Small business on a small budget

Marketing is a necessity no matter what your business. But, it’s important to remember that a solid marketing plan can come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and budgets.

Bootstrap marketing is all about making the most out of your resources, finding new ways to work with others, and becoming your own PR agent. It’s the best mindset for new business owners because it’s wallet-friendly and forces you to use your creativity.

Fortunately, there’s a vast array of tools that you can take advantage of...without depleting your bank account!

Gather quality research

Estimated cost: Free

Use a short questionnaire to gather the opinions of people on the street, outside of shopping centers, or events that fit your target demographic. Load your iPad with a set of quick questions to ask people, visual aids, and product comparisons -- then hit the street!   

Create a Contest

Estimated cost: Whatever you decide to give away

Contests are a great way to use social media to engage your followers. Create a small scale contest by having your followers respond to a question or share a picture accompanied with a fun hashtag. Have your followers share your business page or submit their email address for a chance to win a product from your business. For long term contests, be sure to drive excitement daily and encourage your followers to enter for their chance to win!

Give the inside scoop on social

Estimated cost: Free

When posting on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, keep the one in seven rule in mind. For every seven posts you create, make sure that one in focused exclusively on promoting your brand. The content of the other six should focus on providing information, testimonials, or entertaining images or videos.


Start a loyalty program

Estimated cost: A few discounts or free gifts

Keeping an existing customer is far less expensive than searching for new customers. Create a loyalty program to show your clients that they are valued with discounts, tier programs, exclusive shopping days, or points programs. Check out Belly, Perkville, PunchTab, or Brownie Points if you’re looking for an app to help get you started.  


Remember to always keep your email list growing! Give your visitors several opportunities to register every time they visit your website.

Launch an email campaign

Estimated cost: Free (until you reach a high volume sending list)

Use your creativity to keep your emails engaging and beneficial to your customers. Feature flash sales, rewards program perks, and anything new to your businesses.  Stream Send, MailChimp, and Benchmark Email are some easy to use email marketing services.  


Embrace guerrilla marketing

Estimated cost: $10-$500

Hand out custom t-shirts, stickers, or swag (like water bottles or dog toys). People love free stuff so give them something to remember you by!

Or, consider using sidewalk chalk or posters to get your message out around town.


Gather testimonials

Estimated cost: Free

Stand out from your competitors by providing success stories from previous customers. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your satisfied customers. Most are happy to write a review when they’re happy with a purchase. You can also offer a free trial or complementary item to select customers in return for an honest review. These are great to use in marketing materials of all kinds!


Maintain a blog

Estimated cost: Free (assuming you already have a website)

Most people would rather purchase a product or service from a brand with a personality rather than a stiff corporate tone. Use your blog to relate to customers as a person or small business! If you are new to blogging you could start with a customer success story, market trends, a behind the scenes look at your business, or maybe a feature of some of your staff members.

Things we don't recommend you skimp on?
An eye catching logo and an amazing website.

Partner with other businesses

Estimated cost: $50+

Look for local businesses that share similar values, target customers, and experience as your brand. Most businesses welcome connections, especially when they benefit both parties. For instance, if you own a bakery, partner with a nearby coffee shop on a special rewards card, let local vendors sell their wares in your storefront, or let a local artist offer painting classes at night. 


Host an event

Estimated cost: $500+

Think about the interests of your target customer and invite them to exclusive events. Anthropologie often holds special events for Anthro card holders. Guests are able to attend DIY workshops, fashion shows, and even pet adoption days. You can make an even larger event by networking with other businesses in your area. Many local businesses hold special shopping nights where customers can travel from store to store and enjoy sales and refreshments. There are endless event ideas, the key is to get your customer excited and eager to come.


Now that you’ve learned some budget friendly tips, remember that working with a small budget doesn’t necessarily mean a small marketing presence. Spend your money wisely and business will be booming in no time!