How to effectively market your business for less than $500 per month

How to effectively market your business for less than $500 per month

Marketing your small business effectively can be challenging, especially if you have a limited budget. However, there are some strategies that you can use to promote your products or services without spending a lot of money. Here are some ideas, ranked in no particular order, for promoting your business for less than $500 a month - combined:

  • Fuel word-of-mouth marketing:  The old-school and most basic form of marketing is still an effective way to market a business. It begins with a satisfied customer who is ready to tell anyone and everyone about their great experience. You can encourage your customers to refer your business by offering incentives, such as discounts, coupons, freebies, or other perks. Word-of-mouth marketing works best for businesses that leave a lasting impression, such as excellent customer service, an incredible product, great value for the price, or a fantastic all-around experience. Click HERE to see our "Refer a Friend" landing page that we've promoted in the past.
  • Engage through social media marketing:  For most small businesses, it's easier to spend time than money. A cost-effective digital marketing tool that will cost you more time than money is organic social media, which includes updates, images, videos, and other content posted from your business accounts. You can use social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube, to showcase your brand personality, connect with your audience, share valuable information, and drive traffic to your website. Social media marketing requires time and consistency, but it can help you build trust and loyalty with your customers.
    You can also schedule your social media placements for up to ten accounts with Hootsuite for as little as $99/month
  • Use email marketing and drip campaigns:  Email marketing is one of the most powerful and affordable ways to communicate with your existing and potential customers. You can use email marketing to send newsletters, promotions, announcements, reminders, or personalized messages to your subscribers. Email marketing can help you increase brand awareness, generate leads, boost sales, and retain customers. To get started with email marketing, you need to build an email list, choose an email service provider (such as Act! Marketing Automation), create engaging email content, and track your results. AMA offers features such as email templates, landing pages, drip campaigns, forms, extensive campaign reporting, and marketing automation.
    • Cost: AMA Basic is included free with your Act! subscription. Paid AMA upgrades start at $79/month and include 25,000 sends per month.
    • Additional Reading:  If you intend to send emails to a larger distribution list of 10,000 or more, we strongly recommend scrubbing it in advance with Link2list ($8/month). Here are the top 5 reasons to scrub your list.

  • Create a great content marketing plan: Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and engaging content to attract and retain your target audience. Content marketing can help you establish your authority, educate your customers, solve their problems, and persuade them to take action. Content marketing can include blog posts, articles, ebooks, white papers, case studies, infographics, podcasts, webinars, videos, or any other form of content that provides value to your audience. 
    Some of the best content marketing tools for small businesses are Simplified,, and Grammarly Business. These tools use artificial intelligence to help you write engaging and error-free content for your website, blog, and social media.
  • Plan and launch events: Events are a great way to showcase your products or services, generate buzz around your brand, network with potential partners or customers, and collect feedback or testimonials. Events can be online or offline, but online events are more suitable for smaller budgets.
    Online events can include webinars (such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Google Meet),  live streams (such as Facebook Live or YouTube Live], or virtual workshops (such as Eventbrite or Meetup). Events can help you attract new customers, increase brand awareness, and create memorable experiences.
  • Website Lead Generation: Aside from the upfront cost of building a website, many cost-effective lead generation tools can be employed with your website - the most popular of which is web forms. Web forms can be used for Quote Requests, Contact Us, Product Inquiries, Service Requests, you name it, and not only generate leads, but harvest contact information for your email marketing.
  • Online Appointment Setting:  While small businesses may have more time than money, it's still important for them to convert time into money, and one of the most cost-effective ways to do that is to publish an online appointment setting tool like Link2calendar. By including your calendar link on your website, email signature, and social media, your audience is always one click away from booking a meeting with you. Link2calendar publishes your availability and allows your prospects to book a time with you at the earliest opportunity. For businesses like dog groomers, tradespeople, and other service professionals, Link2calendar Team edition can allow you to take bookings and collect your fee at the same time. 
  • SEO & Analytics:  Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website’s visibility and relevance on search engines such as Google and Bing. Some of the best SEO tools for small businesses are Ahrefs, KeywordsFX, SEMRUSH, and SEO Checker. These tools help you research keywords, optimize your website, audit your SEO performance, and track your rankings. 
    To track the effectiveness of your SEO marketing, you'll need to employ some analytic tools to understand your audience’s behavior, preferences, and needs. Some of the best analytic tools for small businesses are Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, and Hotjar. These tools help you track your website traffic, conversions, bounce rate, user behavior, and more.
    • Cost: Arefs (starts at $99/month), KeywordsFX (Free), SEO Checker ($19-59/month), and SEMRUSH ($129-499/month).
      Google Analytics & Data Studio are free to use,  and Hotjar's most popular packages are $32-80/month.

While there are many marketing options for small businesses, the suggestions listed above are not only economical, they include a comprehensive list of online marketing options for businesses of all budgets. If you were to employ all the listed services AND added the price of Act! Premium Cloud ($30/month/user) to the mix, your monthly costs for one user would range from $55  to less than $500.

To be clear, the point of this artical is not to encourage small businesses to spend as little as possible on marketing. While the general consensus is B2C small businesses should allocate 5-10% of their revenue to marketing, and B2B businesses should budget around 2 - 5%, these are only averages and may not reflect the specific needs and circumstances of your business. You should also consider your industry norms, your competitors’ spending, and your marketing goals when setting your budget. 

The point of this article is to propose marketing methods that should be considered by small businesses of all budgets.

Ultimately, the best way to determine your optimal marketing budget is to measure the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts and adjust accordingly. You should also review your budget regularly and track your progress towards your goals. By doing so, you can ensure that you are spending wisely and effectively on marketing your small business.

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