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Small Budget? Try These 8 Low Cost Small Business Marketing Ideas

One of the biggest obstacles to small business marketing is finding budget for it. But if you don’t make noise about your business it’s hard to get anyone to listen. It’s the kind of catch-22 a lot of startups and small businesses face as they try to grow.

Don’t despair! There are plenty of things you can do to bootstrap your marketing as a small business. Follow our top 8 tips for obtaining maximum exposure for minimum outlay. And for more great ideas, join the chat about sales and marketing over on the EventTribe forum.

1. Become a YouTube star

It’s a myth that YouTube videos have to be revolutionary to go viral. Easy to make instructional videos can prove surprisingly popular. A former client of mine that sells promotional merchandise created a series of videos showing how they brand different items. This video about screen-printing umbrellas has more than 4,700 views, which shows how effective sharing expert knowledge can be.

In my own experience, when I was looking to buy a pushchair I turned to YouTube for reviews. There’s a real opportunity for retailers to demo products. The lesson is, it’s more important for your YouTube marketing to be relevant than it is to be revolutionary.

You don’t even have to invest in an expensive camera or editing equipment either – here’s an excellent video tutorial showing you how to shoot expert-looking footage on an iPhone, and here’s six of the best video editing apps.

In addition to video, you can also spread your expertise via podcast (create using software like Audacity and publish on your blog) and SlideShare.

2. Speak for your industry

Now you’ve recognised the value of your expertise, share it even further. Contact local or national media to let them know you are happy to provide quotes for stories relevant to your line of business. Be proactive by responding to any hot industry topics, perhaps taking a controversial stance. Post in forums, actively participate in LinkedIn groups, comment on news stories and submit letters to the trade press.

By becoming a vocal spokesperson you may gain the opportunity to speak at a conference, where you can build your credibility and that of your company.

3. Enter awards

You know you’re brilliant – now let everyone else know!

Most industries have business awards you can enter – many free of charge. If you win, you will be able to shout about that accolade across all your marketing material and social media, enhancing your reputation. Many award programmes provide winners’ badges, which are an eye-catching boost for your homepage.

You may also gain some press coverage following your win. Even if you don’t win, completing award applications helps you identify your successes and will provide you with credible case studies to use on your website. Highlighting the work you are most proud of will help you win new clients.


4. Plan a webinar or workshop

Now you’re an expert, consider reaching out to and interacting with your customers and prospects with an educational event. Any type of business can host a class – either in your office or shop, or online via a webinar. Think laterally about the type of knowledge that might be useful to your target audience.

Check out these five tips for running a successful business event

For example, if you are an insurance broker. How about a workshop for business owners helping them ensure they are properly covered for all their liabilities? You own a hairdressing salon? why not invite people along to learn how to do beautiful up-dos? Specialise in internet marketing? Run a webinar on search engine optimisation or getting started with Google AdWords.

Once you start thinking about it there’s so much you can offer. Don’t forget Eventbrite can help you promote your event details and manage attendees.

5. Make the most of free advertising opportunities

You’ve thought of flyering and email marketing, but have you thought about advertising on your car? You vehicle (providing it isn’t a beaten up old banger) is a piece of prime advertising real estate! Your car is seen by hundreds, if not thousands, of people each day. You can turn it into a mobile billboard by having some attractive vinyl signage printed and applied. If you need to use your car for trips that you would like to remain low-key, opt for removable magnetic signage instead.


6. Make your business cards stand out

Brilliant networkers always carry a large stash of business cards with them and hand them out liberally. Make the most of this opportunity by giving a truly creative business card, ensuring your new contact will never forget you. Here are 30 of the best – these are totally awesome (although I’m not sure how many clients the circumciser’s card design will win!).


7. Set up a referral programme

Word of mouth advertising is worth its weight in gold and will go a long way for your small business marketing. If you did a great job fixing someone’s car and that person goes on to recommend your garage to his or her friends and family, you’re highly likely to acquire a new customer. So why not give your existing clientele a bit of added motivation to sing your praises by offering a referral incentive? In this example, it could be something like free wheel balancing for the referrer and an incentivising 20% off for the person being referred – that way everyone’s a winner.

Top tip: Did you also know that you can set up affiliate programmes through Eventbrite, so you can reward your biggest supporters by letting them share in your success?


8) Try some guerrilla marketing

Guerrilla marketing emphasises creativity over budget and can win your brand real respect. Such is the power of creativity, even huge names like Durex and Volkswagen, that have (near)unlimited marketing budget, have turned to low cost guerrilla campaigns. The best campaigns will make passers-by stop, do a double take, laugh and then get out their phones to share on social media. Here are 100 fantastic examples of guerrilla marketing in action that can be adopted for small business marketing.


In conclusion 

These are just a few ideas to kick-start your small business marketing plan. Don’t forget to (wherever possible) measure the success of each activity, which will enable you to identify the most effective tactics for your business in the future.

Have you already run successful marketing events, or done some inspired guerrilla marketing? Let us know the best marketing ideas that have worked for you!

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