20 Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

By Amy Thompson

Mar 02, 2023

10 min read

As a small business owner, you know that every penny counts. But marketing is one of the most important aspects of growing your company and staying competitive in the marketplace. You need to find ways to connect with potential customers without spending a lot of money on advertising. In this post, we’ll share 20 budget-friendly marketing ideas for small businesses that can help grow your brand and boost sales over time.

But before you can start a successful marketing strategy, you need to do two things:

Do a Deep Dive

The first step to marketing your business is learning about your customers. You need to understand who they are, their needs, and how you can deliver on them.

Here are some questions that might help:

  • What are the pain points of your customers?
  • What do they want from your business?
  • How can you deliver on these wants and needs?

Research Your Competitors

Next, you’ll want to find out what your competitors are doing, especially if they’re growing their businesses. You can do this by:

  • Visiting their website to look at the products or services they sell. How do they compare to yours?
  • Looking at their social media posts- What do they post? What is their voice? What type of engagement do they get?
  • Checking out their online reviews and what others are saying about their products or services.

Now that you know your customer and your competitor, you can build your content strategy. You’ll want to create content that is meaningful, interesting, entertaining, and helpful; this means you should create a content strategy based on your customers’ needs.

So, here are those 20 marketing ideas we promised:

  1. Check your website for needed updates. This should be something that is consistently on your radar. Big picture, make sure your website feels new, is up to date, search engine optimized (SEO), and is mobile friendly.
  2. Add a pop-up to your website to capture lead data. In exchange for an email, offer something, like a discount or exclusive information.
  3. Write blog posts that offer incite for your customer and appeal to Google. There are a lot of factors Google takes into account when ranking websites and putting them in order in a user’s search results. To be ranked higher, pay special attention to SEO (search engine optimization) and show authority for specific keywords.
  4. Ask your customers to share their positive experiences that will encourage others to try out your small business. You can utilize systems like Trustpilot, Yelp, or Google to capture and share these reviews with others.
  5. Emails, emails, emails. Ok, not many emails, but a responsible amount to stay engaged with a customer or potential customer. Be sure your subject line is attention-grabbing and encourages them to open your email. Put thought into your emails, make them relevant, and change the format to keep them interesting. Maybe even try out an interactive email.
  6. Send a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter that keeps you in front of your customer. Use this consistent communication to share updates on your brand, products, or other information. You can even use it to share your recent blog post and request your product/service reviews.
  7. Be sure your customers can find you everywhere and that your info is correct. If you don’t already, set up a business page on all social networks (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) Check that your business information is easy to find and accurate on your website, all social platforms, and search engines. If you aren’t in business-related directories, sign up!
  8. Make a private Facebook group if it is suitable for your business customers. This will provide a place where you can share unique information with your customers, and they can interact with you directly.
  9. Host giveaways on Instagram where you give away an item for follows, likes, and comments. It’s simple – pick a great giveaway, post it on Instagram, and for entry, the customer has to follow your page, like the post, and tag a friend in the comments. The more engagement on your post, the more views it gets.
  10. Go live on social media to engage with your customers in real-time. Live streaming gives you the opportunity to gain a larger audience while sharing your products and services, answering your customer’s questions, and connecting with conversation.
  11. Take video further than YouTube by posting Instagram Reel and TikToks. They don’t have to be a massive production with epic editing; keep it simple and short! Capture behind-the-scenes footage, share product/service features, call out customer review highlights, etc.
  12. Publish video tutorials or explainer videos that relate to your product or service. There are many available apps that make this easier than you might think. It’s another excellent opportunity to use video marketing to grow your business and your authority in your field.
  13. Use social media trending topics, hashtags, and audio when creating your content on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Be sure you do it early, so you’re not lost in the millions of other posts as the trend grows stale.
  14. Post polls on social media to encourage engagement and to help you learn more about your audience or just for fun.
  15. Create a tool that’s helpful to your audience. When you offer something to your customer in exchange for their name and email, it’s called a lead magnet. The options for a lead magnet are vast, depending on your business. A coupon, a free webinar, an eBook, a free sample, a guide (like our guide to Equipment Financing)… be creative and make it appealing to YOUR customer.
  16. Begin a customer referral program to encourage your customers to spread the word about your business. In return for a referral, you can offer things like a discount, a free product, a reward, or use a points system.
  17. Start a Podcast to establish your authority in the field of your business. This is another great interactive marketing tool to help get you in front of millions of potential customers. Make them interesting and educational… listeners usually want to learn something.
  18. Try out digital Ads on social media and search, but when creating them, don’t treat them the same. Do your research, or hire a pro, before putting money into digital ads. Facebook algorithms run much differently than Google, so you’ll want to know what they’re looking for when pushing your content out. Also, some businesses succeed with click-to-messenger ads, so you’ll want to see if that would work for your business.
  19. Attend trade shows or other events relevant to your business as an opportunity to network and get your business name out there. Whether you set up a booth, sponsor, or just attend, take advantage of these events to meet new customers and business affiliates, and learn more about your field, community, or customer.
  20. Try co-marketing with a local business that isn’t a competitor but has a complementary product or service to yours. Work together to use cobranded assets to market each other on social pages, emails, or blogs.

As you can see, there are many ways to market your small business. And it doesn’t have to be expensive! You just need some creativity and a willingness to experiment with different tactics. If one doesn’t work out for you, try another, and keep trying until something clicks. Keep an eye on the analytics and the ROI, and you’ll find what works best for your business. We hope this list has inspired you with some new ideas or ways to build on old ones that will help take your marketing to a new level.