33 Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Small Business in 2021
Marketing for small business is not an easy thing for most small business owners. With the actual business operations taking time and effort, there simply isn’t enough time, manpower, or budget to fully realize the potential of ‘how to market a small business’
33 Classic & Original Ways to Market your Small Business:
However, with the right amount of direction, understanding, technology (apps), and such, marketing your small business is not beyond reach. In this post, we offer curated 33 inexpensive & affordable ways to market your small business in 2021:
1. Take advantage of free Google marketing tools for small business
Climbing up the ranks on Google searches organically can be tough, but luckily Google gives you several great tools to help you do it on your own. Google Analytics, for example, lets you see how visitors interact with your website and where they are coming from. This gives you the tools to create content that is better targeted at those sources, and focus your efforts on the websites, blogs, and other places where your audience is coming from.
It’s also vital to react to events in real-time, as they can help you get more eyes on your social media posts. Google Trends is a free Google tool that helps you stay on top of buzzwords and trending topics so you can join larger conversations while drawing attention to your business.
Finally, Google My Business is a simple feature that enables customers to find your business on Google Maps, access your hours, and learn more. GMB, as it’s known, is a great way to improve your visibility, get more information about who is looking for your business, and even improve your SEO and AdWords strategies to get more out of every dollar spent.
It’s hard to build a marketing strategy as a small business owner. Between the million things you need to do every day and the administrative concerns, getting creative with advertising and social media may seem like a waste of time. Even so, marketing can help you work smarter, not harder, by reaching receptive audiences through mediums and messaging they love.
2. Make your own video ads
Video is a central part of marketing today, as more consumers prefer to watch short clips and make purchasing decisions based on them. Even so, they may seem a bit out of your price range. Nevertheless, while marketing teams and video shoots are expensive, there are some great tools you can use to make great video ads on your own.
Your smartphone’s camera can capture excellent footage in HD, and once you’ve edited it, you can use a business marketing video maker app like Boosted to turn your clips into professional, fully branded, and fun videos that help you engage with potential customers
Boosted lets you create short videos from your own clips and its library of stock footage, as well as add text, visual effects, and different layouts. You can build your videos and upload in a few minutes without paying a single penny. Make sure to use video marketing analytics to understand and benefit from your video’s performance.
For some inspiration, check out these creative video advertisement commercials:
3. Stay active on social media business pages
Social media is a great way to connect more directly with customers and show off the more playful side of the business. These platforms give you a chance to respond to customer feedback in real-time and show how much you care about their experience with your business. Posting frequently to your social media channels also keeps you relevant and at the top of your audience’s minds. Even a small comment or update can refresh your presence, and it shows your commitment to communicating directly with your customers.
You can also demonstrate your know-how while simultaneously promoting your business by commenting on other individuals’ and businesses’ social media posts. Follow Facebook pages that have to do with your type of business to answer questions, or even join silly Twitter threads that can give you greater exposure and introduce you to new audiences.
4. Advertise discounts and promotion with affordable email marketing
Even though it’s not as fast as social media or instant messaging, email remains at the top of most marketers’ toolkits. Nearly 50% of customers enjoy getting weekly promotional emails, and there are lots of tricks you can use to increase sales via email. Inexpensive email tools like MailChimp or GetResponse give you much greater control over your campaigns.
This includes letting you segment your audiences on a variety of factors, schedule automated emails, and even see how well each email performs. This way, you can focus on tweaking your email offerings to get more clicks back to your site, and eventually more conversions.
5. Publish a small business-themed blog
While traditional advertising is still alive and kicking, the majority of consumers would rather learn about a company through an article, not an ad. Blogging is a way for you to drum up interest in your business by sharing some industry wisdom or stories about your company in a particular voice and style that people will come to associate with your small business.
In terms of blogging, more is more. Sticking to a publishing schedule will make your business seem reliable and will also make it easier for your team to commit to publishing on time. If there’s no one on staff with adequate writing skills, you can outsource your blog content for as low as $20 per post to companies that have the SEO skills to help your content organically climb the search engine ladder and reach potential customers for your business.
6. Create fun & creative graphic content
Blogs and long-form content are great to get readers on your website to stay, but sometimes shorter, more easily digestible content can help get them to your site. No matter how long you’ve been in your business, you probably have some interesting tips and explanations you can share with consumers.
Packaging this content in fun, new ways can help you demonstrate your expertise, and make readers curious. Using free design tools online, you can create unique infographics, images, and other visuals you can easily upload to social media and even embed on your blog.
Even if you’re working on a shoestring budget, there are great ways to get your company’s name out there to your viewers. Marketing is hard, but it should never be expensive enough to stop you from doing it. Focus on finding the free and affordable tools that let you do more with less, and start your journey from anonymous small business to household name.
One inexpensive marketing tactic for small business owners is to vlog their daily lives, running their businesses. Check out how to make a successful vlog here.
7. Contribute An Article To An Industry Magazine Or Website
No matter how big or small your business is, advertising, especially in mainstream media, can quickly become one of your biggest expenses. And not only is it expensive, but just because you advertise your company in a magazine, that doesn’t even guarantee you that you’ll get any return on your investment.
You could literally dish out thousands of dollars in ad spend and get a $0 return on your advertising efforts.
So how can you get your name out there, maybe into an industry-leading magazine or website, without spending a fortune on running an ad?
The answer is easy; simply contribute a relevant, informative article to an industry-leading publication, which can usually be done at absolutely no charge to you.
In fact, virtually all magazines and websites accept guest contributions, and most of them will even let you advertise your small business in the author’s bio.
Talk about a great way to market your business, without spending any money on marketing.
8. Host Or Co-Host An Event
Whether you already have a large following on social media, or you’re simply looking to drum up a bit of interest, hosting or co-hosting an event or contest can be a great way to get people interested in your brand.
This can either be done on your own, possibly by promoting a discount or sale that you’re putting on, or by running some sort of contest, where contestants have the chance to win a free gift basket.
The keyword here is to offer something free, which almost guarantees that your audience will feel like they’re getting some sort of value out of their interactions with your brand.
One popular strategy is to contact other similar businesses in your industry, and to suggest co-sponsoring a contest or a giveaway together. In turn, this helps drum up interest in both co-sponsor companies, which allows both parties to reach new potential customers.
9. Launch An Affiliate Program
Affiliate marketing refers to the practice of promoting and selling other people’s products or services in order to gain a commission when a sale is made.
As the affiliate, this allows you to earn money by making sales, without actually having to own any of your own products or services.
And at the same time, the company running the affiliate program will benefit from having other people do their advertising for them, only needing to pay when a sale is actually made.
So essentially, if you’re able to launch an affiliate program for your small business, you’ll be able to get people to promote and sell your products or services without having to do any of the work.
In other words, your affiliates will be doing all the hard work of marketing and promoting your products or services, and you’ll only have to pay them a commission for their work when they actually make a sale.
As long as it’s designed and implemented properly, running an affiliate program is basically a win-win scenario for any small business simply because it guarantees an increased marketing effort, where you’ll only need to pay when those efforts are effective at making a sale.
10. Begin Hosting Webinars
It can be a bit expensive to host webinars for your company. But, when done successfully, small businesses are able to generate a significant amount of online interest by hosting these types of live events.
Essentially, a webinar is a workshop that’s performed via a video feed. Sometimes, but not all the time, webinars are presented to a live audience.
However, the important distinction between a webinar and an infomercial is that a webinar isn’t about selling anything. Instead, webinars are meant to be used as an unscripted, interactive way to provide information to your audience.
By providing your audience with valuable information, you’ll be able to work towards building trust, which is, in today’s world, one of the absolute best methods of marketing your business.
11. Create Facebook Groups (And Stay Active)
When trying to market your business on a shoestring budget, joining Facebook groups, as well as groups on other social platforms like LinkedIn, can be an extremely budget-friendly method for generating a bit of buzz around your business, without needing to spend a single dime.
The goal here is to join these groups, and then to offer up valuable information and advice to your peers for free.
The idea is that as other group members begin to see the true value in the information that you’re providing, they’ll gradually begin wanting to learn more about you, your business, and what you have to offer.
Consider using a Facebook video ad maker app to help produce promo videos to share in Facebook groups, as a great and inexpensive marketing tool for small businesses.
12. Narrow In On Your Target Audience
The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to market your business in an effective manner.
Being active on socially media and on your company blog is great, but you need to be sure that you’re creating content for the right type of people, that is, if you want your business’ content to resonate and connect with all of your potential customers.
To learn about their target audience, most marketers work at creating semi-fictional representations of their potential buyers, which are known as buyer personas.
A buyer persona is used as a strategy to help businesses understand the needs, wants, desires, and concerns faced by members of its target audience.
Basically, by understanding the concerns of your audience, you’ll be able to better craft your brand’s digital content to meet their needs. In other words, you’ll be able to offer them the informational content that they’re actually looking for.
And by doing this, you’ll be able to build trust with your audience, establishing yourself as a thought-leader in your industry. In turn, making it more likely that you’ll be able to effectively market your business to your audience.
13. Pinpoint Your Audience Perception
In order to market your small business and its products or services properly, you need to know your own goals in terms of positioning. In other words, how do you want customers to see your business and the benefits that you offer?
A customer’s perception of your business can be derived from a variety of everyday resources including media outlets, business reviews, features, packaging and presentation, retail, word of mouth, etc.
Also, learning about the way that your audience perceives your brand will help you be able to pinpoint your unique selling proposition or USP. Essentially, a brand’s unique selling proposition is its ability to be able to distinguish itself from its competitors in one or more ways.
What do you do better than them? What do you solve more efficiently than them? How do you differentiate from your competition at the very first impression?
When there’s little to no difference between you and your competitors, but your competition has taken the time to position themselves as the more appealing, they’re likely going to be the ones that your audience members turn to.
Therefore, it’s important to know your audience’s perception, which, in turn, will allow you to clearly identify your brand in a unique way that your audience will relate to.
14. Demonstrate with Instructional Videos
Whether filmed for those considering buying your product, or those who have already done so, instructional videos are a great way of providing your customers with the knowledge and information that they really want and need.
Always focus on being educational, but don’t forget to allow for some creativity as well.
With most smartphones today having enhanced video cameras, a videographer isn’t even necessary in order to create great video content. Which is great news for small businesses on a tighter budget.
When filming videos, always make sure that there’s enough light in the room, and natural light is always best.
Make sure to clear your backgrounds and foregrounds of clutter and other distractions.
And don’t forget to script out what you want to say, which will help you not miss any major points, without causing you to feel like you have to memorize and repeat it word for word.
Remember, you want to sound approachable and real, not robotic. So be prepare, but again, don’t be scare to let loose a little bit of that creativity I know you have inside!
15. Build Your Reddit Karma
Reddit is an online community, filled with user-generated forums, which are known as subreddits. When it comes to subreddits, there’s pretty much a subreddit for every niche, topic, or industry you can think of.
And I mean everything!
While many of these subreddits have become immune to blatant self-promotion, thanks to forum-specific rules, you can still build yourself up as an expert in your field by contributing to the conversations in other ways.
Essentially, when using Reddit, you’ll want to engage your audience by joining conversations or by starting them yourself. Then, slowly but gradually, you’ll be able to establish yourself as an expert, and the other Reddit users that you interact with will be more likely to visit your website or support your brand.
Host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) or search your most relatable subreddits for questions and answer when possible.
These two tactics add to your Reddit karma, which is a points system attached to your username.
Also, make sure that your profile is properly filled out just in case other users want to look further into who you are and what you have to offer.
If you start noticing positive engagement with your posts/answers, don’t be shy to drop a link to your site, or mention your product or services in other ways, but only when it seems appropriate to do so.
16. Host a Virtual Party
With health and safety both being a major concern for business owners and customers alike, a comfortable, and super affordable way to reach a large number of potential customers is by hosting a virtual party!
These can either be exclusive or public, and you can use a range of video networking platforms to host scheduled your event, consisting of interactive experiences like a location tour, product demonstration, product giveaways, Q&A, etc.
Try to think of a virtual party as a webinar, but with a much more casual, and far less scripted atmosphere to it.
These events can also take place on live social network platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram Live.
In today’s world where social distancing is becoming a routine part of everyday life, virtual events are the perfect way to keep your brand front-of-mind when customers can’t physically be wherever your store or location is.
18. Create an Infographic
All consumers have different wants and needs, and this includes the way they absorb information.
Some people can easily hear something and remember every word, some absorb knowledge better through long-form reading, and finally, others are simply visual learners, who just need everything laid for them for a quick glance in order to be able to sop it all up.
And for those who are better at absorbing information visually, the infographics is here to save the day!
Infographics are visual graphics combined with correlating bits of text info. Essentially, an infographic is used to present must-know or fun-to-know information in an easy to read format, that’s also aesthetically pleasing.
Plus, you can even go one step further when creating infographics by using colors that match your brand style or personality. In turn, this creates an even greater connection between your business and the people you’re trying to connect with!
19. Recycle Old Content Into Newer Evergreen Content
For businesses that have been established online for some time, there’s a good chance that you already have a good stash of old content that hasn’t been updated, reviewed, or otherwise looked at, since it was first published.
If you’re looking for new content ideas, it’s never a bad idea to go through some of your old content to see if any of it can be improved or updated.
Many times, newly recycled content can perform just as well as a completely new piece of content.
This is because when you’re recycling old content, you’ll be taking that existing information, and then you’ll be adding even more information on top of it. In turn, this provides your audience with content that’s even more valuable, and even more informative than before.
Plus, this also works to establish your brand as an expert in your subject matter.
So it’s really a win-win for both you and your audience to periodically sift through old content and see if any of it can be refreshed.
20. LinkedIn (Posts and Groups)
LinkedIn groups are often overlooked as a marketing opportunity, but if you play the angle properly, they can be a huge source of leads. Although the platform caters to business and professional audiences, both B2B and B2C businesses can cash in by using LinkedIn.
Communications on LinkedIn should always be formal and professional, with content that generally caters toward the informative and educational sectors. Items like eBooks, articles, and webinars are perfect examples of content formats that generally perform well on the platform.
Currently, groups on the platform can only be used by individual accounts, and business accounts can’t interact or engage within groups.
However, as an individual business owner, joining groups can help build your brand, by connecting your profile with the rest of your industry. In turn, you can use this positioning to help you establish your reputation as an industry expert.
Always remain professional, polite, and courteous within groups, even if you have a differing opinion. And remember to prioritize authority and tone of voice, over trying to be persuasive or starting arguments when posting on the platform.
21. Customer Referral (Non-Affiliate Programs)
Use current customers to grow your business by incentivizing referrals. After all, one positive customer experience can bring in plenty of customers, especially with the right incentives.
This can either be a one-time referral incentive, where customers are rewarded with free products, discounts, or other incentives for successfully referring a new customer, or you may decide to create a long-term referral/loyalty program instead.
Rewarding existing customers is especially beneficial because it encourages new customer growth for the business since they’ll be motivated to bring new faces to the company for you.
On the other hand, incentivizing new customers prompts these pre-interested individuals to commit to their purchase since they’ll likely be receiving a reward along with it.
These incentive ideas work in virtually all business types, although substantial resources may be required to cover the initial cost of starting an incentive program.
22. Apply for Awards And Spotlights
Consider applying for any industry awards or spotlights that are solely merit-based. Just keep in mind that many industry awards are “pay to play”, sometimes requiring substantial donations on your part, and making them less valuable to you as an achievement.
Always investigate an award’s reputation and how it will impact your business before applying or being nominated. If it’s a highly-regarded and recognized award, it’s definitely going to help you considerably more than an award no one has heard of before.
Also, ask yourself if winning will directly influence your business. Will it impress your customers or convince them to purchase? In terms of your business, is applying for an award or professional spotlight worth it?
23. Guerilla Marketing
Although it might sound a bit complicated, guerrilla marketing is a great technique for small businesses, which simply refers to any marketing tactics that involves a surprise or unconventional method of reaching out to an audience.
So if you’re looking for an out-of-the-box option for advertising, consider using non-traditional methods to get your brand noticed.
Basically, if you’re willing to invest a bit more time and creativity into promoting your products or services, guerrilla marketing is a simple tactic that’s proven to work time and time again.
This somewhat edgy tactic can put your brand in front of hundreds of new customers quickly, especially if you’re able to come up with some type of unconventional idea that piques a lot of curiosity.
Guerilla marketing does carry some risk, however, especially knowing that your brand will be front and center. As much as you’ll be using this tactic to attract good publicity, you might also drum up some bad publicity at the same time.
24. Mobile (Vehicle/Truck) Marketing
According to guerrilla marketing, the easiest way to get in front of new customers is to showcase your brand when they’re least expecting it.
Mobile marketing is the advertising of your business on a wide array of vehicles, which can be either a static advertisement or video graphics.
For an interactive customer experience, brands can even hire display trucks that are immersive, geared specifically for these types of demos and advertisements. Of course, hiring vehicles to display your brand name isn’t necessarily a free or inexpensive tactic.
However, in some high vehicle or pedestrian traffic areas, mobile advertisements like this can often help you reach a considerable number of new, potential clients, making the investment well worth it in terms of ROI.
25. Attend Networking Events
If you’re looking to build your brand, getting in front of many like-minded people at networking events is something to consider. These types of events force you to step out into the business realm as a business owner and face your own self-doubt head-on.
In most interactions, you’ll have no more than 20 or 30 seconds to highlight who you are, how your company stands apart, and what you do.
Even for the most introverted business owners, by the end of an evening of networking, you’ll be polished and practiced at getting your message across, which means you’ll be more confident the next time you speak to someone about your business and what it can do for them.
Plus, the first-hand connections you make at events like these can also be a gold-mine or future partners, and prospective customers.
26. Frequent Networking Apps (Ex. Bumble Bizz)
Just as online dating has become a new norm, networking apps are a small business owner’s best friend for networking. Platforms like Bumble Bizz and Shapr work to connect like-minded individuals that are already located within a certain vicinity from one another.
These apps can be a powerful tool to use when you’d like to grow your professional network, but aren’t sure how to meet new people.
Similar to online dating apps, you simply join the platform and enter in a few details about yourself and your business to build a profile, and then you’re free to connect and interact with other users on the platform.
With Bumble Bizz, you’ll be able to see see the profiles of other business professionals and can choose to swipe to make contact. If both contacts swipe “yes” to making contact, then, you’ll be given access to a messaging system to chat directly.
Although face-to-face contact with a business is a fabulous marketing technique, it’s easy to understand the benefits of networking apps.
Access is simple, easy to use, and available anytime. So if you’re trying to get your brand in front of a larger audience, this may be the perfect revenue to do just that.
27. Event Sponsorships
Organizations often seek sponsorship to help fund various events, such as conferences, fairs, tournaments, or competitions.
Although business owners may not necessarily see direct conversions from running an event, for a small business, planning, organizing, and running these types of events can be extremely beneficial for helping to develop your brand exposure.
Running the right event is the most important aspect to consider when you’re doing this. For example, if you sell educational children’s books, you might want to consider sponsoring a family-friendly book-themed event in your city.
Then, during the planning phase, you can reach out to a wide range of local businesses to seek sponsorship funding for your event. Local grocery stores, radio stations, and union halls are good organizations present in almost any city that are likely to agree to offer their sponsorship in exchange for a bit of free advertising.
The key here is to ensure that your event idea is relevant to the type of business or industry that you’re apart of.
By doing this, those that attend your event will naturally see your brand as a friendly, approachable organization since they’ll see you actively running and organizing events in your community.
28. Create Media And/Or Sampling Kits
Although a media kit is a tool originally strongly connected to event coverage, the online era has seamlessly connected brands and this age-old form of journalism.
Essentially, a media kit is everything a journalist needs to write a story about your brand.
Most media kits are PDF files that can be downloaded directly from your company website, although you’re welcome to email the files to any news outlets or individuals that might be covering your business or event.
The contents of the media kit depend on your business, but typically, they should always include the following:
- Your company information and contact details: Including a contact name and access point (phone number or email), business name, address, and website URL.
- Up-to-date information about the company: Keep the information about your company brief and to the point. Highlight the most important facts, but don’t include excessive details.
- Media release: Provide details of the event and any relevant quotes or information from your contact person.
- High-Resolution images: Most journalists require high-resolution photos to include with their stories.
- Product samples: If your company creates products, try to provide a few samples along with the media kit. Not only is this a great way to earn a new potential customer, but you’ll be putting your product in the hands of a person who has the ability to spread the word about your product and expand your reach.
29. Indulge In Trade Show Season
By gathering industry experts and leaders, like-minded enthusiasts, and media under one roof, a tradeshow can be highly beneficial to any small business owner looking to get their foot in the door.
Especially for anyone in a highly competitive industry, attending the next tradeshow in their city can be an extremely simple way to market and promote their business.
With many industry professionals attending these types of events, you’ll benefit from the increased brand awareness that’ll come from these events.
Just make sure that you bring along some captivating media material, such as posters, banners, flyers, and business cards if possible. And these should always include your company logo, URL, message, and social media.
Use the event as an opportunity to develop business relationships with industry experts since you’ll have the opportunity to speak face-to-face with potential partners and allies.
A tradeshow is where you’ll find countless highly targeted leads for your company. Every person that walks through the doors is a potential buyer that’s likely already interested in your industry.
So make sure to showcase your product and capitalize on the atmosphere of these trade shows.
30. Joint Ventures with Other Small Businesses
It may seem counter-productive but forming an alliance with other small businesses, especially indirect competitors, is a fantastic way to capitalize on building your brand.
Teaming up with other individuals or businesses can help you in every aspect of your brand, from marketing through outreach and production.
By forming a joint venture with one or more businesses, you’ll be able to extend your market reach, by having double the exposure, without too much additional effort. This means your company can reach new markets that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible, build its credibility, and generate additional revenue.
Joint ventures allow each business to keep their own personal property, normally joining together for a particular project or event.
As such, you and the strategic alliance you form can share expenses, pooling your resources together to provide a higher level of customer service that couldn’t be achieved individually.
31. Influencer Marketing
You’ve probably heard the term influencer a lot lately, but if you haven’t, let’s take a second to explain what an influencer really is.
Simply put, an influencer is an individual with a large, active, dedicated social media following. These individuals are viewed as experts within their industry, who boast a high level of trust with their followers.
If you’re looking to capitalize on building your business, consider connecting with an influencer to help market your products or services.
In fact, a recent study suggests 89% of marketers feel the ROI from this marketing strategy is comparable or better than many other strategies.
To get started, research some well-known influencers within your target market. Various platforms have different contacts, so try to find an ideal fit for your product or service. Most will request free product from you in exchange for a recommendation.
However, for longer-term, ongoing collaborations, be prepared to pay for it as some influencers charge extremely high prices for their services.
32. Pinterest (As A Small Business Search Engine)
Pinterest is unique in that it uses photographs as the sole source of engagement.
These photographs are organized by boards, allowing users to save images or products they like on their own profile while continuing to browse, which means that you could be offering up thousands of products available to your potential buyers, at any given time.
If your business sells products, connecting with customers can be as simple as creating boards and pinning them your product images. Make sure they look neat and professional in high-resolution if possible.
For companies without a product, consider using Pinterest to broadcast your blog posts or company updates. For this, you’ll need to make sure that your blog posts have photographs attached to them. Then, simply pin the photo to a board and write a brief description of the post using a few high-quality keywords.
33. B2B Cold Calling
Cold calling is an effective marketing tactic, especially if you’re trying to find new leads within your industry. To successfully cold call, you’ll need to learn how to handle rejection well because it’s going to happen, and unfortunately, it will probably happen a lot.
Keep in mind that the key to cold calling isn’t always just what you say, it can also be what you don’t say.
In other words, the goal of cold calling isn’t to get a sale, it’s to arrange a meeting or to get your lead interested in your product or service, so that they, at the very least, want to learn more about your company or brand.
In fact, nobody wants to hear a pre-written sales script. So if you’re cold calling and reciting cold hard facts from a cue card, you’re not going to have very much luck.
On the other hand, if you’re friendly, genuine, and not pushy, cold calling can still be an extremely beneficial method from marketing and advertising your small business in 2021.