5 Tips from an Agency: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Market Their Small Business Online for Free

By amanda Disilvestro on January 4, 2017

Marketing is one of the most expensive aspects of any successful small businesses budget. The reality is that in slower times of year, or when business just isn’t rolling in the way that you want it to, marketing can seem very expensive. Regardless of the reasoning, however, you never really want to cut your marketing efforts.

Fortunately, what a lot of small businesses may not know is that even though certain projects do cost money (such as paying a marketing manager, Google AdWords, an email marketing service, etc.), there are several ways that entrepreneurs have marketed online with minimal cost to their business. While nothing is ever technically free (time is money, after all), there are many inexpensive options that can feel “free,” especially in comparison to your other marketing efforts.

Top 5 Ways to Market Your Small Business Online for Free

As an SEO agency, we are always asked about some of the tips that can help entrepreneurs succeed in marketing. Let’s take a look at some of the top ways to market for free and discuss how these strategies can dramatically impact your growth and marketing efforts in 2017:

  1. Social Media Engagement

One of the top ways that successful marketers get a lot of exposure without spending anything from their marketing budget is through social media engagement. This is not just about posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, etc, but about engaging with your audience and making the things you post worthy of attention from your followers. It does not cost anything to post (unless you plan on “promoting,” “boosting” or using your post as an advertisement campaign) and replying to followers and general engagement does not cost anything either. This is one of the tops ways to get your brand exposure and target potential customers without spending a dime!


  1. Blog Regularly

If you really want to increase traffic and make a difference on your website, you absolutely have to blog. If people have been advising you to start a blog on your business site for a while, and you have yet to do it, here are some things to consider:

  • Regular positing of content tells search engines that you are consistently adding new material, and this will help your business to be indexed and organic traffic to find you.
  • The ability to develop content that is infused with relevant keywords means that those who are searching for relevant terms are going to be more likely to find you if those terms are present on your site. Blogs make this a possibility with long form content on your business site.
  • You are providing meaningful and useful tips and information for clients and prospects. If you make your blog useful to the clients that you serve, you are more likely to get repeat business. People are also more likely to feel valued and like they are getting the most out of working with your business.

The key here is really keeping your content updated as frequently as you can. This means that you should try to post at least a few times a week if possible. Having a blog costs nothing more than the operational costs for your website, so it is also one of the most effective ways to market without dipping into your budget.

  1. Engage With An Online Community

Nowadays there are so many online communities for any small business or industry. Are you a photographer? Visit an online community, such as a forum, Quora thread, Reddit thread, etc. for photography lovers and answer questions that others might be having. Are you a local restaurant? Join in the chamber of commerce conversation or see if there are forums for local restaurant weeks or local restaurant guides. In addition to engaging others on social media or your blog, use online forums as an opportunity to provide valuable information that people care about and also encourage those who are interested to go to your website.

There are so many creative ways to engage an online community, for example, start a podcast you share your expert knowledge, or a YouTube channel to give step-by-step information about your products. At the end of the day, these kind of communities allow you to reach out with knowledge that could benefit others and build brand recognition for “essentially” free.

  1. Collect Reviews

Review sites like Google Reviews, Yelp, and social media review platforms, such as Facebook, give you the opportunity to build recognition and reputation for free. Have your past customers submit online reviews so that those who come across your business can read directly from others how your business met their needs and went above and beyond. Online reviews go a long way when thinking about why people make purchasing decisions. Collecting reviews is free, even if it is a little work, and can improve your online image and help you beat out local competition when others are trying to make a decision about where to go for products/services.

  1. Local Business Listings

In terms of targeting your local community and really having a specific marketing outreach, nothing is really more important than being included on local business listings. Having your business appear on local searches that are relevant to your products or services is one of the key factors in driving business to your door. Even more importantly, getting your business included on local business listings, for example Google Business, is free. As you can see in the screenshot below, a search for “pizza near me” returned these three top local listings (among others by clicking “more places”) based on my location. It also includes review and pricing information. When people are trying to make a decision where location is key, there is really no better marketing than to be listed on a search locally.


The Takeaway

With the increasing importance of marketing online, many free (and inexpensive) ways of marketing have emerged for entrepreneurs and small business owners. While some marketing efforts are definitely worth spending a significant portion of your budget, others are completely available without any additional cost to the business owner. Social media engagement, blogging, engaging in a relevant online community, collecting reviews, and making sure your business is listed locally are just some of the ways you can market your small business online for free.

Do you have any other tips or tricks that might help other small business owners? Have you found any of these strategies to be especially helpful? Let us know in the comments section below.

About The Author

amanda Disilvestro /