Getting the word out about a product or service is crucial to driving sales for small businesses, but marketing a small business can also get expensive. The great news is that small businesses don’t require a huge budget for marketing. Here are six effective ways to market a small business on a small budget:

1. Use Local SEO

Since an estimated 80 percent of customers find local information by using search engines and apps, such as Google or Apple’s Maps, it’s important that small businesses take advantage of local search engine optimization (SEO) as a way to promote their business. This can be done by verifying the business and optimizing it for local search using the Google My Business tool, using content management systems that leverage responsive design to ensure the business’ site is optimized for mobile devices and cleaning up local citations on directories, such as Yelp, by ensuring there are no name, address or phone number errors, which can be done for free. Small business should also create local content that uses hyper-local keywords to help drive their target audience to their business. For example, a local coffee shop in Miami, Florida, may want to include the key phrase “coffee shop in Miami” in their blog post.
Small businesses can also use tools within directories to optimize their pages, such as using Yelp’s search marketing tool and options to improve a restaurant’s Yelp page and get in front of the right audience. For example, a local restaurant can simultaneously promote their content across Twitter, Facebook and Yelp by giving their users the option to check-in when they visit the restaurant and share this information with their friends. This restaurant can also provide check-in offers, such as a free appetizer or drink, for coming in or sharing the check-in as a way to drive interest among prospects and their friends.

2. Build a Community

It’s important for small businesses to drive momentum, and there’s nothing like having a group of dedicated supporters who are down for the cause. That’s why it’s crucial to build and nurture a community of loyal enthusiasts. A community of followers are some of the most loyal and engaged supporters of the brand, and they play an important role as advocates for what the company is selling or promoting. Small businesses can develop a community several ways without overspending. For example, a retail store that sells fitness apparel can drive excitement for their services or products by having exclusive content via a Reddit forum and using it as an information hub to provide value to its supporters to drive loyalty among its advocates.

3. Take Advantage of User Generated Content (UGC)

User Generated Content or UGC is a cost-effective and authentic way for small businesses to market their companies, and it doesn’t have to cost much if anything at all. UGC is also a powerful way to market to target audiences as audiences trust UGC more than other forms of media content by as much as 50 percent. It’s also 35 percent more memorable than other types of content, too. One way small businesses can take advantage of UGC is to host a content on their social media accounts. For example, a fashion retail store can host a social media contest that requires entrants to take a picture of their favorite outfit of the day using items from the store and post it to their Instagram account using a hashtag dedicated to the contest. The company can also encourage contest entrants to share the post as a way to get more votes and increase their chances of winning. This helps to drive engagement among followers and can also increase the chances of turning prospective buyers into paying customers.

4. Leverage Hashtags

Social media is one of the best ways small businesses can promote their business when they aren’t not working with a huge marketing budget, and the hashtag is a quick and easy way to spread the word about a new product, service or sale. It enables small businesses to engage with their supporters and customers, build a relationship and promote their store events all on one platform. For example, a coffee shop can attract customers by creating a coupon code to drive online pickup orders or in-store purchases by uploading a photo and text with the code on their Facebook or Instagram social media page and promoting it using a hashtag.

5. Create an “Insta-Booth”

For small businesses with younger audiences, it’s important to drive engagement and provide opportunities that encourage that engagement while creating strategies that drive online audiences into the physical store. One way to do this is to create a space where brick-and-mortar customers can take photos with the product or service right in the store. For example, a restaurant can create an “Insta-Booth” where customers can take fun photos of the food the restaurant serves. This can help encourage patrons to share their content while promoting the restaurant.

6. Participate in a Local Event

It’s important for small local businesses to be present in the communities they serve, and a great way to get this done is by participating in a local event. It doesn’t have to be a huge conference, either. For example, a small restaurant can participate in a local farmers market to give its existing and prospective customers a way to sample foods and also introduce new selections.

Final Thoughts

Promoting a small business doesn’t require a big budget. Small business can get it done by having a plan and using free or low-cost tools to get it done. By taking advantage of these options, small businesses can drive awareness, increase engagement and improve sales.

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