13 inexpensive marketing ideas for small business owners

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Whether you’re a brand-new small business owner or a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of free and low-cost marketing options. From social media posts to customer events, there’s a lot you can do to promote your business and build customer loyalty…without spending a fortune.

Here, we’re covering 13 inexpensive marketing ideas to boost your small business any time of year.

  • Social media
  • Video content
  • Email newsletters
  • Directory listings
  • Business cards
  • Loyalty programs
  • Business partnerships
  • On-the-go branding
  • Local press
  • Customer events
  • Community sponsorships
  • Personal touches


Social media

Most social media platforms are free to use, and many offer low-cost advertising options in addition to organic posting. When it comes to using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn for your business, make sure you create on-brand posts, share regularly, and engage with your followers. Get creative with a mix of in-feed and Stories posts to diversify your content and keep followers excited.


An easy way to boost engagement and gain new followers is by running a giveaway – giving away a piece of merchandise or a service should be relatively low-cost for you. Encourage followers to tag their friends in the comments or share your post to their own page to attract potential customers.


Video content

With free streaming platforms like YouTube and TikTok readily available, take advantage and start creating dynamic content for your business. Whether a stop-motion video of your ceramics process or a tutorial on kneading bread, on-brand video content can help elevate your brand.


Email newsletters

Stay connected with customers digitally – email newsletters are a great way to share updates about your small business, send promotional offers, and reinforce your brand identity. Use your newsletter to share new video content and blog posts, too! Encourage customers to sign up for your newsletters to receive subscriber-only offers and get early access to sales.


On-the-go branding

If you use any kind of vehicle for your small business, make sure it’s branded with your logo and contact information. Whether it’s a delivery truck or an electric scooter, an informational sticker or magnetic sign can spread the word in a cost-efficient way.

Custom car magnets
Maximize your mileage – order a magnet for each side of your vehicle.


Branded packaging

Get your brand out there by letting your customers do the work. Think: paper bags stamped (or stickered!) with your logo and branded reusable tote bags.

Custom tote bags
Bag customer orders in a fabric tote – they’ll use it again and again, and spread the word about your business.


Community sponsorships

Can you become a sponsor for a youth sports team or participate in a fundraiser for a local community center?  Donating money – and time – is a great way to get your brand out there, create positive buzz around your business, and help you connect with potential clients in your area.


Business partnerships

Small business is all about community – get the most out of your by partnering with other makers, whether from your online network or your local main street. If you sell artisanal soaps, ask a nearby spa if they want some samples for thank-you packages. If you make custom home decor, partner with a local realty group to design one-of-a-kind closing sale gifts. The options are truly endless!


Business cards

It doesn’t get more classic than a business card! Make sure you always have a few in your pocket…you never know when you’ll run into a potential collaborator. On your business card, make sure to include your contact information and social handles.

Business cards
Make your cards stand out with a foil finish or eye-catching shape.


Make your business card work twice as hard – on one side, add a promotional offer or a punch-card design for in-store rewards.


Personal touches

It might sound obvious, but don’t overlook the small personal touches – these extra gestures go a long way. Whether it’s a handwritten thank-you card, a coupon for their next order, or a birthday discount, make them feel special with a polished personal touch.

Use a branded postcard to add something special to every order.


Online directory listings

Make sure your business is listed on every major search engine – this will ensure your business appears in search results and will also improve the reputation and search value of your website.


Customer events

Whether a private shopping event, one-on-one craft studio tour, or a virtual flash sale, show appreciation for your customers with a special event…without spending too much money. Even if you can’t appreciate them with a huge in-person party, get creative with on-screen or digital events.


Loyalty programs

Keep customers coming back with a great loyalty program. Whether it’s a free goodie after five purchases or a discount code for their birthday, promotions and personalized rewards are a great way to make customers feel special…and encourage them to click ‘Buy.’


Local press

Did you redecorate your brick-and-mortar shop? Are you hosting an open house in your studio? Donating a portion of profits to a charity? All of these things are newsworthy when it comes to the local press. If you’re doing something big for your business, reach out to an area media outlet with a press release – there’s a good chance you’ll be featured, and word will spread about your business.