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Small Business Marketing and Advertising – Effective & Budget Friendly Ideas


If you’ve recently set up your small business, it’s time to get the word out about the products and services you offer.  Chances are you probably spent a good chunk of your budget on the physical aspects of the business.

With whatever limited funds left for your small business marketing, you now have to dedicate the remaining budget towards business advertising.

You can outsource your advertising to an agency but if you’re on a budget, this should not be your first go-to option due to the costs associated with it.

There’s a good chance they will use the same small business marketing strategies that you can implement yourself.  So what are some small business marketing strategies that are cost effective and efficient?



    • Create a web presence with a website
    • Utilize Google Analytics
    • Use branding and graphic design
    • Connect with social media
    • Claim your business in online directories
    • Start a campaign on deals sites
    • Create search engine optimized content
    • Gain exposure with YouTube videos
    • Utilize email marketing
    • Sell your products and services
    • Send direct mail with your mailing list

Creating a marketing strategy will be an ongoing business expense and it is better to spread out your resources in different areas of advertising.   Once you know which strategy is most effective, you’d be better able to target those marketing channels.

In order to lessen the burden of initial advertising costs, this article will explain small business marketing ideas that are practical, inexpensive, and have a relatively higher return on investment than from outsourcing to an agency.




Hiring a digital marketing agency isn’t cheap.  The cost to hire one varies based on what services are provided but can from from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.

Hiring an ad agency just for social media alone can cost at least a thousand dollars per year.  Here are some additional strategies they may use.

    • Web Design and Development
    • Email Marketing
    • Content Copywriting,
    • SEO researched Blogging
    • Video Production
    • Traditional Advertising
    • Social Media Management
    • Branding and Graphic Design

Although the list seems diverse, the one thing all these services have in common is the need for a website.

A website should be considered the foundation of your online presence and once you have one created, it can work in conjunction with most of these strategies.




Now that we have a basic outline of what it takes to advertise your business, let’s go over how we can implement these small business marketing strategies to grow your business.



Assuming you don’t have a website created yet, this should be the first priority.  A website will act as your information hub where anyone can access the most current scoop about your business.

For help with building a website, you can follow this how to make a website guide because hiring a web designer like myself could set you back thousands of dollars.

Create-a-WebsiteTo create a website, you would need a domain name that best describes your business and a fast web host.

I use and recommend NameHero because they offer free domain registration and 40% off their plans.  Check to see the availability.

They also offer some of the best customer support so you can focus on your business and not on tech related issues.



Once your website is set up, installing Google analytics is essential for pulling data about your customer’s interests.  With Google Analytics installed, you’d be able to sort through statistics about what features or services your visitors are most interested in about your business.

analyticsInformation such as how your customers are acquired, their locations, what pages they land on, which pages they exit to devices used to access your website are some of the many data points that are available.

Stats are updated daily and once you gather months of data, you’ll have a better understanding about what your customers want, how they find you, and how to advertise to them.



Whatever channels you’ll use for customer outreach, a well-designed logo is essential for brand recognition.  Your logo should be placed in all forms of marketing to reinforce awareness.

If you’re not design savvy or just want to outsource the work, freelancer is a good site to post a project.  The process entails filling out the details about the work needed, having freelancers bid on your project, and choosing the person you want to work with based on price and experience.

99 Designs is another site to get your design projects done, but the prices can be rather steep – it is contest based where multiple designers submit a design and you pick the one you like best.  Expect to pay $299 and up to run a contest.

The cheapest option would be Fiverr, where designs start at $5, but it’s best to keep your expectations low.  You get what you pay for and the menu usually looks better than the actual results.  Freelancer is probably the best value for what you get in quality compared to price.



Start by signing up for Facebook and Twitter if you haven’t already.  There are other social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with too many accounts to manage, especially in the beginning.  Link your website to your social media and vice versa.

social-media-treeTry to advertise with regular posts and stay active by responding to comments and questions.

If you built your website with WordPress, take advantage of plugins like Tidio Chat, which allows you to chat live with your customers directly from your website.

If you feel like managing multiple social media sites regularly is too much to handle, manage it with services like Socialpilot – they’ll help to schedule regular posts and analyze results.

Their cheapest individual plan starts at $8.33 per month and it’s much cheaper than hiring a social media marketing agency.

Lastly, don’t forget about branding with your new logo design on social media accounts.



Information on Google My Business and Yelp may not always be correct because data can be updated by random users.

If your business is unclaimed, claim it and update all your business information to correctly reflect your features and services.  You should upload pictures about your business and also link your website to it.

Once your Google Business page is claimed and verified, you can update new posts and even respond to customer inquiries and reviews.  A stranded Google Business or Yelp page appears unprofessional and indifferent to customer care.

One advice is to not put too much weight into Yelp reviews.  Yelp ratings can reflect your business in an adverse way because of their fake review detection algorithm which may not always be correct.

Sometimes real positive reviews can get filtered to the “not recommended reviews” section of their platform.  It’s also not uncommon for Yelp employees to call your business to sell advertisements in return for “possible” removal of negative reviews – but I can only speak from my own experience.



As long as you have a website and you don’t mind trading profits for traffic, deal sites like Groupon is a great way to gain awareness and get customers in the door.

Running Groupon Merchant marketing campaigns means offering whatever service you want to include in the campaign at 30% – 50% off.  From there, Groupon takes another cut of up to 50% from the remaining amount after the discount.

groupon-merchantIn essence, if your service normally costs $100 dollars, worst case scenario is you’ll see 25% of that.

However, the margins are somewhat negotiable with the agent handling your campaign.

While this seems like a route for disaster, business can pick up really fast because customers buy Groupon vouchers in volume – just make sure your small business is properly staffed and prepared for the influx of new customers.

Another benefit of running Groupon Merchant campaigns is the quick accumulation of online reviews.  Chances are, if you’re a newly established small business, you don’t have a lot of online reviews.

Groupon customers generally are inclined to leave positive reviews because they received your services at such a discount.

Groupon Merchant reviews are then propagated on Google’s search engine, so when customers search for local businesses in your area, they’ll also be able to see the abundance of positive reviews which often leaves a good impression.



Adding a blog page to your website is an excellent business advertising strategy to rank your business in local searches.

You can write about in-demand topics related to your business – for instance, if your business is a salon, writing about different types of hair styles can get your post found by people searching for that topic.

By getting your post indexed on Google searches, that post will end up linking to your business website which in turn can end up as leads for new customers.

seoUse this strategy by researching popular keywords related to your business and write an article on it.

A keyword tool such as KWFinder is a great resource to use to find out what people are searching for.

They offer 5 free daily searches which should be enough to get you started writing.  Contents on your website should also be keyword targeted relative to your business.

Creating fresh and popular content regularly can help your business stay relevant in search rankings so your Google Business page can populate first in results.

Using SEO (search engine optimization) keywords for your website and articles will also help in ranking with Google Places on Maps.



For those of you who aren’t camera shy, making YouTube videos is yet another small business marketing idea to draw customers to your website and business.

With videos, customers are able to visualize you as a person, your business, and the products or services you offer before ever stepping foot in the door.  Using the same hair salon example, you can post videos about cutting hair or new trends in hair styles.

It’ll display your expertise in the industry, gain trust from your potential customers, and is a strategy for free online advertising for small businesses.

Vlogging, or video blogging, has become very popular in recent years so you’ll be sure to have an audience.



Email marketing is a creative way to advertise your business.  From your website, you can start to build your client email list by offering a 10% discount for signing up to a newsletter.

Depending on the popularity of the type of services you offer, it’s easy to accrue an email list of a thousand customers even in year one.  Newsletters allow you to maintain and update your customers on events and seasonal specialsemail

Rather than simply using traditional email, using an email service like MailChimp will help make the advertising process easier.

They have a free plan for new businesses which allow up to 12,000 emails per month with up to 2000 subscribers, which should be adequate especially when you’re just starting out.

When customers sign up for your business newsletter for the discount, you can automate the process by having the email sent out instantly behind the scenes.



Setting up e-commerce will further solidify your brand.  Customers will associate your brand with the products your’re selling.  Make your products easily accessible with an online store.

For running an e-commerce business, Shopify is a popular and effective way to sell products from your website.  Shopify is an ecommerce platform built specifically for selling goods online with payment processing built-in.

If you already have an existing website, they have a Shopify Lite plan that offers a “buy now” button that can be incorporated directly in any website for $9 per month.

Once your products are recognizable, they can further reinforce your brand.



Direct mail with a post card is a small business marketing idea that isn’t cheap but can be effective.  A post card can be printed for under 10 cents if printed in bulk and the cost to mail a 4″ x 6″ card is 35 cents.

For shipping a thousand post cards, the costs can quickly add up but it can help directly target your customer base.  post-card

As a web developer, one strategy that worked for me was mining data of businesses in my area and sending out post cards in bulk.

Although you can’t expect to receive a call from every single recipient, if you can make contact with 10% to 15%, I considered it a successful campaign.

Learn how to start a direct mail marketing campaign for your business.

Only use EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) if your business is suitable for it because it’s more difficult to directly target your audience.

Depending on how big of a list you want to mail, Fiverr is a good place to find data mining/scraping services for a cheap price.  Buying targeted mailing lists online also works but it can be quite costly depending on where you buy it.




In this guide, we covered many small business marketing ideas but most importantly, these are some of the most budget friendly yet effective strategies to advertise your small business.

It’s definitely not an overnight group of tasks but is something achievable given a month’s time frame.  With a bigger budget, there are plenty of other ways to further promote your business but the idea was to keep the initial costs as low as possible.

If you have yet to implement any of these strategies, go ahead and register your free business domain name at NameHero and get started.

I’m confident that these marketing tips will help grow your business quickly and effectively.


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