small business marketing ideas  

25 Low Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Small Business Marketing

Websites, social media, print advertising – all great marketing ideas for your small business that sound like they’d be really low cost, right? But just as soon as you fire up the computer or inquire on print ads, those thousands of dollars start to add up!

But you’re a small business, you don’t have the budget that a big corporation does nor the time to try out random marketing tactics to see if they work. You need low cost marketing with a high ROI. Things that actually bring customers through your front door and increase sales.

This is where these ideas come in.

Here is a list of 25 low cost marketing ideas to help small businesses boost sales

Start with the Customers

Ask for referrals from the customers you already have

A quick phone call or email to your happy customers works wonders at generating referrals. You’d want more customers like your happy, delightful ones right? Go to them to ask for their referrals. Many times, it won’t necessarily result in anything the first time you ask, so add these folks into a follow up every couple months or so to check in again.

Upsell or cross sell existing and new customers

Start with the customers you already have and see what value you can add to their existing product line. And offer new customers another product on top of what they’re already buying, especially if the two items go hand in hand.

Frequent purchaser cards

Loyalty apps are great, but they are definitely not a low cost marketing idea, so before making the leap into an app, use a frequent visitor card. Offer something as a reward after 10 purchases or visits.

Send emails

Whether you have just a few emails from customers or a long list of them, sending emails can be a really effective way to stay in touch with your customers AND let them know about special sales or services that might interest them. Email marketing works!

Leverage your Product or Service

Take some really nice product photos

Product photos can be used for several things and it’s well worth it to take a few different shots, different angles and even some in-use shots. Camera phones have come a long way so there’s really no need for expensive equipment. Just point and shoot.

Use short videos

We’re in the age of video so it goes without saying that you need a video or two. Using the video feature on your phone is good enough to get some quick little videos of your store or your products. And it doesn’t cost anything.

Give something away for free

Nothing says try out my business like giving a free item away. A sample or trial is a great way to introduce (hook!) customers to your product or service.

Offer a service or product that’s in demand right now

Spring time means cleaning, organizing, refreshing. So it makes sense to offer your product or service that fits this trend. Promote something that’s hot and in line with the current state of affairs in your industry.

Run a contest or giveaway

Contests and giveaways can generate tons of leads for your business, not to mention they’re incredibly popular. Whether you’re collecting business cards for a free item, or emails for a drawing, consumers love the prospect of winning. And that costs your business nothing to provide!

Online Marketing

Check your online reviews

The Internet has really leveled the playing field for businesses of any size, even small businesses can compete with large businesses. And it’s all made possible through the power of online reviews. Reviews matter and they matter a lot. Positive reviews can help your visibility online and negative reviews can hurt your visibility online. That’s why it’s important to continually ask for reviews from your best customers.

Set up a Facebook page

A Facebook page is as necessary as a banner. It’s like claiming another piece of internet real estate. For more help on setting up your page, check out the help center here.

Boost some Facebook posts

There’s power in boosting Facebook posts. And it’s cheap. You can select your area and other demographics and boost a post to reach those people.

Post to Instagram

instagram post low cost marketing ideas

Even if it’s not your best shot or best product photo. Post it and write something catchy for the caption.

Check/update your website

One word – relevancy. A website allows you to show that you are relevant to your market. Show off your products, show off your latest news. And keep things updated – make it a once-a-month thing to look over the site and make sure it’s up to date.

Post something on a blog

Blogs cost nothing, but along with your once-a-month website check, post a little something as a new blog post. Even a few pictures here and there helps with keeping your business relevant.

Onsite Advertising Ideas

Use all your available outdoor space

Outdoor space is where the action is, so to speak. But typically, other than the sign, there isn’t much attracting a customer’s attention to your location. Things like banners, flags, A-Frame signs, tube dancers and pennant strings fill in that gap. And they’re easy on the budget too.

Make use of every inch of your real estate

Get an evergreen, outdoor banner

What’s an evergreen banner? It’s a high quality banner that can be hung outside and has a message on it that can be used any time. So something like a vinyl banner with a ‘sale’ message or a ‘Kid’s Eat Free’ message. Something that can be used to attract customers any time of year.

Get a seasonal banner

A seasonal banner is something that has a more targeted message that’s used during a certain time frame. It’s another essential item though because limited time offers and even buy one, get one deals are big promotion opportunities.

Street-side advertising flag

low cost marketing ideas advertising flag

Another powerful tool is the street side advertising flag. A few of these out in front of your location is the low cost way to attract customers right then and there. They work because they’re instant ROI. You put it out and it brings in customers.

Consider a car cover

Not just any car cover, but a logo, branded car cover. These a little pricier than other marketing ideas, but a quality car cover can last for years and the effectiveness can balance out the price.

Community matters

Participate in community events

Whether with a booth or just by spreading the word about it, community festivals, events and parades are great ways to market yourself and promote for them too.

Speak at events

Another opportunity for marketing and this one helps the community too – speaking about something that can help others gets your name and your content out there.

Other Guerilla Marketing Ideas


There’s still a lot to be said about low cost print advertising. Flyers on car windshields, flyers passed out in the store, even given out door to door to other businesses, flyers are a great, low cost way to get the word out.

Use every holiday as marketing time

If you haven’t heard of the National Days Calendar, head over there and check out the interesting (and often ridiculous) holidays that are celebrated. Now this might be more of a social media celebration, but it’s still a great, no cost way to tie in with something going on in the world.

Use your phone line effectively

Recordings are a great, no cost way to perhaps direct callers to a certain page on your website or to give them basic information about your services. Either way, it’s an opportunity to connect with customers even if you can’t answer.

Low Cost Marketing Ideas for the Win

Marketing is essential. There’s no denying that. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Even if you only focused on a few things from this list, a little out of the box thinking goes a long way in attracting customers.

When it comes to maximizing your investment, think low cost/high return tactics. Start with the customers you already have, then work your way out from there.

We’d love to help with low cost marketing for your location, give us a call at 855-MY-AIRAD or send us an email.


Originally published 2/15/2015. Updated 4/9/2020.

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