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25 Creative Marketing Ideas for Small Business

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If you’re a small business or new startup, you don’t have money to waste on expensive advertising like your bigger competitors can. To compete on the same level but with a smaller budget, you have to market smarter.

Start by brainstorming with your business partners and connections to come up with several cheap outside-the-box marketing tricks.

This method produces ideas that are tailor-made for your business and already incorporate your key values and message.

Then, if you’re really feeling stumped for ideas, consider these

25 Creative Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses.

1. Create relevant content on your website. Blog categories or an on-site article directory are excellent for this.

2. Publish articles in trade or local magazines. Most people think published work is more valuable than a simple blog post, and articles cost less than advertising in the same magazine.

3. Reuse content. If you have great content but no one is consuming it, repurpose it. Blog posts can be collated into an ebook, a webinar recording could become a subscriber-only video, a magazine article could be reprinted and distributed as a booklet…the possibilities are endless.

4. Try article marketing. Publishing articles online creates good backlinks to your website, shows expertise, builds credibility, and more. It’s also relatively affordable and easy to outsource.

5. Write a book or ebook. Books have more value than most other types of content and establish your expertise. You can sell them or offer them for free in exchange for email addresses.

6. Sponsor a local sports team. Send out a press release or feature article and get your logo on the team uniforms. This makes you a valuable community member and builds awareness.

local sport teams, content marketing ideas

7. Speak at seminars and teach workshops. You’ll get publicity from marketing the event and from the event itself.

8. Enter business award competitions. If you win, you get a badge on your website and a lot more sales. Even if you don’t win, you can still get lots of publicity if you place high enough and broadcast your participation.

9. Create your own business award competition. If there isn’t a competition in your industry or there’s no way you can compete in one, hosting your own unique competition creates buzz as other businesses scramble to win your award.

10. Host free events. Reporters are always looking for a good story. Give them what they want and get some free publicity by hosting a free event. You’ll get more response if there’s food or freebies involved. Use this list of 109 ways to get media attention to make the most of any event.

11. Network at your local Chamber of Commerce. This is a classic marketing idea for small businesses because it can yield big dividends. Association with the Chamber will make your events more credible, and you can find new partners or clients, or discover opportunities to teach or speak.

12. Join associations and use the provided resources, including local networking events, online forums, and job boards.

13. Build a referral network. Referrals and word of mouth are the most powerful advertising, so build relationships with professionals and other businesses you would happily refer your customers to–and who can send referrals your way, as well.

14. Make partnerships for co-promotion. Several related but non-competing businesses working together on a promotion can afford bigger ad space, better prizes, and other advertising expenses.

15. Be a people person. Never stop networking, follow all leads, and participate in conversations wherever you find them. Don’t be afraid of the phone, internet, email, or face-to-face meetings.

16. Send handwritten holiday, birthday, or thank you cards to past and current clients, valued partners, vendors in your referral network, connections who have helped you–everyone you can think of. This is a low-cost and unique marketing idea for small business, but many entrepreneurs have reported its effectiveness.

17. Open as many communication channels as appropriate, including but not limited to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, a toll-free phone number, live chat on your website, email, and related forums and blog comments.

18. Donate to charities. Send out press releases for each organization and/or time you donate. Alternatively, you can donate a specific percentage of all sales to a certain organization or cause and make customers feel like they’re doing a good turn by purchasing from you.

19. Survey your customers for great ideas. Listen to what they’re saying on Twitter and Facebook for honest market research.

20. Be where your competition is not. Get more leads as the only major player.

21. Be everywhere. Having a blog, YouTube channel, and podcast on iTunes in addition to social media makes you more well known and credible. Expand beyond your website to get more traffic and leads.

22. Setup an affiliate program. You get more sales and brand ambassadors for less.

23. Create a customer loyalty program to encourage future purchases and referrals.

24. Use bumper stickers and window decals. In addition to putting on them company vehicles and owners’ cars, give them for free to employees, partners, stakeholders and investors, charities you donate to, and other contacts to display.

25. Ask for testimonials and reviews. This includes online reviews on websites like Yelp, recommendations on LinkedIn, and rave comments through any channel. Create a testimonials page on your website and use the best reviews in as many promotions as makes sense.

If you’re looking for more creative marketing ideas for SMBs and entrepreneurs, check out this list of 50 strategies from the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur community and these modern ideas from Entrepreneur.com.

What creative marketing ideas for small business have you tried?

If you have a great idea for smart, affordable marketing, please share it in the comments below!

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Natalie

Sep 26th, 2014 - 5:41 am
While these information here is very helpful, there are still small businesses that does the "old school" kind of advertisement such as leafletting and the likes. I have the opportunity to ask one business owner why he still does this and not transition to having a website because he thinks that it is giving direct information to the people and those who does not have any means to connect to the internet. Reply

Jack Risher

Aug 27th, 2014 - 6:28 am
good information Reply

Mike Roberts

Jul 26th, 2014 - 9:38 am
Any person who interested in doing own business in small scale these 25 points are effective and i suggest also join for social networking sites like facebook and twitter, thank you! Reply

Nathan

Jun 28th, 2014 - 7:51 pm
Do you think amazon's affiliate program is a good pick? Reply

Dan Rossi

May 15th, 2014 - 3:44 pm
Very good article, sound marketing tips, well done Christina! However, nowadays SMEs and start-up companies that are keen to move forward and develop their marketing activities but lack the resources, time or knowledge to do it themselves have started outsourcing entirely their marketing to agency. DIY marketing can be very expensive if you don't really know what you are doing and I am talking from my own experience! Dan Reply

F. Mireault

Dec 11th, 2013 - 5:46 pm
Great article.

"6. Sponsor a local sports team. Send out a press release or feature article and get your logo on the team uniforms. This makes you a valuable community member and builds awareness."

I’m working with a small team to build ressources for people interested in sponsorship and marketing. You can check it out here: http://blog.elevent.ca

We'll make sure to include ressources and articles for small businesses and entrepreneurs. It's sometimes easy to only address bigger companies issues.

Best,
F Reply

Helen Nesterenko

Dec 16th, 2013 - 8:08 pm
Great, glad you found it useful :) Reply

business tip of the week

Oct 10th, 2013 - 12:40 am
Thank you a lot for sharing this with all of
us you really know what you're speaking about! Bookmarked.

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a link exchange arrangement among us Reply

Helen Nesterenko

Oct 11th, 2013 - 7:04 am
Great ! Will keep an eye on your website :) Reply

InativeSpeaker

Aug 9th, 2013 - 9:59 pm
Good one :). Article marketing does wonders to your business. Reply

Christina Walker

Sep 3rd, 2013 - 7:32 pm
Thanks for commenting! Article marketing really does work if you do it consistently. Reply

kavan kariappa

Jun 20th, 2014 - 3:34 pm
very useful points,thank you! Reply

Paola

Aug 8th, 2013 - 4:28 pm
Great article, I'll pass on. Thanks! Reply

Creative marketing | Virtual office news

Jul 11th, 2013 - 8:42 am
[...] 25 Creative marketing ideas for the small business and entrepreneurs [...] Reply

Kimberly

May 30th, 2013 - 11:58 am
Great article. I am new in business and so will take all the help and advice I can get Reply

Christina Walker

Jun 20th, 2013 - 8:12 pm
Thanks for reading and commenting, Kimberly. Good luck with your new business! Reply

Faith

May 22nd, 2013 - 7:41 pm
What great suggestions. Speaking and teaching is a fantastic way for small businesses to establish themselves as experts.

Thanks for the reminder that creative marketing ideas don't have to be huge investments. Reply

Christina Walker

Jun 20th, 2013 - 8:11 pm
You're absolutely right, Faith--some of the most effective marketing strategies require more creativity and time than money. Speaking and teaching are good examples. You don't need a lot of money to get started with either, but they go a long way toward building expertise and brand awareness, leading to increased ROI over time. Reply

caera

Apr 15th, 2013 - 10:26 am
Thanks for these great creative ideas. There are several techniques for advertising and marketing that help increasing the sales and make profit.

Reply

Christina Walker

Apr 15th, 2013 - 4:43 pm
Caera, you're welcome! Good luck with your business! Reply

Christina Walker

Mar 25th, 2013 - 8:39 pm
The Storage Factory: Goodie bags are a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Ankur: Thanks for reading! I'm glad you found this article useful. Good luck marketing your business. Reply

Ankur Lamba

Mar 12th, 2013 - 8:40 am
this is a great article... we are a small marketing & advertising company in Delhi, indeed this article has given us ideas to promote our business in a better and more effective way...we were lucky such good ideas to promote our business in a more efficient way, which was fulfilled by this article...... Reply

The Storage Factory

Mar 1st, 2013 - 8:24 pm
This is for the more craftier marketer. When the holidays come around all year,I try and make up some kind of holiday decorated "goodie bag". I usually include some candy (good candy...not the cheap stuff), small notebooks, handmade cards and of course one of my buisiness cards. These have worked very well for me in the past. I believe it is because when I go into a local buisiness to market....the first person I come into contact with is the receptionist and 99% of the time it is a woman. I usually don't make it to the owner of the business. And as a woman myself, I will remember the marketer who gave me something for nothing....and especially a little something that I liked....I will let her do the sales pitch to the owner....chances are he will listen to her before he will agree to listen to my sales pitch....I will even give these bags to the local post office workers and local bankers....They ABSOLUTELY love them and seem to be more that happy to give me their business if they are ever in need and they have no problem referring their friends and contacts to me. Reply

Small BUsiness Phone

Jan 23rd, 2013 - 12:30 pm
Hi,

I agree. Good information about small business.
Thanks for sharing important information. Reply

Christina Walker

Apr 15th, 2013 - 4:42 pm
You're welcome! Glad you liked it! Reply
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