come back
  • A pleasant and appealing atmosphere in the shop
  • Quick, efficient service by all staff
  • Prompt attention to detail

4. Cross promotion locally

Get together with one or more local businesses and do a promotion together. Your businesses don’t have to be for the same sort of products, but you advertise the fact that you are all local businesses. Cross promotion works by:

  • Each business using an advertising poster and business cards from the other businesses participating in the promotion
  • Each of the businesses supporting each other and asking the customers to be loyal to each business in the group
  • Having cross promotion loyalty rewards
  • Getting together with other local businesses to promote the locality as well as the businesses involved

This can be extended to the online market, but it requires a slightly different definition of the term ‘local.’ If you look at forming partnerships with other companies who share your community, the same strategies are possible.

5. Host an event

This is one way of getting your business noticed in the local area and neighbourhood. There are many different events that you can host, from charitable organisations, fun days, and sporting events, to local Guides and Scouts events. You can also get together with local businesses to support events or put on your own.

  • Host a charity event, such as Variety, that will bring the whole town together
  • Sponsor a local sports team and go to home games and get yourself and your business noticed around town
  • Sponsor local schools whose athletes go away to compete in regional and state events
  • People are more likely to use a business that is helping the local charities and schools
  • Have loads of giveaways offering discounts and special offers for those attending the event
  • Give out as many business cards as you can during the event
  • Make use of the free advertising you will gain by attending local market days. All you need to pay for is a stall and have lots of business cards and flyers ready to give away on the day
  • Depending on the business have some free samples available to the first 50 people who take a business card
  • Hold a competition where all the people who take a business card are entered
  • Make sure they know your website URL by the time they leave

6. Attend an event

  • Make use of the free advertising you will gain by attending local market days. All you need to pay for is a stall and have lots of business cards and flyers ready to give away on the day
  • Depending on the business have some free samples available to the first 50 people who take a business card
  • Hold a competition where all the people who take a business card are entered
  • Make sure they know your website URL by the time they leave

7. Attend a networking event

Get together with other local businesses or the Chamber of Commerce in your area and share ideas about marketing, advertising, what works, what doesn’t and current business trends. People might have thought of something you hadn’t and vice versa, and it might just work for you.

Look up sites such as Trade Events in the US for a list of yearly events.


1. Add product value

Not all businesses want to, or can afford to, discount products to attract new and returning customers. An alternative is to add value to what they are purchasing. This can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • Holding monthly competitions where all customers have a chance to win a discount on their next purchase
  • Get together with a like minded businesses and offer a voucher from them as a prize or a loyalty reward
  • This way both businesses win from the extra custom being generated

For example, a plant nursery could hold a competition for regular customers and offer a voucher to a local landscape supplier for mulch, topsoil or garden edging as the prize.

2. Make your business stationary work for you

Don’t just have your business name and address on letterheads and business cards. Use the empty spaces to advertise your website, what you do, or what you sell.

  • Use the blank side of your business card to list products and services
  • Use a header and footer on all stationary to list products and services
  • Always include web sites, Twitter, and other social media accounts as well as name, address, and phone number
  • Not every customer will be aware of everything that you do, so use the empty spaces to tell them

3. Turn regular customers into ambassadors for your product

By using your regular customers to promote your brand, products, and services, you are tapping into a new way to market you business. It could be as simple as your customers referring family and friends or showing other visitors to your web site or business location.

When you are offering a great product or service, use the current customers to advertise the fact that they take their custom to you. Ask all visitors who had a good experience to tweet about it, or go to your Facebook page and leave a comment on your business.

As you can see, there are many ways to market your small business in today’s modern internet-driven world. Some of them will cost you nothing, like having a Twitter account and a Facebook page, others may cost you a few dollars but will be worth it for the potential result. Of course, nothing works instantly so you need to be prepared to wait for the results. By offering customers what they need and what they want you are guaranteeing their return.

Get to know the other local small businesses in your area and ask about what works for them. Share some of your ideas with them and see where it leads. You might have just networked some great business partners that will add value to all of your businesses.


Ben Oren specializes in handling SEO efforts and boosting online conversion for large corporations in highly competitive niches, mostly in the US and Europe. Ben Oren is the Head Marketing Consultant at Dynamic Search™ – a US based, reputable web marketing agency handling small and medium clients worldwide. He is currently the Director of Web Marketing at WhiteWeb technologies.