Does the word “marketing” make you break out in a cold sweat as you vividly imagine all your money flushing out your bank account and into a dark hole? Clink, clink, clunk! Oops, that’s your entire budget spent in the bat of an eyelash!
Then you need to keep reading! Because small business marketing doesn't have to be costly.
The following small business marketing ideas will help you (re)discover your love for marketing and show you how you can promote yourself to eager new clients who’re dying to find a business like yours!
Large companies and giant corporations may be able to funnel hundreds or even thousands of dollars to market their brand to new customers at the drop of a hat, but that doesn’t mean that, as a new small business owner, you need to do the same in order to stay in the game.
In fact, there are so many free and budget-friendly ways to market your small business that you probably won’t be able to implement them all at once. And that’s fine, too.
Read through this comprehensive guide for new marketing ideas for your small business, check off the ones you're already using, mark the new ideas that interest you the most, and then narrow your list down to the three to five small business marketing ideas you’ll begin implementing today.
For your ease and convenience, the guide features six different areas of marketing you can work on:
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Local Marketing
- SEO Marketing
- Network Marketing
If you're not sure where to start, just select the area that seems most accessible to you and begin implementing those tips. But whatever you choose, remember: The most important part of this guide is the action that you take!
So let’s get into this list of 30 marketing ideas for small business.
Attract New Clients Through Awesome Content Marketing
Content packaged in any way, shape, or form is the new window-front of businesses both large and small. For new small businesses, in particular, content marketing provides one of the best, easiest, and most economical ways to attract potential clients from all over the globe. If you’re completely new to the idea of content marketing, check out this starer guide on what content marketing is and how it works:
If you’ve already got the basics down, then let’s dig into content marketing ideas for your small business:
1. Helpful Blog Posts
Blogging is one of the easiest ways of showcasing your expertise and getting new customers into your business. And it’s free to low cost to start! All you need is a blogging platform, some time to write, and an understanding of your customers’ burning questions regarding the work you do and your industry.
Try lists containing actionable advice, step by step posts explaining industry secrets and best practices, or collections of the best resources that can save potential clients time and money.
If you're not sure where to set up your blog and how, the following tutorial has all the information you need:
You also may need a professional WordPress blog theme to start your blog with a great design. We feature a number of great choices in this article:
2. Compelling Case Studies
Case studies are one of the best ways to showcase not only the sort of work you do for clients but also the results your work provides.
A case study doesn't have to be a dry, boring white-paper type of report. If that doesn’t fit your industry or style, try writing a fun story about your collaboration with a client, or a story about how you handled a particularly difficult, big, or somehow problematic order from a client.
Make sure your case study narrative highlights how you solved your customer’s problems and the positive outcomes that other customers can expect from you in the future.
3. Fun How-to Video Tutorials
One of the most popular categories of web videos these days are how-to tutorials. People love to learn how to do things for themselves because it gives them a sense of accomplishment and of being creative.
New small business owners often hesitate to create such videos fearing that if they show people how they do their work, no one will hire them. But that’s not true. Some people may take the DIY approach seriously. Most, however, will come running to hire you once they try doing something themselves and appreciate how much work, effort, and talent that task requires. So set aside your fears, get your best smile ready, and hit record!
4. Clear Infographics and Other Visual Guides
Color attracts the eye. And one of the most appealing ways to disseminate your message on the web is through the use of colorful infographics that give a clear and instructive message. Infographics are not only fun and easy to read but also highly shareable, helping spread your work and wisdom to more people than you could reach on your own.
If you’re not very good with icons and graphics, worry not. You can easily create your own stunning infographics with one of the amazing infographic templates available in Graphic River:
5. Recycle Your Old Material
Engaging in content marketing doesn’t mean that you have to keep coming up with new material to publish every day or every week. Different people like to consume content in different ways. So why not recycle your old material?
Take an old blog post and turn it into an infographic, a recording, or a relevant how-to video tutorial that will appeal to a different segment of your audience and potential clients.
6. Publish in Online or Print Publications
Publishing on your own blog will help you create deeper connections with your current audience. But if you want to attract new people to your work, consider publishing a post in a popular online or print publication related to your industry.
Search the name of a publication that interests you followed by the words “contributor” or “guest blogging” to find out how you can submit an article that will be read by thousands of new people.
Extra tip: Offer a free relevant downloads (like a list of resources or a worksheet relating to your post) that people can get when they sign up to your email list so you can turn those one-time readers into subscribers.
Sell More Through Email Marketing
Email marketing is the best way to reach potential and returning customers in a systematic way that builds relationships and leads to sales. If you haven't tried your hand at email marketing yet, check out the following guides explaining all about email marketing and how to get started with building your list quickly:
- Email MarketingWhat Is Email Marketing?Julia Melymbrose
- Email MarketingHow to Build an Email List: Get Your First 500 Subscribers FastCeline Roque
If you’re already familiar with the basics of list building, let’s jump right into some small business marketing ideas for email!
7. Keep Your Audience Excited and Engaged
Not every email you send to your list has to be a direct marketing email. In fact, it’s better if the majority of your emails aren't selling emails. Send your list helpful content (such as the pieces you’ll create for your content marketing above) that will keep them excited about your work and engaged with your brand.
Make sure you brand that email so your business stays at the top of their mind as they read your awesome tips and advice. If you don’t have a standard email template yet, try out one of these popular email marketing templates that will help you establish yourself as an authority and emphasize your brand.
If you need expert guidance in choosing the right template for your business, check out the following article showcasing the best email templates for your next campaign:
8. Introduce New Products or Services
Email marketing is great for creating hype around your new products and services. People on your email list have already shown an interest in what you have to offer just by subscribing to it. So try testing out new services, packages, or ideas with your list, or even giving your subscribers special pre-order rights that will help you create some hype around your product and spread the word!
9. Upsell Subscribers With Exclusive Offers
Another way to reward people on your list is by offering them exclusive deals and special upsells on your regular offers. When people feel they have the chance to get something special that no one else has access to, they’re more likely to buy.
You can also advertise these exclusive orders to your social media following or website readers as an incentive for getting them on your email list. That way, you’re not only keeping your list happy but also growing it at the same time!
10. Shine a Light on Your Best Material
Not all of your email subscribers would have been following you when you published a topic originally. And not everyone will have read that popular post, or compelling series, the first time around. Your email newsletter is a great way for referring to the best material in your archive, reintroducing it in a fresh context, and directing your newsletter readers to find the answers they need from your material!
11. Send Alerts About Withdrawal of Products or Services
As your new small business grows, you will find the need to add more products or services to your repertoire, as well as withdraw older ones that may no longer serve your audience sufficiently. But you should always alert your subscribers before taking something off the market.
Create an email campaign that lets your readers know about the changes you're planning, offering people one last chance to buy that product. Scarcity is one of the most powerful factors in sales, and you may be surprised at how many last-minute orders you get from an email or two you send to your list!
Spread Your Reach Through Social Media Marketing
Social media has become one of the most powerful ways to reach your ideal audience. When you add some social media marketing to the mix of your small business marketing plan, you're sure to see a significant increase in your sales.
12. Target Your Audience on Facebook
Facebook has become one of the most powerful ad-targeting engines that ever existed. And the best part is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to reach your audience.
Unlike TV spots or billboard signs, Facebook advertising can cost you as little as $1 a day! Create campaigns to promote your most popular pieces of content (such as blog posts, videos, or infographics) to your ideal audience (which you can define by age, location, interests, and a gazillion other ways). You can boost your results, and customize your targeting, affordably.
13. Engage With Your Community
With the plethora of social networks available nowadays, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once. And you shouldn’t. You should focus your efforts on the social media platform(s) where most of your audience hangs out.
But you can’t just be “present” there. You have to be active. Share messages, respond to comments, and like other people’s content and comments. Engaging with your community in real time on social media can help you create stronger bonds with potential customers.
For more tips and insights on how you can turn social media into a two-way street of communication rather than one-way self-promotion, have a look at this guide:
For a polished, professional presence on social media that makes your small business stand out from the competition, check out the amazing and easy-to-use Social Media Templates on Envato Market.
14. Boost Your Content for Heightened Awareness
Mot social media platforms now let you boost or promote your content to more users. When a piece of content you share resonates deeply with your regular audience (garnering above average shares, likes, and comments), consider spending a few of your marketing dollars on promoting it to a larger audience that’s likely to find it appealing.
Promoting popular posts can provide a huge return on your investment as they attract a bigger audience to your small business that leads to more sales. A few flagship content pieces can drive a large percentage of your marketing results.
15. Run an Online Contest
Online contests can help you greatly increase your audience and attract potential customers. When people enter a contest or giveaway, they’re showing interest in the products or services they stand to win. And even if they don’t win the free prize, many people are likely to come back and buy from you once they become familiar with your business and brand.
And the best part? There are currently many free and low-cost apps that will help you quickly and easily set up a contest on the web or on social media. Simply do a search for contest apps on the platfrom that interests you most and you're ready to get going. Or get started by using a spreadsheet to track your contest.
Strengthen Your Brand Awareness With Local Marketing
The web may be the new landscape for businesses of all types and sizes, but the local market will always remain a valuable resource for all small businesses. When you learn how to tap into the free and low-cost marketing potential of your local scene, you'll be able to build a stronger brand both offline and online.
16. Give Out Attention-Grabbing Business Cards
Business cards may be the oldest tool in a small business’ arsenal, but when done right, they can also be the most effective tool. Instead of the boring ol’ business cards that large corporations tend to issue, try doing something more creative and fun that makes your small business immediately stand out to anyone who lays eyes on your card. For inspiration on creating fun and unique business cards check out the following articles:
- Business Cards5 Noteworthy Back of Business Cards IdeasJulia Melymbrose
- Business Cards15 Creative Business Card Templates—With Unique DesignsSean Hodge
17. Host a Free Event or Class
There’s no better way to get your name out there, show your expertise, and make new contacts than by hosting a free event or class for your community. Ask at your local community center if they’ll host you (they may even do so for free!) or find an adult education center that may be interested in holding a class on your area of expertise.
Extra tip: make sure you take some of your fabulous business cards with you to hand out to participants along with an offer they can claim when they sign up to your list. This way you’ll be using a variety of small business marketing ideas at once at little or no cost!
18. Join or Create Local Contests
As much fun as online contests may be, local contests can be even more effective as they use the familiarity within your community to spread the word. Find a local contest and offer one of your products or service packages as a prize for the winners. If you can’t find any contests running in your community, consider creating your own by contacting a few other local business owners and asking them to participate for a chance to promote their businesses to new local customers.
19. Join a Local Mastermind or Professional Group
Local marketing isn’t just about reaching more clients but also about creating relationships with other business owners in your area. These are the people that can help you grow your business either by referring clients to you (if your businesses happen to be complementary) or by offering you support, advice, and a listening ear as you go through the ups and downs of getting your new small business off the ground. Look for a mastermind or professional group you can join to help your business thrive through the spirit of camaraderie.
20. Offer Free Consultations
Free consultations are a great way to get your name out in the community and grow your new small business. Of course, you don’t want free consultations to take up all your working hours. Instead, think of strategic ways you can offer free consultations either to well-networked individuals or businesses in your community.
Target those who’ll be able to refer others to you in return. Or focus on helping people who really need your help and will be appreciative of your offer. They're the most likely to tell everyone they know about you and your amazing work.
Hone Your Reach through SEO Marketing
A wide reach isn’t always a good thing when it’s not hitting the right people. So while you want to expand the reach of your new small business with social media marketing, you also want to hone it down to your ideal audience that’s most likely to buy from you. And the way to do that is through SEO marketing. Here are a few search-based marketing ideas:
21. Figure Out Your Target Keywords
When writing new articles on your blog, you want the topic to appeal to your readers and to attract new interested readers as well. To achieve that, you need to identify the keywords that your audience uses to search for your content (or content similar to yours) on the web. What words are they using? What questions are they asking? Do some keyword research and make sure to incorporate that language into your blog posts.
22. Don’t Stuff Your Keywords Everywhere
Important as keywords are for helping search engines find and categorize you blog posts, you should be careful not to overstuff your posts with keywords. Search engines are becoming more sophisticated in their “reading” of the web by the day, and they've learned to shun keyword-stuffed content that lacks real "meat" and advice. Stuffing your content with a specific keyword in an attempt to get attention from search engines will only result in having that content penalized and sent to the last page of search results.
23. Write Simply, Clearly, and for Humans
The best way to write is by writing for humans, not search engines. Armed with a burning question from your audience as discussed in the Content Marketing sections, and equipped with the right keywords that will help your content rank as useful, write the rest of your post in your unique voice making it as simple and clear for your audience as possible.
If you're not sure how to write blog posts, emails, or any other of your marketing material in a voice that's uniquely yours, check out the following guide on finding your brand voice and tone:
24. Research Your Titles
Titles may be the most important and yet most neglected aspect of a blog posts and other online content. As important as it is to use strong and relevant keywords in the body of your content, it is doubly as important to use those keywords in the headline of your content, because search engines weigh headlines quite heavily.
What's more, human readers decide whether they want to read something or not based on the headline alone. Headlines may only be a few words long, but the best one can take as much time to craft as the entirety of the body text. So don't rush your headlines. Take your time to incorporate your keyword in an engaging heading.
25. Go Deep, Not Wide
When considering a topic for a new piece of content, focus on going deep on one aspect of that topic, rather than covering a wide range of related issues. The more spread out your keywords are in a post, the harder it will be for your content to rank high in search engines. The more focused they are on a particular area the easier it will be for new readers to discover them.
Boost Your Business Though Network Marketing Ideas
A strong network offers one of the most effective ways of boosting your marketing efforts. And the best part is that networking comes at a minimal costs. As long as you turn your personal charm on before entering the room, and have a genuine desire to make connections, you’ll move in the right direction.
26. Start a Customer Referral Program
The best way to get new clients is also the oldest way to get new clients: word of mouth. No advertising or marketing trick can work better in persuading new customers of your credibility and authority than your current happy customers. And the best way to help boost word of mouth is through a customer referral program.
Offer happy customers a discount for referring their friends to you and give the friends a small discount too—for added incentive to giving your business a try. If each of your happy customers brings one friend in then—boom!—you’ve just doubled the clients of your new small business.
27. Participate in Online Forums
Online forums are a great way for meeting new people and making new business contacts. Find a forum or a popular blog with an active discussion section and participate in the conversation adding your opinions and expertise to popular topics.
But be careful! You shouldn’t promote yourself in these forums (also known as spamming the conversation!). Rather, answer questions and be helpful to others as a way to build your name and reputation as an expert in your field. Let the quality of your comments speak in place of a direct advertisement of your blog.
28. Attend Industry Conferences
Attending conferences can help your small business marketing efforts in two ways: First, industry conferences teem with potential clients that you can meet in person, impress with your creative business cards, and invite to check out your business online.
Second, most professional unions start as meetings at professional conferences. You never know who you might meet and who might have a great idea for a profitable cooperation up their sleeve. Simply talking to others at a conference (whether they turn out to be future customers or future business partners) makes for some of the best marketing you can do for your business.
29. Team Up With Others for Joint Ventures
Marketing doesn’t have to be a one-business show. You can greatly bolster your marketing efforts by joining powers with other professionals in fields complementary to yours to create giveaways or special offers that can help both your audiences. Think of how a web designer and coder could team up. Or a copywriter and marketer could work togeher. Or how your local business can work with the business down the street.
When each of the partners in the joint venture announces the offer to their audience, you get free advertisement to an audience that's far larger than yours and well primed to buy from someone they trust and follow as regular subscribers.
30. Support a Cause
The primary goal of any business is of course to make money, but most of us have a greater and purpose in doing the work we do in the world. By feeding that purpose we can help promote the business we’ve built and our deeper purpose.
When you support a cause either by participating as a sponsor in an event or offering your services pro bono, you’re in turn getting free publicity for your small business with an audience that cares for the same cause and values that you do.
If you’re not sure what the values and purpose of your business are, make sure you read the following tutorial to find them out:
Have More Marketing Ideas for a New Small Business?
Which of these ideas are you already using to market your new small business? And what sort of results have you seen?
Which of these ideas are you excited to implement next? And how will you go about it?
Or maybe you have even more free and budget-friendly marketing ideas for small business that we haven't covered in this guide?
Share with the community and let's help each other out!