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How can you market a small business on a budget?

Does anyone have any tips on how to market a small business on a shoestring budget. What are the best low-budget marketing ideas?

Top voted answer
Steve Gray

Steve Gray, Director at Gray Capital Investments

Top 10% Marketing

First let's start with a question... You got started in business, did you include marketing costs in your original budget? Did you have enough capital to cover that cost as well as the rest of the start up costs?

When you did your initial plan did it include a marketing plan? Target market - who they are - what challenge you will solve for them - how you will get into their heads?Oh and a swot analysis of your competition?

Did you take a look at what marketing the competition does, did or otherwise? Did you say to yourself, I wonder what that costs, and did you do your research to find out what they are payng to market the way they do?

Is your brain hurting yet? :)

Now take a look at whats available, in short, heaps... but it falls into a bunch of loose categorires.

  • Print - brochures, newsaper and magazine adverts - busienss cards - fliers - Yellow pages adverts etc.
  • Electronic - Radio and TV adverts - Facebook, google and Linked in adverts - Your website - Your social Media posts, pages etc - You tube - emailed Newsletters.
  • Netwroking - events where you hand out your information and get to tak to people directly about hwat you have, think markets and business events.

Now you could do TV adverts at 3 am and get a very cheap rate on those adverts and that would be awesome and be a budget conscious way togo, but the results? probably not so hot, unless you are aiming at nightowls etc. ;)

Forst thing is who do you want your customers to be? - If you sell a product or service to plumbers then get your message in front of them where they will see it, not in some obscure place where the advert was cheap but no plumbers got to see it.

Second thing, you need to know is, how often people need to see your 'advert' before they twigg you even exist... then how many before they actually buy, there can be a BIG difference! You might have a cheap advert in a magazine that goes straight to your target market, but if you only put it in once, don't expect a big result, or any result for that matter.

Thirdly, make your business stand out with a professional logo, masthead or similar and be consistent with the image and colours etc.

If your business is localised, you could do social media adverts and set the criteria for where your advert shows up to your area only, that can work well.

Your next challenge is the copy writing, to ensure the advert hits the mark for the reader.

Do you have a page on social media? If so your work here is to get the numbers of readers, followers etc to grow over time so each time you ad something to it you get a good response. The same with an email sign up on your website. Grab people as they get on board and feed them.

Most people give up on social media becasue it tends to take up a LOT of time, especially initally as they have a hard time figuring out what to say about what they have, do or otherwise.

Welcome to the minefield of marketing, it can serve you well or it can BLOW UP with one wrong step, so tread carefully. :)


Hatty Bell

Hatty Bell, Community Manager at

Amazing insight @Steve Gray - so much to think about! Where do we start?!!!

Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at

Correct me if I'm wrong @Steve Gray but it seems you suggest that it's very hard to market on a small budget? 

Hatty Bell

Hatty Bell, Community Manager at

Would be great to get your insight @Tim Stokes @Farhad Khurshed @Sandy Moore @Tanya Williams @Steve Gray @Steve Gray @Tom Valcanis 

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