Marketing for Small Businesses – On a Shoestring Budget



Reading Time: 4 mins

Everyone knows that digital marketing is a vast channel and a direct and effective way to reach your business’s target audience. however, unlike corporations and tech giants, most small local businesses only have small marketing budgets. They have traditionally relied on word of mouth.

While word of mouth is still effective, to take your business to the next level, it can often be necessary to embrace marketing’s digital age.

This article will outline how you can use digital marketing to drive highly engaged traffic to your business’s website, social media accounts and how to get people to call your business.



Right now, Linkedin is often considered the best social media platform when it comes to “organic reach” – visibility of your posts and updates, without having to pay for adverts.

Linkedin is trying to increase its market share and therefore wants to attract more people to use the platform as often as possible. Thanks to this push for market share, you can use Linkedin as a highly effective marketing tool without spending any money.

You can leverage the organic power of Linkedin by using both a personal profile and a business profile. Setup both and make relevant, informative, and entertaining posts that will interest your target audience.

In general, posting links does not work well on any social media platform. Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter know that to make money, they need to keep users on their websites and apps. Therefore, a link that could take someone away from their platform is going to get limited visibility.

Instead of posting links to your blog content, reformat content instead. Upload videos to Linkedin directly and reformat them too. Turn them into 30-second clips, GIFs, quotes, and memes. These will all tend to perform better in terms of engagement than links to external websites.


Gary Vee’s $1.80 Technique

This technique works on most social media platforms. On Instagram, go to the explorer (search bar), search for your city, select places, add a relevant comment to the people tagged in your area.

The example Gary uses in this video on YouTube is that when someone posted a picture of them mowing the lawn in the local area to his liquor store, he’d add a comment along the lines of “great lawn, you want a beer after this!?”

Gary recommends using this technique on 90 posts per day to “massively build up your audience.”

Gary also says that this technique can work on Linkedin as well. You don’t necessarily have to search by location, search by topic, and leave a meaningful, well-thought comment each time.

While this doesn’t cost anything, it is very time-consuming. However, you could try it for two weeks and then review its effectiveness. Make a note of your followers, connections, and the average level of engagement with a post on a given social media platform, and then measure this again two weeks later.


Build Your Personal Brand

While technically speaking, not digital in many respects, talking at events and conferences can be a great way to build your personal brand and business.

For example, if you’re a personal trainer, there are many avenues and lots of interest in wellness and nutrition. You could start with doing a talk or seminar at a small event and then build a reputation for speaking and presenting from there.

Another way to build your personal brand would be to create presentations and make them into videos you upload to YouTube. These videos can also be uploaded to the Facebook and Linkedin platforms. Using a tool such as QuickTime to record your screen, you can make videos by talking through a PowerPoint presentation on a specific topic.

Using PowerPoint is an excellent option if you don’t have an office and a whiteboard to film yourself with while doing your presentation. Upload your PowerPoint to Slideshare and add some links back to your website in the notes or the slides themselves.


Go Old school

Using print media can work well if you are looking for local customers. If you want to stand out from the competition, consider using printed materials to stand out from the crowd.

For example, if you’re looking to start up your graphic design agency, you may consider making some flyers or business cards and taking them around a local business park or industrial estate. If you want to take this a step further, you could use a “Trojan Horse” style technique. You could create a design for a paper bag or some packaging, and inside that packaging, add a small gift. Inside the gift, add a note saying something along the lines of “if you like the packaging – please consider hiring my agency (insert name) the next time you need a graphic designer.”

You can tailor each gift by researching what a business owner in a particular niche may want. Maybe it’s a voucher for Google Ads, a calendar of important days & events to help plan social media campaigns, some coffee, or a herbal tea! Maybe you could add a note with the herbal tea – “relax & let us take care of your graphic design needs.”

Many entrepreneurs like to speak on the phone or person to person. With this in mind, you should add your website and email addresses to any marketing materials. Adding your phone number is also a good idea. If you don’t have a receptionist consider using a phone answering service – such as Moneypenny or Yourcallnz. Marketing materials should also feature trust-signals and social proof such as review scores from Trustpilot and any relevant certifications or awards.

Using print materials and gifts can get relatively expensive. However, it can certainly help to get you noticed if you have specific businesses in mind. Conversely, if you are looking for a blanket marketing campaign to reach thousands of people, this strategy may not work!


Sign Up to GoogleMyBusiness

It is usually a good idea to sign up to GoogleMyBusiness and create a business page that will show on Google Maps.
At the time of writing, Google usually gives out a $50 voucher once you have registered your business with them. This gives you an excellent opportunity to try out Google Ads without spending any money. Ensure that you watch a YouTube video or two and read some articles about optimizing Google Ads campaigns before you start. You can waste that $50 in no time otherwise!



While marketing with a small budget is possible, it generally requires more time and effort. For example, creating great content for your blog and YouTube channel, repurposing it for social media, and promoting it on Reddit forums with the necessary subtlety is not easy. However, it is possible if you have the work ethic – almost anything is possible, especially online!



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