17 Free Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Small business owners often have a tight marketing budget. This can be tricky for when you’re trying to promote your business. While you’re figuring out your budget, there are ways for you to market yourself to your customers without spending money.

We’ve taken the time and thought out of marketing for you. Here are 17 free marketing ideas that will give your small business marketing efforts a boost without putting a dent in your budget.

free marketing ideas for small businesses (4)

1. Content Marketing

The value of content marketing is too good to ignore. Content is king, or queen, for all businesses and the right content can increase your local SEO and get your business found online.

Create good content on your website including an About Us page, Products and Services page, and blog posts.

2. Video Marketing

Videos are a popular free marketing tactic for small businesses. While it can cost you a lot to get a professional video shot and uploaded to YouTube, you don’t have to hire a professional. Video marketing is easy to do it yourself on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Videos can help you strike that vital connection with your audience. Go behind the scenes and get creative with this free marketing tactic! Combine images and videos to good effect. Prepare a script to follow, but remember a little humor never hurts.

Add a branding message or personal message, whichever is appropriate. Finish with a strong call to actionCheck out our Website! Call us to set up an appointment! Place your birthday cake order today! Distribute the video in every channel possible including social media and video hosting sites.

video marketing recipe

3. Visual Marketing

Harnessing the power of visual medium is important to catapult your marketing success in social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Sadly, only a few small businesses have figured out the real potential of using these sites to build a large online audience.  No matter what business you are in, visual marketing is a free creative marketing idea for connecting with your target audience and helping you quickly reach your marketing goals.

Visual marketing doesn’t have to be expensive – here are 25 free tools to rock visual marketing for your small business.

visual marketing example

4. Email Newsletters

Email marketing through newsletters and email blasts remains one of the reliable ways for achieving a strong return on your investment.  Customized and targeted email content should form the core of any email newsletter. For more guidance, you can find email newsletter templates online to point you in the right direction.

No matter what you say in the email, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re creating catchy subject lines for your emails. When utilizing free marketing ideas, it’s important to make sure your efforts don’t go to waste—by coming up with creative subject lines, you can increase the number of people who open and and act on your emails.

5. Cross Promoting On Social Media

Social media platforms are the perfect free marketing tool to promote your business because you can get more  bang for your theoretical buck. If you’re not already on social media as part of your marketing plan, you need to be.

Cross promoting your posts on social media is an effective way to get your content seen by a large number of people. Make sure that customers can find you on all social media channels by including links to your profiles in the header, footer, or About Us page of your website. To save time, you can schedule your social media posting in advance with social media automation tools.

6. Industry Partnerships

A key benefit of developing industry partnerships is doubling your marketing efforts and gaining access to extra resources, such as, tools and technologies, and a broader audience. There is power in numbers and with a partner you can accomplish marketing goals which would not be probable alone.

Industry partnerships are a great marketing tactic because it allows small business owners access to marketing know-how, technology, and customer base that they could not have achieved on their own. You need to take several steps before choosing a partner for your small business. Figure out what to expect from a partner, make inquiries, look into possible partners, assess how you can work together, and form the all-important partnership.

social media

7. Social Media Engagement

Increasing social media engagement and building a community online is important to growing your small business. It goes a long way toward increasing name awareness and brand recognition in your local market. Some businesses use sweepstakes or contests, offer coupons, and provide discounts to users on social media in order to drive sales. Some engage in direct dialogue to understand the sentiments of their customers.

Whatever your motivation, make sure you are active on social media—think: consistency, community, collaboration, and commitment.

8. Tag Users On Social Media

Tagging someone on Twitter and Facebook is an effective and free marketing tool for your business.  Tagging broadens the organic reach of your business to a new potential audience, helps you grow your following, and get more clients. Incorporate tagging into your social media strategy as a free marketing tool and watch your organic reach grow.

9. Use Hashtags

Another free marketing idea for your small business is to incorporate hashtags into your social media and Twitter marketing strategy.

Use to hashtags like #smallbiz or #SMB for resources, advice, trending topics in the small business industry. Think of hashtags like #marketing, #startups or #entrepreneurs and seek small business specific conversations. If you are searching for tips on meeting like-minded small business owners, try #networking, where you will find advice and relevant information on networking, and making connections online.

Keep things in the spirit of the Twitter community, and share small business ideas using your own hashtags.

10. Host a Class or Event

Share your expertise in your area of business, or demonstrate the features and benefits of your small business by hosting an in-person class, event, or presentation. Free marketing tools like Eventbrite make planning and promoting an event for your business easy to do. If you can’t host an event, attend any local events that you can find that might benefit your business. You never know where you will find your next customer or business partner!

host a class small business marketing

11. Host a Webinar

If reaching a potential audience in person doesn’t sound like your idea of a good marketing idea, you can always host a Webinar. Webinars are a free way to promote your business by providing helpful information to potential interested customers.

Web conferencing platforms such as Webex and GoToMeeting allow you to broadcast your Webinar with just a few button clicks. Make sure to promote your Webinar on social media or through an email newsletter one to two weeks before the event and include reminders to registrants so that they don’t miss it.

12. Blog for Your Business

Small businesses can use blogging to drive traffic to their website, increase user engagement and, improve online visibility, and SEO. Blogging is a proven method to promote your small business online, and a wonderful way to tell tales about your business and provide useful information to potential clients. If done properly, blogging has the potential to take your small business marketing to a whole new level.

Blogging about your business is easy and, as an expert, you can create quality content that is useful to your audience. Blog posts don’t have to be long and complex—think about a blog post like a longer Facebook status message. If you’re just getting started, here are some pointers on how to write your first blog post and 130 free blog ideas for your business blog. It’s easier than you think!

Blogging is worth the time and effort. Overcome your challenges and create content that can make your readers come back asking for more. Not sure what to blog about? Here are 130 free blog ideas for your business blog.

13. Connect with Bloggers & Influencers

Identifying and reaching out to popular bloggers and influencers gained traction a few years ago when certain PR agencies realized that popularity of some blogs had outdone that of conventional media houses. It is 2015 and it is still worth reaching out to relevant bloggers and networking with them in ways that create a win-win situation. Once you begin to build trust and create relationships with bloggers and blogging networks, you have the platform for potential strategic business partners.

Content marketing and small business blogging are two powerful tools for marketing success—put them together and you’ve got the perfect free marketing tools for your small business. Go to events, get introduced to a network of bloggers, and establish relationships with bloggers who can try your products or service and write about it on their blog. It’s a win-win situation. Never underestimate their value in supporting other marketing efforts.

connect with bloggers

14. Hold Social Media Contests

Running a social media or Instagram contest or giveaway is a smart way for small businesses to promote themselves for free or little cost.

If you own an interior design firm, you could host a giveaway contest like “Get a Virtual Bedroom Makeover”. And have contestants share and tag your status to get your business name out and introduce potential clients to your services. Pick a random winner and make the virtual makeover through a sequence of video episodes or interviews, where potential clients can tune to and ask questions as you makeover the winner’s room.

This will certainly leave a strong impression in the minds of all those potential clients, and, in turn, build a great sense of trust in them.

15. Attend Industry Events

Attending trade shows, local events, and industry conferences is a clever way to take your small business to next level. These events bring together business minds from all industries who want to find new marketing strategies to grow their business. It’s also a way to network with like-minded people and develop new B2B contacts. In addition, these events have exclusive seminars designed to sharpen your skills in sales, social media, advertising and other contemporary ways of promoting your small business.

events for small business owners

16. Do a Business Card Drawing

An easy way to grow your email list is by collecting emails through a giveaway.  By collecting business cards for a giveaway, you can get a lot of information about your audience, which can help you market yourself to new customers.

Knowing which part of town your customers live and work is important when designing a promotional campaign for your small business. Likewise, identifying areas in which there is a weak concentration can also help your small business devise a suitable plan of attack to get ahead of competition. This is where a business card drawing comes in handy.

Set out bowls for your customers to drop in their business cards and build a database using the information collected including email addresses for email newsletters. This simple tactic provides several key pieces of information that you can use in executing several cross-promotional offers in the following months.

17. Use Employees for Word Of Mouth Marketing

For many small businesses, word of mouth is an important marketing strategy boost sales, and with good reason. Research shows that customers are more likely to buy a product or service if they get to know about it from their friends or family.

Make your employees your brand ambassadors and tap into the incredible potential of their networks. Your employees have genuine interest in your business, so why not leverage their voices and social networks to reach out to a larger audience.

Sit down with your employees. Engage with them in a brainstorming session, and gather their ideas of improving your small business. Make them feel empowered. Think about hosting an exclusive discount sale like a “friends and family” promotion every now and then. Learn how to use Facebook for your business—create an event, invite employees, and ask your employees to share it with their personal and professional contacts. Encourage them to share the status and tag people to increase the reach of your event.

Are you inspired by these free marketing ideas? Try some of them out and let us know what works for you!

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