Marketing requires immense time and resources, which is why small businesses face such unique obstacles. They often don’t have the time or talent required to commit to ongoing marketing efforts.
In fact, some top marketing challenges for small business owners include:
- Not enough leads
- Not enough money
- Not enough time
Simply put, driving marketing results, like generating high-quality leads or expanding brand awareness, can feel nearly impossible for small business owners.
This is why it’s important to prioritize the right marketing initiatives. Otherwise, you risk wasting your precious resources on efforts that don’t move the needle.
Start by setting SMART goals that lay out exactly what you want to achieve. When you understand your goals and determine your timeline for completion, you can align your efforts more efficiently. Start by exploring budget-friendly ideas, so your financial risk is minimal upfront.
Inexpensive marketing ideas for small businesses
It’s important to understand your limitations in terms of finances and resources. That’s why you need to avoid making common mistakes. Instead, find actionable solutions that fit your budget and could be handled by an internal marketing team.
The good news is there are plenty of small business marketing ideas that cost little to nothing yet pay off in big ways.
1. Target the right audience on social media
Social media is the ultimate tool for generating buzz on a shoestring budget. That said, be careful when you start implementing your strategy.
To expand brand awareness and establish credibility with a targeted audience, focus on a platform like Twitter where every post appears in your followers’ feeds. Small businesses in the B2B space can also gain a lot of reach on more business-focused channels like LinkedIn.
For each platform, use hashtags that your audience might be following or searching for. There are plenty of free hashtag analytics tools, including:
Social media is excellent for sparking conversations. As a small business, you want to keep your audience engaged, so make sure you’re giving them the content they want.
2. Build your list and engage them via email marketing
Email marketing isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. You need to do some planning to determine how to keep in contact with your leads, your email marketing goals, and the tools you want to use.
In other words, it’s a lot of setup.
But the benefits of email marketing are significant, and the cost of starting can be minimal. Many email marketing tools are built with tiered pricing, so you can get started, spending around $20 or less per month.
This small investment is essential to your overall marketing strategy. How else would you engage your newly acquired leads?
As your business grows, you’re going to rely on your lists of contacts. Start digging your well before you get thirsty. Otherwise, you’re going to get stagnant, and all those unengaged leads you neglect by not having a solid email marketing plan will be wasted opportunities.
3. Create an optimized, user-friendly website
This is another tactic that takes a good deal of time and energy upfront before it yields results. Just remember: When starting out, focus on building up an optimized, user-friendly website. But don’t delay this in the hopes of launching a perfect website.
Every day you don’t have a website, you’re missing out on major conversion opportunities. The sooner you get helpful, educational content published online, the sooner you’ll rank for searches relevant to your business.
In the competitive digital world, a website is essential. 92% of business owners believe having a website is the most effective digital marketing strategy.
So what are you waiting for? Sure, you might not be able to afford premium website software. But you won’t need all the bells and whistles in the early stages.
Start with free content management systems like WordPress. While they certainly won’t serve your site’s needs forever, they can get you started in a way that ensures you won’t make any major design or SEO mistakes.
4. Attend the right networking events
Networking events are an inexpensive channel for meeting people in your industry. This form of community outreach can lead to valuable, long-lasting relationships. And those relationships could be in the form of new customers or even potential business partners.
If you add value consistently, participants will be interested in reciprocating. This way, they’re more engaged with you on an ongoing basis.
But the event itself is just a small part of networking. You also need to connect with people you meet online where it matters most to them, like LinkedIn or Twitter.
5. Host webinars that deliver value
When it comes to developing webinars, you need a solid lead capture strategy. Webinars, or virtual meetings or presentations held online in real time, can be a huge lead generation channel.
Plus, they don’t require too much of a financial investment. You simply need a great presentation that addresses your audience’s pain points, a speaker who can deliver the information well, a potential audience (this is where your email list comes in), and a webinar platform to host it on.
There are several great, free webinar tools available. Tools like Zoom, Apache OpenMeetings, and join.me all provide plenty of free features. You can get more features by signing up for paid subscriptions on platforms like AnyMeeting, Webex, and WebinarJam.
No matter your budget, you can host webinars that deliver a ton of value for your audience without spending much.
6. Focus on customer retention and referrals
Brace yourselves for the truth, my fellow marketers. We are not the best voice for our companies.
I know that’s tough to hear, but it’s true. Just 3% of people would say marketers are trustworthy, according to HubSpot research.
This reality, combined with the fact that customer acquisition costs rose 50% over the last five years, is a good reality check. And it’s calling for a shift in how you think about marketing.
It’s still important to conduct strategies that earn new customers. But you should also focus on retaining the customers you have, delighting them, and encouraging them to share their love for your brand. And there are a few ways to do that.
- Develop a voice of the customer strategy to gather feedback and consistently improve the customer experience.
- Start a customer referral program to create brand advocates.
- Measure the success of your program by looking at referrals and refining the program over time.
Small business marketing ideas are tough to make a reality. But when you leverage the right automation tools and make the most of all your internal resources, you’ll be equipped to execute marketing initiatives and drive results.
Jeff Previte is the content manager at Bluleadz, the world’s first inbound agency that focuses on transforming the way companies market, sell, and service their customers. He loves educating audiences on digital marketing, the inbound methodology, sales enablement, and customer service.