The Internet is the great equalizer in that it gives small businesses marketing opportunities on par with their larger competitors. It can still cost money to market online though and, if you aren't careful, the total costs can totally blow your budget.
The good news is that a number of inexpensive small business marketing methods can help you achieve your goal—and some are even free. We surveyed small business owners to find the top 10 tactics for marketing your business on a shoestring.
Small Business Marketing Tips You Can Afford
1. Post videos online
"The main marketing problem for any business these days is getting found, and online video is the solution," says Alfred Poor, who owns The Center for Small Business and is the author of Power Marketing for Small Business: How you can boost sales with low-cost video.
"Video has been shown to move an existing site to the first page of a Google search within 30 minutes of adding it, and move it into one of the top two positions within a day, says Poor.
He adds that video also helps your business even after prospective customers find it online. "A study found that customers who see a video on your site are 172 percent more likely to buy your product or service."
Poor says you can make the video yourself or you can hire a professional to make one for $500 or less in most markets and about $350 in NYC. "Nothing delivers the same bang for the buck."
2. Post case studies on your website
"One inexpensive practice we use is to create case studies of our happy, successful clients," says David Render, chief operating officer at AccountMate Software, a small software company.
"We conduct a short phone interview with the customer, and then fill out a standardized template, which we then post to our website," said Render. "It would work for a business of any size, and if you have an in-house person with writing ability, it doesn’t cost anything."
Render says case studies don't have to be extensive, but they do need to contain useful information. "It's a matter of explaining the customer's particular problem, how your product or service solved that problem, and then be sure to include a quote from the client about their satisfaction."
3. Use your blog to reach out to prospects and customers
"We use our blog to share news about our company, news about our clients, awards we have won, and other content like our videos on YouTube that we're pushing out," explains Hassan Bawab, founder and CEO at Magic Logix, an interactive digital marketing agency.
Don't have a blog? Well, it's easier than you think to start one. "Businesses can set up a free account with WordPress to launch their own blog," says Bawab. "The blog is a great tool to position us as thought leaders in digital marketing. When combining high quality content with a strong social media presence, we extend our reach to media and clients."