Small business marketing ideas that are affordable

Do you have a limited budget for marketing your business? Here are some low-cost, creative marketing ideas.

Start with the basics

It’s important to have the basic marketing elements of your small-business in place before you start.

Understanding your Unique Selling Proposition

Your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is what makes your business unique. You may have a unique service or feature that you only offer or a different way of working. Here are some USP examples:

  • Carpenters with a 10-year guarantee on their work
  • Web designer specializing in e-commerce
  • The bakery sources its ingredients exclusively from organic farms in the local area

You can use your USP to build your elevator pitch and everything else you do!

Perfect your elevator pitch

Your elevator pitch is the answer to, “So, what do do?” It’s a short, compelling description that will highlight your USP. This should encourage interest and further discussion. An elevator pitch could be, for example:

“I run a bakery named Lovely Cakes, which creates organic wedding and celebration cakes. All of our ingredients are organic and purchased at a fair price from local farmers. Reed farms are a local farm that you may have heard of. “That’s where our eggs come from.”

Make sure you don’t sound overly rehearsed.

You may be surprised by how many places online and off you can apply your elevator pitch or USP. Use modified versions on your social media profiles and advertising copy, as well as for flyers and business cards. They’ll be a solid foundation for all of your other marketing efforts.

Marketing ideas that are low-cost

1. Social media: Do something amazing

If you’re short on time, you should focus on one thing you can do really well. This letterbox-brownie company, for example, posts photos of its products. So far, so normal. But, they usually add some humour, or personality to show the person behind the business.

2. Run competitions or donate a prize

People love to win things, so running a contest for a prize that people want is a good way to promote your brand. It could be a product, service, or even a simple prize. You can reap the rewards without spending a fortune if you ask people to do things in exchange for their entry, such as like and share your page, subscribe to your newsletter, or simply give you their email.

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3. Your logo in the real world

Don’t just focus on online recognition, also make sure to promote your brand in the real world! These ideas are not expensive: print advertising, business cards and magazine/newspaper articles, as well as corporate branding at events. Here are some ideas for offline marketing campaigns.

4. Encourage your family and friends as advocates for your business

They are not only a good source of information, but they can also be a free way to build your brand. Give them business cards, flyers, and anything else they may need to help promote your company to people they deal with and meet every day. This is a cheap and effective way to expand your network and introduce your business to people you might not otherwise have met.

5. Attend networking events

Don’t just rely on social media to build your network. Also, don’t overlook the traditional “face-to face” networking! There are many smaller, less expensive events that you can attend on sites such as Meetup.com. Bring a stack business cards with you and prepare your elevator pitch. Attending networking events can help to build your reputation, create relationships, and find new business opportunities. Check out for our top dos and donts so you can prepare in advance.

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6. Organise a coffee or meetup for your clients

It’s not just important for you to network, but also for your clients. Why not host a low-budget coffee morning or meetup to make it easier for your clients to network? Invite your clients to your office or meet in a café for an hour. Pour the espresso, and choose a topic to discuss. Make it a regular meeting that everyone puts on their calendar. Consider alternating the hosting duties in order to keep costs down.

7. Refer a friend scheme

Why not encourage your customers to refer their friends? A referral program could increase your sales and help create buzz about your business. Be sure to factor in how much you will have to pay for these discounts, and that your business is able.

8. Take part in local and industry competitions

You can use awards to boost your credibility and promote your business. Look for awards in your field and also local or regional ones. Even if you don’t make it to the finals, but are on the shortlist, you can use the nomination for your marketing materials or website. This could help you raise the profile of your business.

9. Watch out for special events, fairs or shows

There are plenty of opportunities for small businesses to gain from trade events. If you’re able to, keep an eye out for events in your locality and try to secure a space or table at a trade event where you can showcase your products. Local fairs and shows will be cheaper to exhibit at and better suited for your business. You can find lower exhibitor rates by waiting until the last moment. Or you could partner with another company to split the costs. Even if you cannot afford to exhibit you can attend the event as a member. This is a great opportunity for networking. Don’t forget to bring a lot of business cards.

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