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6 Effective And Low Cost Marketing Options For Small Businesses

6 Mar 2024 | small business

(collaborative post)

Marketing your small business in this highly competitive landscape isn’t easy. However, it doesn’t always need to be expensive. Wild PR surveyed 200 business owners from various industries and found out that over half of them have no marketing spend in their annual budget. Of those that do, 25% were planning on cutting said budget, with just under 20% cutting PR spend.

While those figures might be alarming for some, the reality is that budgets are being squeezed, and for small business owners, going it alone when it comes to marketing is their only option. Not everyone has the money to pay for marketing agencies to come in and take over their marketing needs, nor does every small business need that.

However, every small business does need marketing. Even if it’s not a big campaign, you still need to get the word out about your business so that people can find out about you and be aware of your position in the industry.

This post is going to look at some of the free and low-cost ways you can market your small business. 

Google My Business

Google My Business has become a valuable resource for all small business owners. What this does is show up your business in listings when people are searching, and a well-optimised profile ranks higher. It shows up in Google Maps and places that little box to the right of search results with your business details.

To do this, you must create a profile and verify your business to get a prime position in the directory. It’s all free, and it’s most definitely worth the time to make sure everything is filled in and correct to get your business up there.

Word Of Mouth/Online Review

The OG, yet still most effective marketing method, is word of mouth. If people are happy with what you have done for them, they will tell everyone. The digital version of this is organic online reviews, either on your website, social media, or third-party trusted review sites like Trustpilot. You cannot beat other people’s positive experiences, and if most interactions with your business are good, then you need to make the most of word-of-mouth and online reviews.

To do this, you simply need to offer the best service possible. Sell high-quality products, have a fair pricing structure, don’t try to sell people what they don’t want, and provide a good experience all around. It’s not an instant way to boost your business, but as a small local establishment, good reviews and word-of-mouth commentary are vital and a lifeline for some. 

One great example of this is Home Bargains, which, to this day, do not advertise via traditional methods. They built the company from a single shop into a nationwide chain of stores simply by word of mouth and providing ‘Top Brands Bottom Prices’ that appealed to their customer base. These days, the company is worth over £6 billion.

Trade Shows/Pop-Up Events

It’s not exactly free; most events require an exhibitor fee, and you’ll likely need to invest in equipment to use and take with you; however, it can be a lower-cost activity than other methods of marketing your business.

Essentially, what you’re doing is setting up shop at an event expected to be frequented by the public and exposing them to your brand. And hopefully, if they like it, make some contacts or sales depending on your business. The value of this to all businesses can be different, and some might perform better than others; however, as a small business in the local community, booking a spot at some local events or fairs can be a great way to spread the word about your company.

Trade shows are a bigger step up from local events and are an excellent way to network with those in your industry as well as make connections with people especially interested in your niche. This can be a better way to advertise a more specialised product or service as you know those attending will have some knowledge or experience. But it’s entirely up to you how you approach this.

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Leaflets/Posters/Business Cards

For a more visual, low-cost approach to small business marketing, you can design your own business cards, quality posters and leaflets to hand out at various times. You can use posters to display on your premises to advertise sales, products, offers, events or discounts, ask others to post up, or place them on public notice boards in your local area where possible.

Business cards are handy to give out on the go to others when networking or the opportunity presents itself, and leaflets can be used in the same way, too. Whether you have them posted through people’s front doors, give them out at events, pop them in orders, or leave them with other establishments for people to check out, you have many options. But they should form a part of your overall marketing strategy, primarily if you rely on local residents or other local businesses to use your services.

Social Media

Social media is by far one of the best ways to increase your exposure and market for next to nothing at all. Every business can create a free social media account for people to follow and engage with. However, posting and attracting people to follow you is not as simple these days.

While many small businesses run their own social media accounts and have great success doing so, there are just as many out there who aren’t seeing the same level of success.

There are many tips and tricks floating around about the best way to use social media, and the tricks are knowing exactly what you’re up against on each platform, the audience who make up the majority of users and what they are more likely to engage in. This way you can create a plan that will help you maximise engagement.

It can be a good idea to do your research first, find what does and doesn’t work, and build from there. You can then move to paid ads via your chosen platform, and this can further boost your reach and ROI, but there are pros and cons to this option, too. While not something you should ignore, again, understand what you are paying for and what you want from the promotion before jumping in and creating ads.


If you have a website or even a landing page, you need to ensure you are following the best SEO practices. This can be by creating a blog on your website and using search terms you wish to rank for, adding tags to videos and images you share via social media so people can easily find them when searching online, sharing specific pages or posts with local communities or organisations that would benefit from this and so on.

SEO is a very complex area of marketing that, when done well, can have far-reaching success for your company. However, it can take a while to implement, and it isn’t a strategy for those wanting instant success and visibility online. It’s the low burner strategy that pays off in the future and has to keep your brand in the spotlight thanks to the work and effort you put in now.

When it comes to low-cost or free marketing options, these examples work really well alone or as part of a more extensive marketing strategy. Remember, you need to create marketing material with intent and know precisely what the aim of it is to give it value and get the results you expect.

This post was published in collaboration with a content partner. The article is meant to inspire you how to live a slow, simple, soulful and sustainable lifestyle and may contain (affiliate) links to articles, websites or products/services that may be of interest to you.

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