8 marketing strategies for small businesses

7 min read
Maneka Tanwani

Having a good product or service is just half the battle in business. The other half is getting your name out there to create awareness among potential customers. Business rules say you have to spend money to make money and it definitely stands true for promotion. But if you are a small business with a tight budget, which marketing strategies can you use?

Good news is we live in exciting times. There are smart ways of marketing that do not require you to burn a huge hole in your pocket.

Let’s take a look at eight such marketing strategies.

8 marketing strategies for businesses on a budget

Small business owners might feel at a loss as to how to attract customers, but there are many simple ways to do this — some free.

  1. Social media marketing.

  2. Google ranking.

  3. Paid media.

  4. Content marketing.

  5. Networking.

  6. Free trials and deals.

  7. Affiliate marketing.

  8. Sponsor local causes.

Read on for details about each of the marketing strategies, then choose one or two to try.

1. Social media marketing

One of the most efficient and budget-friendly ways to get your business noticed is by setting up active business pages on social media.

Marketing Strategies Woman on Cell Phone
If you provide products or services to consumers, you should be on social media.
Photo: Rob Hampson on Unsplash

As of June 2018 there were:

Through a combination of text, imagery and videography your business has a potential to reach people across geographic, language and cultural variances.

Operating a business profile does not require any technical know-how and is as easy as managing a personal page. The user-friendly interface makes it easy to regularly post content of interest to your prospective customers.

Related: Social media marketing for SMBs

2. Google ranking

For every business in the digital world, it is a must to have a company website. If you are not online, you are missing out on a huge chunk of potential business.

You do not even have to sell products online. Just having a digital presence is enough for your business to get exposure.

Along with having a website, it is imperative for your company to show up in searches. Many Indian shoppers check the web for products and services before visiting local shops. And what they find during these searches determines which shops they visit.

Getting a free listing on Google My Business ensures visibility on Google searches. It also puts your store or office on Google Maps.

3. Paid media

Marketing Strategies Google Search

For a more traditional approach to marketing, you can explore newspaper and radio advertisements.

  • Newspaper promotions can be costly, depending on the publication’s brand and readership penetration. So one option is to get the local delivery guy to insert leaflets, which are much cheaper.
  • In certain geographic segments, the local radio station might be more than happy to offer publicity in exchange for a product or service barter.

For digital visibility, the advanced algorithms that Google Ads and Facebook Ads use allow you to spend every paisa on a narrowly focussed customer segment.

4. Content marketing

Content marketing is a relatively new contender among marketing strategies and is proving to be a very effective tool. Consumer content marketing has quickly grown to become a US$16 billion industry and for good reason: it works.

Content marketing is the process of sharing useful articles, videos and posts that add value to the lives of your current and potential customers.

The most effective way to get into content marketing is to start a company blog relevant to your field.

For example:

  • If you offer financial service products, your blog might give tips on how to invest, how to create a retirement fund, etc.
  • If you are a travel company, your blog can be about travel hacks, pocket-friendly destinations to visit, etc.

With these, you are providing readers with valuable information, while subtly creating brand recall. Positioning yourself as a reliable source of information will translate into business.

It would be good practice to ask for help from a search engine optimization (SEO) company to generate specific keywords that you can incorporate in your blog posts to help them get found by likely customers.

Editor's note: GoDaddy Managed WordPress is one of the easiest way to start and maintain a blog. You write, we take care of the technical updates.

5. Networking

Not a new strategy, but still an effective one. Make it a point to participate in conferences to build connections at least one a month. The more people you meet, the more brand awareness you create. Look for opportunities to speak at such events. You can also tie up with local influencers to market your business. If you cannot afford to directly pay them, explore some kind of barter deals with influencers.

6. Free trials and deals

Marketing Strategies Free Samples
Giving away free samples is a good way to get people to try new products.
Photo: Ho Hyou on Unsplash

Free trial of your product and service is a good practice but only if you are new to the market. This will encourage customers to give you a shot over established players.

However, over the long run, it spoils the market dynamics, as customers get used to not paying. Over time, you can look at listing with deal providers such as Groupon and CouponDunia to incentivise new customers.

7. Affiliate marketing

This is a very interesting tool that again leverages the power of influencers. How this works is you partner with influencers or other websites in related industries that recommend your products. As these influencers and websites have gained a certain level of trust among their followers, they are more likely to make a purchase. You then pay a commission for sales generated via these referrals.

8. Sponsor local causes

Cause marketing is a great way to give back to society and positively promote your brand. It creates a perception that your brand cares for the well-being of its community.

You can sponsor a local sports team or the education of underprivileged children. You can even share a certain percentage of proceeds of your sales towards a local cause.

Find the marketing strategies that work for you

Not every idea will work for your unique business. You need to choose marketing strategies based on who you are targeting, where they look for services and whom they turn to when making buying decisions.

To recap, here are the ideas we’ve discussed:

  • Leverage the power of social media. Profiles are free and ensure local as well as global reach.
  • Get your website listed on Google My Business to gain visibility. This is also free.
  • If you have the funds, use Google Ads, Facebook Ads or traditional media like TV or radio if that is where your target audience is.
  • Content is queen and content marketing is her knight. Work towards positioning yourself as a thought leader by publishing original posts, videos and articles.
  • Networking never gets old. Find time to attend conferences.
  • Customers love a good deal. Partner with Indian deals companies to offer them.
  • In this age of social media influencers, affiliate marketing can do wonders for small businesses.
  • Contribute to a good cause. It will project your business in the right light.

Pick apt avenues to market from among this list. You will have to do some trial and error before you hit the bull’s eye. The important thing is to start.