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Five Tips for Marketing Your Small Business
Without Breaking the Bank

See also: Marketing Skills

These are trying times for so many of us as employees, leaders and business owners. But in coming months, there will be the opportunity to re-enter and rebuild businesses. With that mindset, it is important to market products, services and brands in an economical way.

There are various ways to build and strengthen your business without breaking the bank, and below are five suggestions to consider.

No. 1: Social Media Presence

Having a social media presence, including a website for your small business, is a must these days. People turn to various social media channels – be it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – to learn about a company’s products, services, beliefs and backgrounds. Likewise, numerous review sites provide outlets for consumers to share praise or criticism of products and services, and provide an overall assessment of a transaction.

Having an online platform that allows you to interact with customers is very important. Facebook remains the most used social platform, with more than 2 billion monthly active users. Many small businesses also promote their brand, services, products and people through Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.

There are also opportunities for paid digital marketing via social media and online ads. But most small businesses (approximately 47%) spend less than $10,000 on digital marketing, with the majority using social media (62%) and a website (61%) to market themselves, according to Clutch’s 2018 Small Business Survey. If your budget allows, try some paid advertising on these media channels. I suggest making use of the “free” advertising social media platforms can provide. This way, you can keep your costs down while promoting your business’ products and services.

No. 2: Hyperlocal Advertising

Advertising in your local community is a great way to get your name and services out there. But, depending on where you live and the type of advertising you’re interested in, it can strain your budget. It may be important to think smaller and very localized.

There’s a HealthMarkets agent who swears by placing print ads in programs for his local high schools’ athletic activities, music programs and theater productions – a relatively inexpensive and effective way to be seen.

But consider broadening your options for the time being. What other local businesses or organizations could offer the same type of inexpensive exposure? Are there local youth groups you can sponsor at a low cost? What about community events that need advertisers? Can you run an ad in a local church bulletin or a homeowner’s association newsletter?

We will be gathering in these places at some point, and these programs and newsletters will have their captive audience once again. Look into the various options to support others throughout your community. In turn, you will gain their appreciation, respect and – hopefully –  business!



No. 3: Network & Build Relationships

You’re not the only small business owner or employee out there, so connect with others in a different industry who are in the same boat. Learn how they market, sell and grow their business. You may find something you can implement in your business!

Also, there are numerous professional organizations, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration community groups and various industry and trade groups, seeking new members or supporters. If there are events that host opportunities to speak to an audience – and you’re comfortable with that! – take advantage of that opportunity. Let others know who you are, what you do and how you can help them.

Of course, in our current environment, you may need to rely on virtual events. But also consider the future when you can meet face-to-face with these people and groups again. Continue to make those connections while staying home. Sure, it requires time and effort, but these are relatively easy – and free – ways for you to put yourself out there, lend your expertise and build your book of business.

No. 4: Give Referrals, Get Referrals

Ask your happiest customers to share three to five names of friends, family or associates they think will benefit from your services. Also ask them if they would be open to sharing a review or recommendation of your business online. In fact, 82% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and 81% of 18-to-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to a 2019 survey. Once you have that feedback, share it on your website and social media platforms.

In addition to using referrals, don’t forget the customer base you already have. Studies show it can cost between 4 and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Make sure you have practices in place to check in on your existing clients. Are there other services or products you can offer? Have their needs changed? Can you help them? This is a proactive way to maintain and build upon the client base you have.

No. 5: Community Involvement

Volunteering with a local non-profit organization – or monetarily giving back to one on behalf of your business – is a great way to put your name and services out there while helping others. Giving back is good for business: 85% of consumers have a more positive image of a company that gives to charity. Not only can that help create a positive image for your personal brand, but it will hopefully lead to more people wanting to do business with you.

Your contribution doesn’t have to break the bank. There are so many worthy organizations that are grateful for any amount of money, and others need extra hands at events. If you can find the time or budget to do either, you’re doing good for everyone involved.


These are unusual times for everyone – especially small business owners. But remaining positive and committed can help you come out on the other side of this pandemic with the will to rebuild and restore. I hope these tips help when it comes time to build and promote your small business again.


About the Author


David Peterson is the senior director of marketing and strategy at HealthMarkets, one of the largest independent health insurance agencies in the United States that distributes health, Medicare, life and supplemental insurance products from more than 200 companies.

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