75 Big Marketing Ideas for Small Marketing Budgets

Don’t have a six-figure marketing budget like the “big boys” to throw around?  Worry not my friends you can still go big without breaking the bank.

Here are 75 big marketing ideas you can begin implementing today to grow your business regardless of the size of your marketing budget. Many of these can be done with little to no money, and will cost you nothing more than a bit of your time.

1) Get Active on Twitter

It takes just a few minutes to make a contribution to Twitter and making this a part of your daily business routine is a steady way to build up a network of followers interested in your area of industry.

2) Start a Blog

This needn’t be an everyday thing but posting to a blog a couple of times a week is a way to keep in touch with your customers and to convey more about your business and the market in which you operate to your potential clients.

3) Blog Commenting

Contribute to the conversations on blogs by bloggers in the same niche in which you operate.

4) Forum Discussions

Find and sign up to forums on a related topic to your business. Actively take part and get to know your fellow posters. Try searching for “Your Topic + Forum” in Google to find relevant conversations.

5) Register Your Business with Google Local

Google has been offering local businesses a chance to register their business address and phone number in its local listings for some time

6) Register Your Products or Services with Google Merchant

Another helpful and free service from the search giant, Google Merchant is a place for businesses to upload a data feed which includes products or services.

7) Make Your Business Cards Memorable

Choose a design that stands out. Here are 51 creative business card ideas to get you started thinking creatively.

8). Consider Paid Search

Google AdWords is the largest sponsored search result program. While this marketing channel isn’t free, it does fall under budget marketing ideas for new businesses simply because you are able to manage it yourself within a small budget.

9) Build a Basic Reward Scheme

Offer an exclusive incentive to your regular customers which will help the business retain customers and win new ones.

10) Improve Customer Service

Many forget that customer service is a form of advertising. You’re advertising that you care, and that gets noticed.

11) Let Customers Know You Appreciate Them

Customers who feel appreciated are going to give the love right back in the form of loyalty. Send them and email, make a call, interact with them any way you see fit. Just let them know they are important.

12) Become Vain

Do you know what your customers are saying about you online? Get vain, and search for yourself! Then, respond to your customers.

13) Don’t Forget Current Customers

We’ve all heard the old adage that it’s easier to keep an existing customer than win a new one. But it may also be worth going through your list of older inactive customers and trying to reactivate a few of the better ones. Give them a call, tell them you value them, ask what it will take to get them back. You might be surprised at how simple or low-cost it is. If they say no thanks, consider it a learning opportunity and wish them the best. Then call them back in a year and ask again.

14) Article Marketing

Write expert articles and submit them to sites such as Ezinearticles.com. Here is  a list of the top 50 article directories, ranked by Alexa. Get writing!

15) Advertise on Yourself

Make some simple t-shirts with your company name and website on them, wear them around town

16) Advertise on Someone Else

Check out guys like iwearyourshirt.comfor a fun, creative, and realtively cheap way to get your company seen.

17) Add your Business to a Review Site

Adding your business to a review site such as Feedback Jar can help put you in touch with customers.

18) Email Signature

Use every email as a way to promote yourself and your business.

19) Social Networks

There is a social network for every niche. Join one and start networking.

20) Leave Biz Cards

You’ve followed #7 above, now don’t just leave those cards in your pocket! Give them out, to anyone, everywhere.  Heck, just leave them laying around, or in library books, or anywhere your customers may see them.

21) Postcards on Windshields

Easy and cheap to print, place them under windshields at parking lots. The more creative your card the more they’ll get noticed.

22) Flyers on Community Boards

Community cork boards are everywhere. Try putting up a flier or two on these boards…cheap and easy, and you never know who will read them.

23) Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce

A local chamber can be a great way to get your business out in the community for very little cash outlay. Chambers offer programs and services free for their members, and oftentimes refer business to chamber members.

24) Give a Talk at an Event

Any chance you get to get in front of a group and show your expertise – do it!

25) Send Special Deals to Your Newsletter List

Give your newsletter subscribers even more value by offering a “Newsletter only” deal.

26) Don’t Have a Newsletter List?

Get one…

27) Give it Away for Free

If your product or service rocks – it’s your best advertising. Give it away for free, for a limited time of course, then charge when they can’t live without it.

28) Have a “Weird” Sale

Read about a guy who ran a pretty successful “I just broke my foot so you get 25% off sale”. The key here is to keep it fun, and get people talking about it.

29) Ask Your Customers for Referrals

Don’t be shy, come right out and solicit referrals from happy customers. They will be happy to tell their friends about you.

30) Give’mSomething to Give

Put something in the hands of your happy customers they can give to somebody else. Free samples, a “refer a friend” coupon. Build a small army of happy customers to help you spread the word.

31) And While Your Giving

Don’t forget to always give’ em the pickle.

32) Free Classifieds

Use free classified ad servicesto promote your product or service. Aside from big online classified ads (Craigslist), there may be other free options specific to your geographical area, maybe even some free inclusions in local print media. Do some Google searches and see what is available in your hometown.

33) Reciprocity Advertising

Talk to local business owners and explore cross promotion you may be able to do with them. They are probably in the same boat as you, and would be willing to work out a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of marketing campaign.

34) Barter

You may think of bartering as particularly “old school”, but there is no reason you can’t trade a product or service with another business in exchange for some marketing opportunities. Trading an hour of your consulting time, or a couple free products to a local business who is willing then to plug you in their newsletter or mailings could result in a better deal than paying out of pocket for the same marketing. Start with the barter directory, and go from there.

35) Write a Press Release

Write your own press release and submit it to the appropriate channels. If what you’re doing is particularly newsworthy, send it to local media. Also submit your press release to the free services online.

36) Networking

Scout out free networking events in your area, you’d be surprised how many “meet-ups” there are. Not only are they a great way to get out of the house, but think of every networking event as a mini-marketing campaign. Use MeetUp.com to scan for opportunities near you.

37) Organize a Meet Up

Not seeing a meet up that meets your needs? Organize one.

38) Link Exchange with Other Businesses

Offer link exchanges on related business websites where your link will add value to their visitors, and their link will add value to your visitors.

39) Cross Promote

Like a link exchange, but more in depth. Set up a cross promotion with another business. For example if you sell pencils, find a business that sells paper and work out a deal to send each other business.

40) Develop a “Niche Discount” That You Get Known For

I read about a guy who gives a “Laugh Discount” – a small % off if a customer can make him laugh within X minutes of meeting him.

41) Guest Post on Blogs

Expand your reach and audience. Use a service like MyGuestBlog to find blogs looking for guest articles. Or guest post with us.

42) Publish a Free Report or White Paper

Put out a free report related to what you do on your website, or distribute it to those in your target market. A report is a great way to get your name out there, show your expertise, and best of all these reports tend to get shared. Also, use the free report as an incentive to subscribe to your newsletter email list.

43) Encourage Sharing

Once you have a free report to give out, better than waiting for it to get shared, build in some encouragement to do so. Offer a deal if they share it with “X” number of people.

44) Make a Helpful YouTube Video

Video is pretty easy to produce now, and nobody expects it to look like Scorsese directed it, so put up a couple helpful videos explaining how to use one of your products or how we can benefit from your service. Better yet, answer a common question about what you do, or solve a problem in your video, it will get shared if you’re good.

45) Video Testimonials / Interviews

Better than just you on video ask some satisfied customers to take part in an interview where they talk about you and what you do. This is the best social proof that you don’t suck.

46) Partner With Another Business to Give Away a Prize

Don’t have the money to give away much on your own?  How about partnering with a complimentary business to give away a great prize and getting some great advertising for the two of you?  Then figure out a way where both of your customers can enter for a chance to win!

47) Sponsor an Event

Cheaper than you think, and sponsoring a local event can really give you a lot for your money.

48) Use Your Friends and Family

Ask friends and family to spread the word about your business.

49) Print a Coupon on the Back of Your Business Card.

People rarely use their business cards as a form of advertising. But if you want to have people remember you, or actually use their service, why not put something on your card to encourage their business…you’re giving those cards out anyway, right?

50) Join and Attend Professional Groups

Join a couple professional groups. These don’t have to be related to your niche, they could be something you want to get better at (such as Toastmasters), or an area of interest. You’ll meet other professionals, and who knows what those contacts will turn into.

51) Newsletter Cross-Promotion

Buddy up with another business and do some cross promotion in your newsletters. Again, you’ll want to be complimentary businesses to each other for this to really work.

52) Do Something Different

Write down everything you and your competitors have in common, then come up with one thing you can do differently than them – then do that.

53) Start an Affiliate Program

Use a service like Shareasale.com to start your own affiliate program. Offer a nice commission and people will be happy to sell your products/services.

54) Ask for Testimonials & Use Them!

Ask for testimonials from existing clients. Good testimonials are perfect for your web page and promotional items. Don’t just ask for testimonials and then let them sit. Put those things on everything you do – website, advertising, handouts, newsletters, etc.

55) Send Promotional Items

Send out invoices to your clients?  Why not send them a small promo gift to go along with it?  You never know where those pens will end up.

56) Join a Social Networking Site For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

Here are 40 such networking sites, take a look and find one that suits you and your business. Then get using it.

57) Pull a Publicity Stunt

Are you the creative type? Not shy in front of crowds?  Try a memorable, creative, or weird publicity stunt!

58) Hold a Webinar

Creating live, online seminars or webinars is relatively easy these days. Why not hold a webinar relating to your expertise, then promote it as a freebie or special benefit to current customers or to attract new customers?

59) Offer a Guarantee

It’s been shown that guarantees result in more sales.  Make an iron clad guarantee, or better yet offer a guarantee that is outlandish and gets noticed…but if ever called on it, be sure you hold up your end of the bargain.

60) Get Reviewed

Use ReviewMe.com to get reviewed.

61) Become an Expert on Q/A Sites

Jump on a Q&A site and be helpful, answer questions related to what you do, become a trusted expert. These should get you going:

62) Donate to a Charity Auction

Charity auctions are constantly in need of things to auction off and raise money with in the process. You’ll feel good about your donation, and get your name out there.

63) Do a Memorable Giveaway

Local tire sellers Les Schwab has a “Free Beef” event every year. Buy tires, and get free beef – what does one have to do with the other? Your guess is as good as mine, but it gets people talking and that has been a very popular sale for many years now.

64) Go to a Trade Show

If you can find one in your niche – great!  If not, go and talk to people…you just never know who will need what you sell.

65) Use your 404 Error Page

You know that “404 Error Page” you get on a website when it can’t find what you were looking for?  Well, you can customize that page to say whatever you want. So instead of your visitor seeing “Hey sorry you’re lost”, have it say “Sorry you didn’t find what you’re looking for here’s 10% coupon off our services to make up for it”.

66) Surprise Upgrade ala Zappos

Why not “upgrade” a customer out of the blue sometime? Completely make their day, make them feel special, and they will tell everybody they know. It worked for Zappos…

67) Use Your “Thank You” Page

When someone signs up for your online newsletter they are taken to a thank you page. Customize this page to offer them something of value, give them a deal, coupon, whatever – just use the space creatively!

68) Use Someone Else’s “Thank you Page”

Chances are other website owners haven’t thought about using their own thank you page to promote something. Why not offer to buy some add space on their page? It will probably be cheap, and as long as there are some synergies between your businesses it can be effective.

69) Create a  Podcast

Podcast can be quick, easy, fun, and FREE to produce. Here’s how to get startedPodcasting

70) SEO Your Website

Making sure your potential clients can find you is important. Take a few minutes to make sure your site is SEO’ed. Here’s 9 tips to get you started.

71) Know you USP

What is your unique selling proposition? You first need to know why people should buy from you. Once you do, you’ll have no problem telling them.

72) Create an Elevator Speech

In 30 seconds or less can you tell me what you do, what makes you special, and why I should care?  That’s your elevator speech. Think about how many times you are asked what you do, the better you get at explaining it the more customers you will get – easy as that.

73) Sponsor a Local Youth Team

When I was 6 my soccer team was sponsored by the local Uhaul. Almost 30 years later I still remember that…30 years from now some grown up kids could remember your business, and their parents could have been using your business.

74) Place Google Ads for Influential People You Want to Meet

Do what this guy did to get a job, but replace the names with people you want as clients. 

75) Your Turn

Put the 75th idea in our comments below.

One comment

  1. michael

    a very cost and effective way to get customers is to put change in a parking meter when time is just about to run out. Leave your specialized card telling your new prospect that I just saved you a ticket and leave by saying “this is your lucky day” – call me…

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