Most small businesses are working with a limited marketing budget and few in-house resources, so they are always looking for cheap marketing ideas. However, they still need to find ways to make a big impact with their marketing. It can often be a challenge trying to compete with other brands that have bigger marketing budgets.
So what do you do? Here come cheap marketing ideas to the rescue!
As an experienced digital marketing agency, we’ve worked with a variety of small businesses from various industries. And we love helping these smaller brands get more out of their smaller budgets.
Here is a comprehensive list of the best cheap marketing ideas that actually work to help your small business do more on a shoestring budget:
10 Best Cheap Marketing Ideas That Work for Your Small Business
1. Publish Engaging Blog Content.
One of the best cheap marketing ideas for your business is creating a blog and publishing relevant and engaging content. Blogging is cost-effective because you can essentially publish and promote your content for free. All it really costs is your time. You will just need to find one or more people on your team who can write, edit, and publish the content.
Blogging is highly effective at attracting and nurturing leads. And the best part is, it only costs you your time!
Blog content is a great way to improve your search engine optimization while also providing value for your leads and customers. The more quality content you publish, the more opportunities you have to appear on the search engine results page.
By writing about valuable topics that are important to your audience, you can work to build trust and credibility with your leads and customers.
When it comes to blog posts, you’ll need to start by thinking of topics that your audience will find useful.
- Numbered lists
- Collection of tips
- Industry best practices
- Frequently asked questions
Videos make great blog content too. You can shoot the videos yourself. There are several tutorials found on the web to help you get started. There’s Wistia, for one, that offers easy to follow video tutorials even with the simple use of your smartphone.
These are all great places to start when developing blog topics.
After you publish your blog posts, you’ll want to share them with your audience through social media, email, and any other channels that you use for communication with leads and customers.
If you just don’t have the time or expertise to handle your own blog writing, you might consider working with an agency that offers blog writing services.
Though this will require a small investment, it is typically affordable and helps ensure that the content you are publishing is high-quality and optimized for the search engines. Not to mention, a blog post that you pay a set price for can continue to bring in more and more customers over time as it’s always available online.
2. Repurpose and Recycle Your Content.
Don’t have the budget or resources to create a variety of new content on a regular basis? Repurposing your content is an effective way to get more mileage out of the content that you do have.
Rather than having a team member spend time making new content, you can recycle or repurpose existing content.
- There are a few ways that you can repurpose your content to create new assets that provide even more value for your leads and customers:
- Give new life to your blogs and white papers by updating the data with new statistics or research.
- Then, you can re-publish and share the content again as an updated document.
- Create eBook guides to specific topics by putting together several blogs on similar topics.
- For example, you might put together a “guide to gift buying” by combining some of your top blogs about this topic.
- Develop infographics from the data you’ve gathered in blogs and whitepapers. Putting these facts and figures in a visual format can help you engage new fans and followers.
- Take a piece of content and transform it into a new medium.
- For example, you might take the tips you’ve put together in a blog and create a video that displays this information in a new way.
In addition to creating new assets from existing assets, you can also recycle your content. Continue to share older blog posts and white papers even as you create new content.
When you develop new digital marketing campaigns, consider what existing content you can use to help make the campaign a success.
3. Team Up with Other Local Businesses.
If your small business is a location-based company with a brick-and-mortar store, then one of the best cheap marketing ideas available to you is to team up with other local businesses.
Whether you partner with a similar business to do a joint campaign or just work to cross-promote one another, this kind of partnership can be invaluable to small businesses with small marketing budgets.
When considering which local businesses to partner with, think about businesses that might complement yours.
For instance, a coffee shop might team up with a bakery. Or a local gym might partner with a supplement store.
Partnering with a business that complements your own company’s products and services is a great way to reach a relevant audience that may have not considered your brand in the past.
You might also consider teaming up with a local non-profit organization to gain more exposure in the community. Whether you volunteer your time or donate products and services, your business will be able to contribute positively to the community. All while getting to know others in the area and getting the word out about your business.
When you partner with another business in your community, you gain access to their audience and they gain access to yours. When they promote your products or a joint event, this is basically free advertising for your company.
Not to mention, by associating with a brand that they already know and love, you are able to build trust with this audience that may be interested in the products or services you sell.
4. Develop Winning Email Marketing Campaigns.
Another one of the most effective cheap marketing ideas for your business is to develop email marketing campaigns.
Email marketing is an effective tactic for reaching and engaging new leads, no matter where they live or spend their time online.
This digital marketing tactic can also help you keep in touch with and build stronger relationships with your current customers as well.
The best part about email marketing is that it’s extremely cost effective while also being far-reaching. The costs involved to send mass emails are minimal. The time it takes to develop the message and design the email content is also minimal compared to other tactics.
This tactic allows you to use your time and budget wisely to maximize the results of your marketing.
In fact, email marketing provides an attractive return on investment for small businesses, with an average ROI of $40 for every $1 spent.
Not only is email marketing cost effective, but it also provides the highest return on investment over many other digital marketing tactics.
All you need to have to get started with email marketing campaigns is someone to create the email content and a platform you can use to send it. Most email marketing platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact have a free account that you can use to get started.
You can get started building your email list by inviting your current customers to sign up for your email newsletter or important updates about your business. Many companies will include a sign-up form directly on their website while also promoting it on shipping notification emails and through social media.
It’s important to be strategic about how many emails you send, when you send them, and what the content is. You don’t want to bombard your email list with communications. But you also don’t want them to forget about your brand.
Develop campaigns around promotions that you are having or other important topics that will provide some value for your subscribers. Within the emails, you can include links to blog posts, eBooks, and other content that your leads and customers will find helpful.
5. Ask for Referrals.
Asking your current satisfied customers for referrals or a review is one of the best cheap marketing ideas because it can be used by companies from any industry.
Who knows your products and services better than your own customers?
If you want to take advantage of their enthusiasm for your brand, give them some incentive to refer other individuals to your company or leave you a positive review.
Not only are referrals an inexpensive way to bring in new leads, but there’s a good chance that the leads you get will be of a higher quality. They will most likely already have an interest in your products or services.
Not to mention, your current customers have already done some of the work for you by telling their friends, family, and co-workers about the value your business provides.
Referral programs can improve conversion rates while decreasing time to purchase.
A great way to increase the number of customer referrals you receive is by starting a referral program. The specifics of the program are entirely up to you, making this an affordable way to bring in more quality leads. However, you will need to provide something of value if you want your customers to participate.
Here are just a few affordable ways that you can encourage customer participation and increase referrals:
- Offer customers a discount after they have brought in a certain number of referrals.
- Reward customers with free products or services after a certain number of referrals have become customers.
- Create a giveaway or drawing for the customers that refer the most new people to your business.
Your job isn’t over once customers start referring potential buyers. You then have to make sure you contact and engage with these consumers to learn more about what they are looking for.
Be sure to ask for some basic details from the referrer such as name, occupation, or other personal details so that you can personalize your messaging and approach to reaching out to these new leads.
6. Leverage Your Social Media Connections.
If you’re looking for cheap marketing ideas that don’t cost a cent, then engaging with your fans and followers on social media is a good place to start.
Don’t just check your messages, post some content, and sign off.
Take time building relationships with those you are connected with. The stronger the relationships you build online, the more likely that these connections may turn into something worthwhile later on.
Join the conversation online by getting active in the comments section and joining relevant groups. Offer others advice, answer questions, and show support for leads and customers when they express relevant challenges.
Get to know those who show an interest in your products or services and send them helpful content that can provide value during their buying decision.
You can also leverage the connections that you have by reaching out to those who you know in your personal networks and asking for referrals. LinkedIn is the best social network for this as it allows you to connect and engage with other professionals who may know someone who needs what your brand has to offer.
The goal here is not to be spammy but rather to build authentic connections and promote meaningful conversation.
7. Run a Social Media Contest.
As far as cheap marketing ideas go, running a social media contest may be the strategy that provides you the best return on investment. Social media allows you to reach a wide audience for a low price.
Organic social media content is free while paid social media campaigns like Facebook advertising can be quite affordable, even for those with a limited digital marketing budget.
Whether or not a social media contest is right for your business will depend on your goals for the particular campaign. If you want to increase sales, this may not be the best approach.
However, social media contests have shown to be effective for helping you increase your audience numbers while also nurturing loyalty within your lead and customer base.
Social media contests help you increase your audience and inspire loyalty.
Social media contests offer a small prize to the winner, who is chosen from a number of contest entries.
Though social media contests can differ based on the social platform and the goals of the campaign, they typically involve an individual performing some type of action as a way to enter. This might be giving their email to your company or it might involve sharing a piece of your content or your social media profile itself.
As you develop your social media contests, you’ll want to make clear what the contest entry rules are up front. Make it simple for the user to enter the contest, but also find ways to have this entry benefit your business.
For instance, if you require an email address, you can use this to reach out to the individual later. Or if you ask them to share or tag a post on their own account, then you are able to gain new exposure among their audience.
Social media contests require some type of prize, which does involve using some of your budget. However, it doesn’t have to be an extravagant prize to get your audience’s attention. Something simple such as a free product or worthwhile promotional offer is a great way to get your audience to enter the contest and continue to engage with your brand.
8. Look for Opportunities to Guest Blog.
We’ve already discussed blogging on your own site as one of our cheap marketing ideas. But you can also blog on other sites to help bring in more traffic to your brand. And the best part is that it’s free! The only thing that you will spend is time researching guest blogging opportunities and writing a quality article for the guest blog.
Guest blogging involves someone from your company writing an article or blog post and then having it published on a relevant and reputable site.
It helps you reach new audiences because you are publishing your own content with links back to your site in a new place that reaches people who may not have been exposed to your brand before.
To get started, you’ll need to find sites that allow guest blog posts. Start with industry publications or news sites that often publish relevant content that might be relevant to your audience.
Once you have found which sites you would like to guest blog on, you’ll need to develop a pitch. Make sure that the topic or article you propose is both relevant to your company’s experience but also in line with the guest publication’s content and audience.
Every site will have their own rules, but it’s important to find out ahead of time what the requirements are for your guest blog post. This will give you an idea of what types of content you can write about, how long the post has to be, and whether or not you are allowed to link back to your own site.
Most publications or industry sites also require you to submit a bio that they will include with the article. This is another great opportunity to link back to your site and give some information about your brand.
9. Apply Online for Business Awards.
Most industries have special awards that you can apply for online when you meet certain criteria. When different organizations award your business with these accolades, you are able to gain exposure in new places online.
The awarding organization will often share your information on their own site and social media, helping expose your business to a new audience.
Industry publications and organizations aren’t the only places that you can look to apply for awards. You may also find certain organizations within your community award businesses and business owners that are successful or contribute to the community in some way.
Sites like Angie’s List and Better Business Bureau also offer certain accolades for businesses that emphasize customer service or quality products.
Here’s an example of what some of these awards look like. Putting these on your site helps show consumers that your company is reputable.
Once you have won some of these awards, you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of them. Here are a few ways you can use these awards to market your own business:
- If the award comes with a special badge, place this badge on your site.
- Write and distribute an online press release announcing your award.
- Write a blog post about winning the award and what it means.
- Share the announcement on your own social media channels and website.
Not only does winning industry and community awards help improve your reach online, but it can also impact your credibility and online reputation. The more good information about your business online, the better your reputation will be.
Awards can boost your company’s credibility, helping you build trust with your target audience and increase conversions over time.
10. Connect with the Community.
The last one of the cheap marketing ideas on our list is arguably one of the most important, especially for small businesses with brick-and-mortar locations.
If you want to expand your reach in the local community, you’ve got to be active and present within the community.
This involves not only getting to know those in your community but building meaningful relationships and lasting partnerships that will continue to serve your business over time.
One of the easiest ways to get out into the community and meet those who live and work near your business is by attending in-person networking events.
These events are typically professional in nature, which means it’s perfectly acceptable and expected for you to talk about your business and what products or services you provide. Bring along some business cards so that you can exchange contact information with those you connect with.
Another way to connect with your community is through charity or volunteering. Whether your business decides to donate products or services to a local charity or your whole office spends time volunteering with a non-profit. This is a great way to gain more visibility in your community while doing something good for those who live there.
Cheap Marketing Ideas Can Make a Huge Impact
If this list of cheap marketing ideas teaches you anything, it’s that you don’t have to have a big budget to get real results with your marketing.
Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity and thinking outside of the box to get more out of your limited marketing budget.
Whether you’re repurposing older content or getting the most out of your social media connections, these cheap marketing ideas can go a long way in helping your business maximize the impact of your marketing campaigns.
When it comes to maximizing return on investment, experience goes a long way in helping you do a lot with a smaller budget. That’s why some small businesses decide to partner with an experienced digital marketing agency that can help them get more done with a low budget.
If you’re interested in seeing how a partnership like this might help your business, give us a call: (404) 596-7925 or complete this contact form and we’ll be in touch.