14 Effective Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

When a company is small, making your name known can become tricky, especially if the marketing budget is also limited.

From the announcement of a new product on social media to the personalization of the stand at an event, it is essential to make yourself heard and see well.

And often, it is precisely small ideas that bring great results. Are you wondering how to promote your business without having a big budget? We are here to help you.

Why Invest in Small Business Marketing?

Do not be afraid that you have allocated only a few funds to the promotion: if done in the best way, marketing for small businesses also works on a low budget. You will need:

1. make you more visible to potential customers

2. have a range of useful tools and platforms to define your brand

3. learn to understand how customers see your products and your brand

4. add value, attract and entertain your customers, primarily through content and social media marketing

5. get new skills and useful contacts.

Combined Marketing Strategies 2020

Before you start outlining your marketing strategies, stop to think about how to combine offline and online tools.

It doesn’t matter what your preferred approach is since you need to be able to get the best of both. It is important to learn how to make the most of them: here’s how.

  • Online Marketing takes place in the digital world and includes social media, website, email, and online advertising.


  • Offline Marketing is based on activities carried out in the “real world,” through the printing of promotional materials, retail, and fairs.

Read on to find out the most common methods for both approaches, offline and online, along with marketing ideas for small businesses that you can put into practice even on a tight budget.

Social Media Tips for 2020

When it comes to marketing, social media weighs a lot. They are free, offer statistics that are simple to interpret and put you in communication with a vast and loyal audience. That’s why they are the right place to put economic marketing strategies into practice.

1. Choose a Platform that’s Good for You and Your Audience

Marketing ideas for small businesses become successful on social media if you already know how to move on the chosen platform. Search for the social media channels you already use and check if your audience is active there too.

If not, broaden your range exploring new digital beaches, you may find that changing the air now and then can do you right.

2. Focus on Visual Content

As the online attention threshold decreases more and more, image feeds such as Pinterest or Instagram allow you to create fast and immediate content, capable of attracting attention, but also of communicating your message.

We advise you to take care of your updates with a mix of content to inspire and promotional links to your products and services.

3. Add Value to Instagram Stories

The stories on Instagram are the trend of the moment, and the brands, small or large, are looking for creative solutions to use this “social media within another social media.”

An Instagram Story is short by nature since it disappears after a day (although you can highlight it or repurpose it to insist on an important message). It is perfect for communicating product news, offering a behind-the-scenes look, or answering follower questions.

4. Add Images to the Blog

Make your blog more attractive, thanks to quality photos and visual content. Not only do they break the text and keep interest high, but they also help customers better understand your products and services.

If you have the resources to make it, even an infographic could be perfect for conquering readers.

Infographics allow you to illustrate or explain an idea or process through a graphic image. Since they are easy to read and help to understand the content better, they are one of the most shared formats: that’s why they can’t be missing on your blog.

5. Expand Your Audience with Guest Posting

Bloggers can join forces to reach more readers: just get hosted on someone else’s blog and then return the courtesy. Guest posting, as this practice is called, allows you to make your name known to an audience that perhaps did not yet know you, but who could be interested in what you have to offer.

This type of partnership allows you to access a wider audience, but it is also a fun way to network. Find potential partners using hashtags on social media, such as #foodblogger.

6. Show Your Readers’ Content

From the outset, blogs have staked everything on building a community of readers. Celebrate your customers and fans by posting the content they have posted to your blog.

It is also an advantageous way to enhance your product since you can include reviews, advice from those who have used your products and services and share the stories of those who have obtained great benefits. Collecting all these types of content on your blog makes them more visible and less “passenger” than publishing on social media.

Email Marketing Tips

Encourage customers to subscribe to your newsletter (perhaps including articles from the fantastic blog you are dedicating yourself to), and you will have many more opportunities to attract their attention without spending a penny.

If you don’t know anything about digital marketing, don’t be put off by too specific terminology: yes, we are talking about conversion rates, click-through rates, and engagement.

Start with the simple things, and if you find that email marketing is for you, then you can start evaluating everything else. Here are some tips for a winning email marketing strategy.

1. Form and Substance

Earn the space you deserve in your readers’ box, thanks to content that deserves to be read. It can be news about your business, a selection of interesting readings from the web or exclusive promotions, and early access to sales: in any case, your emails must be awaited with great interest by your customers.

Remember, many of your readers consult email from their smartphone, so make sure the template is meant for desktop and mobile.

2. Plan a Drip Campaign

The term “drip campaign” means a set of emails that are automatically sent to your subscribers in response to certain actions. In a nutshell, they allow you to spend less time on email campaigns using automation.

For example, it may be an email sent automatically when someone registers or when they haven’t opened your emails for some time.

You can also use the behaviours on your site, such as shopping, browsing specific pages, to schedule automatic submission.

3. Use Segmentation to Communicate the Right Message

Email marketing is a great strategy in providing you with information on the segments that make up your audience. In addition to separating information emails from promotional emails, divide your list according to the different behaviours.

Write specific content for each group of readers, such as customers who have already purchased new members, and those who have not bought for a long time. You will certainly have to spend more time writing, but you will have more effective email marketing campaigns.

Offline Marketing Strategies and Techniques 

Small business owners can take their business to a new level by using offline marketing tactics as the primary local strategy.

It may be that this type of marketing reaches a less vast audience than the digital one, but it can offer you quality results in terms of customer loyalty and business relationships with other small businesses. And there are also many possibilities for those with a low marketing budget: some are even free.

Use the Affiliate System

A winning and economical marketing idea is to team up with other small businesses to promote each other. Knowledge of the territory, customers, and the shared community can turn affiliate programs into an excellent opportunity for small business owners.

If the two companies are not in direct competition, there is no risk of losing sales opportunities: indeed, it is possible to increase one’s audience and improve convenience for customers.

1. Offer an Affiliate Discount

Recommend an affiliate partner to your customers and offer a discount if they mention your name. It works well for companies that have a shared audience, such as real estate agents and interior designers. For example, a designer could offer a 10% discount on furniture to clients of the real estate partner.

A reciprocal affiliate program like this is very attractive to new customers for two reasons: they can save money and even waste less time doing shopping searches.

2. Team up with Paper Marketing

Offline marketing ideas often include printing, and there is a good reason to do this. The printed material makes a nice impression and lasts longer than online content, as well as stimulating other sensory levels.

It can reach people that no online marketing campaign could touch, such as those who do not use social media or those who have escaped the attention of the other campaigns that we have listed.

But what to do in case the budget for marketing ideas is low? You can use your affiliate network to share the cost of printing flyers, Postcards, and posters, using them to promote the group of companies.

This could mean including a shared logo for your network (if it includes few businesses) or allocating half a page or a section of the poster to your partner in exchange for his participation in printing costs.

Public Relations Advice

Making your small business known to the local media can offer great benefits. In addition to increasing the sense of authority of your company, it can make you known to a wider audience.

It also helps people connect with those who work for your brand and even increases trust. To take advantage of this low-cost marketing strategy, however, you have to “make the news” for the right reasons. Try one of these little public relations strategies…

1. End Press Releases

A press release is a form of marketing aimed at journalists. It is a short article that reports news about your product or brand, intending to invite journalists to talk about you. Writing a press release about your business can be a great low-cost marketing idea.

You may have to spend some time compiling your list of journalists and bloggers, but one or two of them just need to talk about you to achieve a result, especially if they do it in their reference channels, and you can share the news about yours.

Make sure to send the press release only to journalists in your industry and to follow the best methodology to introduce the topic.

2. Try to get Awards and Certifications

Nothing increases the authoritativeness of a brand more than an award received for its business. It seeks to obtain the awards and certifications that recognize excellence in areas such as customer service, innovation, and product quality. It is a great way to increase security in your vehicles and even the satisfaction of your team.

And then the awards and certifications are also good on promotional material and allow you to inspire a sense of trust in new customers. This increases economic results, especially if you have logos to insert that demonstrate your results.

3. Become a Protagonist at Events

We have already explored the benefits of public speaking for small businesses in marketing and public awareness. It is a brilliant way to make your voice heard locally, even if you have no news to report about your business. And, of course, it costs nothing. Read this article on how to find public speaking opportunities for small businesses.

How to Measure Your Marketing Strategies?

Why implement all these marketing strategies if you don’t measure results? Checking the success of your hard work will help you better understand your business, customers, and what works for your brand, to understand how to implement even more effective strategies in the future.

Fortunately, you can measure the results of your online and offline marketing campaigns without using expensive software. Here are some low-cost tools to get started:

1. Measure Your Results on Social Media with a Platform

There are a bunch of free platforms for measuring results on social media. Alternatively, you can also use free plans to get started. Popular sites include Hootsuite, Buffer, and Zoho. Start with a free program, and if you like, upgrade to a paid upgrade.

Many social media already have statistics systems that allow you to check the responses, engagement, and age of your audience. They are usually free and, therefore, excellent for small businesses that have a low marketing budget. Often, however, using an external platform is the best solution.

This is because using a third-party platform and you can compare different channels, as well as save time thanks to the automatic post scheduling tools. Many of these sites also offer a broader view of your audience to help you review your key performance indicators (KPI) campaigns and plan new ones.

2. View Your Site Statistics with Analytical Software

Google Analytics is the number one software for site statistics, but it is not the only one. Alternatives include Kissmetrics, Matomo, and Piwick. Whichever option you choose, always check the incoming links (who comes to your site from an external link), the views for the different pages, and the nationality of the visits.

3. Use CRM Program For Email Objective

A CRM (customer relationship management) is an essential program for email marketing, both to manage mailings and to check statistics on openings.

Mailchimp and Hubspot are two popular CRM platforms that offer free plans and integrated statistics tools. A CRM can also be used as an ideal platform for automatic marketing activity, thus allowing you to optimize your investment.

4. Explore Your Results Offline with Personalized Surveys and Codes

Even if offline marketing doesn’t offer you the same data measurement tools like digital marketing, you can still use some methods to verify its effectiveness.

Custom Codes

Add a personalized code to your marketing campaigns, so you can immediately recognize the customers who have taken advantage of your special offer thanks to a specific promotional channel.

For example, use the “POSTER” code for those who discover your offer through a poster. Once the promotion is over, you can compare the data for each channel and focus on what works best. Although it requires a discount to work, using custom codes is an easy way to optimize your marketing strategy.


The dear old survey can offer you much more useful information than you can imagine. And the beauty is that you can have quantitative and qualitative data: not only do you get grades, but also genuine opinions.

You can use free software plans like SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics to entice customers to have their say, test your marketing plan and advertising effectiveness, but also to increase brand awareness.