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Steve Isenberg

FREE and Low-Budget Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Posted on: July 18, 2019

By: Steve Isenberg

“Advertising brings in customers, but word-of-mouth brings in the best customers.”   Jonah Berger, author & marketing professor

The dilemma facing every small business: determine the best way to—

– Promote your business
– Get your name in front of potential prospects
– Build your brand
– Not break the bank while doing so

In simple terms, to excel at marketing within the constraints of what most likely amounts to a small advertising budget.

Factor in that, you, as the business owner of a small/smallish business, are likely to be the one leading the marketing charge. Tack on the two, three, or more additional areas for which you are personally responsible, and the scenario escalates from challenging to demanding with definite moments that qualify as overwhelming.

According to the U.S. Small business Administration, two-thirds of small business owners and entrepreneurs, 66%, are personally responsible for three or more areas of their business, including marketing.

Face the small business marketing challenge with a stocked “marketing toolbox,” brimming with resources that will enable you to charge full steam ahead in promoting your business.

The first step—line your toolbox with a plan.

“You’ll waste precious time and money if your marketing activities are random and unstructured,” advises Janet Attard, founder of  Business Know-How. “The key to success – no matter how big or small  your budget – is to define your marketing strategy before doing anything else.”

To get the ball rolling, Attard suggests asking yourself and your team questions, such as—

  • Who are our best prospects?
  • Where do these folks tend to hang out? Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram?
  • Are our services/products likely to be sought via internet searches?
  • What in-person opportunities have the potential to reach our audience?

Record every idea, comment, and random thought regardless of how inconsequential it may appear. Consider compiling your information on this marketing plan worksheet.


FREE Resources

Forget the notion that nothing free is worthwhile. When it comes to marketing options, some very worthwhile pursuits are indeed free.

  • Complete a listing for your business in search engine local directories. For Google, go to Google My Business.To be listed on Bing, go to Bing Places for Business.
  • Set up a business profile or a page on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Include an engaging, detailed description of your business, complete with keywords and a link to your website.
  • Mosey around the various social media platforms with an eye toward groups or conversations that talk about your type of products or services. Join the discussion but refrain from “spamming” with constant promotional posts that aim to sell.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to engage an audience with regular posts about interesting and helpful info and pictures. Tips on how to improve a specific area of one’s life or business, for instance, will garner likes and shares. Sprinkle in the occasional special offer. Someone on your team is bound to be a social media guru. Take advantage of his/her passion and knowledge and, with guidance and oversight by you, allow this person to man the company’s social media presence.
  • In a word: TEMPLATES. Carly Sec has compiled an extensive list of handy-dandy templates. Including the “business plan,” “bio,” and “company newsletter” templates, these great resources allow you to spend your time promoting the company rather than laboring to reinvent the wheel. If it’s already been done, take advantage of it.
  • Yelp for business can be free or paid. To get started, register or claim your business, add your location, post some pics of your product/service, and begin responding to customers’ reviews.
  • One-to-one (1:1) marketing via personalized interactions such as a handwritten note thanking a customer for his/her business or expressing interest in a customer’s project. A “happy birthday” email greeting. A follow-up telephone call inquiring about the customer’s satisfaction with a product/service. All of these and any number of other scenarios add a personal touch that says, “We care about our customers.” And the only thing such gestures will cost you is a bit of time.


Low-budget options

  • Business card drawings

It’s an oldie and but a goodie. A super simple marketing option that allows you to control the cost. Collect business cards from customers, visitors, the UPS guy, the janitorial supply rep, etc., and host a monthly “chance to win” drawing.

“By the end of the month, you’ll have collected tons of business cards—likely with email addresses you can use to reach out to customers about joining your email mailing list so that you can notify them of future giveaways and special offers,” suggests Emily Kate Pope.

  • Vehicle Branding

Whether it’s the company vehicle cruising around town or your car transporting you about, car magnets are great for building name recognition. After an initial investment, it’s the promotional option that keeps on giving.

“As you can see, if you’re low on budget but have just the tiniest ounce of creativity, you can reach scores of potential customers who will help grow your business without breaking the bank,” insists Pope.

Check out Janet Attard’s compilation of low-cost marketing strategies and Neil Patel’s online marketing tactics for a plethora of ideas that will keep your name front and center without putting a hole in your pocketbook.

Speaking of marketing strategies and tactics, ASJ Partners are the experts at accelerating revenues for staffing and recruiting firms through unique, customized, and highly targeted marketing programs. These industry-specific programs will help you Sell More, Win More, Grow More, and Be Found More. Give our team a call today.

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