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Free Marketing Ideas For Small Business
So you’ve learned how to start a business, now it’s time to promote it. No promotion equals small chances of making money online anytime soon.
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But your client’s attention has been drawn from pillar to post. Big brands with a marketing budget of a thousand dollars drive the cost of advertising to the sky. We haven’t even started on social media channels changing their algorithms to make it even harder for small businesses to reach the audiences they’ve built.
It’s not all doom and gloom. You can stand out in the most crowded areas. It just takes a little more creativity.
To get you started, this guide shares 17 creative marketing ideas we’ve seen from independent brands that are totally free (or very cheap) to replicate.
To say that social media platforms are oversaturated would be an understatement. Around 92% of companies will use platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to reach their target audience by 2022.
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Couple this with the fact that Facebook only shows posts to 5.2% of a page’s followers, and you see why social media is a painful way to market a small business.
Diversify your social media marketing strategy by hosting a contest. Science shows that people love free things. So, give away something for free – like a package of product or a trip to your HQ – in exchange for social media engagement. Get your followers to like, comment, share and tag a friend in the post for free to boost reach.
Loca Foods, for example, organized a contest on Instagram that gave away sauces and desserts. Participants had to like the post, follow their Instagram profile, and tag a friend. Bonus entries were available if followers shared the post with their own story:
Of course, attractive social media contests give away expensive products. But the marketing dollars you spend on hosting a giveaway don’t have to be extreme. You can make the prize as cheap or as expensive as you want.
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Another smart way to use social media to market your small business is to use user generated content (UGC) – something that 79% of buyers say has a big impact on purchasing decisions theirs, probably because it is less harmful than branded content. They can see someone in their shoes who likes the product.
Encourage existing customers to share photos, videos and testimonials of themselves using your products. Do regular scans of your brand name or hashtag to see what social media posts people have shared without being asked.
The goal is to build a library of high-quality UGC that will convince social media followers to buy, like this example from Andie Swim. Her previous client created a TikTok video, which Andie Swim posted on Instagram.
Continuing with the social media theme, video marketing reigns supreme on many platforms. Look at the success of TikTok. His one-minute videos became so popular that Instagram, traditionally a photo-sharing app, launched its own version — Reels — later.
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Dope Dogis is a small business that uses this free marketing idea. Its founder, Erin Mastopietro, says: “We held live Instagram sessions with experts in our niche, during which audience members could ask questions, and we also did a small interview.
“As a result, we gained exposure to the expert audience and added value to our followers.”
Social media is fueled by trends. Think about it: TikTok is credited with making songs go viral; artists watch record flows when a dance trend emerges. They all post videos of themselves dancing to the same song.
How do you find trending topics before your small business social media content gets caught up in others jumping on the trends? Check them out before the crowd does:
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Partake Foods, for example, posted this tweet that replicates Spotify Unwrapped – the music platform’s annual roundup of music a user has listened to over the course of the year. Only in this case, Partake Foods changed the most listened music in favor of the best products:
Here’s a great marketing idea if you’re running on a zero budget: collaborate with other small businesses whose target market overlaps with yours (as long as the products you sell don’t compete with theirs).
Let’s say you have an online store that sells handmade tableware. Partner with another small business owner who sells handmade vases and build on each other’s audience and run a co-marketing campaign, such as:
The beauty of co-marketing is not only that you support other small business owners, but you can access an existing audience for free, unlike the influencer marketing route – many of which charge to publish sponsored posts .
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Shoppers have many things going through their minds when they visit a new e-commerce store. Ahead are questions like: How do I know that this is the right product for me?
Take the pain of comparing new products with extravagant tips. They do not require hours of time to go into product development. Go beyond “I saw this, so you may be interested in this” categories that will attract people’s attention.
Kayleigh adds that with smart copy to increase sales, new businesses can “sell and sell in a more fun way.”
Existing customers are your best friends. They are the people who saw your existing digital marketing strategy and bought into it. Use it as your starting point when developing new marketing ideas.
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Use Apps like Post Purchase NPS Survey to send customer feedback surveys to everyone who purchases through your online store. Ask what they liked about your product, how they discovered it, and the trigger that made them buy it.
Free Pack, for example, has a highlight reel of customer reviews on its product pages. Anyone who discusses trust in the retailer is instantly assured, without a doubt improving the conversion rate of the e-commerce site:
Being voted the “best” product in your industry is a surefire way to build credibility and attract attention. Stephen Light, CMO and co-owner of Nolah Mattress, explains that “awards give companies a solid power of authority, which is one of the keys to successful marketing; you want your audience to know that you offer the best of the best.
“Regardless of your niche, there are countless awards and accolades on offer that you can find with a little digging.”
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Whatever prizes you enter to win, Stephen says: “It’s a credibility boost and cost-effective advertising that can make a big difference with little investment. Displaying them proudly on your website can encourage conversions.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all your marketing tactics need to be online. Of course, building an online presence is crucial. But get away from the computer and meet potential clients in person by attending local offline events, such as:
Check with your local council, many of which have a list of events to support small businesses in the area. Sites like Meetup and Eventbrite also bring together business events in your local city.
Can’t find anyone? Your host. Find a free space to host an event (like the public library), bring your inventory, and distribute flyers to build brand awareness. Just remember to take your business card. Someone interested in your products but not ready to buy may have information to visit your website later.
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Do you have a lot of slow products? Sell as part of a mystery box – something Kaleigh Moore did for her jewelry business: “Fill it with products that move slowly and promote them as a surprise, offer at a reasonable price.”
Zac’s Sweet Shop is another e-commerce retailer that offers mystery boxes. Buyers not only have the opportunity to try a variety of products at a low price, but the brand has a way to transform food products slowly or soon to expire in each mysterious box.
Sometimes the most effective online marketing ideas are the simplest. They just take longer to perform. But lay the foundation first and you will set yourself up for success later.
This is especially true with search engine optimization (SEO), the process of optimizing your online store. You will appear in search results when people are actively looking for information or entertainment, or to solve a pain point.
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Tie SEO into a content marketing strategy to get your small business off the ground. Write a blog post targeting low volume keywords directly related to your products. Go after those with minimal competition to set yourself up for success.
“The secret is really to post great content. And to post great content means a lot of different things, but to me, what I think it means is to post content that is relevant to your audience that people really want to read, and be seen. how to monetize that content.” Trevor Crotts, founder.from BuddyRest 12. Sell themed gift cards
Gift cards improve cash flow. Get cash upfront without having to immediately incur the fees to produce or ship the product to a customer.
Starbucks, for example, sells gift cards throughout the year. But the retailer keeps an ear to the ground and creates custom gift card designs based on trending themes. The lyrics to Taylor Swift’s new song appeared on a Starbucks gift card just four days after it was released.
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Whatever the season, offer gift cards, post on social media, send email marketing campaigns to subscribers, and add a pop-up
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