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  • Writer's pictureKayla Stinnett

Marketing on a Shoestring Budget: Creative Ways to Promote Your Small Business

Yeah, marketing is essential, but it can cost a pretty penny, too. But marketing your small business doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars on a billboard or social media ads; it means being strategic with your dollars and investing in marketing where it will make the most impact for your small business.

Here are a few tips for marketing on a shoestring budget:

Define Your Target Audience

Defining your target audience is a great way to make sure you’re smart with your marketing budget. After all, you can’t get a return on your marketing investment if you’re targeting the wrong people.

Buyer personas are a fantastic way to do this! A buyer persona represents your ideal customer based on market research and data about your existing customers. If you have data on your current customer base, consider including that information, such as demographics, behavior, patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you can get, the better.

Also, consider employing social listening. Social listening involves tracking social media for mentions and conversations related to your brand. Think about searching for and saving hashtags relevant to your business or industry and noting any patterns in the data.

Pro Tip: Think of your buyer persona as building a character. What’s their name? How about their income? Do they have a family?

Leverage Social Media

Social Media is a fantastic way to market your small business on a low budget. The key here is to choose platforms your ideal customer (buyer persona) uses rather than trying to do it all. You can take that one step further by doubling down on one platform and automatically setting your content to post on other platforms. For example, let’s say your audience is moving to Instagram, but there are a few stragglers on Facebook. Well, prioritize your content strategy for Instagram, but utilize the Meta Business Suite or the backend of the Instagram app to set auto-post to Facebook.

Pro Tip: Check out “6 Ideas for Content Marketing” for inspiration for social media marketing content.

Collaborate with Another Small Business

I promise you’re not the only small business operating on a small marketing budget. That’s why collaboration is such a great tool! Here’s a couple of collaboration tips:

  • Make sure you’re collaborating with businesses that offer complementary services or products.

  • Collaborate on a giveaway for an upcoming holiday, such as Mother’s Day, National Pizza Day, or Women’s History Month.

  • Partner together to sponsor a local event or an organization.

  • Work together to create a special offer or package for the holidays.

  • Partner together for local vendor-centric events and split the booth fee.

  • Plan local events together, such as a “Self Care Sunday” or “Holiday Open House.”

Pro Tip: The point here is to be creative and to make sure the partnership is mutually beneficial.

Utilize Free Marketing Tools

Another great way to stretch a small business marketing budget is to utilize free (or inexpensive) marketing tools. I’m an avid fan of Canva, ClickUp, and the Meta Business Suite, but you can click here for a full list of my favorite tools.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re smart with these tools, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI). Remember, AI is not meant to be the “end all and be all” of your marketing but to play a supporting role.

So, let’s recap our key takeaways here:

  • Define your audience.

  • Utilize social media.

  • Establish smart collaborations with complementary businesses.

  • Add some free (or inexpensive) marketing tools to your toolkit.

And remember, if you need marketing help, Iron City Social is here to help. Click here to schedule a free marketing consultation.

About the Author, Kayla Stinnett: Kayla Stinnett is a self-described chef, gin lover, and rambling woman. With over eight years in the marketing world, she’s the CEO of Iron City Social, HBIC at Quake Plus Size, and Managing Partner + CMO of Stargazer Brewing Company.


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