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Free Small Business Marketing Ideas
So you’ve learned how to start a business, now it’s time to promote it. Marketing your small business spreads the word about the amazing products you have for sale. Nopromotion is equivalent to small opportunity to make money online anytime.
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But your customer’s attention is drawn from post to post. Big brands with multi-thousand dollar marketing budgets drive up advertising costs. Let’s not start with social media channels changing their algorithms to make it more difficult for small businesses to reach the audiences they’ve built.
It’s not all doom and gloom. You can stand out in busy places. More creativity is required.
To get you started, this guide shares 17 marketing ideas we’ve seen from independent brands that are completely free (or very low-cost) to emulate.
To say that social media is crowded 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 that with the fact that posts only show up to 5.2% of Facebook Page followers and you can see why social media is a painful way to market a small business.
Change up your social media marketing strategy by running a contest. Science proves that people love free things. So, offer something free like a bundle of products or a visit to your headquarters for social media engagement. Ask your followers to like, comment, share and tag a friend on featured posts to increase their reach.
Loca Foods, for example, ran an Instagram contest offering dips and desserts. Participants had to like the post, follow your Instagram profile and tag a friend. Fans will earn bonus entries if they share the post on their story:
Admittedly, social media attraction contests offer expensive products. But the marketing dollars you spend on hosting a giveaway shouldn’t be excessive. You can make the reward as cheap or expensive as you want.
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Another great way to use social media to market your small business is through user-generated content (UGC) – 79% of consumers have a big influence on their purchasing decisions, perhaps because it’s less biased than branded content. Someone who loves the product sees it in their shoes.
Encourage existing customers to share photos, videos, and testimonials of themselves using your products. Regularly scan your brand or hashtag to see social media posts that have been shared without asking people.
The goal is to build a library of high-quality UGC that will convince mobile social media fans to buy, like this example from Andy Swim. Its previous client made a TikTok video and Andie Swim posted it on Instagram.
Continuing with the social media theme, video marketing dominates many platforms. Look at the success of TikTok. Its minute-long videos are so popular that Instagram, a typically photo-sharing app, is launching its own version, Reels.
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Dope Dogis is one small business that uses this freelance marketing idea. “We host live Instagram sessions with experts in our area where viewers can ask questions and we have small chats,” says founder Erin Mastopietro.
As a result, we were exposed to a professional audience and provided value to our fans.
Driven by social media trends. Consider: TikTok gets credit for making songs go viral; Artists see a record influx when a dance trend emerges. Everyone is posting videos of themselves dancing to the same song.
How do you find trending topics before your small business social media content takes off? See them in front of the crowd saying:
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Partake Foods, for example, posted a repackaged tweet from Spotify Unwrapped—a round-up of users of the music platform they’ve been listening to all year. Only this time, Partake Foods swapped mainstream music for premium products:
Here’s a great marketing idea if you’re working on a budget: Partner with other small businesses that overlap with your goals (as long as the products you sell don’t compete with theirs).
Let’s say you had an online store selling handmade dishes. You’ve partnered with another small business owner who sells handmade vases and relies on each other’s audiences to run a joint marketing campaign like this:
The beauty of affiliate marketing is that not only do you support other small business owners, but unlike influencer marketing, you get an existing audience for free.
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Customers have different things that come to their mind when they visit a new e-commerce store. Questions like: How do I know if this is the right product for me?
Eliminate the pain of comparing new products and confusing recommendations. This does not require hours to develop a product. Go beyond the “you saw this, you’re interested in this” segments that grab people’s attention.
With smart sales copy, Kayleigh adds, new businesses can “go ahead and sell in a fun way.”
Existing customers are your best friends. They are the ones who have seen your existing digital marketing strategy and are buying behind it. Use them as your starting point when developing new marketing ideas.
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Use apps like Post-Purchase NPS Survey to send a customer feedback survey to anyone who buys through your online store. Ask them what they like about your product, how they found it, and what triggered their purchase.
The free package, for example, has a highlight reel of customer reviews on its product pages. Anyone who argues to trust the seller is immediately convinced, and certainly improves the conversion rate of the e-commerce site:
Becoming the “best” product in your industry is a surefire way to build credibility and attract attention. Stephen Light, CMO and owner of Nolah Mattress, explains, “Awards give businesses a strong sense of authority and is a key to successful marketing. You want your audience to know that you deliver the best.
“No matter what your niche, there are tons of awards and accolades that can be found with a little digging.”
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No matter what prize you enter to win, Stephen says, “It’s a cost-effective boost to loyalty and community awareness that can make a big difference with a very small investment. Displaying them proudly on your website can encourage conversions.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all of your marketing tactics need to be online. Admittedly, building an online presence is important. But get away from the computer and meet potential customers by attending local offline events:
Check with your local council, many of which have a list of events to support small businesses in the area. Sites like MeetupandEventbrite also cover business events in your city.
Don’t understand? Keep it to yourself. Find a free location to hold the event (like a public library), bring your inventory, and hand out flyers to build brand awareness. Remember to bring your business card. Anyone interested in your products but not ready to buy can then visit your website for information.
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Have a slow production batch? Sell them as part of a mystery box — something Kaleigh Mooredid for her jewelry business: “Fill it with slow cooker products and sell it as a surprise, affordable offering.”
Zac’s Sweet Shop is another e-commerce retailer that offers mystery boxes. Not only do customers get a chance to try different products at a lower price, but the brand has a way of converting slow or expiring food products in each mystery box.
Sometimes, the most effective internet marketing ideas are the simplest. They take a long time to bear fruit. But lay the groundwork early, and you’ll set yourself up for success later.
That’s especially true with search engine optimization (SEO), the process of optimizing your online store. When people are looking for information or entertainment, or to solve a pain point, you’ll appear in search results.
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Combine SEO with a content marketing strategy to get your small business off the ground. Write a blog post targeting low-volume keywords that are directly related to your products. Follow those with a little competition to set yourself up for success.
“The secret is producing really good content. And putting out great content means a lot of different things, but to me, it means putting out content that’s relevant to your audience and the people who actually want to read it, and understanding how to monetize that content. Trevor Crotts, founder. 12. Sell themed gift cards for BuddyRest
A gift card improves cash flow. You get paid up front without having to pay production costs immediately or ship the product to the customer.
For example, Starbucks sells gift cards year-round. But the retailer keeps its ear to the ground and creates custom gift card designs based on trending topics. Lyrics to Taylor Swift’s new song appeared on a Starbucks gift card four days after its release.
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Whenever you give out gift cards, post them on social media, send email marketing campaigns to subscribers, and add pop-ups.
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