Low Cost Marketing Ideas: 5 Ways to Grow a Business on a Tight Budget

low cost small business marketing ideasIs your business growing as fast as you’d hoped this year?  If not, these five high yield, low cost marketing ideas marketing ideas could help you close out the year on top and position your business for growth. 

If you are a small business owner that feels they are being left out when it comes to new reports citing the continued economic recovery and predictions of year over year growth in consumer spending for the holiday season, you are not alone. 

September October 2014 small business optimism index

NFIB | Small Business Optimism Index

The NFIB research Foundation (National Federation of Independent Businesses) just released their October 2014 report with a headline that reads: “Small Business Optimism Drops.”  This actually puts the Small Business Optimism Index below the previously 34 years’ pre-recession average.

The Small Business Optimism components which increased included:

  • up 1 – plans to increase inventories (2%)
  • up 1 – expects economy to improve (-2%)
  • up 2 – current inventory (0%)
  • up 4 – now is a good time to expand (13%)

Of the index’s 10 components, six areas reflected decreased small business owner optimism, including:

  • down 1 – plans to increase employment (9%)
  • down 5 – plans to make capital outlays (22%)
  • down 1 – expect real sales higher (5%)
  • down 5 – current job openings (21%)
  • down 2 – expected credit conditions (-7%)
  • down 2 – earnings trends (-19%)

Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist puts the dilemma for small business into perspective, saying that in order for the index to get back to average, “responses to the 10 Index component questions would have to improve 50 percentage points, cumulatively,” and points to declines in job openings and plans to make capital investments as primarily responsible for the most recent findings.

It takes money to make money – except when it doesn’t.  When it comes to marketing, 48% of small businesses will be getting by this year on less than $5000. (brandmuscle.com) The important thing is not how much money you have to spend to promote your business, it’s how effectively you do so, regardless of your marketing budget and resources.

5 Low Cost Marketing Ideas Your Small Business Might Be Overlooking

A Willingness to Do Something Different – Cost: $0

This is atop our list of low cost and free marketing strategies for a reason.  Despite lack of results, many small business marketers continue to rely on non-performing marketing tactics.  In fact, when things get bad, they invest more time, money and resources in the same ineffective marketing strategies, instead of trying something new.

If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.  (Yep!)

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. (Who are we to argue with Albert Einstein?)

Doing something different may require that you redefine (or define!) a compelling value proposition (the reasons local customers should choose you over competitors), realign your marketing to reach ideal buyer types, work with a consultant or hire someone who can bring a fresh perspective to the table in order to help you break out of a mindset that is not working in order to see – and take advantage – of new opportunities.

Find Your Niche – Cost: $0how to find your ideal buyer types
Invest time in building out buyer profiles and identifying niche target markets where your business’s “low hanging fruit” is most likely to be waiting.  Focus your marketing efforts there.

WordPress Website with Custom Domain – Cost $99 a year (less than $10 a month!)

It doesn’t have to be WordPress, but $99 is the annual cost (as of today) for availing yourself of a ready-made template and publishing a WordPress website on a custom domain without ads.  For those that think this is a non-issue, Inc.com recently published a story about whether the new technologies shoppers love is passing small businesses, citing a 2013 Google-Ipsos study that found that 55% of small businesses do not yet have websites.

Not having a website is not an option.  More than two years ago, 97% of consumers said they start their search for a local business online (BIA/Kelsey).  With more consumers than ever set to shop online and some even planning to do the majority of their holiday shopping online this year, no small business can expect to grow without a website that is optimized for search and filled with the type of content that local online searchers would be looking for.

Optimizing for Mobile – Cost: $0 -$9 a month*

In the third quarter 2014, nearly 40% of all online search traffic came via mobile devices according to data published by RKG Digital.   Not only is not having a website not an option for small business, but optimizing for mobile is also a non-negotiable small business marketing must.

There’s a really easy way to find out if your website is “optimized for mobile.”  Reach into your pocket or purse – right now – and pick up your smartphone.  Open up a browser and type in your website’s address.  How does your site display?  If it’s filled with tiny text and trying to display your site the same way it would across a wide computer monitor or laptop screen (or worse, it doesn’t come up at all) then it’s not properly optimized for mobile!

Even if your research shows that the buying ‘clicks’ are coming from desktop and laptop devices, you need a site optimized for mobile. Increasingly, the buying journey is a multi-device customer journey and a lot of those journeys start on mobile phones and tablets accessed on the road, at lunch, from the couch, etc. And the same goes for stores that sell in brick and mortar locations, too!

*pricing will be dependent on whether or not you want ads to display, example cited using Dudamobile plan pricing. Click the Dudamobile link and use code octduda10 at checkout for a 10% savings on annual plan pricing.

Connecting with Buyers on Social Networks – Cost: $0 -$25 a month*

how many people use social networks in 2014

Pew Research Center

As of January 2014, three out of four US adults (74%) use one or more social networking sites. Even among those 65 years and up, social media usage is at 49%.  (pewinternet.org) Chances are, some of your ideal buyer types and members of your target markets are on one or more social networks.  If you are lucky, engaging followers on social networks will bring you organic shares and likes that will propel your status updates further into the news feed.  If not, you may need to put a few dollars to work to put your social network updates directly in the path of your ideal client types online.

*you have total control over budget, but – thanks to ad and sponsored post geographic and demographic targeting capabilities – even a minimal monthly spend can bring new customers to your door!

Credit, Graphic: Designed by Freepik


Elizabeth Kraus is the marketing manager for business cash advance and receivables factoring company DB Squared Inc. and the author of From Beginning to End: 2014 Small Business Marketing Calendar, available on amazon.com.


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