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15 Small Business Marketing Ideas for a Tight Budget

Boost your small business without breaking the bank.
Jason Frueh
Published Apr 20, 2019

Small business marketing expenses can add up quick. As you go through your expense reports to determine where you can cut back, one thing you don t want to nix is marketing.

As a business owner, you need to make sure your brand is seen and heard as often as possible. The good news is that you don t have to use expensive online advertising campaigns to do that. With some planning, you can capitalize on marketing without breaking the bank.

Piggy Bank

Check out these 15 marketing ideas for budget-savvy small business owners and find the ideas that work best for you. Don t be afraid to try a few to see what drives results.

1: Use EDDM

Prospective customers are more likely to try your business or service if they receive a coupon or incentive in the mail. If you re using, or want to use, direct mail marketing to do this, save money and get more targeted with Every Door Direct Marketing (EDDM).

This is a service offered through USPS, allowing you to map your exact delivery route by criteria such as age, income, zip code, or household size. Not only does this allow you to be more effective, but it s also more cost-effective because USPS offers discounts for small businesses. In the screenshot below, you can see how it s possible to choose routes based on specific demographic data. You can also see cost information, making it easy to plan your budget.

EDDM Chart

Learn more about how to use this service with our blog post, A Complete Guide to Understanding EDDM.

2. Keep Business Cards Handy

Business cards are small and inexpensive, but they make a big difference when it comes to spreading the word about your company. Keep your stock of business cards full and carry them with you at all times, whether you re at an event or just grocery shopping.

Business card
Business Card By MyCreativeShop

One easy, inexpensive way to drive brand recognition is to leave business cards inside local businesses and other locations that receive a lot of foot traffic. The right business card at the right time can drive customers who are in need of your services, so design your business cards today with our easy-to-use online design tool.

3. Attend Local and Community Events

Local events are like free advertising. They re put on by someone else, so you don t have any overhead fees, and you get to interact with your ideal customer base. Get out to street fairs, bake sales, charity events, little league games, and more. Armed with your business cards, you can put in a day's worth of in-person marketing at a minimal cost.

4. Partner With Other Local Businesses

Hosting your own events can be costly, so split the expenses with another local business. Not to only do you save money, but you can reach a broader audience since both of you will be doing marketing and inviting customers. This is an effective strategy if your businesses offer services that complement one another or if you share a similar brand message or values, allowing you to make more of a name for yourself in the community.

Business Partner

Find a brand to partner with, plan your event, and introduce yourself to the neighbors! Don t skimp on marketing either. Get some ideas in our blog post, 5 Ways to Promote Your Local Event Without Social Media.

5. Host a Demo or Class

You can tailor this strategy to match your business type. If you own a Mexican restaurant, for example, teach patrons how to make delicious, homemade tortillas. If you re a hardware store, teach potential customers how to fix something around the house. Hosting a class helps you provide value to locals, while giving them a chance to get to know you and your business. Plus, you can likely use your own space to host, so you can save on venue fees.

6. Post Flyers at Other Local Businesses

Flyer By MyCreativeShop

Marketing is all about creating relationships, so don t think of other local businesses as your competitors. Instead, find ways to leverage one another for support. Can you post up flyers in your local coffee shop or at the grocery store? This is an especially valuable tactic for real estate agents, who rely on the local community as their main source of home buying and selling clients. Here are five design ideas for real estate agents who want to test this.

7. Create a Google Business Listing

New customers are only one recommendation away, so make sure you re taking advantage of sites where people can let others know about their positive experience. You may already have Yelp, but don t forget to set up your Google My Business listing page as well. The 2018 ReviewTrackers report found that 63.6 percent of consumers are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business, which is more than any other review site.

Create Google Business Listing
Image Source: Google

Create your listing for free, including correct business information and photos. Don t forget to respond to reviews to humanize your brand and continue developing relationships with the community.

8. Get Customers to Market for You

Online listings aren t the only way to spread the word about your delicious food, quality products or stellar customer service. Encourage customers to tell their family and friends about your business by using loyalty cards or setting up a referral program. This motivates loyal customers to drive new customers for you while driving repeat business.

9. Be Vocal on Social Media

If you don t have a budget for social media ads, don t worry. There s still a lot you can do with your free business account. In fact, simply being present on social media gives you an advantage, according to the same ReviewTrackers report.

The report says, Consumers will continue to actively seek information from all types of sources to guide their purchase decisions in 2018, and businesses that are highly visible in search results and on social media enjoy a natural advantage.

The key is staying active, which means posting regularly, engaging with your followers, and sharing other great content.

Be Vocal

Don t forget to make sure your branded images are high-quality, especially your cover photos, which is one of the first things a visitor sees. If you re not sure where to start, check out our social media templates, and customize them for your brand.

10. Get Your Listing Information Correct

Even if you re not an SEO expert, you can help online searchers find you by getting your listings correct. Missing or incorrect listing information is a top five ranking factor for local businesses if your listing is incorrect, you could be losing out on customers because Google is prioritizing other listings over yours. Correct all your listings and keep them up-to-date.

11. Create Online Contests


Generate buzz about your business by hosting an online contest. Your entry requirements could include to follow you on social media, share one of your posts, or come into your business, snap a photo, and post it online. You will have to give away something for free or spend money on a prize, but contest participants are potential new leads.

12. Market to Existing Customers

You already know your customers like your brand or service, so turn these patrons into loyal repeat customers. Ask if you can add them to your email or direct mailing list and send them coupons and offers to keep them coming back.

13. Leverage Local Media

Local Media

There are many media opportunities that allow you to show your knowledge and reach the local community. For example, you can ask to be a guest on local radio stations or inquire about contributing content with a local publication. You may even be able to provide insight on a related, timely event, you just have to reach out and ask.

14. Try Cold Calling

This may not be the most glamourous marketing tactic, but it can help you drive leads in a pinch. Find numbers for local residents, start dialing, and introduce your brand or service. This will be much more effective if you have a sale or special offer to encourage people to try your business, so plan ahead. If you re new to cold calling, check out these tips: 20 Lessons Learned From Making 2,000 B2B calls in Just 20 Days.

15. Send Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Customer Satisfaction

You can do this online or by email, using the results to derive insights about your customers experience and perception of your business. They can also help you stay top of mind to encourage repeat business or even referrals. Use Google Forms, which are easy to use and free to set up.

Budget-Friendly Small Business Marketing Ideas Are Everywhere

Don t cut marketing if you need to take a hard look at your costs. Instead, change gears and find more affordable avenues for driving clients and customers. Use these ideas to help you stay front-of-mind and build a growing business.

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