15 Free and low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses that work

02 December 2020

Growing your business and attracting new customers often requires a large budget to market your services and products. And while this is all well and good for larger businesses with the spend and marketing muscle to do so, smaller start-ups without such resources might struggle in comparison. If budgets are tight at the moment, you may think that appropriately marketing your business is a matter of waiting for more money to come in.

However, marketing on a small budget is still very much possible, you just have to be a bit more strategic in your approach. Below, you'll find a collection of 15 free or low-cost marketing ideas that you can use if the budget is tight right now which can help to boost your return on investment in the process.


  1. Publish high-quality content

Blogs are by far one of the easiest ways to market your business - and one that won't break the bank either. If you don’t have an online blog, then what’s holding you back from starting one?

You don't have to be the world's best writer either. Whether someone else on your team can help out, or you use an app like Grammarly to improve your writing skills, as long as the content is compelling, informative and relevant, then people are sure to take notice. Stuck for ideas? Try creating top 10 lists, instructional guides or best practices that relate to your industry to get your blog ball rolling.


woman recording herself on her phone


  1. Create helpful instructional videos

Valuable and powerful, video content is another way to help you stand out, and can be coupled with your blog to generate interest from new customers. While it can be costly, try going the DIY route instead - this tutorial from Wistia has some great tips and tricks that you can use to create quality footage using your trusty iPhone!


  1. Get advertising promo credits

Bigger ad campaigns are pricey, but if you do some snooping, you can find discounts and coupons for paid Facebook and Google ads. Also, certain web hosting services offer advertising discount codes as part of their membership offerings, so it's worth having a look to see if yours does.


  1. Get to know social networking

Get your business set up on the biggest social media sites - Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn - and get participating. Likewise, if your business is image-oriented, then Instagram can be hugely beneficial, too.

Paid social media advertising has the potential to put you in front of plenty of new customers, but it can also be expensive. Getting to grips with some free social media marketing tactics gives you the opportunity to create a similar reach at a fraction of the cost. Be sure to regularly broadcast content, interact with your customers, encourage them to leave reviews and create posts that others can engage with in the form of contests and voucher codes.


linkedin app icon


  1. Use LinkedIn to your advantage

Following on from the above, it's all well and good signing up to LinkedIn, but it's important to utilise the site in the manner it's intended. Rather than simply adding connections, make sure you're getting stuck in by joining groups, conversing with your connections, and sharing your content. It's a powerful way to build your brand, so make sure you're using it properly!


  1. Get on Instagram

As we mentioned above, Instagram is a great platform to help sell yourself in a visual manner, giving potential customers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your brand's story with very little, if any, cost.

Try snapping flattering pictures of your office/workplace and products, make visual testimonials from previous customers, and ask your followers to share images of how they use your product or service. 


  1. Refresh old data

Instead of creating something from scratch, re-jig data studies and stats that are already on the web. Find a study that relates to your industry and look at it from a new angle, highlighting the most important parts of the study, adding images, visualising the information through charts and adding your own insights. Always remember to cite sources and provide credit when necessary.


  1. Refresh your old content

Likewise, breathing new life into old content can be helpful too, giving some extra traction to things that may not have been seen the first time around. Try turning a study you did into an infographic or collecting a related set of blog posts into an eBook. Some creative thinking can go a long way here, giving those who initially missed out a chance to see something that's entirely fresh to them.


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  1. Develop a customer referral programme

Word-of-mouth can be one of the most effective marketing tactics available to you, so get customers talking up your brand by offering them free products, services or other rewards for referring new customers. The domino effect of friends telling friends may well be one of the more powerful things you invest in.


woman smiling at her phone


  1. Hold online contests

Although this requires some spend on your part to buy a suitable prize, the number of participants and potential new leads could well be worth it. Get promoting the contest on your social media and drum up some interest in your brand, even if the prize is something as simple as some high-end water bottles or some branded merchandise.


  1. Develop industry partnerships

Get in touch with a related business and work on a joint project together, whether it's an offline event or an online promotional giveaway. Whatever it is, you could be receiving twice as much notice, as well as introducing yourself to an entirely new audience who are related to your niche.


  1. Apply online for business awards

Research industry awards and apply for them. If you're successful, make your credential visible onsite and give yourself a real boost in credibility and sales.


hands typing over keyboard


  1. Engage in email marketing

Email marketing is oft-cited for its ability to get existing customers and new visitors engaging with you. Through free email marketing services such as MailChimp, you can create promotional email campaigns that help nurture subscribers into paying customers, and the effects can be hugely beneficial. Get the ball rolling by creating a newsletter for visitors to sign up for, offering them a bonus discount when they do so.

If you’re new to email marketing, or haven’t done it in a while, it’s a good idea to review GDPR guidelines. This guide from Gov.uk outlines everything you need to know to stay GDPR-compliant when emailing.


  1. Write for industry publications

It's well worth reaching out to industry publications and blogs which accept guest contributions. Not only are such opportunities a way to showcase your expertise, they'll get you noticed by a larger audience, too.


  1. Make the most of employee email signatures

Aside from providing contact details, your employees' email signatures can be put to further use by having them include a short sentence complete with a call to action. Anytime they send out an email, your customers will see an added marketing message in a non-obtrusive and informative manner.


Gazprom Energy is a leading supplier of energy for small businesses, offering competitive gas and electricity contracts that are simple to set up and manage. For more information, visit the homepage or call our team today on 0161 837 3395. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.


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