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30 Small Business Marketing Ideas: Best Practices To Generate Customers

Published February 7, 2022
/ Updated April 27, 2022

These 30 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.

Small Business Marketing Ideas Checklist - 30 Actionable 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. 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.

CoSchedule Marketing Calendar provides a top-down view of projects

Recommended Reading: This post from CoSchedule will show you how to create and plan a marketing promotional calendar.

3. 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.

small business marketing ideas business card example

Business card example courtesy of Printplace

Check out these 38 unique business card ideas from 99designs.

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.

CoSchedule product & service pages

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.

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 local SEO stats for small businesses

EZRankings 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.

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:

Google local search CoSchedule results

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. 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 schedule

CoSchedule’s blog content schedule for one week in 2021.

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

8. 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:

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

Carter Machinery customer referral program

Carter Machinery offers a basic, but effective, customer referral program.

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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

Garrett Moon offers advice to new startup founders

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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

A Real-Life Example of How Social Media Posting Schedules Help Content Be Successful

CoSchedule used this posting schedule for new content and saw an increase in impressions and engagement.

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

17. Undertake Social Media Engagement Growth Tactics

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

Engagement growth over time

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.

18. 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.

Pinterest ad on LinkedIn

Pinterest uses LinkedIn ads to promote their new 2022 trends report.

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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

Business card drawings are a great way to earn foot traffic.

ShowTimeTickets gave away Seattle Seahawks tickets to a lucky winner of their business card drawing.

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

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

Twinkies partnered with Angry Birds to benefit both brands

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.

24. 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.

1 Million Cups provides opportunities to meet local entrepreneurs

1 Million Cups from the Kauffman Foundation is a great way to connect with entrepreneurs in your community.

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.

25. Join Industry Associations

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

Communications media management association

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.

26. 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.

CoSchedule Actionable Marketing Institute

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.

27. 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.

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

28. 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.

29. 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

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.

30. Purchase A Vehicle Wrap

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

Vehicle wraps are a great way to boost local impressions

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.