How to Market your Business for $20 or Less

A budget-friendly guide to navigating the 10 Marketing Communication Modes

Most new or small businesses struggle at developing a thorough and multi-faceted marketing plan due to being unaware of various marketing modes and perceived limitations caused by their low funding. Here we will take a look at the 10 primary methods (or modes) your business can utilize to share information with current and potential consumers. We will then identify free and/or budget-friendly marketing opportunities within some of these communication modes. There are many components to be considered in developing a comprehensive marketing plan but in terms of modes for execution, there should be a combination of some or all of the following 10 modes:

  1. Advertising
    • Examples: TV & Radio ads, Website Banners, Social Media Ads, Email Marketing, Google, Yelp, Billboards, Posters, Newspaper & Magazine Ads, Business Cards, Door Hangers, Product Packaging, Product Inserts
  2. Personal Selling
    • Examples: Door-to-Door Sales, Telemarketing, Online Chat, Video Conferences
  3. Sales Promotion
    • Examples: Product Samples, Coupons, Complementary Gifts, Contests, Incentives
  4. Direct Marketing
    • Examples: Direct Mail/Letters, Catalogs, Email Marketing, Automated Phone Calls
  5. Interactive Marketing
    • Examples: TV Shopping Networks, Online Games, Virtual Reality Simulations
  6. PR/Media Relations/Publicity
    • Examples: Press Releases, Charitable Activities, Speaking Engagements, Magazine Articles, Newspaper Features
  7. Corporate Philanthropy
    • Charitable donations, Volunteer Events, Sponsorships, Scholarships
  8. Events/Experiences
    • Festivals, Street Fairs, Farmers Markets, Sporting Events, Industry Conventions, Facility Tours, Networking Events
  9. Word-of Mouth
    • Existing Clients, Family, Friends, Blogs, Chat Rooms
  10. Research & Listening
    • Google Reviews, Testimonials, Surveys


Budget-Friendly Recommendations:

Business Cards (Advertising/Personal Selling/Sales Promotion): Business Cards are one of the most important marketing tools regardless of the size of your business. It allows individuals and organizations to market themselves and their brands by providing contact and other basic organizational information to peers and potential clients for later use. Using free templated sites graphic design like Canva or Crello makes it much easier for contractors, small business owners, and entrepreneurs to create branded polished designs without a high price tag. You can then take your custom designs to print services like VistaPrint, Staples, and Office Depot who all offer 250qty business cards for under $18. My suggestion would be to look for free shipping coupons or use local stores to avoid additional shipping costs.

Websites (Advertising/Direct Marketing/Interactive Marketing/Research & Insights/Word-of-Mouth): I love the Wix website platform. They have great templates, is easy to navigate, and of course offers FREE website options! One of the best things you can ever do for your business or personal brand is to set up a website to convey your contact information,services/products, samples/images of your work, and answer questions relevant to potential clients during the buyer research process. Websites also provide a avenue for client testimonials and feedback which can be helpful for the business research and referral to potential clients that read the reviews.

Business Directories (Advertising/Interactive Marketing/Research & Listening): When searching for products and services, most consumers start with a web search. By setting up profiles on online directories you increase the chances of your business coming up in searches and being available for consumer research. There are many free business directories including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn Company Directory, Yelp, Thumbtack, and SuperPages. While these general directories can be very valuable to your business, it is important not to overlook local resources like Small Business Resource Centers and Chain of Commerce. These business resources often have directories, bulletins, and networking events that are usually free or very affordable.

Email Marketing Campaigns (Direct Marketing/Advertising/Sales Promotions): A great way to share information about new products, sales promotions, and other information to existing and new clients is by launching an email marketing campaign. MailChimp and Omnisend are two popular services that offer free design templates and email platforms to send brand newsletters. An effective way to accumulate more email address is to offer an incentive to existing clients, friends, and family members for providing emails for or referring 3 contacts to be added to your organizations email list. If you’re a hair stylist, you could offer a free add-on service like a deep conditioning treatment for clients that can provide 3 valid email addresses from contact they believe would be interested in your services. While providing incentives may at times impact inventory or require more time these in-kind services still offer the ability to avoid immediate out of pocket costs to businesses.

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