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39 Small Business Marketing Ideas: Best Practices To Generate Customers

Published January 12, 2023
/ Updated January 25, 2023

These 39 small business marketing ideas will help you get your brand off the ground.

Read on for lists of ideas with links to actionable resources and how-to guides.

 

Foundational Small Business Marketing Ideas

1. Write A Strong Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is “a slang term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service, or project” according to Will Kenton via Investopedia.

Basic elevator pitch format

Basic elevator pitch format:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Your ideal clients
  • How you’re different
  • What happens next
  • An attention-getting hook

As you talk to people about your small business, you need to convey who you are and what you do in a hurry. That’s why elevator pitches are so handy.

Use these six steps from The Balance on how to write a killer elevator pitch.

2. Contract A Designer For A Logo & Branding

Well-designed logos can help small businesses build trust with their audiences and give credibility to their professionalism. A striking logo tells potential customers who you are and what you do and is crucial to your brand’s identity.

Think of all the biggest companies out there: Nike, Adidas, Starbucks, Microsoft, etc. All these companies have memorable logos, and they got them by hiring professional designers who understand the psychology behind them.

 

In this example, the company uses its logo in every post. It’s highly recognizable, which makes it unforgettable.

3. Hire A Photographer For Professional Pics

No matter how exciting and unique your marketing ideas are, you will likely need good visuals to complement them. It can be tempting to use stock photos, but your business deserves better.

Professional photos are more successful at ‘speaking’ to your customers and better at representing your brand. Hire a professional photographer to take photos that can be shared on your website, social media, and everywhere else.

Professionals took these images above, and it shows!

4. Create A Website Page For Every Service Or Product Your Company Provides

One way to let people know who you are and what you do is to create landing pages for the different services and products your company offers.

Show your customers exactly what they’re going to get from you if they decide to purchase your services.

Create a company page that highlights products and services A few of the dedicated product pages on the CoSchedule website.

Check out this list from Crazy Egg of seven landing page creation tools you can use to power through this process.

5. Have & Share Quality Business Cards

When it comes to relationship building as a small- to mid-sized business, old fashioned hand shaking and business cards are hard to beat.

You don’t have to be Patrick Bateman, but having a business card that shows off your company positively is a great way to make your business stick in the minds of people you meet.

6. Create A Google My Business Page

Google is the search engine of all search engines. If you want your business to be listed on one of the biggest search engine platforms in the world, try creating a Google My Business page.

CoSchedule’s Business Page on Google looks like this:

Create a My Business page on google and keep it updated and fresh

They’re simple to create and help you manage your business information while eliminating all that guesswork by allowing anyone searching for your business on Google to find relevant contacts, info, reviews, and much more which you can control.

See Google’s walk through of how to create your Google business account.

7. Create A Yelp Business Page

Digital marketing is more than having a responsive website and engaging web designs. You should also be making the most of other digital resources such as Yelp. Creating a Yelp Business Page can help increase your online visibility and build brand awareness.

Yelp also has high domain authority, so if you have a Business Page, it can rank high on Google and other search engines’ search pages.

A Yelp Business Page can help your audience find out more about you.

8. Claim Your Business’s Directory Listings

A local directory listing is an online profile showing your business name, address, contact information, and other essential details. Having this kind of information readily available to potential customers can greatly improve your brand awareness and boost sales.

Listing on platforms such as Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yelp also offers SEO benefits. Claim your business’s listings to reach your audience more successfully.

9. Respond To Positive & Negative Reviews

As a small business, you’re going to see your fair share of positive and negative reviews. It’s important to respond to every single one of those reviews.

Those initial reviews will set the tone for how people view your business and the more upfront you can be the better. Plus your audience gets the added bonus of knowing that you care about what they think.

Reviewtrackers break down how to respond to negative and positive reviews of your business to gain trust from your audience.

Free Marketing Ideas

10. Hold An In-Store Business Card Drawing

Much like a social media giveaway, holding in-store giveaways are a great way to incentivize people to interact with your business.

Just put a box up front where people can place business cards; the winner of a drawing gets the prize. It’s a simple, yet effective way to generate buzz around your business, and maybe even get a few more people in the door.

See why Entrepreneur thinks nothing quite beats business card drawings for small businesses.

11. Start A Customer Referral Program

People love your product; they tell you all the time how they can’t get enough of it. Maximize that love and ask them to refer your business to their friends and colleagues.

This works even better if you’re a B2B company, as 84% of B2B decision makers start their buying process off with a referral.

Read how to ask for referrals the right way from ReferralRock.

12. Provide Purchase Incentives to Your Customers

You know those punch cards that after 10 punches you get a free coffee? Those work for a reason, as incentive programs for your customers can help drive them in the door because your business is providing extra value for their time and money.

This blog post from Incentive Solutions will help walk you through how to create a sales incentive program to help your business attract and retain the customers you’re looking for.

13. Start An Employee Brand Ambassadorship Program

Some of your most avid ambassadors are almost surely your own employees. So, why not empower them to use that passion to create positive outcomes for your business?

Whether it’s posting on LinkedIn, sharing info about your business with their professional circle, or simply wearing branded gear, find ways to use your best ambassadors to promote your business.

Turn employees into brand ambassadors

CoSchedule founder Garrett Moon offers startup advice based on his experience with CoSchedule.

BambooHR walks you through how to make your employees effective brand ambassadors.

Local Marketing Ideas

14. Get Involved In Your Local Community

If you’ve just started your own business and you’re looking to gain more traffic, get involved with your local community.

That means joining your local chamber of commerce or doing something to help add value to your community. These small actions can help get your business in front of your community which can increase foot traffic and interest in your business.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by CoSchedule (@coschedule)

That bump in local brand recognition can’t hurt, either.

Read this blog post from Nextdoor on how to get your business involved in your community.

15. Join Or Create Local Co-Marketing Partnerships

You don’t have to go the long road by yourself. Partner with another local business to help promote both your brands.

Co-Marketing can create positive outcomes for both parties

Not only does this help the two of you get in front of each other’s audiences, combining resources may allow you to go for larger scale advertising efforts than what you could originally afford.

Read this article on cross-promotion ideas for small businesses from Thryv.

16. Start A Cross Promotion Partnership

Cross promotion is, much like co-marketing, a great way to work with other brands to promote one another and reach a broader audience.

One of the best known type of cross promotion is when brands team up with upcoming shows or movies to sell more units and promote the new show, like this example of Twinkies and Angry Birds.

Optinmonster offers a great guide on how to use cross promotion to triple your customers.

17. Join Local Networking Groups

Whether it’s a local meetup or a group like the Kauffman Foundation (that hosts local 1 million cups events), help expand the reach of your small business by joining nearby networking groups.

Networking is common in almost every industry and it’s vital to the success of your business. It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know.

Learn more about networking groups with these 7 great networking groups for small businesses.

18. Join Industry Associations

For the same reasons you should join local networking groups, you should look into industry associations your company can join.

The Communications Media Management Association is just one of hundreds of industry specific networking associations.

Joining these national organizations in your industry can connect you with business leaders within your niche, helping you gain perspective that will improve your business.

See why Entrepreneur thinks nothing quite beats business card drawings for small businesses.

19. Host Classes & Share Your Knowledge

As a business owner, you probably know a lot about the inner workings of your industry. Why not share that knowledge and build connections while you’re at it?

CoSchedule does this with the Actionable Marketing Institute, which offers a variety of free and paid courses for professional marketers.

Get started by offering a course to your connections and others in your industry, and then build from there. Once you’re seen as a source for reliable knowledge, consumers will be more likely to trust your product as well.

20. Apply For Local Business Awards

Did you know that you can apply for business awards? Doing so can be very beneficial for your business, and there are many different awards you could qualify for. Most cities have their own awards, but you can even go national if you want to.

Winning awards can give your company credibility, provide exposure, and help you reach a wider audience. Entering can be as easy as finding the awards in your area and applying!

When you’ve won an award, share the great news like Passion Planner has on social media.

21. Create A Customer Loyalty Punch Card

Awarding customer loyalty is always a good strategy, and creating punch cards is one of the most fascinating creative marketing ideas with great potential for a return on investment. Although most people are used to physical punch cards, you can go digital and allow them to access their cards through their phones.

These cards can offer any kind of reward, and you can even promote new products with this marketing strategy.

Digital loyalty punch cards can come in many forms, and they’re easy to use!

Digital & Content Ideas

22. Flesh Out Your Sales & Promotion Calendar

Sales and promos are a common way to get your customers through your door. But keeping track of all those sales and promos can be a pain.

That’s why having a calendar that tells you at a glance when your next sale is coming up is so vital to your success.

Create an efficient marketing calendar to keep up to date and on track

Recommended Reading: How to Plan a Marketing Calendar That Actually Works (Template)

23. Publish Great Content On A Consistent Schedule

As your audience starts consuming your content, they’re going to expect more from you. Creating a consistent content schedule helps you meet those expectations so they continue to follow your content.

CoSchedule's blog content scheduleThis CoSchedule blog post walks you through every part of creating a content calendar, and provides a free template to help you get started.

24. Use Free Tools To Create Marketing Graphics

You may be doing a lot of your marketing yourself, meaning you’re a strategist and graphic designer in one.

Free tools like Canva, Piktochart, and Infogram can help you design marketing materials like infographics, social media images, brochures, and more (even if you have no design experience).

Take a look at this example of an infographic created with Infogram:

25. Create & Share Helpful Videos With Your Audience

When it comes to content, video is king. According to research from Statista, in 2020, U.S. adults spent an average of one hour and 43 minutes per day watching mobile video content, not to mention other streaming options, and this number has only increased since.

To capitalize on this trend, start creating and sharing video content that can move your audience to take action. This could be how-to videos, product comparisons, informative videos within your niche, etc.

When your audience knows you as a source for helpful information, they’ll be more willing to trust your product later on.

Want your small business to show up in search engines within your community? Invest in your local search engine presence.

Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful strategy that can help you get your business in front of more people in your community, but it can be hard to navigate at times.

EZ rankings provides great statistics for why Local SEO should be a priority.

That’s why there are a ton of tools that help you take on local SEO and other ways to leverage your existing content.

27. Build An Email List

Email lists are another great way to reach your audience. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketers can expect a 42x return on investment for their email marketing operations (that’s $42 for every $1 you spend!).

In other words, building an email list should be a top priority for your brand’s small business marketing strategy.

See more reasons why email marketing works for businesses, and read through this guide for new ways you can start growing your email subscriber list today.

28. Send A Monthly Email Newsletter

Email newsletters are an easy and creative way to connect with your customers while increasing sales and promoting new or popular products. More than 333 billion emails are sent every day across the globe.

For monthly emails to be successful, you need to develop awesome content ideas that are relevant to your audience. If you can do that, you have a consistent way of building relationships with your customers.

You can use email templates provided by services like MailChimp. As you can see in this example, the drag-and-drop design makes creating an email very easy.

29. Offer Coupons & Deals To Email Subscribers

Your email subscribers most likely signed up because they like your brand or products, but they also expect something in return. These days, people almost expect discounts and deals from their subscriptions.

Offering these freebies and specials will boost customer loyalty and increase sales. Emails are also a great way to nail guerilla marketing, which is all about creating hype. What better way to generate hype than with coupons or deals?

Adding some urgency to the discounts and coupons can deliver fantastic results.

30. Start Automating Your Marketing

Marketing automation helps your small business get off the ground because you don’t have to sweat the small things anymore.

The more you can get your small business marketing ideas to work for you, the better off you’ll be.

Luckily, CoSchedule offers a forever free marketing calendar which is perfect for small business marketers. It allows you to schedule social messages, plan your marketing operations, and share those plans (and results) with stakeholders.

CoSchedule marketing calendar functionality

Start automating your marketing with the best.

Social Media Marketing Ideas

31. Create Social Media Accounts For Your Small Business

Social media marketing is not just a passing phase in marketing; it’s a proven strategy with many benefits for small companies. There is almost no limit to the kind of content you can create, and you can be active on more than one platform.

People love sharing content on social media, so give them something related to your brand to share, improve your brand awareness, and reach new audiences.

Asking questions is a great way to engage with your audience on social media.

32. Implement A Consistent Social Media Posting Schedule

It’s important that you keep your small business’ brand in the minds of your core audience.

This is why it is so important to maintain a consistent posting schedule on social media. When your audience likes your content they’re going to want more; provide it on a regular schedule and you’ll reap the rewards of their attention.

Create and stick to a consistent social media posting schedule

Get started with a complete 2022 social media calendar template to plan all of your content.

33. Undertake Social Media Engagement Growth Tactics

Once you’re posting consistently, it’s time to take action to boost your engagement rates.

Grow your social media using proven tactics

Engagement rate is important because it measures the level of interest your audience has in your content, and a higher engagement rate means your content is resonating with your audience.

Check out these 30 social media engagement tactics we’ve used at CoSchedule to boost our social accounts’ performance.

34. Invest In Social Media Ads

If you want to give your social media presence a boost, try running small batches of ads targeted towards your local audience. A/B test these ads and invest in those that succeed.

Invest in social media ads to grow your business

You can always move your ad range out as your business grows but depending on the product you sell, you may need to focus on your local audience first.

MailChimp breaks down how social media ads work and how to use them to find success.

35. Hold A Social Media Contest/Giveaway

If you want to gain a loyal following, incentivize your audience to share your brand by holding a social media contest or giveaway.

There are a ton of ways to do this successfully, but asking your audience to like and share your post for a chance at a prize from your business is a great way to get started.

This post from RafflePress walks you through great social media contest ideas for small businesses.

Creative Marketing Ideas

36. Apply For Business Awards

If you want to get your name out within your community or industry, winning business awards is a great way to do so. As such, you should apply for as many awards as you can to promote your brand.

CoSchedule won the 2021 top performer for content marketing software.

Small Business Awards nominations are open for 2022, and there are a ton of industry specific awards you can apply for as well.

37. Purchase A Vehicle Wrap

If you want people in your community to see your business, what better way than to advertise on your car?

Buy a vehicle wrap to advertise whenever your out driving

According to ARD, individual vehicle advertising generates 30,000-70,000 daily vehicular impressions. It also helps your brand be seen as a presence in your community, making the barrier to consumer interest much lower.

Quickbooks provides a great breakdown of the efficacy of vehicle wraps as a marketing strategy.

38. Invest In Direct Mail Advertising

Who doesn’t like getting mail? Unless it’s bills (in that case, getting mail sucks). Direct mail may seem like an outdated marketing process, but it can still be incredibly effective as a small business marketing idea.

According to SmallBizTrends,direct mail campaigns receive about a 18 to 20% return on spend.

39. Get In Customers’ Faces With Guerilla Marketing

Guerilla marketing is used to achieve traditional marketing goals on a smaller budget using creative, out-of-the-box methods of local advertising.

Ranging from stickers to sidewalk chalk, flyers, or even the good old flash mob, guerilla marketing helps you make an impression on people in your community without breaking the bank.

​​A creative guerilla marketing tactic from frontline

This post from Keap does a great job explaining what guerilla marketing is, and provides some great examples and strategies to make it work for your business.

This piece was originally published February 7, 2022. It was updated and republished January 12, 2023.