32 Low Budget Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses
As entrepreneurs and bootstrappers, we often find ourselves looking for low-cost or low-budget marketing ideas to grow our business. The concept is simple. Spend minimal to test marketing strategies and scale what works, cut what doesn’t.
Here are 32 low budget marketing ideas for your small business or side hustle that you can use today:
Create a referral program for your existing clients where they could get $x or a % off for every person they refer to your business. You can even approach friends and family with the referral program!
Referral programs only work when you do great work and exceed customer expectations. Another way to help referrals is being able to deliver a clear message to your consumer.
“What Do You Do?”
You must be able to say what you do in 1 sentence or less. By doing this, other people will be able to share with others, as it is easy to communicate. If you’re unable to answer it, your customer is probably unsure how to explain to someone else what it is you do. For that reason, your referrals will suffer.
Go around your local town or city, and start door-knocking on businesses. Ask to speak with the owners or managers and just introduce yourself. Be genuine and don’t come from a place of trying to sell them, because you don’t know if they are in the market for what you offer!
Meetup.com is a website where people can go on to find local activities and events in your area. People use Meetup to do all kinds of things; meet new people, learn new things, find support, or pursue their passions. Try to find something that is close to you and that you align with and sign up for an event.
Local Chamber of Commerce
Your local chamber of commerce can be a great way to get involved in the community and meet other businesses that can use your services. Keep in mind that most of the businesses that are in the chamber have already been established for a few years, so they will have some money to pay for your services. Most people who are in the chamber pay to be in the chamber, which means they will take the events and connections seriously!
Online workshops or webinars are great ways to showcase what you do virtually. If you are a personal trainer, you can do an online workout class. By doing that, you are creating a new audience of people (who don’t want to go to a gym) and can utilize that.
Samples of your product or service
Samples of your product or service work great if you are able to offer this at a low cost. Obviously, this is dependent on what you are offering. One way I used to do this when I was running my marketing agency was offering a free page analysis report of there website. It was easy and low-cost! I simply went to my software, paid the $2 to run it, and ran the website. Most people think that you can’t offer a service sampling, but if you think hard enough, you most definitely can!
Business partnership to promote each other
Simply stated, find a business that offers a complementary offering to your product or service. If it is a substitution, it won’t work. A great example of this is when I was working with a local retailer who sold running shoes. Down the road, there was a gym. I got them both together, made a campaign where people who bought running shoes/athletic shoes would get 50% off their first-year membership. The gym membership increased by over 40% from the retail store!
Hire commission salespeople
Commission salespeople are good for businesses where you are selling a standardized service and it can easily be quoted. At the beginning of my marketing agency days, I hired a university student who wanted to get into sales. His starting salary was minimum wage but then got 30%-50% off the revenue he sold.
For people who are driven, this could be a very affordable way to scale. There are several salespeople who will even take $0 upfront and work on a higher commission percentage because they know they will sell… meaning that you don’t have any risk!
You don’t pay unless they sell. Before trying this, please talk to your lawyer and understand your rules and laws for minimum wage and when it applies. If you do not have a service that is clearly X for Y, it may be difficult for the salesperson to price and it won’t succeed.
Send out promotions with orders
A classic example of this is when you get something in the mail from a website and they have a flyer that says something along the lines of “Thank you for your order. As a token of appreciation, we would like to offer you 20% off your next purchase. Just use Coupon Code XYZ”.
Build your email list
Building an email list is one of the most important assets of your business and should be build when you first start your business. You can leave a sign-up on your website forever, and you will slowly build that list. If you want to accelerate the growth, you should add a lead magnet or some sort of value-add that you can give to people who subscribe to your email list.
Example: I was getting about 2% of people coming on the Hobby Hustler website subscribing to the email list. I then created a 20-page ebook on Podcasting and when I put it on the homepage, I saw about a 15% conversion rate, meaning that 15% of visitors signed up on my email list to get that podcast book.
Ask podcast guests to go on their show
If you are looking to get out in your industry, go to Google and iTunes Podcasts and search for podcasts in your industry. You will find that there are probably hundreds of podcasts (obviously, completely depends on your industry) that you can reach out to. Additionally, you can try to go to PodcastGuests.com and create a profile there.
Create a landing page
The purpose of creating a landing page is to not confuse the user when they visit your website from a specific page. If you are guesting on a podcast and talking about the paints that you have for sale, mention the specific page someone can go to in order for them to buy it. It should be something like yourwebsite(dot)com/paint. This is memorable and easy to remember.
If it is targeted to buying the paints and JUST that, you are going to have a higher conversion rate. If you go on that same podcast and tell them to go to www.yourwebsite.com and then they have to navigate and find the page on their own, chances are, they will exit the website before finding it for themselves.
Comment on other blogs and YouTube videos
The way to comment on blogs and YouTube is an art, and if you don’t do it properly, you are going to seem extremely scammy and sales… and unless you really are, you don’t want to show up like that!
The first thing you need to do is create your profiles on any platform you are commenting on because if someone clicks on your comment, you want to seem legitimate and you want them to know what you do in 2 seconds or less.
Make sure you actually READ/LISTEN/WATCH what you are commenting on and then COMMENT APPROPRIATELY! Do not just say “Great episode!”, as that is just wasting your time.
Create all social media pages
An easy way to capture attention is to make sure all of your social media pages are made and filled out. Typically, this is pretty easy because you can just duplicate the bio’s cover art, profile pics, etc. across all platforms.
The website URLs in each of these profiles will also give you a backlink to your website, which is great as it will allow you to rank higher in Google!
Connect with prospective people on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a monster of a platform and if used properly, you can do extremely well with it! I have learned from my friend Josh Elledge from UpMyInfluence.com who uses LinkedIn Sales Navigator to book appointments with potential customers. He says he can do 20 sales calls per day and he will never run out of leads for the rest of his life! LinkedIn Sales Navigator is extremely affordable as well (less than $100/month) and can be used! Even lower budget strategy via LinkedIn: reach out to people cold! Try and sell enough to cover the cost of the Sales Navigator first.
This is not for everyone, and I bet as soon as you read “Cold Call” you knew if you were going to continue reading this or not. Truthfully, cold calling is not for everyone. I once did it, and it worked, but I hated it… so yes, it did not last long. If you put in the hours, it works! Dialin’ for Dollar’s my old employer used to call it!
Create instructional videos
Everyone is looking for “how-to” videos on YouTube, and as long as you own a computer and some type of recording software, you can record these videos right from your home office or bedroom. Create enough of these and they will start getting traffic!
Do you know what the best part of “how-to” videos are? Most people try to follow along with them, but can’t figure it out, they then ask whoever made the video (in their mind, the expert), if they can just do it for them and yes, they pay you!
Run a contest
Running a contest is a fun way to build your list! You don’t have to run paid ads or do a super expensive prize either! Here is what I recommend. Download KingSumo or such giveaway app to your WordPress Plugins, then, find out something you can afford to give away, whether it be $0 but lots of your time or an affordable product, and then create the page.
When you are creating the page, you are going to want to give people 1 entry into the contest for joining the contest, but 3-5 entries for sharing it with a friend. You guessed it! This creates a huge viral effect whereby people are sharing the contest with their friends just to get more entries! Want to double down? Send paid traffic to the landing page!
Memorable business cards
There is nothing worse than going to an event or networking conference where people give you their business cards and walk away. When you are handing your business card out, make sure you are making a memorable impression on that person.
Better yet, get custom business cards made FOR that event! Have your picture on it or something that they will remember. It will get very expensive giving out and having to re-order business cards that are not memorable and that end up in the garbage. Think about it once, and then execute, properly!
Create video content
Creating video content is free and of course, is not for everyone. If you are camera shy, give yourself a few videos before you quit. Talking to no one… well, a camera, is quite weird at first, but as you do it, you start to get used to it and get better. Post that video content every where possible! From social media websites to forums, to your local bulletin…. Just make sure that it is applicable to where you are posting it.
Highlight reviews and recommendations from the past
If you are reading this and you’ve already done client work or you’ve already sold your products, ask those purchasers for VIDEO (if possible, if not, the text is good) reviews and testimonials. Use that to put on your website and market. Most people won’t buy anything if they don’t see that someone else purchased the service/product and enjoyed the experience. Nowadays, text reviews could easily be made up and that is why I always recommend getting actual video testimonials.
Turn your social media content into blog content
If you are posting on social media, pay attention to what is going after you post it. The highest engagement posts are probably the highest for a reason. Is it a hot topic for your industry? Is it something people find confusing? There is a multitude of reasons, but engagement means people want more. Convert that social media post into a blog post and go deeper.
Pro-Tip: Get that blog post and then DM the link to everyone who engaged in your post. Let me know that because they were interested in the topic, you’ve created a blog post going deeper and believe they will find it valuable.
Write handwritten holiday, birthday, or thank you cards
One of the best techniques I’ve used when doing my marketing business! I must say, I did not come up with this. About 3 years ago I purchased sunglasses from my local optometrists and randomly a year later on my birthday, they handwrote me a note saying thank you for being a patient and supporting the local business.
It was clearly handwritten and signed by the doctor. It got me thinking about when my next appointment was and within a few days, I called to book my next yearly checkup!
Answering forums can be time-consuming but if you do it properly, can be very profitable. The only way for this to work is by spending TIME on PROPER answers that ARE NOT salesy and do not require people to “DM you for more info”.
In the beginning, you may not get people reaching out to you or commenting on your thread, but after you gain some reputation, you will become an authority in the forum.
List your business on directories
Local directories are a great way to get backlinks at the very least!
There are two different types of directories that you should join.
1) Local directories: This will help you gain search engine credibility and traffic in your local region and people searching in your region.
2) Industry directories: This will help you gain search engine credibility and traffic not in your local region, but for your industry!
Both are great! Most of these directories are free to join.
Update your website frequently
Updating your website frequently is easy to get gain momentum from the Google Master! Google does not like old, stagnant websites that do not change. Don’t have an idea? Update a blog at the very least!
Backlinks will help you start ranking in search engine results in the long run, but it will take LONG! DO NOT PAY for backlinks! If you buy backlinks, chances are they are not credible and will actually PENALIZE your website!
How do get them? Reach out directly to people whom you may work with to get a backlink. You can get them by guest blogging on other blogs as well.
Help a reporter out
Another favorite from my friend Josh Elledge. Help a Reporter Out is a service where journalists and media persons look for people who can talk about a specific topic.
They post topics on X, and then you reply with your credibility and whatever they are asking for. If they choose to use your quote, you will not only get a backlink (something we talked about above), but you can then use wherever you got featured as credibility.
Google My Business
Make sure your website/business has a Google My Business listing! This will include everything from: hours, locality, website, contact info, what you sell, and more! If you are not on here, it will be very difficult to rank on Google in the long run.
Make your service/product memorable
Memorable services and products will continue to sell, no matter the price point and what they do/don’t do. Think about how you can make your service memorable and how you can scale it. A friend of mine sends all his new clients a gift basket, filled with chocolate and other goodies for them to indulge!
At the end of the day, it is important to know that you are not your customer. Your customer is your customer and they are the ones who are spending the money on your service/product. Sometimes all you need to do is sit back and listen to what they want. Oftentimes, as entrepreneurs and hobby hustlers, we tend to overthink the next steps and want to do.
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