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25 Ways to Market Your Small Business on a Budget. English Photoworks | Wiltshire Portrait Photography

Small Business Marketing Tips

As a relatively new small business owner, I know as well as anyone the importance and value of good marketing. Problem is, many traditional marketing strategies are either beyond the budgets of small businesses, or else they are simply not suited to the kinds of work we are doing. Here is a list of good ideas to help you market your small business, whatever it is that you do.

1. Why do you exist? Make sure you are clear about exactly what it is you are offering, and if someone finds you, they are absolutely clear on what you are about.

2. Make sure you have an awesome website. An obvious one. Make sure your site is engaging, visually attractive and contains all the information a prospective client will need. If it doesn't, they will just move on to the next business, who gives them the information they need more readily. Shameless plug: if you do not have a beautiful and functional website, we can build one for you! Just get in touch ;-) 

3. Make sure you list your website in online directories such as Yelp, Yahoo, Google (of course), but also other local directories relevant to your area.

4. Get your business listed on Google. This is super-important and helps people in your area find you easily. This YouTube video has some great tips to help you dominate local searches. 

5. List your business on location-based services such as Foursquare, Facebook check-in, Yahoo Local and Google Places.

6. Collaborate and co-market with other businesses in your area. If you collaborate, you can reach new clients by reaching another business's audience, and vice-versa.

7. Build meaningful human relationships. Another obvious one. In our world of online interaction, this simple thing is often overlooked. People still value phone calls and actual face-to-face contact.

8. Ask for client referrals. Referrals are an excellent way to get new business, and in the creative industries, referrals are probably the most important marketing avenue we have. Be proactive in asking clients for referrals and recommendations. Ask them to give you a review on Facebook or Google+. Send them a link to exactly where the review should go, and make it easy for them!

9. Make sure your current customer relations are excellent. Trust and attention to customers should be a number 1 priority: make sure your customers leave satisfied, happy and well-treated. Have a look at this TED talk which explains more.

10. Make sure you can explain your 'why' to people. Make sure potential clients know why they should choose you over one of your competitors. People are often more interested in why you do something rather than what you do - the 'why' is more important than the 'what'. Simon Sinek gave a legendary talk in 2009 about this - check it out.

11. Marketing on social media. This costs nothing but is time consuming. Grow an audience on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. Produce content that is appropriate to those sites and spend time producing content that is attractive to the different needs of users. Amy Porterfield is a guru in this area and produces a podcast that's worth checking out.

12. Find ways to get published. This can be in the physical and online spheres. If you have a website, keep up your blog or find ways to guest-post on the blogs of other businesses. Offer to showcase the work of another local business that you work with or admire. You could also publish an ebook, showcasing your expertise in a particular area - you can offer this in return for subscribing to your email newsletter.

13. Give a workshop or class. This can be a freebie in your area that draws people in who might not know about what you do. If your class is enjoyable and useful, they might want to pay you for your 'regular' work.

14. Old-fashioned print advertising. This can include flyers, and ad in your local magazine or newspaper, or writing something for your town's local newsletter.

15. Trade your services. Another good way to work with other businesses while keeping your (and their) costs down.

16. Get your product or service reviewed. This is a winning way of working with bloggers - they get some content for their site, and you get some publicity for your work.

17. Offer competitions, promotions etc. This is a great way to build community engagement.

18. Gift your services to a charity auction. This is an excellent way of both helping a good cause, and getting some great coverage for your business. This is especially good for people who offer a service without a physical end-product.

19. Get involved in a community project. This can be something like giving a talk in a local school, or maybe gifting your time to a charity. Another great way of giving something back, while raising awareness of the work you do.

20. Write handwritten notes and thank you cards to your clients. This is an excellent personal touch and, again, brings some old-school communication back our largely digital world.

21. Be easy to contact. This is obvious, but a surprising number of people are unavailable when prospective clients try to reach them. If you do not answer your phone or return emails promptly, the client will give their business to someone who will.

22. Get interviewed. Again, this is a way of providing content to someone else in return for highlighting what you do. Approach local newspapers, radio and TV stations to see if they would like to see you!

23. Get printed marketing materials. At the most basic level, make sure you have attractive business cards (and flyers) that show clearly what you do and have all relevant contact information on them. There are loads of printers that will do this for you - MOO is the best online service I have found, and they offer awesome (and affordable) design services if you need them.

24. Provide excellent customer service. Make sure your clients leave you happy!

25. Contribute to online forums in your professional area. A good place to start with this is Quora.

David Shoukry