22 Low-Budget Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses


Don’t have many bucks to spend on your biz? No worries – there are plenty of marketing tactics you can make use of that won’t blow your small marketing budget. Let’s see how far you can stretch those dollars! Here are 20+ marketing ideas for small businesses working on a small budget.

limited budget marketing

1. Publish Great Content. I don’t think I even need to say this, but it’d be neglectful not to mention the importance of kick-ass content. If you can create it yourself, all the better (isn’t free always better?). Even if writing isn’t your strong point, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting someone on your team to crank out some articles for your blog. Try top 10 lists, tip collections, best practices for your industry, etc. I shared a bunch of creative content marketing ideas here, and Elisa recently rewrote the rules of content marketing for small businesses.

2. Create Instructional Videos. Video content is really valuable, and while it can cost big bucks to get professional YouTube videos produced, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a shot yourself or hiring a film student off Craigslist. Wistia offers a great video tutorial showing you how to shoot expert-looking footage on your regular old iPhone!

youtube cheap marketing

If video sounds like too much of a challenge, try making slide decks and sharing them on SlideShare.

3. Get Ad Promo Credits. While massive ad campaigns may be out of your budget, there are often discounts and coupons floating around for paid Facebook ads or Google ads. Some web hosting services offer advertising discount codes as part of their membership offerings. Check and see if yours does.

4. Reddit. Reddit, a bare-bones social network self-titled as the “front page of the internet,” can be a powerful tool when used strategically. Reddit is composed of a very tech-savvy audience that bristles at any obvious marketing tactics.

marketing with a tight budget

To win at Reddit, share only truly awesome content, and post only to extreme niches. In Reddit, there are subcategories (known as subreddits) that deal with some of the narrowest, most specific interests in existence. There’s a subreddit for lockpicking (/r/lockpicking ), a subreddit for unicycles (/r/unicycling), and there’s even a subreddit for admiring beautiful handwriting (r/PenmanshipPorn). (And of course there’s one for SEO.) Find your niche and dominate.

5. Be a Savvy Social Networker. Create business accounts and participate in the big social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Add Instagram in there too if your business is image-oriented. Also check out this list of easy Facebook marketing ideas for any type of business.

6. Stumble Upon Advertising. If you want to try some paid advertising but you’re not looking to break the bank, Stumle Upon’s Paid Search Discovery could be for you. Paid Discovery delivers users straight to your site, ready to engage. What works best on Stumble Upon? Photography, visual assets, and humorous content.

stumble upon advertising

Stumble Upon is pretty cheap compared to other paid ad structures. You start with a base price of 10 cents per click, then add +2 cents for age targeting, gender targeting and device targeting. You can see the whole price list for detailed info.  Whichever way you spin it, Stumble Upon’s paid offering is leagues cheaper than most other social media ads; Facebook ads, for example, can cost as much as 80 cents per click.

To really benefit from Stumble Upon, use targeting options to make sure you’re hitting the right audiences and niches.

7. DIY Infographics. Infographics are insanely powerful marketing tools. They’re visual eye candy, they’re easy to digest, and people love to share them, so they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and links. Hiring a designer to make you an A+ infographic can hit your wallet hard, but you can make your own on the cheap if you don’t mind a bit of a challenge.

infographics marketing tactic

If you have some understanding of Adobe Illustrator, try out these free vector kits that provide all the elements needed to make a stunning infographic. Not sure where to start? Check out Visual.ly for inspiration. They have beginner and advanced examples for you to browse through.

8. Give New Life to Old Data. If your marketing budget it tight, you might not be able to always afford content writers to whip up content for your blog. If you’re in a dry spell, instead of making something new, breathe new life into something that already exists on the web. There are a ton of data studies and stats available on the internet. While some of these studies may get initial traction, many often go unnoticed.

Find a study that relates to your industry and polish it up. Highlight the most important or interesting parts of the study, add images, crank out some charts, and make your own thoughts and predictions based on the data.

You don’t need to be a master writer for this strategy – the data will do most of the heavy lifting for you. One man’s throwaway data is another man’s content success story! Just be sure to cite your sources and give credit where it’s due.

For government data, check out data.gov or The Census Bureau. Global statistics can be found through UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Ultimately, you’ll have to find source data that relates to your industry and audience interests.

Want more ideas? Download our free guide here.

9. Lounge About on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a major social media site that is often under-utilized. Don’t just add network connections and sign out – join groups, enter into dialogue with connections, and share your blog posts. There’s a ton happening on LinkedIn, and it can be a great place to promote your content, share ideas, and build your brand. Larry recently shared some tips for getting more LinkedIn connections, and here are some ways to spruce up your LinkedIn profile if you’re a recent college grad.

marketing tactics for small budgets

10. Recycle Your Content. Just as you can repurpose existing data studies, you can rehash your old content into new creations as well! Turn a webinar into a video tutorial. Transform a collection of blog posts into an ebook. Never be afraid to mash-up your old content – chances are there will be a ton of people who never even saw your old stuff, so it’ll be a fresh, 100% new content piece for a large segment of your audience.

11. Develop a Customer Referral Program. Offer existing customers a free product, free month of service, or some other reward for referring new customers. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful stuff, so friends telling friends about your business is incredibly valuable.

12. Online Contests. You’ll need to cough up some dough for a prize, but the number of participants and new potential leads you get will be well worth the price. Really tight on budget? You don’t technically need a super expensive prize to get participants. Even a couple high-end water bottles or fancy backpacks might be enough of a draw for some users.

Not sure how to host a contest? Go with Rafflecopter – they make it super easy to set up a contest and embed the contest entry form on your website.

marketing for limited budgets

13. Industry Partnerships. Team up with a business related to your industry (but not a direct competitor) for a joint project. This can be done locally offline through some kind of special event, or online with a webinar or promotional giveaway.

Partnering with another business means twice as much notice. If you’re partnering with an industry-relevant business, you’re getting introduced to a whole new audience related to your niche. People pay big money for that kind of access! 

14. Apply Online for Business Awards. Most industries have business awards you can win, providing you with an online badge you can place on your website. Badges like these can boost credibility, and as a result, increase sales.

marketing on a budget

If there aren’t any awards for your industry, host your own! You’ll get a ton of attention from other industry businesses who want to apply for your award, which means even more connections and more possible future collaborations!

Local Marketing Ideas for Limited Budgets

Local marketing can often be less expensive than massive online campaigns. Your reach is smaller, but if your business is regional, there’s no better (or cheaper) way to build your business. Here are 69 MORE ways to boost your business. 

15. Awesome Business Cards. Get yourself some snazzy business cards, then give them to every person you lay eyes on.  Every handshake should come with a business card. The more people who find out about your business, the better – even if it’s just a quick glance at a business card.

budget marketing ideas

(from flickr user jnyemb)

16. Guerilla Marketing. Guerilla marketing emphasizes creativity over budget, and strategies are often cheap and easy to implement, especially when localized. Broadcast your Twitter handle with sidewalk chalk, use an abandoned storefront as a canvas for street art, or plaster custom stickers on urban décor that makes those who stroll by look twice. There’s a ton of room for invention here, and you don’t need a big budget to be successful. We did a massive post about guerilla marketing recently, detailing a bunch of strategies and examples you should check out if you want to learn more!

17. Host an Event or Class. Plan an event or class to host, then print out flyers and post them on community bulletin boards (libraries, coffee shops, local colleges and adult ed centers). While most community bulletin boards won’t let you post business advertisements, they’re often more than happy to post a flyer promoting an educational event or class. 

18. Business Card Drawing. Put a fishbowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in for a chance to win something from you (for example, a restaurant might offer a free pizza party).

marketing tactics for small businesses

At the end of the month you’ve collected a ton of business cards, and while you can only have one winner, there’s no reason those other business cards have to go to waste. Use the email addresses provided to let users know that while they haven’t won this time, they are more than welcome to join your mailing list, which will notify them of future giveaways and special offers.

Check out 24 more restaurant marketing ideas here.

19. Email Marketing. Email marketing is a great way to get new visitors engaged with your business, as well as maintain relationships with your existing customers.

budget marketing tactics

Get new website visitors to sign up for your newsletter by offering a bonus content piece for subscribing (e.g. get your free ebook detailing how to make a homemade pizza when you sign up for our First Slice newsletter). Slowly nurture your subscribers via email until they are ready to become paying customers. Start your email campaigns with a free email marketing service like MailChimp.

20. Car Magnets for the Company Car. Slap a magnetic sign on your company car to build brand awareness as you drive around town (just be sure to obey traffic laws). Bumper stickers and window decals work as well!

21. Give Away Balloons at Local Events. Get a few hundred custom balloons printed with your business name, rent a helium tank, and watch the smiles roll in.

marketing strategies for small businesses

(balloons = happiness)

Kids love balloons. Adults love them too, but are embarrassed to admit it. Stop the shame – balloons and bubbles will always be awesome, it’s OK to say so. You’ll have a bunch of happy people marching around with your brand floating above their heads, all for less than $200.

22. Join in on Local Contests. Consider donating a product or service of yours as a prize in a local contest or event.

Low-Budget Small Business Marketing Ideas [Summary]

Here are all 22 ideas to market your small business:

  1. Publish great content
  2. Create helpful instructional videos
  3. Get ad promo credits
  4. Use Reddit for marketing
  5. Be a savvy social networker
  6. Try StumbleUpon advertising
  7. Make DIY infographics
  8. Refresh old data
  9. Lounge about on LinkedIn
  10. Recycle your content
  11. Develop a customer referral program
  12. Hold online contests
  13. Develop industry partnerships
  14. Apply online for business awards
  15. Create eye-catching business cards
  16. Leverage guerilla marketing
  17. Host an event or class
  18. Host a business card drawing
  19. Engage in email marketing
  20. Use car magnets for company vehicles
  21. Give away balloons at local events
  22. Join in on local contests

Any low-budget marketing tactics we missed? What works for your small business?

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Oct 03, 2014

These are very useful Ideas!!, thank you very much fro the post! 

Oct 10, 2014

Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and detailed information you present. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

Oct 14, 2014

very very good idea, i will use it for my bussiness, thank you very much.

Oct 14, 2014

very very good, some i never think about it, thank you very much , i will used it to promote my bussinessthanks

rudy ferrara
Oct 15, 2014

Hi thanks for your excellent artcle on multichannel marketing I' trying to help a friend improve his mexican restaurant.  los comales in east chicago, indiana.  I came across the above url that shows how easy chair media helped sir jalapenos do it on a shoestring budget and i'm wondering ifit can be duplicated for my friend cristians restaurant. I esp like their mult media approach and verifiable results which is always a good selling point. Thanks for any hep youo may give sincerely,rud ferrara

Nov 12, 2014

I'm amazed that there is still so much available to be done if only there was more time in a day..Thanks for the infomation & am glad to say I can tick several of those boxs already, now to organise & tick off a frw more..Cheers

Nov 20, 2014

Useful info.  Thanks

Jan 02, 2015

I think another topic that should be added is hustle. Doesn't cost a thing but always proves to have the best results.

Jan 06, 2015

These are some great ideas! I will definitely look to start implementing some of these for my business.

Cynthia www.profitacademy.com
Jan 13, 2015

Meagan, thank you for sharing these valuable tips with the "internet universe." Small business owners most definitely have a challenge marketing their business with little money to spend. Another good tactic I would suggest is a joint venture campaign with someone that already has a list of prospects like your target market. Ask them if they can invite their list to your webinar. You could offer a shared revenue from any business acquired from that webinar as a thank you...or you could send them a nice gift.

Feb 01, 2015

But a smiling visitor here to share the love , btw outstanding layout. eekadeefgfde

Feb 02, 2015

Well written article for the small business that is looking for creative ways to market without breaking the bank. I would add QR codes to this mix since they can lead back to a video, website or automatically call a business once scanned. They can be found free of charge on many sites. Any business that has a small budget can also implement mobile marketing with short codes and keywords again some sites allow for the first 50 texts free and then after that you will have to pay, but you can also find companies that offer it relatively cheap. Lastly you can add your business to local business directories for free in most cases. Good luck and never give up on your dream...

Paul Sarwana
Feb 16, 2015

Don't forget about guest posting on high traffic blogs (of course ones with relevant target audiences). This strategy is good for branding and exposure as well as for getting new prospects.

Jul 09, 2016

Very good article. I will be experiencing a few of these isssues as well..

Mar 01, 2015

I don't get it, the first one, the often talked about, "content" is king, it just doesn't make any sense, I have been blogging for over two years now and though I get quite a lot of gpluses, likes etc my daily website traffic is 50 to 70 views per day...

Can you tell me what's with my approach ??? And I am not making any money out of blogging, I love marketing albeit the traditional side , don't know much about the seo stuff and all this online marketing, but please can you just tell me one thing if I focus on, for like a month I would see some results ??? please help me... check my blog and see if it really worth it...

Mar 16, 2015

What about creating a cool short video? This requires some time and investment, but it works. Everyone loves watching cool videos. You need to be creative - creativity always pays off. Once your video is ready you can use it as a video-ad on YouTube's paid advertising program for example, if you're tight on budget simply set it to whatever daily budget you're feeling comfortable with, that'll deliver prospects right to your website.

Apr 19, 2015

This is really outstanding information. But I am little confused... "Online Contests" is really work?

Apr 30, 2015

Yes, every business starters should have funds you can use. So if you have a very limited budget, the tips you gave are worth trying. Good job.

Jun 30, 2015

All are great ideas. Some of them are useful to increase the eCommerce sales. Paid search advertising is another useful way for eCommerce business, ppc management company helping for that.

Jul 15, 2015

Thank you for these great ideas - from a google search a lot of the previous websites seem to copy each other or just repeat old generic ideas - here you have some genuinely different and interesting ideas. And thanks for links on attempting a DIY infographic.

Jul 17, 2015

Great tips here,I'm stuck with trying to get more traffic to my site, the content is good,but need more eyeballs.

I was thinking of using cheap ads.


Kathy Casale
Jul 24, 2015

Join a networking group. You will have to try several to find the right fit for you and your business, but it is worth the time and money. On the money side, more money does not mean a better fit for your business or your personality. I sat in on some very expensive groups that were not to my liking. Finally found one that is not only very reasonable, it is a great fit for my personality and my business.

Aug 04, 2015

Excellent ideas and some very interesting takeaways! Thank you for sharing!

Camilla Carboni
Sep 01, 2015

Excellent list, thank you Megan! My business is centered around empowering Small Businesses to build their brand and I will definitely be sharing this article.

Sep 10, 2015

Thanks for this helpful hints! I run a small business and I'm using GetResponse to manage my newsletters and now I know that I should also create accounts on Reddit and Linkedin.

Sep 15, 2015

Very helpful article! I will try online contest for my website..

Agnes Josef
Sep 16, 2015

Excellent article! I wonder how many of them am using for my business. I will definitely make sure that I use the above-listed activities to promote my business.

How ever first one is my favourite activity.

Oct 02, 2015

In addition to using Google + as a social site, it's also great for promoting your overall business with contact info, location, operating hours and reviews. I recommend that small businesses take the time to search for their business and see what shows up in the business profile that Google displays (shown on right side screen next to search results). If any of the info is not correct, or if there's no info at all, it might be a good idea to setup or log in to your Google account and update/add info to your Business section.

Eliza Cranston
Oct 26, 2015

Thank you for the marketing tips! I have a small business and I agree that it is essential to have an online presence. Do you know of any ways that I can get added to business listings online?

Kemya Scott
Nov 04, 2015

This is a great list! I'd also add guest posting on high profile blogs in your industry. You benefit from their reach, get backlinks, and exposure to a wider audience. And bragging rights to add to your "As Seen On" banner!

Nov 06, 2015

Advertising for free is another obvious guerrilla marketing tactic that shouldn't be overlooked. It fell off the radar a little a few years ago with all the spam, but things got better in 2014 when they cracked down big time on posting rules.

I get about a dozen solid leads a day from Craigslist. You gotta be a little crafy ... we use a free auto-posting tool from http://clautopilot.net to load up 4 separate accounts to post a dozen ads from ... but with minimal setup and major payback, it's the best free tool we use.

Nov 10, 2015

Great ideas and very well presented. Thank you for sharing them.

Dec 03, 2015

EVERYTHING I JUST READ IS EXCELLENT! I am a PR major and these are things I'm currently recommending to my boss for her business!

Jan 14, 2016

TYPO NAZI - I would be happy to help you edit and proof your website!

Jan 21, 2016

Thank you ! Lots off great ideas need more like yous for people like us not in the no !

Jan 30, 2016

Great content

Feb 04, 2016

Good article, thank you!!!

Mar 03, 2016

These are really some great source of information. Thanks a lot for sharing this.

Tara, Bizbilla.

Mar 14, 2016

i'm sorry because its not a comment but i need your help. i am marketing intern and i need to know and gain experience as intern so please can you tell me more about the duty of marketing manager.

Tonnelle Owens
Mar 23, 2016

Looking to see if you have Monthly Programs to Help out with our online presence. I have already set up our Google ad words. Please provide your rates and all services offered

Mar 30, 2016

After reading a ton of useless 'strategies' fueled by deep pocket. This article has not wasted my time! Thank you for sharing useful tips!

Apr 11, 2016

In my opinion FB is the best marketing marketing engine. It can generate traffic and leads from Your friends.
And is much more cost effective than traditional form of advertisment. Its really worth to learn how to promote contant there. I also like Instagram- best chanell to promote visual content.

Apr 26, 2016

Thank you, excellent article!

Matt Coco
May 02, 2016

How did email marketing get to 19???

May 17, 2016

A very well written article.Thank you for the useful tips and insights .Got to know things in little details as far as brand promotion goes.
Thanks once again

Jun 03, 2016

Very helpful marketing tips. High quality directory submissions work well for SaaS companies.

Soniya Pradhan
Jun 04, 2016

Thanks for these ideas. I have just started a new online business so, this post is like a boon for me at this stage. I am following these ideas properly and email marketing was the best from the list. I started email marketing using MailGet and getting good results. Thanks again.

Ju Dee
Jun 08, 2016

Very useful and great ideas.

Jul 05, 2016

This is a very useful information. We are offering affordable online services, just in case you need one.

Aug 12, 2016

Hi Megan, these are some awesome tactics. I have also enlisted few guidelines on my blog, Online Marketing approach for Small Businesses. Hope you like them.