Small Business Marketing

6 Cost Effective Small Business Marketing Ideas

As a small business owner, you can’t afford not to invest in some form of marketing. But considering there are nearly as many ways to promote yourself as there are people, how do you know which small business marketing methods will pay off in real ROI and which ones will waste your resources?

Not every small business marketing budget can afford to call in the help of a professional, but truthfully, you do not need to. There are plenty of simple do-it-yourself solutions that will not drain your bank account or your time.

Check Out These Small Business Marketing Ideas That Won’t Break Your Budget:

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

You should always stand ready to talk about your business. Spend some time crafting a succinct elevator pitch, meaning a synopsis of your business in a condensed version, that not only details what you do, but also gives the listener a reason to want to learn more.

Typically you only have about 8 seconds to grab their attention. Once you pique their interest, you’ve got about another minute to sell them. Practice your pitch until the words flow freely.

Request an Online Review or Testimonial

It does not matter what industry you serve, online reviews matter. In a survey conducted by Ask Your Target Market, an astounding 90% of respondents indicated they have checked online reviews about a business. This means it’s highly likely some of your prospects have already scoped you out before they appeared on your radar.

Ask your best clients to rate your business or leave a review on Google or your social media pages. Incentivize them with a high profile prize drawing, or offer a coupon or other small reward to everyone who participates.

Ask for Referrals

Referral marketing is possibly the single most cost-effective marketing tactic you can employ, costing you as little as zero dollars and a few minutes of your time. However, there are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to asking customers to share their contacts with you:

  • DO only ask happy, satisfied customers for referrals.
  • DO provide an incentive to both the referral and to the person referring if their lead converts.
  • DO make it a regular habit to ask for referrals.
  • DON’T continually badger the same clients for referrals. They may feel that’s all they mean to you.
  • DON’T let hot leads get cold. Follow up on all referrals immediately.
  • DON’T ask yes-or-no questions to get a referral (ex. Do you know someone who might be interested in this service?). Keep questions open-ended.

Create Sticky Customers

Studies show it costs 4 to 10 times more to gain a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, so don’t forget to allocate some of your marketing budget to the people who already like you and know about your business.

Talk to your current customers about other products and services you offer. The key is to provide value as many different ways as possible so you can remain their go-to choice whenever they need something you offer. Creating a sticky customer is a bit different than typical customer retention. While you don’t “lock in” a customer to your services, you do get them invested in multiple parts of your business that makes it a little more difficult for them to jump ship and switch to your competitor.

Employ Social Media Marketing

Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find a business of any size that isn’t established on social media in some way. Maintaining a consistent social presence can help attract new customers and retain loyal customers by keeping yourself top of mind and sharing the ins and outs of what makes your business great.

And, contrary to popular belief, social media marketing does not always involve a hefty time commitment. Stick to these small business marketing secrets to stay on track:

  • Only set up social media accounts on channels where your target audience is likely to be. You don’t have to be everywhere to get noticed.
  • Start with one or two platforms and work from there – you may find that’s all you need or all you can responsibly handle. This helps avoid the time-zapping, resource-draining “Social Media Fatigue” that plagues many small businesses who eventually determine that social media isn’t worth the effort.
  • Use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule posts on your behalf. This way, you can touch your social marketing less frequently yet still provide fresh content on a regular basis.
  • Use Paid Ads to get directly in front of your target audience, and no one else. You set the amount to spend (even as little as five dollars!) and your social media channel goes to work putting your information in front of the people who most likely need it. 

Start Using Video

If you’re looking to get in front of your audience and bring valuable traffic, start using video. Currently, video converts better than any other type of content on the Internet—especially on social media. According to a recent study, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined, what’s more, consumers are 85% more likely to buy a product after watching a product video.

With numbers like these, it’s hard to ignore the amount of potential adding video to your marketing efforts can bring to your business overall. It’s the best way to reach your audience, engage them, and turn them into loyal customers.

Thanks to its growing popularity, creating and publishing high-quality video is no longer reserved for only big brands spending millions on advertising. Small businesses now have access to great DIY options and software that won’t break the budget. Between shooting the video yourself, using Facebook Live or YouTube Live to air a broadcast, and using one of the many online tools that popped up over the past year, the options for affordable, professional-quality video are endless.

The bottom line is you don’t need to be a marketing expert or to allot a corporate-sized budget to effectively promote your company, nor do you need to commit a lot of time. With a minimal investment and a little planning and effort, you can set your small business marketing in motion, and focus more on what you do best.


About the Author


Tovah Coldham is the Community and Content Marketing Manager at Slidely, a visual content creation platform and creator, Promo by Slidely. When she’s not writing about video marketing or curating content for social, you can find her reading, practicing yoga, or running with her dog.