marketing ideas on a budgetWhen you’re working with a small advertising budget, it can be difficult to decide where your money will be best spent. And with online shopping growing in popularity, it is particularly hard for small, local businesses to compete with online giants such as Amazon and Ebay who have seemingly limitless marketing budgets.

That’s why we have put together a list of creative marketing strategies for small businesses that won’t break the bank.

Create Free Social Media Business Pages

One of the easiest ways to amplify your brands’ message and increase your leads and sales without breaking the bank is through social media. The growing popularity of social media has created a giant platform for businesses to grow their audience on with over 2.46 billion social media users worldwide.

And the best part is that for popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, creating a business profile is absolutely free. Although paid marketing plans through social media can be costly, there are many features that businesses can take advantage of to advertise on these platforms for free including:

  • Running Competitions & Giveaways

Creating a simple giveaway on your Facebook business profile can encourage users interested in your products to like your page and share the giveaway post for a chance to win. Not only will this increase your social media audience, it will also exponentially increase your brand reach with each share.

  • Enable & Obtain Reviews

By enabling customers to leave reviews on your social media pages and actively obtaining positive reviews you are creating social proof. This will increase brand trust and encourage others who read the positive experiences of your past customers to buy from your brand.

  • Post Regularly

Regularly posting new content that is relevant to your products will keep your brand top of mind for your audience. Additionally, engaging with your audience and answering their questions will build brand trust and can even increase traffic to your website.

Create & Optimise Your Website

One of the easy ways to maximise the value from your marketing budget is through online marketing. With over 3.5 billion searches performed on Google each day, simply having a website can expose your brand and products to a huge audience at virtually no cost. All you need is a website and some time to spend optimising your website to show up on Google.

Firstly, if you don’t have a website, you need to create one. If consumers can’t find information about your brand online you are already missing out on a huge portion of your market share.

Once you have created a website for your business, you will need to optimise it before it will start showing up when people search for your products or services. For best results, search engine optimisation (SEO) should be done by a search marketing specialist. However, if your marketing budget is lacking, there are a few things you can do yourself to kickstart your website SEO such as:

  • Keyword Research

Before you can optimise your website you need to know what keywords you are optimising for. These are the terms that you want your business to show up for on Google. However, it is important to focus on keywords with moderate to low competition as it is unlikely that you will be able to rank for high search volume keywords to start with.

To choose your keywords, list the products and services that you offer, as well as the location that you offer them in. For example, if you run a car detailing business in Brisbane, your list would include:

  • Car Detailing Brisbane
  • Leather Conditioning Brisbane
  • Pre-Sale Detailing Brisbane, etc

Once you have created a list of relevant terms, copy them into Google’s Keyword Planner to find out the monthly search volume of each keyword. You should aim for terms with moderate to low search volumes.

Note: if your original list is too competitive, try narrowing down the service area (eg. use a suburb instead of a city). Click here for a comprehensive guide on how to choose keywords.

  • Add Keywords To Page Elements

Once you have chosen your keywords, you will need to add them to each page element including:

  • Page Title – This is the title that shows up on the search engine results page (SERP) and in the top of the tab/window when on the page
  • Meta Description – This is the description that is displayed below the page title on the SERP
  • Header Tags – These are any heading and subheadings on the page
  • Image Alt Attributes – This is the text that appears when an image fails to load or when it is accessed by a visually impaired user
  • Body Text – This is the main text of the page

(Click here for an in depth article on where to find each page element and how to edit them)

Adding the top keywords to each page element indicates to both users and search engines what the main topic of the page is. This will then increase the website’s rankings for those keywords.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is essentially creating and promoting content that is useful and relevant to a chosen audience. The objective of content marketing is to achieve a business goal (such as driving more traffic, or generating new leads) by answering industry questions, building customer relationships, and building brand authority within the industry.

The great thing about content marketing is that if you can create your own content, it’s practically free. All it will cost is your time. However, some aspects of content marketing can include a small cost such as a fee to have an article posted on a well-known blog or a monthly subscription to a tool for creating infographics.

But, how can you leverage content marketing to work for your business?

  • Create A Blog

One of the first steps you will need to take when beginning a content marketing strategy is to create a blog. If possible, the blog should be on the same domain as your website as this will ensure that any links to your content will positively impact the whole site.

Once you have created your blog you will need to come up with a blog plan. This should include your content ideas as well as a schedule for when each new article will be posted.

Creating a posting schedule and sticking to it will allow your audience to keep track of when new articles will be posted, encouraging people to follow your blog. The key to creating a posting schedule is focusing on quality over quantity. Don’t aim to post more content than you can easily create as this can lead to creating thin content that doesn’t provide value.

Additionally, creating a content plan a few months in advance will ensure that when it comes time for your to write each week you won’t spend all of your time thinking up a topic.

Remember, the content on your blog should be created for your users, not just as another place to promote your products. Although you should definitely include mention and links to your products when relevant, the main focus should be providing useful, relevant information that your audience would be interested in.

Some commonly used content ideas include:

  • Top 10 List (eg. for a nail salon – “top 10 nail colours for summer”)
  • Checklist (eg. for a plumber – “home buyers checklist”)
  • Guides & How-To’s (eg. for a plant nursery – “how-to grow a herb garden”)


  • Guest Posts

Another way to leverage content marketing to work for your business is through guest posting. Similarly to posting on your own blog, guest posting allows you to create valuable content for your target audience to build brand authority and answer their questions.

However, guest posting also provides the opportunity to increase your reach by posting your content on another business’s blog. This means that your content as well as your products will be exposed to a wider audience.

For best results, guest posts should be posted on websites that are relevant to yours in some way. For example, a website within the same industry as yours or one that serves the same location.

Additionally, in many cases, you will also receive a backlink to your website from a guest post. This can drive referral traffic to your site to increase your website traffic. Relevant backlinks are also useful in increasing search engine rankings.

  • Infographics

Creating an informative and easy to understand infographic can greatly increase your audience engagement and site traffic. This is because information that is displayed in bite-sized pieces with relevant visual elements is much easier to digest than a wall of text.

Infographics are also much more likely to be shared than an article. There are also other platforms that can be used to promote infographics such as Pinterest, Instagram and infographic directories. This can increase your brand reach and drive referral traffic to your website.

Free Publicity

Another effective marketing strategy for businesses on a budget is taking advantage of free publicity. Why pay to advertise your business when you can get others to do it for free?

  • Local Media

One way to get some free publicity for your business is to inform the media of any events or business milestones. Some examples of events or milestones that could be used for free publicity including:

  • Store Grand Opening
  • Store Anniversaries (10, 20, 30 years of serving [insert local area])
  • Charity Events & Fundraisers

Simply contacting local news outlets and letting them know of your business milestones can result in free press as well as links to your website from news websites. Note: they generally will not cover sales and other self promoting events.

  • Organise Free Workshops

Another way to advertise your products and services to people who would definitely be interested in them is by organising a free workshop related to your products and services. If the workshop is useful and free you may be able to have it promoted in local newsletters.

Additionally, you can promote the workshop inexpensively by posting flyers to community notice boards and posting about it on your social media.

  • Apply For Awards

Another way to get some free publicity for your business is to apply for as many applicable awards as you can find. Many websites and businesses run business awards that are chosen from nominations. Don’t be afraid to nominate your business (or yourself as the business owner) for an award, as if you win, you will likely be featured in an article, exposing your brand to a wider audience.

Additionally, winning an award could also earn you at least one new link to your website, which could lead to referral traffic and an increase in search engine rankings.

Use Your Happy Customers

If you already have happy customers, use them. First, ensure that your customer service is on point, and provide a purchasing experience that anyone would be happy to tell their friends about. Then:

  • Ask For Referrals

Once you have a successfully satisfied customer base, don’t be afraid to ask them for referrals. As an extra incentive, you could also offer a rewards program for customers that give referrals

  • Ask For Reviews

In some ways even better than a referral, it is also beneficial to ask satisfied customers for reviews. This is because anyone searching for your business will be able to see that review, rather than just the friends and family of the customer.

Similarly to referrals, you can also offer an incentive for customers who leave reviews. However, most satisfied customers would be happy to leave you a review without an incentive.

  • Advertise To Past Customers

Customers who have already bought and used your products and services are much more likely to use them again. This creates a great opportunity to advertise to previous customers in order to convert them into repeat customers.

One way to turn a one-time customer into a repeat customer is through email marketing. By collecting the emails of your customers you gain the opportunity of advertising future sales and products they might like based on their purchases at little to no cost.

Advertise On Your Vehicle

Another low cost marketing tactic is using the car that you already own as a mobile billboard. Your car is likely seen by hundreds, if not thousands of people every day. So why not utilise it as a marketing tool.

If a new paint job is out of your budget, there are other, less-expensive options available such as window decals and magnetic signage.

Plus, if you want to be able to use your car without your business name plastered all over it, magnetic signs offer the luxury of removing the signage whenever you like.

In summary, no matter how small your marketing budget may be, there are plenty of marketing strategies within your grasp that can expand the reach of your business, generate new leads, and skyrocket your sales.