How to Develop and Implement Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses with Little to No Budget

Wondering where to focus your marketing efforts when your budget for it is small or completely non-existent? It can be tricky, I know. With all the options out there, the temptation to attempt an “all of the above” strategy, might be a pretty strong force. But trust me, if you go that route, you will likely see minimal real results and you will have expended extreme effort. Nailing marketing strategies for small businesses doesn’t have to be hard and it’s absolutely NOT impossible with a minuscule budget. You just need to get back to the roots. Read on and I’ll explain how.
The thought of developing marketing strategies for small businesses on the cheap might tie your stomach in knots, make your skin crawl, and send you into a frenzy of overwhelm and dread but I assure you, it’s going to be OK.  Just take a deep breath. You know your business better than anyone, right? Right. You can do this!
Marketing is not as hard as you think and it can be effective—even without a huge expenditure! In fact, marketing strategies for small businesses (or any business for that matter) are especially effective when they are organic. That’s why we are going to get back to your roots. From there, you will be fully equipped to decide which channels to use (and to use them well).
I’ve put together a simple, step-by-step method to simplify and streamline the development and implementation of your marketing strategies. Remember, we are going to get back to the roots of your business. So roll up your sleeves and let’s get started!
Step 1: Define Your Small Business Offering and Target Market
Answer two simple questions (and write your answers down).

  • What unique offering do you provide?
  • Who is your customer?

When you are answering these questions, provide a lot of detail! The more crystal clear the identification of your offering and customer base is, the more effective your marketing efforts will be.
Too many small businesses try to do too many things for too many people, diluting their message and their quality. You can avoid doing the same by aiming your message at a particular audience. You’ll be armed to do so by owning a deep understanding of who they are and how your offering solves a problem they have! So, when you answer the question about your customer, don’t just write down demographic descriptors, identify the things they like, the things they don’t like, where they get their information, where they hang out, and so-on.
Check out this post for more tips on defining exactly what it is for your customers!
Step 2: Engage Your Audience With  a Good Story
Stories activate a part of the brain that enables the listener to imagine themself into that situation. It’s called neural coupling, and it’s why storytelling is so effective in marketing. When they hear, read, or experience a good story, they are going to remember the brand associated with it. On the other hand, when they are faced with a long, boring explanation of what a company does or a long list of facts, their eyes glaze over and their brain takes them somewhere else (like an inner monologue about what to make for dinner). As humans, it’s in our DNA to tell stories; we’ve been doing it long before we even had a verbal language (think cave paintings). So, just do it! Find your best story, pinpoint the most engaging way to tell it, and put it out there for your audience.
For additional help on nailing your brand message, read Donald Miller’s StoryBrand. His framework is incredibly effective at determining the best way to bring your audience into your story.
Step 3: Cultivate Partnerships
Now that you have figured out your message and your story, it’s time to get it out there. Determine who the influencers are for your audience. Which of those influencers have a raison d’etre, purpose, and values similar to those of your business? Where is there overlap between your audience’s interests and theirs? Once you have thoroughly researched an influencer, approach them with an offer of a mutually beneficial partnership in which you are able to leverage their audience and vice versa.
Step 4: Capitalize on Word of Mouth
This is, by far, the easiest and most effective form of marketing. When people talk about your brand to their networks, it’s essentially free marketing! It’s also the best kind of marketing because others don’t see it as marketing at all—they simply see it as information supplied by someone they trust. So, make your clients happy, provide exceptional service, and enable them to do your marketing for you. Word of mouth is a powerful force!
*Note* Consider creating a referral program for your happy clients! Sometimes they just need a little extra push to get them to refer folks and it’s usually because it just never crossed their minds before.
So you see, you don’t need a massive marketing budget to understand how to develop marketing strategies for small businesses. You just need to understand your business and audience and know how to leverage the things that are already there! What are you waiting for?
Still not sure where to start? Let’s take a deep dive into your business together. I’m offering my readers a $50 discount on a Strategy Session.  Schedule a 90-minute Strategy Session and we’ll get you to where you need to be in no time!