Marketing a Small Business on a Budget: Creative Strategies and Tactics

March 1, 2023


As a small business owner, it can be challenging to market your brand effectively while operating on a tight budget. However, with the right strategies and tactics, you can promote your business and connect with potential customers without spending a fortune. Attracting customers doesn't necessarily have to involve costly advertising campaigns or huge investments in marketing. We understand the importance of making every penny count, which is why we've compiled a list of cost-effective marketing strategies and tactics that have been proven to work for small businesses. From leveraging social media to generating buzz with targeted campaigns, our tips will help you reach your target audience and increase your brand's visibility without putting a strain on your finances.

To help you get started, we've compiled this list of creative strategies and tactics for promoting your small business on a small budget.

Sponsor a Local Event or Festival

Sponsorship is a great way to get your name out there, build positive relationships with your community and generate leads. As there are plenty of opportunities throughout the year that offer a chance to get your name out there and help give back to the community, this strategy can be just as effective for small businesses with limited means as it is for large corporations.

If you're looking for opportunities to market your business on a budget, consider sponsoring local events or festivals that align with the services or products you offer. Whether it’s a local baseball team, a new festival in town or even your favorite charity, sponsoring an event will help you build relationships with your community while generating leads and exposure. Think of offering products or services at a discount for those who attend the event, or donate money towards the cause. This will not only help spread awareness of your brand but will also help create a strong bond with people in your community.

In addition to sponsoring events, partnering with other local businesses or non-profits can be a powerful way to reach new customers and generate leads. By collaborating on events or promotions, you can tap into each other's audiences and gain exposure through social media and other marketing channels.

Leverage the news by reaching out to local media outlets for a story about your business.

Tapping into the media is an effective way to get your business in front of a wider audience. By reaching out to local media outlets for a story about your business, you can generate valuable publicity and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

To find local media outlets, start by checking out your city's website or your state's website. You'll likely find a list of local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations there. If you can't find the information you need, try searching Google for "[name of city] newspaper" or "[name of city] TV station."

Once you've identified some potential media outlets, it's time to reach out to reporters or editors. Before you do, make sure you have something newsworthy to share. This could be a recent milestone your business has achieved, a new product or service you're launching, or an event you're hosting that's relevant to your community.

When you reach out to reporters, be clear and concise in your pitch. Provide some background information about your business and what makes you unique. If possible, provide some statistics or figures that demonstrate your success or growth. And be sure to highlight why your story is relevant to their audience and why they should care.

Remember that reporters are busy and receive countless pitches every day. To increase your chances of getting coverage, make sure your pitch is timely, interesting, and relevant. And don't be afraid to follow up if you don't hear back initially.

Leverage digital advertising on Google and Facebook.

Digital advertising on Google and Facebook is a highly effective way to reach potential customers and promote your business online. These platforms offer a range of paid advertising opportunities that can help you target your ideal audience, increase your online visibility, and drive more traffic to your website.

To get started with digital advertising, you can create an account on Google Ads or Facebook Ads Manager and set up your first ad campaign. These platforms provide a range of targeting options that allow you to reach specific demographics, interests, and behaviors, making it easier to reach the right people with your message.

When creating your ad campaigns, make sure to use attention-grabbing headlines, compelling visuals, and clear calls-to-action to encourage people to click through to your website. It's also important to track your results and analyze your data to see what's working and what's not, so you can optimize your campaigns over time for better performance.

If you're new to digital advertising or lack marketing experience, there are several ways to get assistance. One option is to hire a digital marketing agency or a freelancer who specializes in online advertising. Another option is to tap into the talent of college or university learners by using Riipen in your hiring strategy. By doing so, you can receive cost-effective support for your digital advertising efforts while also providing valuable work experience to students while in their college/university program. By connecting with learners who have the skills and knowledge you need, you can make sure that your digital marketing efforts are in good hands.

“My experience working with a multidisciplinary team of three interns from the University of Colorado was outstanding. The students were dedicated, disciplined, and professional in all of their interactions with myself and the stakeholders they interviewed,” said Kim Parrott, CEO of SeaChange Resources, a professional training and coaching firm located in Blue Hill, Maine. “Their final presentation was insightful and provided valuable feedback to my team on our current digital marketing practices as well as recommendations for our future strategy.”

Use coupons and loyalty programs as incentives for regular customers.

Loyalty programs and coupons are effective ways to incentivize repeat business and reward loyal customers. By offering discounts, free items, and other special promotions, you can encourage customers to come back and shop with you again and again.

One way to use coupons is by offering exclusive discounts and promotions through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. These platforms allow businesses to reach a large audience quickly and cost-effectively, making them an ideal tool for promoting special deals and driving traffic to your website or store.

Another strategy is to offer coupons for free items or discounts on future purchases to customers who make a certain number of purchases or reach a certain spending threshold. This can help build customer loyalty and incentivize customers to spend more money with your business over time.

Loyalty programs, that can be created with tools such as Fresha, are another effective way to reward regular customers and encourage repeat business. These programs typically offer rewards points or discounts for every purchase, which can be redeemed for free items or future discounts. By offering these rewards, you can create a sense of value and appreciation among your customer base and encourage them to continue shopping with your business.

Finally, when designing your loyalty program or coupon strategy, it's important to consider your target audience and what types of promotions are most likely to resonate with them. 

Supplement your website with a budget-friendly newsletter or email campaign.

Email marketing is a great budget-friendly way to build relationships with your customers. With a little bit of creativity and effort, you can use email campaigns to keep your customers engaged and informed, while also driving sales and building your brand.

To get started, you'll need to build an email list of customers who have opted in to receive emails from you. This can be done through a sign-up form on your website, in-store promotions or events, or other channels. Leverage popups from tools such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, to collect email addresses on your website. Once you have your email list, you can start sending out regular newsletters or promotional emails.

When creating your emails, make sure they're visually appealing and easy to read. You can use a template or design your own, but make sure it's consistent with your brand and includes your logo and other branding elements. Keep your content relevant and engaging, with a mix of promotional and informative content. Offer exclusive deals or promotions to your email subscribers to incentivize them to stay on your list.

To increase the effectiveness of your email campaigns, segment your email list based on demographics or purchasing behavior. This will allow you to send targeted messages to specific groups of customers, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

Find creative inspiration from industry leaders such as Canva

Canva is an industry leader when it comes to design software and offers a wealth of resources that small businesses can use to create professional-looking graphics for their websites and social media platforms. With its free and paid versions, Canva offers a range of features that allow businesses to customize templates, upload images, and choose from a vast library of free stock photos.

One of the benefits of using Canva is that you don't need to have a background in design to create high-quality graphics. Its user-friendly interface and drag-and-drop functionality make it easy for anyone to create graphics quickly and easily. Additionally, Canva offers a variety of templates that are pre-designed to fit different social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, making it easy to create graphics that are the right size and format.

If you're struggling to come up with ideas for your graphics, Canva's template library can also serve as inspiration. From posters and flyers to business cards and resumes, Canva has a wide range of templates to choose from, and you can customize them to fit your brand's unique style and aesthetic.

In addition to its design resources, Canva also has a supportive online community, where users can share their work and receive feedback from others. This community can be a great resource for small business owners who are looking to improve their design skills and get inspired by others in their industry.


In the end, it's all about creativity. The strategies discussed in this article are all viable options that can help small businesses connect with potential customers, build positive relationships with the community, and generate leads. As there are so many ways to market a small business on a budget, you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars or hours on expensive marketing campaigns to see results. By leveraging your resources wisely and thinking outside of the box, you can get creative with your marketing plan and see results quickly.

Whether you’re a startup, a solopreneur with ambitious plans, or a small business owner with a desire for growth, sign in or create your free Riipen employer account and access student talent from 430+ universities and colleges in Canada, US, UK, and Australia.

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About the author:

Jennifer Lussier is a bilingual Content Marketing Specialist based in Montreal, QC. With a multidisciplinary background and a desire to accomplish more for the betterment of society, she joined Riipen in 2019 as an Academic Account Manager and has since migrated to the marketing team as it is more closely aligned with her interests and expertise.