Old-school, low-budget ways to market your small business

The majority of small business owners think the current economic downturn is threatening their ability to survive or is at least "significantly" affecting their business. Since marketing budgets are among the first to be cut during tough economic times, this could leave many small business owners with little or no money to promote their products and services. Unfortunately, this reality creates a real catch-22; most experts believe that a good marketing strategy is one key to a small businesses’ success.

The good news is that there are many ways to promote your business on a budget. For example, Peter Kim compiled a list of 22 social media marketing tools for Mashable.com. In addition to online opportunities, there are many old-school ways to promote your business. While they may not be glamorous, they are time-tested and free (or cheap) to try.

1. Know something other’s don’t and be recognized as a resource in your community
2. Be willing to share your knowledge freely
3. Educate others through a public workshop
4. Attend community meetings
5. Take a reporter to lunch
6. Volunteer for a local charity
7. Join a committee
8. Give clients/customers extra business cards
9. Participate in a fair/event
10. Visit your office neighbors
11. Ask clients/customers to tell a friend
12. Wear your company shirt proudly
13. Sponsor a youth sports team
14. Send out a press release
15. Send a thank you card—yes, in the mail
16. Support your clients/customers when they solicit donations for charities they support
17. Join your local Chamber of Commerce
18. Hand deliver a check to a vendor
19. Be a guest speaker at a/your child’s class
20. Write an editorial piece about a current topic and send it to the local paper
21. Call a call-in radio show
22. Call and thank a board member or regular client/customer for their commitment
23. Dress and act professionally
24. Check the signage for your building, is it sufficient?
25. Know our competition and know why you are better
26. Attend professional group meetings & network (Rotary, Toastmasters)
27. Smile, even when you’re on the phone… they’ll be able to tell
28. Always carry brochures with you—you can’t give them out if you don’t have them

Have other "vintage" ideas to share? Please leave them in the comment's section!


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.