How to Promote Your Business: 30 Small Business Marketing Ideas for Any Industry
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive with these DIY ideas.
- May 8, 2020
- Running Your Business
- 11 min read
You're our first priority. Every time.
We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.
So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Bottom line? We’re on your side, even if it means we don’t make a cent.
Establishing the foundations and fundamentals of your small business is obviously the first step you should take as an entrepreneur. But shortly after establishing yourself, you’ll quickly figure out you need to market your new business. However, many well-known marketing techniques of established companies require big budgets that small business owners simply don’t have.
Fortunately, there are dozens upon dozens of marketing strategies that even the smallest business can employ. Read on to find out how to promote your business without a big budget or resources.
Here are some small business marketing ideas for any industry:
One of the most important things before any marketing can be done is establishing your brand. Maintaining a consistent brand identity to promote your company helps make your business more professional and attract new customers. A good way to define brand identity is that it is the feelings and emotions people have when they hear your company’s name. Your brand name, logo, style and the design of all your company’s assets go into what composes your brand identity.
With your brand identity down, you can start getting into the creative part of marketing. A key asset in relation to your brand is your company logo. It’s important to have it professionally produced. There are both plenty of freelance designers and companies you can hire, as well as free and less expensive options for designing your own logo online.
Nowadays, it is extremely difficult to be taken seriously without a business website. Even if you’re not a tech-savvy small business owner, you still need your own website. Fortunately, creating a website is much easier today than in the past. There are tons of affordable website platforms and content management systems, also called a CMS, that make building and running a professional site convenient. This is also another area that can be freelanced out or hired out to an agency to complete for you.
Identifying your buyer personas requires you to visualize how your customers behave. You need to think about how they search for your product or service, what their personalities are like, their backgrounds, pain points, job and much more. Thinking through these details will help you construct a buyer persona, which then enables you to craft a website, product or service that is optimized for your customers.
Established companies run ad campaigns as part of their marketing strategies. Big ad campaigns might be too expensive for you when you’re starting out, but there are frequently discounts and coupons available for paid Facebook ads, Google ads and other channels. It is also common for web hosting services to offer advertising discount codes as part of their sign-up deal or membership in general. This can get you started without a big investment.
This is a time-tested classic of marketing. It’s also comparatively affordable since the prizes don’t need to be outrageous. A small cash reward, complimentary service or a free product usually suffices. You want to get potential customers to spend a few moments of their time applying to win. You can use online contests both to spread awareness of your business and also to gather potential customer data, like emails and phone numbers.
See the Study: Best States to Start a Business
The personal touch can make all the difference in business. In one-to-one marketing, you aim to build loyal customer relationships through personalized interactions. Some basic examples of this include sending handwritten messages to valued customers or reaching out to customers about reviews of your company, good or bad; in the former case, you could extend them your appreciation, and for the latter, you could gather constructive feedback.
Connecting with other professional organizations provides great networking opportunities with other businesses. It also raises greater awareness for your company in your community, as well as provide opportunities to network with other businesses in your area. You can use your local chamber of commerce or other B2B organizations to meet other businesses in your area and build your network.
This is a more deliberate strategy than just joining a professional organization. Teaming up with a business in a related or adjacent industry for a joint project or event is a great marketing opportunity. Partnering with another business can significantly enlarge your audience and customer base, especially when it’s relevant to your industry.
In today’s marketing world, it is frequently said that “content is king.” In regards to your business, this means you should start a company blog composed of useful articles covering your industry, addressing your customer base and how your business can help them. You can use your blog to link to your products or services to then sell to readers. Employing additional strategies such as search engine optimization, also called SEO, you can start generating leads through your blog as well.
With a company blog up, you now have a great space for infographics, which can be a powerful marketing tool. Infographics are images created from data and designed to grab the reader’s attention to convey interesting data points. There are endless variations of infographic styles, but the best ones work on the principle of visualizing interesting data or information through a well-designed image. These infographics can be used to drive traffic to your company’s website, especially through the ability to share the infographic.
With the combination of a company blog and infographics, you have a great opportunity to refashion old data into new stories. Infographics are typically based on data anyway, so you can find unused data points from a larger set of data, or do your own calculations based on it to create new figures. Brand new content can be made from recycled data, by taking a different angle, presenting different points or draw different conclusions than prior research-based articles.
Help a Reporter Out — also called HARO — is a free platform for reporters who are in need of help on articles or other pieces of content. Reporters submit requests on HARO for responses on specific topics, especially by industry leaders, experts and specialists in the field. If the reporter uses your quote or answer to their query, they’ll generally include it in their article, with your name and business, ideally hyperlinked to your company website. It’s a great way to get links, as well as position yourself as a thought leader.
Referral programs are another old marketing strategy. With a customer referral program, you offer existing customers usually something complimentary, like a free product, a free month of service or something similar for referring new customers. This is a classic word-of-mouth strategy, which has traditionally been a very effective marketing method.
Customer reviews and your company’s reputation are of even more importance in the digital age. Hence why monitoring and managing your company’s presence on Yelp is part of most basic marketing strategies. Yelp is a great way to find new customers, but you will need to maintain a strong presence. You can use Yelp for business as a paid service or for free marketing ideas. Either way, to establish your presence, you’ll register or claim your business on Yelp, add your location, post pictures of your service or products and begin responding to your customers’ reviews.
Video is very rich content, which if done correctly, can really raise your professional standing in the eyes of potential customers. Video content is ideal for tutorials or instructional pieces about your product or service. You can use video to enlighten customers about your industry as a whole, and how it relates to their needs. Use content from your company blog to form the basis of your video content marketing.
Long before the internet, businesses published and sent out company newsletters to customers. Now, it’s even easier to do so thanks to email marketing. By drawing on existing customers, leads or other readers interested in your company, you can build an email list using their contact info. With this list, you can then craft an email newsletter and send it out, with the idea of creating return customers, converting new ones, spreading brand awareness and offering promotions.
Facebook is the original big name in social media and continues to be a juggernaut. Any social media marketing strategy must include Facebook marketing. Like with an individual human user, go to Facebook and set up a profile for your business. To get started, connect your business’s Facebook page with employees, companies you conduct business with and, of course, your actual friends. Use Facebook posts to market content from your company blog and post company updates. You can also use Facebook more deliberately for business by buying ads and sponsored posts.
Linkedin is a great social media platform for businesses since it’s designed for professional networking. You can spread awareness of your brand, connect with similar and adjacent businesses, connect with customers, post job listings and plenty more. You simply make an account for your company, add in details and contact info plus your logo, and then you can start making connections with other users on Linkedin.
If you’ve tried out ad promo discounts and like the results, then you should consider putting a real budget towards pay-per-click marketing (PPC), or paid advertising. In PPC marketing, you, the advertiser, pays a publisher when your ad is clicked on their website or search results page. PPC marketing is usually associated with first-tier search engines, like Google, where you’ll see paid placements at the top of search results.
The majority of industries have business recognitions and awards they dish out, typically annually. These business awards programs are a solid way for you to market your small business. If you win or are nominated, you usually are provided with an online badge you can place on your website. It’s also common for press releases of award winners to be published, so this can give you added marketing benefits.
Getting business cards made is always a useful move for you to make. But getting ones that stand out for their novelty or design can be a nice mini-marketing strategy. Plus, it doesn’t cost much to get a batch of business cards.
While you’re working on creating business cards, you should consider hosting a contest with other company’s business cards. This is especially great for companies with a physical storefront and foot traffic. Simply put out a bowl at your place of business with a sign asking visitors to drop their business cards in return for a chance to win a prize from you. Like with online contests, these prizes do not need to be extravagant. In turn, you’ll get new contacts and entice return visitors.
Related: How to Support Small Businesses
A good way to interact with your business’s community is to plan an event or class to host. You can print out physical flyers and post them on community bulletin boards, as well as engaging the community online through local social media pages. An event or class for the community shouldn’t be a business advertisement. Rather it should be more charitable or educational in nature with the opportunity for networking.
Although applicable to all small businesses, setting up a Google My Business profile is especially useful for local businesses. Google My Business is a very effective marketing strategy in which you get a free listing of your business to show up on Google Maps. This is a major advantage for local businesses such as when people search for services or products “near me” on the internet. To tap into this potential, fill out your Google profile completely and optimize each section with descriptions of your product or services.
Google AdSense gives DIY marketers and business owners alike the opportunity to monetize their websites by earning money from display advertising. You can earn money from your site by hosting ads, which are optimized for mobile and desktop, by placing ads on the pages of your website that receive substantial traffic. Google makes it easy to set up, supplying you with just code you can add to your site that will automatically display ads tailored to your site’s layout. Set it, forget it and start making money.
Sending potential customers and clients mail directly is an old-school form of marketing that still works. Whether you’re sending a brochure, flyer or even offering potential clients a free gift just to have a meeting with you, direct mail has worked for decades for a reason. In a world where almost everything is digital, sometimes going the analog route can be a better way to standout.
Everyone loves to save money. Take a cue from the retail industry to attract customers, new and old alike. Whether it’s an overall discount on your products or services for a limited amount of time or special promotion for new time customers, discounts work. Just make sure the right people know about it.
Most industries host at least one annual trade show if not several each year. Depending on your business, trade shows can be an excellent way to get in front of new customers, vendors and other people you can surely network with. Prepare by creating displays for your booth, bringing samples or goodies to share with your logo and business cards — lots and lots of business cards.
Conducting an original study or survey, particularly on a topic that relates to your business and your audience, is a great way to get free press coverage for your business. A study or survey with particularly interesting or new statistics or results is a great way to catch the attention or PR people and publishers alike. This can lead to articles about your original study with free backlinks to your site. It also positions your business as trustworthy and informative, which can help bring in new customers.
Marketing strategies do not need to be expensive. By adopting a few to several of these marketing ideas, you can start giving your small business the edge it needs to compete. The best thing about these strategies is that none of them are mutually exclusive. You can use all or some of them in combination, all towards strengthening and promoting your business.
Laira Martin contributed to the reporting for this article.
More From Seek
- How to Write a Business Proposal
- 15 Things That Set Successful Entrepreneurs Apart
- How to Start a Business in California
- How to Find Investors
Business Loan Resources
Photo credit: mrmohock/Shutterstock.com
Best Startup Loans of 2020 - Get Between $5,000 and $500,000
Get more great articles straight to your inbox!
Let us make it up to you with better articles straight to your inbox.
Recommended For You
Safety has never been more important to the collective consciousness than in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic — and with good reason, too. Along with the obvious threat of the virus, other factors like mental health and cybersecurity have... Read More
- September 21, 2020
- Running Your Business
- 3 min read
You’ve seen it on TV — buy a house on the cheap, fix it up, sell it for a profit and then bask in your newfound pile of money Scrooge McDuck-style. Rinse and repeat. Finally, you’ve found a way to... Read More
- September 3, 2020
- Running Your Business
- 3 min read
Every entrepreneur and small business owner could use a little help from time to time. Whether it’s assistance with accounting needs, marketing or organization, small business owners can use all the help they can get — especially if it’s free.... Read More
- July 30, 2020
- Running Your Business
- 9 min read
Despite what HGTV has you believe, flipping houses is more hustle than glamor. Investing in fix-and-flip real estate can be incredibly rewarding but it’s not without risks. Before you get a fix-and-flip loan, do your due diligence. If you take... Read More
- July 29, 2020
- Running Your Business
- 19 min read