To run a successful small business, you’ll have to put a good chunk of your budget toward marketing. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends around 8% of your gross revenue be paid for marketing.

You also have to understand the why’s of marketing to see value in where your money and time are going. 

Benefits of marketing for a small business include letting the public know your business exists, establishing a sense of trust between you and your customers, and you can also use your marketing as a way to better get to know your customers. Promoting can boost your sales and keep you relevant and top-of-mind for your audience. 

With those things in mind, listed below are nine creative ways to promote your small business that won’t break the bank.

1. Use Promotional Products

Promotional items for small businesses are a traditional form of marketing that’s sometimes overlooked but is cost-effective and meaningful. Promotional products that could be relevant in your business to give to customers include reusable bags, can coolers, and T-shirts. Branded mugs, hats, and tech accessories are also good ways to get your brand out there. 

What’s good about the use of products to promote your business is that these are things that people can see and use on a daily basis, compared to digital marketing, which is out of their minds as soon as they click away from your social media ad or website. 

Products are tangible ways to make sure that people are thinking about you. 

You can also give promotional products to your employees so they can be brand ambassadors.

2. Hold a Social Media Competition

Using social media isn’t new for marketing, but there are still creative ways you can use it that will help you stay above the noise. 

People love the idea of potentially getting things for free, which is why competitions don’t lose their appeal. You could give away a product bundle or something else in exchange for engagement on social media. 

You can have followers like, comment, share, or tag friends to boost reach. 

3. Share Content That’s User-Generated on Social Media

You can use user-generated content as another way to inexpensively stand out from everyone else marketing on social media.  Around 79% of shoppers say that user-generated content highly impacts purchasing decisions, probably because there’s not the same sense of bias that comes with branded content. 

You can incentivize your existing customers to share testimonials, photos, and videos of them when they’re using your products. You can also regularly scan social media to see the posts people have put up without you prompting them. 

If nothing else, by sharing user-generated content, you might be able to push people over the edge if they’re on the fence about making a purchase from you. 

4. Create Video Tutorials

Video marketing is powerful across platforms, and when you take the time to make videos, you can share them in a variety of ways and get a lot of use out of them. One way to create video content is by gearing it toward tutorials. You can show how to use your products or give tips on a certain topic. 

Other types of video content that are good for promotion include video reviews from your satisfied customers, behind-the-scenes of your business, or you could co-host live streams, especially with influencers who are in your industry. 

Explainer videos can be similar to tutorials. When you’re promoting your business indirectly by providing information or knowledge, it creates a sense of trust with your audience. It positions you as a leading authority because you aren’t just trying for the hard sale, but you’re really providing them with value. 

Social media marketing is all about being part of trends or even starting trends. You can also jump on board with existing trends and promote your own business in the process. 

For example, you could take part in discussions already happening in forums but mention your business when doing so. You can also celebrate holidays or annual events and use them as a way to promote your business. 

6. Work with Other Small Businesses

Working with other small businesses, whether in a digital space or in your own community, is a great way to reach their audience, and they’re incentivized because they’ll reach yours too. When you collaborate with another small business that ideally has a target market that overlaps with yours without competing, there’s a lot you can do that’s outside of the box and may ultimately cost you nothing or very little. 

For example, you can give discounts to each other’s email lists, or you can co-host a webinar. 

7. Create a Customer Referral Program

Your current customers can be your ultimate marketing resource if you use them effectively in this way. 

Word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable for small businesses, and according to a Nielsen survey, 92% of consumers feel like recommendations from friends and family are more important than all forms of advertising. 

You can improve your word-of-mouth marketing and give it some structure through a customer referral program. 

Incentivize your existing and especially your loyal customers to share what they love about your business. This also has the additional advantage of allowing you to show appreciation to your current customers, keeping them loyal. 

8. Make Infographics

With newer design tools, it’s actually easy and fast to make different types of marketing content, including infographics. Infographics are compelling because they can share a lot of information and key facts in a digestible way. They’re also sharable and easy to understand for broad audiences. 

Creating infographics gives you a unique type of content you can share on different platforms, and you might also go viral if your infographic is interesting enough to your audience. 

9. Host An Event

Finally, consider hosting an online or in-person event. It doesn’t have to be over the top. You might just have an educational event or host a speaker who’s relevant to your business, for example. You could get some traditional PR in the form of news stories and links to your website, which is good for SEO as well as marketing.