9 Affordable (sometimes, free!) Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

9 Affordable (sometimes, free!) Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Operations of a small business can be very challenging. Being the owner of a small business can be an even bigger hurdle. You are required to constantly be on top of your sales, marketing, budgeting and finances, product inventory, customer service, etc. These are not easy tasks and we are certainly not taught them in any school.

You and your employees are always looking for more solutions to encourage your customers to purchase more of your products and services, but it’s much more difficult than any of you had imagined. Maybe it’s about time you shift your marketing efforts and find some alternative out of the box solutions to boost your marketing and sales into the position you’d like to be in.

Here are 9 of the most affordable (sometimes even free!) marketing ideas for businesses like yours:

1. Run an In-Store Giveaway

Many local businesses find surprising success in running promotional giveaways to bring in more sales and market demand.

Annie Pilon from the Small Business Trends blog highlights one option of giveaway that is a bit outside of the box:

"...You could give away fun experiences like travel instead of focusing on products or services. Find an affordable way to offer up a unique getaway to one lucky winner. And if you can find a way to actually relate it to your business, so much the better." (Source) 

2. Create New Content

As mentioned in many of the other Aadly blog posts, creating content is one of the strongest ways for a small business to increase awareness of their brand.

Take it from blogging champion Neil Patel:

"There’s a race for the most helpful content. If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, you should start teaching what you know. This is a long-term strategy, but it pays huge dividends once you begin. Two years from now, you’ll be glad you started when you did." (Source)

3. Respond to Online Reviews

By responding to your online reviews, you are showing both local customers and visiting customers that you are present both offline and online. The last thing you want is for someone to not visit you because of what some unreasonable person wrote about you online. 

Scott Clark, online marketing expert with focuses on SEO, SEM and Social Media Campaigns mentions:

"Remember that the response will be read by future customers, too. Over the months and years, your place page may be reviewed hundreds or thousands of times by potential customers making buying decisions based on others’ reviews." (Source

4. List Your Business with Google 




This one should be obvious. When potential customers are searching for products or services like yours, the first place they are going to go is google. By listing your business with google, you can guarantee some presence in the local market when your product or service is searched for.

Neil Patel is back for more - 

"If you register your business, you will acquire dozens of new customers and start establishing a solid web presence." (Source

5. Build an Application

I was surprised myself when I found this one. Who knew it would be so easy to make an app? You can easily use app institute to help you build a very basic app for your local audience. Having an app not only shows that you are tech-savvy, but also shows that you are ahead of the curve amongst your competition.

Jon Card at the Guardian talks about being at the forefront of technology by creating an application for your small business:

"Businesses want to be the first port of call for their customers and what better way to do that than to have their offerings embedded onto a smartphone? A successful app means a business is only ever a few thumbstrokes away from a sale, while apps can also provide valuable data about customers’ needs and preferences." (Source

6. Start Building an Email List

The presentation above gives a fantastic and easy-to-apply guideline as to how you can get started building your email list. We’ve touched upon this in other blog posts as well on the Aadly Blog, but building your email list can actually be much simpler than you think. All it requires is taking some action!

Forbes Contributor Jayson DeMers writes of the importance of building an email list:

"If you’re serious about growing your business, building a healthy email list should be one of your top priorities. When it comes down to it, your list is one of the only online assets that you have 100% control over" (Source

7. Set Up a Referral Program For Your Existing Customers

Every intelligent and seasoned marketer will tell you that you spend much more on marketing to new customers rather than leveraging existing ones. If an existing customer of your business is satisfied with your products/services, do not underestimate what he would be willing to do for you through some form of a referral program.

Andrew Gale talks about the importance of a referral program on the SocialMedia Today blog:

"Every type of business can get a referral in someway. Whether it's word of mouth or programmed into your product you've probably heard that referrals are important. " (Source

Andrew goes on to explain that using a referral program leads to higher lead quality, increased lead quantity and in general, a much lower cost per lead.

8. Stay Active on Major Social Media Channels

I think it’s no surprise to anyone that this is one of the best small business marketing tactics out there. Almost everyone and their mother is on social media these days. If you couple high engagement in social media along with a few other marketing tactics here, you can be sure to not only get more business, but for your competition to get jealous once you go viral.

Here’s a quick tip from marketing wizard, Heidi Cohen:

"Video continues to be hot, especially live video. Think live events and news. But it’s key to adapt your video to the platform you’re using. Remember YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google." (Source

9. Give Away Samples at Local Events

Don’t we all wish we could give away cars like Oprah does? Giving away samples at local events can be very powerful. Think about attending the next small business forum event at your local chamber of commerce and bringing some branded materials with you. You can even repurpose some of your unused promotional giveaways from #1 on this list.

Whether you decide to take a few of these ideas and apply them or you go all out and try all 9, you can be absolutely sure that your business will thrive using these affordable marketing tactics.

If you try any of these marketing ideas because of reading this article, I’d be honored if you could share your experience below in the comment section. Best of Luck!

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