8 Marketing Tips When You’re on a Shoestring Budget

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You don’t have all this cash to throw around when starting a small business. When I started my business, I held onto each penny, trying my best to invest it in things that would help my business grow. 

And that’s what most small business owners are like. Are we cheap? No! But we don’t have the budget to hire a team to do the work for us. And if you’re in that position right now, I feel ya. 

Here’s the thing, while you don’t necessarily have the budget to take your business to the next step, you need to attract customers and land sales. So, what are your options? Take out a loan to hire a marketing team? Oh no. Please, save your money.

There are some crucial steps you can use to take your business to the next level while on a shoestring budget. And the good news is that these steps I’m going to share with you are (mostly) free. Can I get an amen?

8 Marketing Strategies to Use When You’re on a Budget

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You’re in a position right now that may feel like you have no choice but to spend a lot of money on your marketing plan. But here’s the thing, many successful businesses start without a marketing budget. 

Instead, they focus on the free (or cheap) resources available to them. And trust me, there are a lot of ways to market your business on a shoestring budget. 

Build a marketing strategy

When you’re thinking about how to market your business on a shoestring budget, it can feel overwhelming. But that’s because you don’t have a marketing strategy.

A marketing strategy gives you a game plan of how you will connect and attract customers. In a marketing strategy, you establish your audience persona, find out who your audience is, where your audience hangouts online, and their interests. With this information, you then create a plan of how you’ll connect with them and give them valuable content. 

A marketing strategy isn’t something I suggest lightly – it’s a must. Why? Because it’s your foundation. It helps you connect with your target audience, tells you where to invest your marketing budget, and gives you the data you need to help your business grow.

Get blogging

Most small business owners overlook the power of blogging. But listen, you’re missing out on potential business if you don’t have a blog on your website. It’s a must. 

While you may think it’s a waste of time, a blog does a couple of things for your business (and for free, if I do say so myself):

But listen, your blog shouldn’t be some recycled text you saw online. If you want to stand out in your industry, you should bring something new to the table. But I’m not saying you have to come up with a completely new idea that no one’s ever heard of.

For example, if you want to write a post titled, “Why Vegan Candles are Healthy For You,” do it. But bring something new to the article itself, and add extra value. It could be an interview with a doctor, a personal story from one of your customers, or a new fact about vegan candles and their health benefits.

Creating high-value content will improve your brand awareness, build trust and convert leads into customers. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

Don’t skip the email marketing

It’s so easy to avoid email marketing, especially when you’re just starting out. Maybe you only have a few customers, so you’re thinking what’s the point?  But email marketing isn’t just to attract new customers; it’s also to nurture the relationships of your existing customers. 

You can create email marketing campaigns for promotions, referrals, blog posts, and showcase new products. Email marketing can be used for any marketing purpose.

Keep your business fresh in the customer’s mind while building brand trust and growth. And since most email marketing services are free for small businesses, it’s low-risk. 

Create a Google business profile

While we’re on this roll about free marketing tools, do you have a Google business profile

A Google Business Profile is a free listing tool that Google gives to business owners. It helps customers find you on Google Search and Maps.

As a business, you can post photos, add your location and working hours, and any unique features about your company (ex., veteran-owned, woman-owned, etc.). You can also engage with customers, answering publicly posted questions or private messages. 

You also get insights into your local search performance, how customers find your business profile on Google, and how your photos perform. 

In other words, if you don’t have a Google Business Profile, it’s time you created one (oh, and just a reminder: it’s free!).

Convert customers to advocates

You may have a couple of customers already, and if you do, great! If not, don’t worry, by following some of these tips, you’ll start to attract customers.

With the customers you do have, turn them into advocates for your business. Give them hashtags to use on social media, encourage them to make an unwrapping story or a before and after story on IG or TikTok, create a fun IG Reel they can copy, or offer discounts if they make a post about your product or service.

instagram.com/olyabar

Getting your customers to engage with your business helps build word-out-mouth marketing and brand trust. Once people start to see their friends and family using your products or services, they’re more likely to jump on board.

Let’s look at the post above. This woman took a photo of herself holding a product from Lavido Natural Skincare. And while she’s the one getting likes, she’s exposing this skincare brand. From this one post, this skincare brand gets visibility from her audience, gaining customer trust and leads. 

Because if she’s using their product, then it must be good. Right?

Collaborate with other small businesses

You’re not the only small business out there (I don’t have to tell you that). There are millions of small businesses, all looking to expand their audiences and gain new customers. So, why not work together?

Find other local businesses (non-competitive ones) that will benefit from working with you. Together you can collaborate, creating bundle promotions, discounts, and social media posts to share your audiences with each other. 

Take advantage of social media

There’s no doubt that you’re on social media – who isn’t? But are you using social media to your advantage? 

And if you’re wondering how to do that, well, start with a marketing strategy. Yup, you can’t escape it. A marketing strategy will help you understand where you need to invest your time online. TikTok? LinkedIn? Instagram? Facebook? By finding out where your audience hangs out online and what content they like, you can start to think about creating content.

But once you’ve done all that, now it’s time to really use social media. Every post made on social media should be intentional. What’s the goal of this post? What do you want to achieve? Is your goal to increase engagement? Sales?

So, for example, if your goal is to increase engagement, make a fun Reel about your industry or a pain point the customer has. If you want to increase sales, showcase a new product with a live stream Q&A. Social media is a huge (and free) tool right in the palm of your hand…literally. 

Keep up with the personal touch

You want your customers to connect with your business, right? That means going the extra mile to focus on bringing that personal touch to your brand. 

Engage with your customers on social media, make your email marketing personal and fun, and remember that storytelling is a powerful tool to help people relate to your brand. 

For example, anyone can write a caption using an inspirational quote. But if you want to use that quote, add a story about yourself or your business. It humanizes the brand and makes your business more relatable.

Over to You

The marketing world makes it seem like we need to invest thousands of dollars in hiring the right people to get our businesses seen. But that’s not the case. In reality, you can increase your business’s visibility and sales just by using these free tools. 

So what’s next? Start from the ground up. It’s time for you to create a marketing plan. Once you have one, you can start using these tips to build your business. 

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Natasha Ivanovic

Natasha Ivanovic is a Vancouver-born creative writer that started her writing career as a freelancer while studying for her Master’s in Investigative Psychology. On the weekends, she writes short stories for her blog, TheLonelySerb, and cuddles with her bulldog, Bob.