Inexpensive marketing ideas for small business owners: 5 tactics


Marketing is often perceived as ‘difficult’ and ‘expensive’. In truth, it can be both of those things – but only if you overthink it and wilfully spend too much money. We have outlined the top 5 inexpensive marketing ideas for small business faced with the contstraints of a limited budget.

Small business owners can’t afford to skip marketing their ventures. Word of mouth will only take you so far, and even if you have a website – which you should, of course – people are not going to stumble across it unless you put effort into marketing it.

Top 5 inexpensive marketing ideas for small business

Here are five ways to market your business on a tight budget. All of them are simple and don’t require a marketing degree.

Build relationships with clients

The inexpensive marketing ideas for small business start with taking time to build up relationships with clients. Encourage people to subscribe to a mailing list. Add a ‘subscribe now’ button on your website or social media channels. Reassure people you won’t misuse their data or spam them. If you are dealing with people from the European Union, read up on the new GDPR legislation, or you could end up being fined.

Don’t forget to build relationships in the real world too. If you attend marketing events or trade shows, take the time to talk to people. Tell them more about your business and invite them to keep in touch via email, social media, or the old-fashioned way (telephone). You’d be amazed at how many owners neglect these relationship-focused inexpensive marketing ideas for small business. Just because we live in an online obsessed world, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still keep in touch verbally!

Email is one of the most inexpensive marketing ideas for small business

Email marketing is a godsend among the inexpensive marketing ideas for small business with cash-strapped and time-poor owners. Thanks to software solutions such as MailChimp, it takes very little time and effort to send out mass marketing emails to a huge database of subscribers. You can use this to your advantage.

Create marketing emails with a compelling subject line and interesting content. Make sure your emails add value to the customer, or they will end up being directed to the junk folder. Break up blocks of text with interesting visuals and always include a strong call to action button in the main body of the email. The best time to send an email is late morning, as this is when emails are more likely to be opened.

Attend networking events

We have already touched on this one slightly in the section on inexpensive marketing ideas for small business related to relationships, but networking events are incredibly important if you operate in a B2B niche. There are dozens of useful networking events going on at any given time, so be sure to make use of them and show your face once a month.

You can make valuable contacts at networking events. These are people who might prove useful one day, perhaps by referring you to someone they know, or by acting as a mentor when you need advice.

Don’t let your natural reserve hold you back at networking events. Perfect your elevator pitch so you can tell people exactly what you do without stumbling over your words. Keep it brief and if you are struggling to make a connection with someone, thank them for their time and move on. Go along with a goal to talk to X amount of people. When you have reached your goal, leave. This makes it feel less intimidating.

Existing customer referrals

Don’t be shy about asking existing customers for referrals as one of the most effective inexpensive marketing ideas for small business. If you do a good job, organic referrals often happen anyway, as most people will recommend a business when they are happy with the outcome. It doesn’t hurt to prompt them into action, though.

Offer customers a discount on future purchases or work if they recommend a new client and that person becomes a new customer. A 10% discount for verified referrals is a great way to encourage people to pass on your contact information.

Social media: one of the most inexpensive marketing ideas for small business

Don’t neglect the power of social media. Whatever niche your business operates in, social media is all-powerful. Virtually everyone these days communicates via social media. Most people find it easier to ask questions or complain via a social media channel. If you don’t have a social presence, you are missing out.

Set up profiles on social media channels that fit well with your business. For example, if you sell products, make sure you target a channel that focuses on visual content, such as Instagram. Stick to the main channels to begin with, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Set aside time to engage with your followers on social media and cross-pollinate website content with social media. Promote any blogs you write on social media and ask your followers to share them with friends. You don’t need to be on social media all day – there are tools that you can use to automate posting – but don’t fully automate your feeds, or you will lose followers.

Don’t forget to leverage your community as one of the inexpensive marketing ideas for small business. Get involved in community events and build up a local reputation. This is especially important if you rely on local customers.


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