Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Marketing for small businesses can be a double-edged sword - it’s essential for getting your name out there but it’s also difficult to achieve with a limited, startup budget. It’s a constant balancing act of spending to grow while working within your means, no easy feat to achieve. This is especially true when you’re already overrun by the daily operations and actions of running your business in real life.
At the same time, if you aren’t making use of online marketing tactics you are missing out on a large portion of potential business. In today’s world, not having a digital business presence can really set you behind. Your best course of action is to get to know the best marketing tactics available to you based on your funds.
That’s why, as a startup or new business, it’s key to focus on the types of marketing that are less likely to make your wallet cry while still achieving the results you need to scale. There are many different types of marketing, some more budget-friendly than others, and our goal with this post is to show you which ones to target first.
Whether you’re working on a tight month to a month marketing budget or have a bit more money to spread around, here are some of the most affordable ideas for small business marketing you should try:
Wait, How Much Should Be Budgeting For Marketing?
Before we tell you where to put your money, it’s important to crunch the numbers first and find out how much you need to set aside to market your small business. Don’t underestimate how important this section of your yearly business budget is - remember that your marketing efforts are directly related to how much online traffic and sales you get.
As for how much you should set aside, this isn’t an easy thing to answer because there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to marketing budgets. That’s why experts typically recommend working in percentages.
For example, if your work is B2B, you should ideally have set aside 2-5% of your revenue on marketing. If you work directly with consumers instead, the number is closer to 5-10%.
The simplest way to make sure you are on track with these numbers is to do the following:
-Research what marketing budget is common for your industry
-Try to find out what your competitors are spending
-Define your short and long-term marketing goals
-Take your costs into account and iterate, iterate, iterate
Once you’ve done the above, you can move on to working on marketing strategies that match your goals and budget. Part of this process will include establishing who your customers are and where they spend the majority of their time online.
Affordable Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses
Now, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty - how are you going to get customers through your virtual business doors online without breaking the bank?
Luckily, we have all the answers. Take a look at our recommendations below:
1. Getting Social With Small Business Social Media Marketing
One of the best ways to reach audiences of all niches today is social media. The good news for business owners is that it’s also a really cheap way to get the word out about your brand.
There are multiple paid and unpaid ways of leveraging social media in order to market your business. The smartest way to go about this whole process is to do a mixture of both - this also helps your budget go further.
When it comes to unpaid marketing on social media, you need to:
Build a proper business page on social media platforms
Post to your business page multiple times a day
Engage with your audience via social platforms
Create and use a branded hashtag
This is the more accessible version of social media marketing; it costs nothing but time and effort. The caveat is that this approach is less likely to bring in the audience size and number of potential leads you need to build out your sales pipeline when compared to paid options.
That’s where the paid opportunities for social media come in. Paid strategies on social media include things like:
Defining your target audience based on your buyer persona
Different kinds of boosted or sponsored ads
Working with social media influencers in partnerships
The type of paid ads you create will highly depend on your industry, your target audience, and the social platform that you are making use of. Visual ads like still images or gifs perform well on all platforms, but video ads have quickly become the new top-performer when it comes to social media marketing.
This means creating some branded posts in Canva or another platform that offers visual editing can have a high ROI for a low cost.
Working with niche online influencers that have a decent following can also be a great way to draw more attention to your brand. While not the cheapest choice, you can work your way up by identifying people that have a following of a thousand and get good engagement in your business location.
2. Growing Your Audience With Email Marketing
The internet is filled with articles talking about how email marketing is a dying breed - don’t believe them. Email marketing is one of the most affordable ways to grow your audience online and ensure that you gain qualified leads and even gain repeat business.
Email marketing is a relationship-builder that can be linked to social media marketing. The audience you gain from your boosted ads can be redirected to your email subscription list. Once they’ve agreed to receive emails from you, you can send them branded emails with special offers and other enticing copy that will drive them to become successful sales.
Here are some of the other top benefits of using email marketing as a small business:
-Engage new customers while re-engaging return ones
-Personalize messages to improve customer relationships
-Gain deeper insights into which messages work and which don’t
-Connect all your marketing channels into one
The biggest cost associated with email marketing is the cost of the CRM used to facilitate the sending of emails. This can be a dedicated program like MailChimp or GetResponse or a built-in email manager like the one used by Wix. The cost of these services can vary and typically is based on the number of email subscribers you have.
3. Attract More Business With Local SEO
Local SEO is a method of search engine optimization based on gaining more business in your closest area. This is a great way to use your website to drum up more business in your physical location by showing your web listing to locals.
The even better news is that local SEO tends to favor small businesses.
But how does local SEO work? Don’t be scared, it’s not as complicated as it might seem at first. In layman’s terms, search engines like Google have a designated set of criteria for showing search results related to the “near me” search term. It also means that you’ll need to integrate your location into your website and online platforms amongst other things that will help you rank higher in local search results.
Your website is already an essential you’re paying for, so setting it up for local SEO doesn’t have to be a big expenditure. It’ll come down to doing your due diligence and making sure local SEO changes have been implemented everywhere online that they come in useful. This includes title tags, meta descriptions, and more.
4. Cross-Promoting With Other Businesses
Marketing costs still too high? Well, why not split them in half? That’s right - if you find a good partner business, you could cross-promote with them in order to bring down your overall marketing spend.
Take social media, for example. If you can find a complementary business to yours, you can create a sponsored ad based on a combined special offer and grow both your customer base and theirs at the same time. This can also be achieved by writing blog posts to be published on each other’s websites,
The important thing to remember here is that you don’t want to partner with a direct competitor. Try instead to approach someone else that is a complement to your offer, one that has an audience that already has an interest in your industry and is likely to respond positively to the partnership.
Other Potential Budget-Friendly Marketing Strategies
There are a variety of other ways you can get the word out about your small business without breaking the bank. Networking is a great option, as is attending online webinars or other events as a guest speaker. You might even consider pitching yourself as a guest on a podcast that works in your industry.
The problem with these options is that they require you to have knowledge of a variety of marketing tactics and contacts that you might not have access to as a new business. Getting them yourself is possible, but it will require you to spend time and resources you don’t have on creating your own expert marketing team. Handling the cost of employees and managing them is just another headache.
That’s where we come in. Working with an all-encompassing online marketing agency helps you get all of the benefits with none of the fuss.
The Hive Marketing Collective specializes in small business marketing and we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all marketing approach.
Instead, we focus on truly understanding your business goals, to ensure we deliver results that exceed your expectations when crafting your online presence.
With knowledge of the in’s and out’s of marketing including design, social media, website creation, SEO, and more, The Hive Marketing Collective is the all-in-one solution you need to drive your business to the next level in the digital world. Contact us today to find out how we can build the buzz around your small business!
Affordable Marketing Ideas FAQ
How do I market my business on a small budget?
If you have a limited budget, you need to maximize what you can do within your financial constraints. Email and social media marketing are relatively affordable, and you should start here.
Which marketing is best for small business?
There are a few marketing strategies that are considered to be especially effective for small businesses. Facebook advertising, Google My Business, content marketing, and more are affordable and easy to start.