6 Ways to Market Your Small Business for Less Than $100

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, every dollar counts -- and investments need to pay off in real and immediate marketing ROI.

learn more about Victoria Treyger

By Victoria Treyger

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This article was originally published on April 1, 2015. 

For large brands with large budgets for marketing and advertising, one hundred dollars is just a drop in the bucket. But for entrepreneurs and small business owners, every dollar counts -- and investments need to pay off in real and immediate ROI.

There are ways to execute a marketing strategy with as little as $100, and here are six scenarios to outline how to adopt a cheap but robust marketing plan for your business's growth. 


Research your market

Cost: $0

The more time you can invest in identifying not only your target markets but the characteristics that would describe your ideal buyer types, the more you will be able to:

  • Focus marketing efforts with laser-like precision
  • Hone your marketing messages to attract and engage likely buyers

Related: 10 Ways to Stretch Your Marketing Budget

Keep in mind that all-star teams don’t only study up on their own game plans -- they check out what competitors are doing in order to identify opportunities to beat them. Going head-to-head with a competitor in areas where they are stronger or more well-established could result in a loss, but if you spend time analyzing the competitive field to look for their areas of weakness or gaps in the marketplace, you can discover opportunities where your business will have the best chance to grow.


Turn email into your heavy hitter

Cost: Between $20 and $50 per month (up to 5,000 contacts) via email marketing platforms such as Constant Contact or Campaigner

There's a reason email marketing ranks high on our list of recommendations for small businesses and startups: It works. Regardless of industry or organizational size, marketers across the board point to email marketing as the tactic that produces their highest return on marketing dollars invested. ExactTarget.com’s 50 Email Marketing Tips and Stats for 2014 reported that marketers received an average return of investment of $44.25 for every $1 spent on email marketing.

Not only is it effective, it’s also desired. In study after study, consumers regularly say that email is their preferred channel for brand communications. According to MarketingProfs.com, a study suggests that for nearly one-third of all consumers, email is the communication channel they prefer when it comes to marketing.


Add speed to your lineup

Cost: $9 per month (or less)

The faster you can engage, intrigue and convert your audience members, the better. Most consumers start their search for a business, product or service online. What’s more, in many cases, online research has replaced the traditional buying cycle -- to the extent that by the time a buyer contacts a sales person for information, they are already nearly (or completely) finished with the buying journey. 

To ensure that prospects who arrive at your website can quickly and easily access the information most likely to convert them from browser to buyer, you’ll need to be sure your website can automatically detect which type of device they're using. Creating a semi-customized mobile version of your website can be done in just a few moments -- and for a few dollars a month. It’s an investment that should pay off again and again in increased engagement and conversions.

Related: 4 Revolutionary Behavioral Email Marketing Ideas


Optimize for crowd appeal

Cost: $0

Many small business owners may count on word of mouth as their primary form of marketing, but it probably shouldn’t be. When it comes to making big purchases, 81 percent of consumers go online before heading out to a store and may even spend two to three months gathering the information they need to make a decision, according to GE Capital Retail Bank’s second annual Major Purchase Shopper Study.

Even when it comes to small-ticket items or the type of small businesses a consumer is likely to buy from on a daily basis, the Internet is often the starting point that leads to a buying decision. In fact, for mobile searches, more than half (55 percent) resulted in conversions within one hour, according to a Mobile Search Moments report. (That's another great argument for investing in mobile-friendly web design.)

Whether your products or services would be classified as big-ticket or extremely affordable, the conclusion is the same: Small business owners and entrepreneurs who do keyword research and build out their web sites in accordance with best practices in search engine optimization (SEO) will likely be rewarded with more favorable placement in organic search results. In other words, they should receive more website traffic because their business listings will be placed directly in the path of prospective buyers. 


Be strategically social

Cost: Between about $40 and $70 per month

If you invest that $40 in sponsored posts on Facebook or LinkedIn, you can put your brand, product or service in front of thousands of members of your target audience each month. Even a small investment in social media marketing can produce hundreds of new followers on social networks, as well as increased web traffic and brand awareness. The goal is to produce bottom-line profits that can be traced back to initial engagement on social media.

Because of their popularity with consumers (Facebook) and with business buyers (LinkedIn), social media platforms have done small business marketers a big favor. Not only do they allow you to set a limit on the amount spent to sponsor a post or page, but they've also built demographics tools you can use to put your ads and posts directly on the feeds of individuals who meet your ideal buyer type criteria.



Strengthen your team

Cost: $0

Establishing informal partnerships with other businesses for the purposes of cross-promoting or marketing cooperatively can be extremely beneficial -- particularly for entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners who have yet to build out large contact databases. Sharing contacts and working with other business owners whose target markets overlap with yours could help you build brand awareness -- and grow your organization -- much quicker than you would be able to do on your own.

Related: How to Determine the Perfect Marketing Budget for Your Company

Victoria Treyger

Chief Revenue Officer, Kabbage

Victoria Treyger is the chief revenue officer of Kabbage, which pioneered the first financial services data and technology platform to provide fully automated small-business loans. Kabbage has grown to become one of the top online providers of business working capital.

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