6 clever marketing ideas for small business success

7 min read
Janah Jackman

Marketing can be a daunting prospect for any business owner, but for a small business, it can be much trickier.

With all the stiff competition out there, there is mounting pressure to be innovative. Yet many start-ups and small businesses around the world are finding success with clever marketing strategies and there is no reason why you can’t be one of them. You just need to be a little more creative when you don’t have a marketing department or a huge budget to work with.

Here are 6 clever marketing ideas you can action right now to promote your business and services to potential customers!

Referral marketing

It’s no secret that people are more likely to use a brand that’s been recommended to them by a family member or friend. It’s even less of a secret that an incentive or reward is going to seriously increase your chances of getting a customer to recommend your brand to others. Just look at the success of brands like Graze and Uber. They weren’t afraid to give away the goods for free - and it massively paid off.

Some referral marketing ideas include:

  • Offer discount codes, freebies or even competition entries for anyone who refers a friend
  • Offer a free trial of your product in exchange for referrals
  • Create a ‘win-win’ set up with a discount for the referrer and a free first use for the person who has been referred
  • Set up a point-based system where each recommendation earns a specific amount of points, enough points will then earn the referrer a prize

Understandably, it’s not always feasible to give away your product or service for free, especially when you’re just starting up. This is why you should also make it extremely easy for your customers to leave reviews about your product or service in as many places as possible. Reviews also act a type of referral and help people to build trust in your brand.

Video marketing

According to a recent study by Hubspot, if you create video content that your audience enjoys, 83% of them would consider sharing it with friends. It’s clear to see why video is a huge part of marketing and why it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The best part is, it’s very easy for you to introduce video into your marketing strategy.

Here are some ways you can do so:

  • Start a live broadcast with Instagram Live, Facebook Live or Periscope
  • Film a Q and A
  • Record a video explanation of your product or service
  • Host a webinar
  • Give a sneak-peak or behind-the-scenes look at your office

You don’t even need to invest in any fancy equipment! All you need to start creating video content is a mobile phone and a well-lit room. It’s inexpensive and it’s effective. Consumers are watching more and more video content, so you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity as a small business.

Get involved with community causes

As a business, it’s important for you to stay up-to-date with local community events and get involved with charities.

Not only does this give you an opportunity to get your name and logo out there while doing something positive, but consumers will also be able to tell a lot about your brand by the causes you actively support. This allows you to strengthen your brand message and personality.

Remember, attaching your name to any old charity or event won’t do – it’s crucial to choose one that both you and your customers care about, so they can connect and relate.

More people will notice as you start popping up in hashtags related to the cause or see you out and about getting involved.

Email marketing

An email list is marketing gold for any business as it usually consists of people who want to hear from you and are interested in your products and services.

It’s also especially useful for a small business or start-up because it offers an easy way to communicate directly with your customers – allowing you to build relationships that lead to those all-important sales. Email marketing also doesn’t need to eat into a lot of your time – with an Email Marketing plan from GoDaddy, you can quickly create email campaigns using a drag-and-drop composer and automate your email campaigns so they are sent to your customers at the right time, leaving you with more time to focus on your business.

If you don’t already have an email list, you’re probably wondering what you could even send people. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a weekly or monthly newsletter
  • Offers and discounts
  • Gifts and freebies – also known as ‘lead magnets’
  • Links to interesting content you’ve found for them

While the end goal is to sell your services, you should avoid making your customers feel ambushed by sending a mix of sales-focused emails and emails providing content they will enjoy.  You want to make sure each email you send is engaging and offers the recipient value. See this post for more email marketing tips.

Guest Blogging

Blogging is a powerful tool in the online world, but even if you don’t have one for your business, there is still a way for you to reap the benefits.

If you can create content for another popular website or blog in your industry, you can then expose your business to their audience.

Not all websites accept guest posts, but it’s worth having a search for the ones that do and reaching out. The content you create should be on par or even better than the work you would produce for your own site, as in many cases, this will be the first impression of your business for most readers. It should be content that inspires them to head to your website to find out more.

If you can land a few guest posts on influential websites in your industry, that’s an opportunity you won’t want to waste.


Influencers are people with big social media followings and high engagement rates. When they recommend your products and services to their followers, that exposes your brand to a huge number of potential clients. This can result in high numbers of sales and large growth for your brand.

The power of influencer marketing is undeniable – and if you’re looking for a way to quickly reach a large number of people, this is an option you should definitely explore. But influencers with high follower counts can charge thousands for just one post – what if you don’t have that kind of money right now?

All is not lost – micro-influencers are the way forward.

A micro influencer usually has less than 100,000 followers but this can mean a higher engagement rate as they are likely to be more connected with their audience. They are also most likely to understand their following and tailor posts to their needs accordingly. This is great news for you, as micro-influencer posts will cost less and you will still see a great return for your efforts.

Get started!

So now you have 6 clever marketing ideas, it’s time to start putting them into action! This just goes to show that you don’t need tons of cash or a huge marketing department to get your business out there. Try these ideas out and see for yourself!

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