12 Ways to Market Your Small Business on a Shoestring Budget

Are you struggling to reach customers this year? What about worrying about making rent to keep your doors open? You're not alone. With government-imposed shutdowns and restrictions still underway, small businesses are still cutting costs to remain viable.

If these restrictions are forcing you to cut your marketing budget, don’t fret! You can still generate brand awareness, leads, and sales for your small business.

Business owner relaxing looking out at some mountains

Take a breath, and instead of fixating on your budget limitations, focus on your customers. What you need is to redefine your content creation and promotion strategy to be more personal. In fact, 56% of marketers believe personalized content marketing can boost brand engagement.

With these 12 marketing tips, you can reach customers, spark their interest, and start attracting fresh leads. All while reducing or at least containing your marketing budget! You can improve your ROI while growing your business without stressing about overspending.

Are you ready to kick 2021 into high gear? Give your small business marketing the turbo boost it needs with these 12 easy marketing strategies for a shoestring budget.

1. Produce (cheaply) and Share Engaging Videos

Let’s face it, you should have been doing this a long time ago. Not only do videos provide fun, interactive ways people can view your business, they also are loved by the Google Gods. Perhaps the leads were coming in from other avenues so much so that you didn’t feel the need to dedicate that time. However, with the possible reduction of ad spending, suddenly something “free” should move up your priority list.

A couple looking awkward in a holiday photo
They aren't shy, neither should you be!

Keeping up with the latest content marketing trends can help you appear relevant and engaging with customers. Videos provide you with a method to display your company’s personality. No longer are you merely a cold, heartless sign on the street. NOW you’re the silly group of people working to create a positive environment for your customers. Make sure to include your entire team so that viewers see employees that are normally behind the scenes. Videos don't have to add anything to your budget to start creating content, either.

Go ahead and grab your smartphone, tripod, and start rolling!

Video content is becoming even more popular this year. In fact, almost 70% of consumers prefer video over text to learn about a product or service. Adding video to your website landing pages can even boost conversions by 86%.

As an added bonus, once you produce the content, you can use the videos for your search engine optimization strategy, pay-per-click advertising landing pages, and emails. They can help you draw in a fresh audience through social media, too.

In fact, almost 90% of marketers are satisfied with their video social media marketing ROI.

More importantly to this article, you don't need expensive software or equipment to create an engaging video. Your modern phone, a phone tripod, and maybe a microphone are all you need! Also, consider different video formats you can experiment with, including:

infographic with a list of video formats against a mountain backdrop

In order to choose your format, focus on your target audience. What do they care about? What do they want to gain from your videos?

Keep your videos personal, fun, and engaging. Then, use the tools at your disposal to clean up your videos and start posting!

2. Publish Quality Blog Posts

small business owner kicked back reading a helpful blog

One quick, easy way to prove the value of this item is to remind you that you’re reading OUR blog post. We have created content that hopefully you enjoy and provides you knowledge. Chances are high that there are people out there with needs for whom you could provide solutions.

Let’s start by conducting some keyword research to learn more about your target audience. The idea here is to find the terms that people literally type in to find the solution they are looking for. Something like: “why is my AC blowing hot air?” If you’re a HVAC service company, you can bet the farm you’d love your blog, and therefore your service, to pop up. How you do that is to write a blog that answers that literal question.

For a great example here at Out of the Box Advisors, we wrote a blog a while back titled: “Empowering Questions to Ask Your Business Coach” The idea that we were trying to solve was for business owners who are paying for a business coach but don’t know how to maximize their benefit.

An image with blogs ranked in a report
Blogs Can Help People Find You

By doing the research for what people search for, we have positioned our post to rank second among 92 Million+ results! Not trying to brag, just trying to show you the power of blogs!

We prefer SEMRush for our keyword research, but you can use any tool you prefer. Google has a free one built into Google Ads as well. Focus on long-tail phrases, like above, that have a high search volume and low competition versus short keywords like “Air conditioner.”

Then, start creating content with these keywords in mind.

Business guy about to chow down on a big burger
No... EAT, not eat.

You can improve your ranking on search engines like Google by appealing to EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness). As you create your blog posts, show readers your unique expertise by using examples from your own experiences. Use data, studies, and research to support your ideas to build your authority on the subject.

But the primary focus on the blog should NOT be to get a sale. You want to solve the question they were looking for and then gently guide them to contacting you. This builds trustworthiness for both the consumer and the search engines.

Potential customers will start to see you as a helpful, credible resource within your industry. As more people visit your website, your search ranking will improve. Then, you can generate more traffic and leads!

3. Use Search Engine Optimization

Snake oil salesman holding a bottle of SEO oil
Don't trust 'em

This one should be a no brainer seeing as though you probably get a call at least once a day from some company promising you the world with SEO. Except this article is more about doing more for less and if you do it right and put the personal time in you can control some of your SEO destiny with minimal costs. If the budget allows however, absolutely consider a company that specializes… just be careful, there a TON of SEO Snake Oil companies out there.

About 60% of marketers say inbound marketing is their best source of leads. With search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing, the idea is to draw more people to your website. Once there, you can convert these visitors into leads and customers!

The basics:

SEO efforts are designed to boost your website's ranking on search engines like Google. If you can reach the top of the page, consumers will see your business first. You can appear in front of competitors, making your business look like a credible resource within your niche.

paper craft rocket taking off
It's not rocket science!

In fact, about 93% of all global website traffic starts from Google Search, Images, or Maps. If you're struggling to reach consumers on a tight budget, SEO can help. Doing it in house can be “free,” with the obvious costs being your time as the business owner. But when things are tight, we do what we must to grow under the given conditions.

Search engine optimization is a long-term marketing strategy. Improving your ranking for a number of search keywords can expand your reach and ROI over time. Once things turn around economically you can then hire a specialist to maintain your momentum.

To optimize your content for SEO, use your target keywords in the:

  • Page title

  • URL

  • Header / sub-header

  • Opening and closing paragraphs

  • Body text

  • Image alt text

Don’t forget to keep up with the latest, ever changing SEO trends, too.