Business advertising can be daunting for some companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises who have less money to play with. But there are plenty of small business marketing activities that you can try without breaking the bank.
Choosing the right marketing strategies could help to push your small business to the next level. An effective campaign could increase your reach and customer base, generating more profit for your business.
Discover a range of useful small business marketing ideas below.
Before you start – know what you’re marketing
The key to business advertising is identifying your company’s unique selling points (USPs) and using relevant marketing ideas to promote these to your target audience.
Ask yourself, what makes your business different from its competitors? This could be anything from a higher quality or unique product, better customer service or your sustainability credentials. From there, you can pinpoint your target audience and design marketing that grabs their attention.
Once that’s all done, you can start turning your plans into action.
22 marketing ideas that won’t break the bank
To help you master business advertising, here’s a list of top marketing tips for small businesses. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the ones that match your goals and circumstances.
1. Attend networking events
Networking events present a unique opportunity to meet people in your industry and spread the word about your brand. You can exchange ideas and promote your services in a casual setting. Search for local networking events or arrange for your team to travel to regional ones. There are also often online networking opportunities.
Showcase your knowledge by hosting a short webinar. Choose a topic you’re an expert in and use this as an opportunity to educate others, while advertising what you do. For example, if you’re promoting a gym, you could run a webinar on healthy living and include a list of tips, listing joining an exercise class at a gym as one of them.
3. Blogging/thought leadership
A blog or thought leadership piece can be effective tools for marketing your brand – and another great way of showing that you know your stuff.
A skincare business, for example, could pen a blog about the different myths concerning skin and add a link to the website so that customers can check out the products mentioned. You can maximise the reach of your blog by promoting it on social media too.
4. Join or host a podcast
Podcasts can increase your brand awareness and allow you to engage with your audience in a different way. Host your own or do some research to find one that’s popular with your target market.
Let’s say, you sell sportswear. You could join a sports podcast to discuss the latest highlights or news in the industry as it’s likely that that their products could appeal to the target audience. Paying for podcast sponsorship is another option, similar to radio advertising, and gets you in front of an audience you cater for.
5. Team up with local communities for charity events
Local charity events not only support the community, but also allow you to show people that you’re committed to helping those in need. According to Food for Life Global, 75% of customers today prefer companies to give back and be more socially responsible. This type of local business advertising could help to boost your reputation too.
6. Use LinkedIn to expand your networking circle
You can use LinkedIn for small business marketing and networking. Create a profile for your business, get endorsed by others, and share thought leadership pieces to engage users. This could even lead to business partnerships in the future.
7. Use social media to promote your business
Social media is one of the most cost-effective and versatile forms of marketing available. In the UK alone, the number of people using social media equates to 84% of the total population. You can easily promote your products and services on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. However, always do some research to find out which platform your target audience uses most.
According to Sprout Social, Facebook is still the dominating social media platform. Those using Facebook are typically between the ages of 25 to 34, so if you’re targeting millennials with your product or service, this is where to go.
Instagram ranked second for the most used social media platform, followed by TikTok with both these apps being predominantly used by 18–24-year-olds.
8. Case studies and reviews on your website
Show your customers that you’re a brand they can trust by showcasing testimonials and reviews from previous clients. You could even turn these into in-depth case studies to emphasise the value of your services.
9. Create a Trustpilot profile
Creating a Trustpilot profile is a useful marketing idea. Here, customers can post reviews and you can reply to show you’re engaged with their feedback. You’ll be given a score out of five and this will indicate how happy customers are with your business. It’s a great way of spotting any concerns too, helping you improve. You can even add a widget to your site to showcase your score and link to your profile.
10. Email marketing
For a more personal form of business advertising, promote your goods and services with email marketing. Be sure to measure click-through rates and conversions to understand how effective your campaigns are. Make sure to stay in line with GDPR guidelines and send communications only to those who have requested it.
11. Incentivise people to subscribe to your emails
To get more people to subscribe to emails, you could offer incentives like discount codes or free samples. Do consumer research to find out which type of incentive will appeal to your target audience. For example, many clothing sites offer discounts to new customers once they subscribe to their emails.
12. Use SEO to boost your Google rankings
Search engine optimisation (SEO) can help to increase your visibility on Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) and ultimately boost the number of customers visiting your site. If you aren’t sure where to start, look into hiring an SEO consultant, freelancer or full-time employee to identify useful keywords and link-building opportunities for your website.
13. Consider CTAs on your website
Call to action (CTA) buttons are key features on any website and it’s important that you make them easily identifiable and usable for your audience. Click here, learn more and add to basket are all typical CTA buttons you’ll see. Try to always include a verb and be mindful of making them mobile-friendly and accessible.
14. Encourage customers to refer a friend
Refer-a-friend schemes are often an effective marketing strategy for small businesses. This marketing idea allows you to gain new customers by offering incentives to existing ones. For example, many broadband businesses offer both the new customer and the friend that referred them discounts on their services.
15. Create a brand logo
A brand logo can help to improve recognition of your company and give your audience something to remember you by. A good logo can even prevent fraud and reduce the risk of banking scams.
The most effective brand logos are eye-catching, memorable, representative of your brand, and able to work in both large and small formats. It’s a good idea to consider colour and what it represents when choosing a logo. Colour theory can have a big impact on people’s buying decisions.
16. Build your website for mobile-first users
On average, over 60% of website traffic comes from mobile phones and over 40% of online transactions are now done on mobile. So, opting for a mobile-first design can help to improve your customer journey. Ways to do this include:
- Using responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and resolutions.
- Test your website on Google's mobile friendly tool
- Implementing mobile-specific features such as click-to-call buttons and maps with directions.
- Ensuring the most important information is easily accessible on mobile devices without requiring excessive scrolling.
- Ensure that the website is accessible to users with disabilities by using clear and consistent layouts, providing alternative text for images, and adhering to accessibility standards
17. Sign up for training
Encourage your staff to complete training courses or organise company-wide training days to improve your team’s skills. Courses such as customer service, management and teamwork are usually useful. You can then showcase your achievements on your website and via social media to boost your brand reputation.
18. Attend conferences and trade shows
Conferences and trade shows offer a great opportunity for brands to showcase their talents, goods and services. Network with other professionals, gain new customers, and gather other marketing ideas to help improve your business.
19. Launch merchandise
You can increase brand awareness and positive brand association by launching merchandise for your customers and staff to use. Print your brand logo on T-shirts, mugs, pens and other items to boost brand recognition.
20. Enter industry competitions
Winning industry awards or even placing in a competition can help enhance your reputation. Look out for local and national competitions and enter them to get your business name recognised among other competitors. Remember, even being short-listed is worth promoting.
21. Send out direct mail to customers
A more traditional form of marketing, direct mail involves sending promotional materials (like flyers, letters and cards) directly to people’s homes. Direct mail is still a highly effective marketing idea, offering high response rates and high return on investment (ROI). It also has a physical appeal, offering customers a tangible item that they can engage with. Print your marketing material on recyclable paper or card to make sure you’re still maintaining a sustainable focus.
22. Create a marketing calendar
A marketing calendar can help you generate marketing ideas using future dates and events. Keep an eye on what’s coming up, then use the subject to create a campaign that will appeal to your target market at just the right time. A great example of this would be a florist launching a campaign around Mother’s Day or a bakery getting involved with National Doughnut Week (mark your calendars for May each year) to raise money for charity and promote their goods.
Need some more marketing inspiration?
Marketing is key for all businesses, large and small. There are plenty of small business marketing strategies out there for you to choose from, many of which can help to encourage more customers to use your services. Take a look at our other guides for ideas, tips and guides:
This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.
Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.
Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.