13 Ways to Market a Small Business on a Tiny Budget

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With a small business, in nearly all cases your budget is going to be tight, at least when you are first starting off. Traditionally, most advertising has been costly, and the results hard to measure. Today, with the internet, a small business has access to cost-effective and trackable marketing tools that were unheard of only a few years ago.

Email marketing is best

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Out of all the different digital marketing channels that are available today, email is consistently rated as number one in providing small businesses with the highest return on investment. According to an eMarketer study, the median email marketing ROI average is an astounding 122%. That’s four times higher than any other digital marketing channel!

But the true value of email marketing is not only that it increases your initial company revenue, but your ROI actually continues to improve over the years. More and more consumers will continue to engage with the same brands after they find them useful and attractive, and they will continue using them on a regular basis. 

The high number of new email users not only contributes to marketing ROI, but email is actually quite affordable. This makes it a highly attractive option for any brand to grow into the future while reaching, engaging and expanding its audience. 

Email, however, is definitely not the only method you should use in promoting your small business online.  

Google places

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Google Places allows your business to be found much faster when searchers use Google to look for services like yours. It also places your business on Google Maps which can bring you even more business. Simply fill out the online form and register through Google’s confirmation process. Both Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo! have similar services. Take the time to register with all three.

SEO Optimization

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Optimizing your website is critical when people search for products and services that you sell online. The art of SEO has advanced over the years and is constantly changing, so research is key to finding the latest information on the best ways to make sure your website will do the best job possible performing on every search engine.

YouTube and Flickr

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Add information about your small business on YouTube and Flickr. Here’s where you can distribute promotional videos that will show your business in a creative way. Ads won’t work, but content that people enjoy viewing, and are relevant to your business, will definitely do the trick. A Flickr profile can also give your small business a place to show off photos of your business, and it should always link back to your business website.

Social media

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Social media today not only helps your small business gain exposure, but it’s also become a necessary investment for all businesses. When you involve your business with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, you can tie in ads and offers so potential customers will have a direct channel to you.

Create a blog

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A blog can not only help your small business get its name out to the world through followers, but it is also another way to connect more directly with potential consumers. Make sure that once you begin your blog that you constantly update your stream as often as possible. If followers don’t regularly find fresh, new, informative information on your site, they will leave and probably never return.

Join an online community


Whatever your business sells, there’s an online community that caters to it. The members there are going to be your choicest customers. Become involved. Post information about your business and then actively participate so you build rapport with everyone. Be an integral part of the community and passively promote your business with links to subjects they will be interested in learning about.

Brag about it

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Whenever your small business does anything newsworthy, let the world know by creating a press release. Press releases are a powerful media tool to help generate publicity for your business. You’ll find dozens of websites where you can insert your press releases, and always insert links back to your site.

Create the right pitch


The average attention span of a potential customer on the web is between six and eight seconds. That’s the time you have to create interest and keep them from leaving. Grab their attention immediately with a successful elevator pitch that hits your key points to intrigue potential customers and make them want to read further. 

Once you’ve successfully grabbed their attention, you will have about a minute to really sell them on your key products or services. Take time to craft a particularly effective elevator pitch that works for your business. The ROI will pay you huge benefits in the long run.

Invest in your community


Marketing online is great to produce orders for your small business to ship to customers far away from your business. But, if you want to sell to walk-in customers, you must find ways to create interest in your local community. Find out what’s going on nearby and participate to get your name in front of potential customers who will then walk in your door.

Sponsor local charities, Little League Baseball, or any sports or human-interest activity that will make your small business a part of the community. Understand who your ideal customers are and think about how they spend their spare time. Then, search for unique and exciting opportunities to pass on your marketing message so potential customers will remember and buy from you instead of your competition.

Collaborate with other businesses

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Look for other businesses in your area that don’t compete with you. Work out agreements to cross-promote each other. Bundle promotions. Coordinate with them on coupons and fliers, and create backlinks on each other’s websites. Try using any method possible to work with other businesses in your area to expand your customer base and reach valuable new customers.


A good way to find a job you love is to ask people you think are interesting what they do

There is no single better way to build a business than old-fashioned networking. Go out into your community and shake hands. Let folks know you’re there for them and build your business by getting to know folks who will be your customers.

Networking will require spending some time away from the office, and it won’t provide you with instant gratification. But, creating a strong local network will be a great asset over time, and it will keep customers coming back to buy more from your business.

Ask for referrals

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Never be shy to ask for customer referrals. Most people know you’re in business to make money, and the best way you can succeed is to keep bringing in new customers. If you’ve proven to someone that your business offers good value and an honest presence, most people will be willing to give you a referral. 

Referrals are a great way to pull in new customers to your door. If you don’t ask for them, you are missing one of the best opportunities to promote your small business.

These inexpensive marketing strategies will give your small business a tremendous advantage in helping to bring in new customers, build rewarding relationships, and keep your brand on top of the competition. Proper marketing isn’t simply about spending money. To market properly, you need to invest the time and effort necessary to attract and keep your customers.

The views expressed by PulseBlueprint’s contributors may not align with PulseBlueprint’s own views or the views of any of the PulseBlueprint team. Want to become a contributor? Apply here.