Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Shoestring Budget


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Small businesses have the same problem, regardless of the industry they happen to be operating in. They rarely have the money they need to get the results they want. Despite statistics saying that the average small business turnover is $3.6 million, their pockets aren’t deep. Business owners are constantly wondering how they are going to market their brands on such a small budget.

Every successful company has gone through the same process at some point. But it can be done. Even in the world of today, it can be done. Here are some effective ways of marketing your small business on a tiny budget.

Plan Effectively

Every dollar is a prisoner. That should become your motto as a small business trying to market itself. It requires effective financial planning to get the results you want. You may decide to hire a financial planner or you may decide to simply do it yourself. This is entirely up to you and what you’re comfortable with.

To make an effective plan, you should take every form of marketing into account. Furthermore, you should be willing to change up this plan when you need to.

A good business plan is one that’s always fluid. It doesn’t have to be an exact plan, but it should account for the majority of your money.

Research Your Market

Researching your market is entirely free, yet it’s something small businesses miss out on. This is the most effective way of saving money because you are going out of your way to make sure that every dollar hits the audience you want.

It will also reduce the amount you spend on the testing process. Testing will be by far your biggest expense. If you can do something to reduce the amount of testing you have to go through, you are going to vastly reduce your spend.

Think about who your perfect customer is at all times. Make sure that you have a firm idea in mind for the right gender, the right age, and the right interests.

Use Your Email Marketing List

A few years ago people were talking about the death of email marketing. The landscape in 2016 has demonstrated that they couldn’t have been more wrong. On the contrary, email marketing is the most effective way of creating loyal customers.

It’s the one chance you have of speaking directly on an in-depth level with your target audience. It’s also one of the cheapest ways. The only costs involved are the subscription fees charged by your online mailing platform. These costs scale based on the size of your list, so as a small business, you can pay less than $50 a month for the privilege of speaking to your raving fans.

Make Mobile Searching Fast

Mobilegeddon was the name given to Google’s penalization of websites that didn’t have responsive design incorporated into their code. There’s another good reason why your website should automatically adapt to the devices your audience is using.

Speed is of the essence in marketing. If you can get rid of horizontal scroll and trim your website down on mobile devices, you’re reducing the time it takes for people to get from the visiting stage to the purchasing stage.

When mobile searching is fast, you are more likely to encourage people to make a purchase. It’s why eCommerce retailers are working to reduce the time it takes to make a purchase. Simplification is the key.

The only cost associated with this form of marketing is what it costs for you to install responsive design in the first place. With many newer themes, this is already part of them, so you don’t need to do anything at all.

Be Strategic on Social Media

It’s easy to think targeting every social media platform is the best option available to you. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The best way of targeting social media as a small business is to limit yourself to two or three networks. Use paid advertising on here and you will get better results because you’ll be able to dedicate more resources per platform.

Facebook, Twitter, and a specialist platform of your choice is the best combination if you are just starting out. As you move forward, you can continue to expand.


Marketing yourself as a small business doesn’t have to be expensive. You can manage it on a budget if you are smart about it. But it requires you to think outside the box and understand what the modern consumer of today actually wants.

If you can do that, the sky really is the limit. What are your top strategies for marketing as a small business?

AJ Agrawal
I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify


  1. The most important thing any business owner has to do to achieve marketing success for their business is to develop and broadcast their “unique value proposition”. What is unique about their product or service that sets them apart from their competitors. It’s all about building brand equity – owning share of mind. Brands exist in the mind. The goal is to have the customer say: “I love my ________” (I phone for example).

  2. Very true Robert, marketers over complicate this process a lot, thinking the solution is to copy what other companies have done. In reality, focusing on your value prop will take you a long way.

  3. It takes time. There are tons of products, tons of sales pitches, and tons of so-called experts, who to me, are just internet marketers trying to make a living.

    I’m a bit old school. I think it’s important that we as consultants, get the message across to business owners that we will spend some time with them. It’s a very complicated and gigantic field (Marketing), and I’m thinking business owners have no idea where to start, what’s available, and how to start from “the very beginning”…….. I was never a proponent of “don’t worry about it, leave that to us” type selling and consulting…….I love to teach…..And I love to build relationships that may last…..

  4. Some of this makes sense but in my experience, the biggest thing to keep in mind is to not spread yourself too thin in the beginning. Pick two or three areas of traction that are viable options for your current situation. Then, reassess quarterly to determine what merits keeping, what might not be working and what new avenue to explore. A company should scale it’s marketing strategies just as it would business practices, product and team. Don’t be afraid to change.


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