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Marketing tips and advice for small business owners

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Marketing has always been a significant challenge for small business owners and is often critical to achieving business growth. It is also a topic that comes up at lot with business owners that gather around TAB Advisory Board tables. We hear things such as ‘I can’t find any quality leads’, ‘social media doesn’t work for my business,’ and the infamous ‘I don’t have enough budget for effective marketing.’ Well, if you’re a small business owner and you’re feeling in need of some marketing advice and tips, you’re in the right place.

Throughout this article, we will be sharing our top marketing advice for small business owners who have a limited budget. We hope you find this business advice helpful and feel free to read more about our business support and advisory services.

The importance for small business owners to plan their marketing

Like with a business plan, small businesses should develop a marketing plan so you can keep on track in the coming months. Your marketing plan can be as simple as writing down your business goals for the next 12 months and what marketing tactics you will use to achieve those goals. But a marketing plan should always consider the ‘Five P’s’ of marketing :

People – Who are your target customers? What are their needs? What are their pain points?

Product/Service - What products or services meet their needs? What is your unique selling proposition?

Price - What pricing and payment policies will customers accept that yield sufficient revenues?

Place - Where will the business operate (e.g. geographic, virtual)?

Promotion - What forms of promotion will reach the customers (e.g. advertising, brochures, sales staff and customer support)?

Tips for keeping marketing costs down

As a small business owner, the following marketing advice will show you how to effectively advertise, promote and publicise your business at very little cost.

Collateral material

Every item of collateral material is an opportunity to promote your business and establish yourself within the market. Whilst the current climate might be moving towards digitalised marketing, printed materials should still find a place in your marketing mix and it can be done at a very low cost.

When it comes to the materials you use to market your business – from brochures to business cards – the first impression does count. The design should thoughtfully reflect the image you want your brand to portray. Think about the ‘5 P’s’ - are they considered in the design of your materials? Approaching it this way will help you be much more effective with both prospects and current customers.

A routine method of low-cost advertising includes having a small promotional blurb printed on the front or back of your envelopes and business cards. This is an easy, cost-effective way to talk about your unique selling proposition.

You could hire a graphic design firm to create the look and feel of your collateral materials. Though more expensive, the results will be professional.  Another option is to hire an independent graphic designer.

Once the design work is complete, visit a few print shops or online sites to get quotes and suggestions for keeping costs as low as possible. Some examples are Instantprint and Vistaprint.


Perhaps the most effective and under-appreciated marketing tool of them all: word-of-mouth. Talk about your business, your products or services and your website at every opportunity and encourage your customers, friends, relatives and colleagues to do the same.

The results might surprise you. Getting word-of-mouth referrals is often a hot topic for our TAB members. And the best thing about this: it costs absolutely nothing, except your time and hard work.


Most marketers would agree, networking is a powerful, cost-effective marketing tool. But we met many small business owners who ‘hate’ networking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Networking, when done right, can be a low-cost and effective marketing strategy.

The goal of networking is to create a pool of people and information that can directly increase the quality of your product or service and help your business gain a competitive edge. Why not read our 10 tips for successful networking?  Tip: Remember that networking is NOT about selling - it’s about finding common ground and possibly an opportunity to be the solution to someone’s problem.

Testimonials and endorsements

The use of testimonials, reviews, feedback and any other type of endorsement is a great way to build brand credibility and increase customer trust. A review or testimonial can be what pushes a customer over the line to get in touch with you or complete a purchase. By putting testimonials on your website or in your marketing materials, you are validating the quality of your brand, product and service. And again: it’s free!

Online marketing

Online marketing has quickly become the most popular medium for reaching your audience. When used properly, it complements existing marketing practices and creates new opportunities.

Here are the main benefits of online marketing:

  • A website provides your business with continuous, 24/7 operations and a global reach
  • You can keep the information on your website updated
  • A website allows you to harness SEO best practice so your business can be found within search results. Find out more about search engine optimisation.
  • Customers come to your site and have their questions answered, saving you valuable time and money on sales calls
  • You might not be able to compete with your competition’s traditional media campaigns, but your website can function as well as or better than your larger competitors – simply and affordably
  • Your website is a cost-effective way to capture valuable customer data and contact information for new prospects

Costs: website development ranges. It can depend on whether you have a web agency maintaining your website or whether you can do it internally.

Social media marketing

Small businesses who choose to take advantage of social media — and who do it well — can have a powerful advantage over their competitors.

A few of the benefits of social media include:

  • Social media can help boost a business’ visibility for little to no cost.
  • Build connections with customers - social media is a fantastic way to let your brand’s personality show through. By engaging and interacting with your customers, you can earn their trust and encourage loyalty.
  • Establish industry leadership- Social media can help you build a name for your company as a leader in your field. By regularly joining in conversations and adding value, you’ll increase your brand’s recognition.
  • Gain insights into your customers- How well do you know your customers? Social media is a great way to tap into what they are thinking, who else they are following and what their preferences are.
  • Increase search rankings - Becoming active on social media can be a huge benefit to your website ranking. Not only will you be able to direct more people to your site but boosting your social media shares will also raise your search ranking.

PR & advertising: Issuing press releases

Public relations can be best defined as a function that creates, develops and carries out policies and programs to influence public opinion or public reaction about an idea, a product or an organisation. Public relations can increase your sales, build credibility and allow you to penetrate new markets .

A press release is a short document, usually one or two pages, aimed at raising awareness and calling attention to an event or happening at your company. They are sent to all focuses of media, including print, television and radio, and if deemed newsworthy, can generate a multitude of public awareness. Read more about the benefits of a press release.

Start by sending your press release to 50-100 targeted media contacts and monitor your response rate. If the release is highly specialised, you may only get one response. If you don’t get a reasonable response, rethink your message.

Are you a small business owner looking for more marketing tips and advice?

At TAB, we offer peer advisory boards, one-to-one executive business coaching and a range of business tools, so business owners can run better businesses and get what they want out of life.

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