I'm a small business owner myself, and my dad is a serial entrepreneur, so I grew up around small businesses. I know first hand that there usually isn't a budget for things like marketing, especially in the first few years of owning your business.
But just because you don't have a budget, doesn't mean you can't get great marketing results for your small business. (That's actually the reason I started my business, to help small businesses like you and me maximize limited time and budget for great results—but that's another story.)
In this blog, I'll share free and very low-cost strategies to promote your business and attract clients.
Want my full list of recommended free marketing tools? Check out the Marketing on a Budget Toolkit.
If you don't have a social media presence, you definitely need to start one, as it's an excellent way to promote your business for free. If you're just getting started, check out Social Media Basics and Best Practices.
There's a lot you can do with social media without spending a dime:
- Blogging: I'm grouping this with social media, because creating your own content works hand in hand with social media. Writing content that shows your expertise and is beneficial to your target customer is one of the most effective ways to promote your business.
- Images: Social media posts with images are generally more powerful and popular. However, you don't have to be a graphic designer to find or create great images. There are several free stock photo sites to take advantage of, including:
- Social media groups: One of the best ways to market your business using social media is by participating in social media groups. Both Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, have many group options. Join groups that would appeal to your target customers, and then start participating and making connections.
I find that many small business owners either don't have a website or have one that is in need of an upgrade. While you can find reasonable rates to have someone build you a site, if you're really budget conscious, it is definitely something you can do.
- Website builder: You probably hear about the popularity of different platforms, particularly WordPress, which many recommend. However, if you have a fairly simple website you want to create, I always suggest using a website builder such as Wix or Weebly. Both have free options (and very low monthly rates if you want to upgrade), and they do much of the work for you.
- Domain: You will want a personal domain (URL) for your website, with your business name or main services prominent. Again, there are many places to get domains, but I recommend GoDaddy. Prices are good and customer support is great, especially for those who aren't as comfortable with technology.
- Blog: Most website builders or platforms have a blog option included, making it easy for you to start a blog as discussed in the last section. Similarly, Canva is extremely helpful in creating banner images and other imagery for your site.
Networking and building relationships can be done with little to no cost, and can be extremely helpful in growing your business.
Offline, consider joining networking groups, attending conferences and events, and getting active in your community. You will meet many people throughout these activities, who could be potential customers, referral partners, etc.
Of course, social media is meant for "social networking," so make sure to use it appropriately. Rather than just posting your updates, interact with your audience. Ask questions, run contests and polls, and respond when someone comments on your post.
Over to you: I'd love to hear what low-cost marketing strategies are working for your small business! Please share in the comments.