7 Marketing Ideas for Small Business Owners

Small business owners typically face a big challenge when it comes to marketing – they simply don’t have a budget to help foster their revenue goals. The truth of the matter is you really don’t need a large budget to market your small business for growth. Of course, as the saying goes, “It takes money to make money,” however, running a lean business and being smart with where you invest your time as well as your money should be top of mind.

Generally speaking, starting off with the right strategy, setting expectations and then a game plan of how you will achieve your goals are all obvious steps, but sometimes generating enough ideas to get you going may be difficult. So, let’s look at seven marketing ideas small business owners can take advantage of now…

1. Instagram Contest

Driving action on Instagram isn’t about just getting loves or comments, but should incorporate some CTA (call-to-action) guiding traffic back to your website. Instead, think about running contest that’s attractive and incentive-based specific to your target audience. Here are a few steps to get you started:

  • Decide on what you want to achieve. Whether it’s generating leads, sales, and/or gaining more followers, set up specific milestones you want to hit.
  • Research successful Instagram contests that have already been executed by small to large companies. This will help you gain an understanding of what’s worked.
  • Research the most popular and the long-tail hashtags that you know your target audience is using.
  • Designate a unique hashtag to your contest and supplement its proliferation with popular and long-tail hashtags.
  • Determine the theme and design assets you need to make this contest come to life.
  • Nail down the promotional channels you plan to use to bring exposure to your contest (e.g. email, content marketing, PR, SEM, etc.).

2. Local SEO

Here are a few stats you can’t ignore because they emphasize the importance of local SEO:

  • Local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day.
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day.

Further, the Google Local Pack no longer shows seven local businesses, but now only shows three. Don’t let this stop you from making sure your business is listed to ensure you get great ratings and reviews from existing customers.

Additionally, optimize your website to the specific area or state) you serve, e.g. “Digital Marketing Services in Denver, Colorado.” Also, make sure you’ve optimized your social media profiles to reflect this information as well.

3. Be Present On Facebook

With more than 1B people active on Facebook, leveraging it as a promotional and engagement tool is a no-brainer. To get you ramped up, consider the following:

  • Custom audience ads. Simply upload a CSV file of your customer and/or leads database, and begin targeting people who already have touch points with your brand.
  • Create a Facebook Group around a specific topic and invite people to join to receive exclusive content or get promotional offers.
  • Add a CTA to your business page and direct people to a targeted landing page.
  • Retarget website visitors on Facebook utilizing a service like AdRoll.
  • Use visual content assets to drive engagement and include CTAs that will take that engagement beyond just a like, share or comment on your Facebook page, i.e. your website.

4. Run A Local Event

Utilizing offline efforts to help supplement online efforts will help proliferate your brand name, offering customers and leads the opportunity to put a face to your company. Here are a few items to cover:

  • Partner with a local nonprofit organization and encourage people who attend the event to enter into a raffle or a drawing by donating money in exchange for a prize.
  • Make the event educational. Ask yourself what your target audience values and why they should attend. From there, have a guest speaker teach something or even you can do so yourself.
  • It’s all about the people. Give people an opportunity to meet other like-minded professionals by designating time for just networking.
  • Encourage all attendees to leverage a specific hashtag relevant to the event. This will help give it more exposure across social media.
  • Take pictures. Capture your event with pictures and post these on your social media pages. This will give those who didn’t attend an idea of what they can expect the next go around.

5. Video Marketing

Harness the power of videos to help with lead and revenue generation, but more importantly for brand building. Videos enable the ability for you to be creative and interactive, further giving you a place to be real and authentic. Keep in mind that building a solid brand stems from how authentic people perceive you to be – that in itself, builds trust and thus, a loyal following.

Not sure if videos are for you? Well, reconsider by checking out these video marketing stats:

  • Using the word “video” in an email subject line boots open rates by 19% and increases click-through rates by 65%.
  • 78% of people watch videos online every week.
  • 55% of people watch videos online every day.
  • 80% of senior executive watch more online video today than they did a year ago.
  • 54% of senior executive share work-related videos with colleagues at least weekly.

Video ideas can be broken down into the following:

  • Educational webinars
  • Tutorials
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Customer testimonials
  • Product demos
  • Interviews with key influencers
  • Use available tools like Facebook Live, Periscope or Meerkat.

6. Blog Regularly

Blogging regularly is hard to do when you’re running a business. However, what if I told you that the only thing blogging costs you is your time? More specifically,

  • B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
  • Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
  • Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.

Don’t make excuses for how busy you are because that means you’re losing out on the opportunity of not only positioning your expertise, products/services, but also generating sales to grow your small business.

7. Send Weekly to Monthly Emails

Email marketing cannot be overlooked when it comes to customer retention, lead generation and sales. Give subscribers the ability to receive emails from you both weekly and monthly. From there, work on writing content that’s going to entice your subscribers to take action – from registering for a webinar to purchasing a promotional product/service from you.

Further, make sure you segment your subscribers and are sending them relevant content. Doing so will help improve the engagement and yield better results.

Check out a few email marketing tips from Copyblogger:

  • Use power words. Sensory and emotional words attract attention.
  • User a number. Digits like 4 or 37 capture attention and stop wandering eyes.
  • Add a personal touch and don’t automate your greeting.
  • Use the word “you.”
  • Highlight benefits. Don’t sell your product. Instead, sell the benefits it offers.
  • Insert multiple links, as it will increase your chances of people clicking on a link.


Lastly, here are a few additional tips:

  • Participate in forums and groups like LinkedIn Groups, Reddit, Quora, Slack and other niche specific communities.
  • Apply for relevant awards. This will help give you a boost in brand awareness.
  • Partnership marketing. Always be on the look out for complementary products and services so that you can run targeted campaigns to help boost sales.

Give yourself room to test, fail, learn and succeed. Not everything you execute will pan out, but don’t get discouraged. The key to exceeding your initial expectations and benchmarked goals is to keep marching forward. And, being able to quickly pivot your efforts towards the avenues that are working well will help tremendously down the road to generating more leads as well as sales to your small business.

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