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10 Best Free or Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

14 November 2023

The recommended spending for small businesses on marketing is between 2% and 5% of revenue.

However, we know that this disappears all too quickly, so it helps to know what free or low-cost marketing options are out there. With that in mind, we have compiled this list of 10 of the best.

1. Content Marketing
This is, basically, marketing by stealth.

The point of content marketing is that you are not specifically selling your products or services. Instead, you are creating interest using stories, sharing information, imparting knowledge or simply entertaining readers, viewers or listeners.

This could be in the form of blogs, social media content, email marketing, newsletters, podcasts or videos.

You should include somewhere how the reader/viewer can contact you if they choose, or mention in passing a product or service that you offer but that is NOT the main point.

2. RRR Your Content; Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.
You have spent your valuable time creating content; why would you only put it out there once, or in one form? If you have done a great ‘How to’ guide turn it into a video. Don’t be afraid to use the same content on multiple channels and if you tweak it, perhaps add a different picture or hook/title (or don’t change anything if you don’t want to) and repost it a few months later.

Plenty of people might have missed it the first time, or even if they do read it they might forget or it might not have been relevant to them then, but it could be now. Also, you will have gained new followers in the few months since you posted.

3. Form Industry Partnerships
Reach out to other businesses in your area, especially if your client base might be the same. For example, if you sell industrial equipment why not get in touch with the snack van that delivers to the local industrial estate? Perhaps you can gift them some free samples of equipment in exchange for some exposure; stickers on their truck or keeping a stack of your business cards in view.

4. Guerilla Marketing
If you or someone in your team has a creative streak then this can be great fun too, use street art, get some beer mats made and sneak them onto the tables in a few local pubs, or write your social media handle in chalk on pavements or use stickers. Make sure you keep inside the law with whatever you choose to do though!

5. Business Directories
Make sure your information is included on business listings like Approved Business, Google My Business and Yelp.

6. Email Marketing
Building an email list and sending out regular and/or promotional emails is a great way to ensure your business is ‘top of mind’ with customers. Building a list can be done with a business card drop competition, or a lead magnet (give away something for free like a how-to guide) which has to be emailed.

7. Social Media Content
Your business social media accounts help you build your reputation and your brand. It builds trust with your potential buyers and gets more eyes on your products and services than any other free form of marketing. Over 75% of people have bought something after seeing it in a social media post.

8. Social Media Engagement
It’s common knowledge that posting on social media is important to business success, but engaging on social media is less talked about and is key to getting new followers and new potential customers.
Be sure to allow time in your schedule for engaging with other people’s content we’d recommend 15 minutes per day.

Comment purposefully and originally on posts by either your competitors, your customers or on big brand sites where your potential customers are engaging too.

9. Business Awards
There are various awards across all industries and winning one or even being shortlisted can be a great way to boost your credibility when you show off the badge on your website and social media.

10. Turn Customers and Employees into Brand Ambassadors
Word of mouth is King! Nearly 80% of people are likely to buy a product if their friend recommends it. You can offer recommend-a-friend deals – if the person they tell makes a purchase they get a gift, or an in-store discount on their next purchase. With employees maybe offer a friends and family discount

A healthy mix of free/low-budget marketing methods AND paid ads and other cost-effective marketing strategies are likely to bring you the results you need for your business to succeed.

If you would like further information on how we can help with that, get in touch with us or browse our services to see what suits your needs best.

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