Small Business Marketing On A Budget: 5 Low Cost-High Impact Strategies Jonathan Herrick For many small businesses with limited resources, marketing is often an afterthought. Even for those that do have a marketing plan, the budget that supports it is generally a pretty meager one. About 70 percent of small businesses spend less than $500 on marketing each month; 83 percent spend less than $1,000 per month, according to BrightLocal’s annual small businesses marketing survey. Yet it doesn’t take a ton of cash to market your small business effectively and grow sales. Here are five low-cost, high-impact small business marketing strategies to consider: Optimize and Mobilize. Search engine optimization (SEO) may sound like a cliché now but it’s the cornerstone of any strategy for increasing visitors to your website, and one that’s far lower cost than advertising channels like pay-per-click (PPC). If you want to boost your chances of getting found online, optimize the content on your site for search engines. Make the content relevant to your ideal buyer and align it to the keywords they are searching for. For a simple explanation and SEO checklist, check out: https://moz.com/blog/the-beginners-checklist-for-small-business-seo. In today’s digital world it’s not enough just to have a website and optimize it, you also need to mobilize it. In fact, Moz has found that 61% of mobile users who land on a non-mobile-friendly site will leave and go to a competitor’s site. The experience of your online visitors is key to converting more lookers into to buyers. Design your website so it loads quickly and can be read and navigated easily on smartphones and tablets. Get local. Research from Google shows that 50 percent of mobile users are most likely to visit a business after conducting a local search; one in three searches occur right before someone visits a business. Take advantage of those local searches by promoting your business on local search apps like Yik Yak or Foursquare. Another way to take advantage of your local customer base is through last-minute sales and promotions. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), those short-term deals—where a coupon or sales alert is sent by text or email for purchases that can be made that day—can quickly drum up business and boost sales. Use social media marketing. Social media is one of the most cost-effective outlets for small business marketing and advertising. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr can all be used to market your company socially, at little or no cost. Social media turns your customers into advocates; enabling them to post photos and positive comments about your product or service which are viewed by their connections (and connections of connections). And ads on social networks like Facebook—which has 900 million visitors a day–can be very affordable, as low as $5 or $10. Be careful not to spread yourself too thin; focus your efforts where your target customers are hanging out on social media. If you’re stuck and you need a little help getting the most out of your social media budget, check out this great article from Kabbage.com. Create marketing events. Free events are another way to spread the word about your business. If you’re a bicycle shop, for instance, you could sponsor a free bike-tune-up event or offer a free class that teaches how to fix a flat tire. If you’re a service provider, like a small accounting firm, you could offer a free tax prep seminar or a networking happy hour for local businesses. You can also organize events around the release of a new product or service, whether that’s the latest iteration of your app or a new flavor of ice cream. One recommendation from the NFIB is to design square-shaped, digital event “flyers” which can be easily posted to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and inserted into emails without having to be reformatted. Use email. Email isn’t new but it’s still considered the single most effective way to achieve your marketing goals, including brand awareness as well as customer acquisition, conversion and retention. In fact, according to the DMA, email delivers the highest ROI of all marketing channels, $40 for every $1 invested. Email is also a great way to build your contact list. A healthy opt-in strategy to build your list is to simply provide valuable and relevant content with your newsletter in exchange for your visitor’s email address. Email marketing automation tools have become easier to use and more affordable than ever for small businesses – helping you make the most of your marketing budget. Automatically capture visitors from your website and send the right message to them at just the right time with next generation tools like Hatchbuck. You don’t need a large budget to get in front of your ideal audience. Optimization and mobile, local, social media, events, and email are all tried-and-true small business marketing strategies that have great impact with smaller budgets. By investing in a few smart strategies and tools, you can pump up your profits while strengthening your brand.