Resource Center / Small Business

10 Small Business Marketing Ideas

Written by Live Oak Bank

small business marketing ideas

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Small business marketing ideas can look different for every company, depending on your industry, your overall goals and your budget. Marketing is an essential component to growing your business and staying in front of your customers, so it should always remain a priority. We’ve rounded up some of the most accessible and impactful strategies for marketing your small business.


Develop your brand story — and tell it well.

Your brand story is what sets your business apart from your competitors. It’s been said that authentic brand stories build trust with their customers, which in turn, creates loyalty. Once you’ve nailed your brand story, this can serve as the foundation for much of your messaging across your website, emails and social media. To develop a simple yet powerful brand story, ask yourself why the business exists – what problem did you set out to solve in the early days? Think through how you solved it, and then show the impact that your business has had on happy customers. The StoryBrand approach provides a helpful framework to develop and refine the story of your business.


Create a website that’s SEO-friendly

Regardless of your industry, having a website is critical to the health of your small business. It’s a way for prospective and existing customers to find you, keep up with what’s happening with your business and easily refer you to others. But not all websites are created equally. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a building block to create a website that will help you show up in online searches. Solid SEO tactics can reward you with increased digital exposure and bring in more customers. Some of the SEO basics include securing a good domain (website name), creating an enjoyable user experience and using an SEO plugin like Yoast. This is just the tip of the iceberg – there are ample online resources to help get you started and level up your SEO game.


Send email newsletters

Companies utilize email newsletters in so many creative ways – updating on news and recent happenings, announcing sales, launching products, sharing content and serving as a touchpoint with existing and former customers. There are many free or inexpensive platforms available, making this a budget-friendly small business marketing idea. It’s also another great avenue to tell your brand story and drive people back to your website.


Send direct mail

While it may seem like an outdated way to reach your customers, direct mail can be a meaningful way to get in front of customers and target customers. Research has shown that direct mail has a return on investment of nearly 30%. Direct mail is an approach that works well in tandem with your digital presence and works for a wide array of audience age groups. There are countless ways to get creative with your direct mail and it’s a tangible reminder of your brand. Added bonus: drive them back to your website with a specific call to action, like a coupon or giveaway.


Leverage social media

Consistency is key on social media – in both the frequency of your posts, as well as the tone and message you share. Identify the platforms where your customers and prospects are active and share relevant updates, along with high-quality visuals. A presence on social media can drive awareness of your business and offers another opportunity to share your brand story, allowing people to authentically connect with your business. Be sure to always respond to questions and comments (both positive and negative) to maintain trust.


Establish a customer referral program

Create a customer referral program to incentivize your customers to spread the word. Data reveals that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends over other forms of advertising. Accelerate growth by leveraging the people who’ve already had a positive experience with your business — and reward them for it. It’s important to clearly define “the ask” and “the reward” in your program to communicate how easy it is for the customer. Notable brands like Tesla, Airbnb and Harry’s all have implemented highly successful customer referral programs.


Develop industry partnerships

Seek out like-minded businesses in your industry or one that’s complementary to what you do. Introduce yourself and determine if there’s an opportunity to partner on content, giveaways, hosting classes or other ideas. This is a way for your small business to get in front of their audience, and vice versa. It could be mutually beneficial, both now and in the long run. You never know when you’ll need small business advice or may want to refer a customer who you cannot serve, but they can.


Start a blog

Content marketing is a common tactic used across the business world. Start a blog and write about topics that are relevant to your industry and your audience. Compile commonly asked questions that you receive and write helpful, concise blog posts. This content can be shared on social media, in your email newsletters and beyond. By creating and sharing valuable, educational content, you’re further building trust with your audience and showcasing your expertise in your industry.


Attend industry events, networking opportunities and tradeshows

When you attend industry events and tradeshows, you’re not only promoting your brand and increasing awareness, but you can also humanize your business and engage in genuine conversations. These events can sometimes be costly, so offer to take part in industry panels and conversations. Relationships are key to small business success and it’s important to take time to cultivate those with in-person or Zoom events.


Send out a customer satisfaction survey

Whether you’re a veterinarian, a self-storage owner or run a quick-service restaurant, the goal of your small business is to solve your customers’ problems, fulfill certain needs and create an enjoyable customer experience, right? With customer surveys, you can keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in every customer interaction. Create a thoughtful questionnaire to gauge their satisfaction, gather candid feedback and thank them for their business — we recommend Survey Monkey or Microsoft Forms. Then you’ll need to create action plans based on the results of the survey to ensure any issues are resolved.


Many of these small business marketing ideas are low-cost or free, giving you the chance to promote your company without a large budget. Some of these tactics may work better for you than others, but you’ll need to test the waters and see where you find success. You’ll find endless resources online to help guide your strategy. Some of our trusted favorites include HubSpot and Neil Patel.

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