10 low-cost marketing tips for small businesses

low cost marketing

Really effective marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. If you’re a small business looking for ideas to make your marketing budget stretch further, here are your 10 starters for 10:

1. Get networking. Whichever city or town you’re in, the chances are there’ll be a whole world of business networking events you never knew existed that could prove excellent opportunities to make connections, meet people who are in similar situations as you, collect leads, learn about your industry, recruit talent etc.

Whatever your agenda might be for attending these networking events, try not to go in all guns blazing. Instead, be approachable, friendly, genuine and open, making it your mission to connect people who can help each other and you. Being generous with your time and attention is a valued and, more importantly, memorable quality.

Sites like findnetworkingevents.com can help you figure out what’s going on in your area. If you want to attend something more specific to your business, research what industry trade shows or sector specific networking events are being held in your region. Either get down to some old fashioned googling or why not take a peek at what events your competitors are attending? LinkedIn, websites of industry governing bodies as well as industry digital and print media are all great sources to help you uncover events specific to your business.

2. Create your own event. You might think creating your own event will blow the budget, but with some clever planning, it doesn’t have to. Why not ride on the back of an existing industry trade show or expo and capitalise on the fact that the people you need to speak to will, for a few precious days, all be in the same place, at the same time. Research which companies are attending by taking a look at the event website, hire a room in the exhibition hall and start organising meetings during those days to speak to your top priority prospects.

If you really want to save the pennies, plan an online event or webinar. This has the advantage of being hugely convenient for those in attendance as it means there’s no tiresome, lengthy travel involved. Holding an engaging, fun, attention grabbing webinar that’s generous with information and isn’t a complete sales plug, will afford you a reputation as leader in your specialism and lets you build relationships with potential customers using a softer sales approach.

Techsoup and Hubspot provide great guides for holding successful webinars and they’re both well worth a read before wading into the webinar waters.

3. Publish great content. Yes, I know I bang on about publishing great content a lot but you really can’t underestimate it and, if you write it yourself, it’s free! Comment-worthy and useful content published on your website, blog, social media channels etc drastically improves SEO, drives traffic, builds your reputation and generates good quality leads. Try writing top tips (like this!), interviewing a leader in the industry or a professor who is an expert in your field. Sensible Marketing posted a blog of 44 B2B Content Marketing Ideas that’s guaranteed to get your content idea juices flowing.

4. Get LinkedIn. There’s a joke in our office about a particular Director ‘spreading it about a bit’ on LinkedIn. But as cringe-worthy as you might feel requesting to connect with someone, it’s worth doing for the potential business and for the connections further down the line you could make.

If you find business networking awkward and staged then try going about it in a more sincere manner. Find groups talking about things you’re genuinely interested in and start sharing ideas and joining in discussions. Share your company’s great content and start building your brand. Don’t just login to LinkedIn, request to connect with your top 10 prospects and logout. Make this social channel more valuable by really investing some effort in it. You’ll certainly get more out of it and, again, it’s free!

If you want to learn more, here’s a great post from 8waysin8days about Effective LinkedIn Strategies for B2B marketing.

5. And the award goes to…Do some digging into what industry or business awards you can put yourself up for. Even better, why not enter with an existing customer co-promoting an implementation or project you’ve worked on together? If you win you can capitalise on a load of publicity and promote your now award winning products via your website and social channels. If you place high enough but don’t actually win, you can still publicise your participation.

6. Get social. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – they’re all free social media platforms that, if used well, can get you a ton of leads, help build your profile and improve communications with customers and industry peers. If you’re a small outfit and don’t have the time to dedicate to all three channels then just choose one but do it really well.

If you want to hone your social media skills, I’d recommend The B2B Social Media Book by Bodnar and Cohen. It’s chock full of practical tips and offers good advice on analysing solid, quantitative metrics.

7. Warm up the PR machine. Advertising is costly and ROI is difficult to gauge when done through print media. So keep things cost effective by releasing something newsworthy. It’s free for journalists to write about you and you can feature in the same publications as you were going to pay to advertise in. The key word in this paragraph is newsworthy. No one wants to hear about small technology releases and updates or a new client deals unless you’re very big/they’re very big/the deal is worth a lot/it’s related to something very topical.

If you have no newsworthy company or customer announcements why not conduct some good research and write an eBook packaging the results – results that provide valuable insights for your customers. This eBook on 31 PR Tactics That Make for Memorable Campaigns might spark some good ideas for newsworthy content.

8. Work your website. Successfulwebsites have evolved in recent years from essentially an online brochure shouting about your company, your products and your people to a hub of useful information and resources (as well as also promoting products and services). Hubspot founders Halligan and Shah realised that people want to be helped not sold to and sparked the inbound marketing movement whereby businesses can attract, engage and delight customers by providing relevant, helpful and personalised content.

So if you really want your website to work for you and attract high volumes of good quality leads, you need to put content on your website that helps your customers. Take a look at Hubspot’s website, straight off the bat they’re offering a free report. Further down the page they promote their inbound community and a free tool to see how effective your website it. These assets get almost the same billing as the software platform Hubspot is selling.

Take a leaf out of Hubspot’s book and transform your website from a bland, passive company brochure into a community hub, an industry resource, a bustling, thriving breeding ground for new ideas and a customer watering hole!

9. Ad promo credits. From time to time Facebook. LinkedIn, Google, Bing/Yahoo offer coupons so you can get a discount when buying advertising from them. Facebook has recently clamped down on these coupons in response to companies selling them on so they may be a little harder to find but coupons for Bing and Google are readily available and worth taking advantage of.

10. Free infographic templates. Did you know that 90% of information is transmitted to the brain visually and half of the brain is dedicated to visual function? This means that information presented graphically or visually is more likely to capture your target audience. This means that infographics can be one of your most powerful marketing assets.

If the thought of getting creative with Photoshop or Illustrator is sending you into cold sweats, don’t worry! There are loads of free infographics templates online that’ll make your information, insights and research really shine. Here are a few to start you off: Venngage, Free Infographic Templates, Freepik.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, there are lots of low-cost or even free marketing resources that, thanks to the web, are easy to access and use. So go ahead and get marketing, just because you don’t have the budget doesn’t mean you can’t be hugely effective at cramming that pipeline full of leads!