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How to Market Your Business on a Small Budget

ByBen Mizes,
business.com writer
|
Oct 29, 2019
Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images
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There are various marketing strategies small businesses can use that won't break the bank.

If no one knows about you, they can't buy anything from you. That's what makes marketing such a crucial part of your business endeavor. 

Many small businesses don't have the financial resources to dedicate to expensive ad campaigns like some of the big players. Luckily, the internet has provided plenty of ways to market your business on a budget. Here are several marketing strategies small businesses can use that won't put a big dent in the bottom line.  

Social media

There are very few things that everyone uses. Social media is one of them. In fact, 3.48 billion people are using social media in 2019. In short, there is an excellent chance that your target customers are on social media. That means you need to be on it too. 

The platforms you use will vary slightly depending on your target audience. However, the sheer number of users makes both Facebook and Instagram excellent choices for any business. 

Facebook enjoys the largest market share of any social media platform, with 2.38 billion users as of July 2019. Instagram has less, a not-so-paltry 1 billion, but it's a bit easier to share content organically. Plus, people love visual content, so an Instagram strategy is well worth your effort.

LinkedIn focuses on business social networking and is an excellent resource, particularly if you have a B2B company. 

Facebook boosted posts

Previously, free advertising was quite effective on Facebook. That's not the case anymore. But, paying to boost your posts can provide quite a healthy ROI when done well. In fact, 76% of people over 35 have bought something because they saw the ad on Facebook.

The first step to effectively boosting your posts is to choose your content well. Remember, the content you're posting should primarily focus on helping your audience. For example, if you're a real estate agent looking for clients, offer information about how to prepare a home for sale, key things to look for when buying a home, etc. Offer your services as an agent from time to time but establish yourself as a helpful, knowledgeable entity first.

Images are excellent for attracting attention and making your ad memorable. In fact, posts with images have 650% more engagement than text-only posts. Just be careful: Facebook will limit the reach or even deny images that are more than 20% text. Use your caption space and only put the most important information in the image itself.

Instagram

Instagram is primarily a visual platform. We already know that people love photos, so why not take advantage of it? If you're running a coffee shop, snap some quick photos of your latte art to post later. If you own a salon, then take some pictures of your hair and nail art (with customer permission, of course). Better yet, enlist your baristas and stylists to help and take some of the work off your shoulders. You can use a management tool to approve posts before they go live to oversee the quality.

Choose relevant hashtags to promote your content to your target audience, even if they don't already follow you. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an excellent platform for networking with other businesses, as well as establishing yourself as an expert in your industry. If you are focusing on B2B marketing, this is the social media network for you. An astonishing 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.

Subscriber email list

Direct mail marketing was successful in its day, but now no one bothers to read their junk mail before tossing in the recycling. To make matters worse, it can get quite expensive, contributing to a plummeting return on investment (ROI) for this type of marketing. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, direct mail and email marketing yield similar results. But factor in the fact that direct mail costs about 100 times more and the ROI for email marketing beats direct mail by a whopping 95 times.

Digital links allow you to provide the customer with so many resources. You put information in the email designed to draw the customer to your site or to further resources. You can also track who is opening your emails and some of the steps they may take afterward. Make sure the information you are sending is high-quality and genuinely helpful to your readers. Be thoughtful about how often you send out emails as well. People hate being spammed and even quality information sent too often can be off-putting for many people.  

One of the biggest roadblocks to this type of marketing is that business owners often feel that their list is too small to warrant the time put into crafting emails. Build your subscriber list through social media campaigns or invite customers to sign up for your newsletter during the checkout process when they are buying something. You'll be amazed by how effective it can be to grow your list by simply asking people for their email. Of course, make sure your newsletter is worth reading or your emails will start going directly to the junk mail folder.

SEO

Google handles 40,000 search queries per second. If you ever wondered why you should care about begin found on Google, there's your answer. People are looking for information on Google, you want to be the one providing it in your niche.

SEO is a huge topic, but the basics boil down to providing helpful, high-quality content to your audience. You'll want to optimize that content by filling it with relevant keywords and eye-catching visuals. Create headers that clearly convey what the reader can learn from reading your article. Answering a query thoroughly and concisely can also get you that coveted "featured snippet" spot at the top of Google.

Take advantage of optimizing for local SEO, as there will be less competition in your local market. Include place names in your posts and create a business account with Google so the search engine can direct local queries to you.

Customer referral program

If your customers love you, why not give them the opportunity to support you? Some may do this organically by telling their friends about your product that they are in love with. But most could use an extra push. A customer referral program is a perfect way to nudge them.

Think about what would be valuable for your customers and offer it to them. A tried-and-true method is to simply offer them a discount off their next purchase if they supply a referral. However, the downfall of this method is that the customer will be more focused on their discount rather than supplying a quality lead. The chances of that lead fizzling out are higher.

Consider using a tracked method instead. Give your customers a referral code they can hand out to their friends. Then, when their friends use the code, both the friend and the customer get something. It can be a credit on their next purchase or even cash in hand. 

Get creative and think about what you can offer that will motivate your customer base into becoming your brand ambassadors. 

Marketing is essential for the success of your business. Thankfully, a huge marketing budget isn't. Social media, email campaigns, SEO and referral programs are all excellent ways that you can spread the news about your business without breaking the bank.  Apply these principles today and watch your business flourish.

Ben Mizes
Ben Mizes
See Ben Mizes's Profile
Ben Mizes is the co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate. He's an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed agent in Missouri. Ben enjoys writing about real estate, investing, personal finance, and financial freedom. He's a serial entrepreneur, having run several successful startups before Clever Real Estate. Ben's writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Realtor News, CNBC, and BiggerPockets.
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