How to market a small business online (without spending lots of money)


If you are interested in marketing small businesses, here we outline several options that you can follow to market any business online without spending a fortune. Interestingly there are also offline strategies that we have used previously, for both clients and our own business, offering a good return on a modest investment but today we are focusing on pure online techniques.

Step 1 – get your website right!

Before telling the world how great you are first its worth checking that everything online is a good as it could be. The easiest approach is to review your own website, trying to put yourself in a third parties head, so that you can decide if any work needs to be undertaken on your website first. Think about your website in terms of:

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the most cost-effective marketing tool that any business can use. Unfortunately, it is also an area where many companies offer a service that substandard. It’s actually very easy to understand so let’s start with the basics.

SEO is simply trying to attract more traffic from people searching Google (other search engines do exist) for specific phrases. The aim is to get your website to rank as high up in Google as possible for the phrases which are important to you although these days the results will vary for users based on location, search history, etc.

Search engine optimization should be viewed in terms of onsite SEO and offsite SEO:

Social media

A modern extension of arguably the most effective marketing tool: “words of mouth”. Social media can be incredibly effective if used well but we would urge caution to anyone that is looking to outsource the social media marketing of their small business.

To get the most of out social media you really need to engage with your target market, but this can only be done if you are knowledgeable and passionate about your subject and by paying a marketing agency to do this it is very unlikely to generate results. This is the main reason why we have never offered social media marketing as the cost of doing this properly will be considerable away from a business owners time.

When our clients ask about social media our answer is always the same: if you are interested in using it for your business why not spend an hour a day building an audience and starting conversations and see where it takes you. If you see something, then you can do more and equally you can always reduce the time after an initial campaign.


Most businesses, especially in certain sectors for example web design or bar and restaurant websites, have well known websites that offer customer reviews. Whilst reviews should only be explored ethically, so avoid the dodgy companies offering paid for reviews, you can certainly encourage your customers to leave reviews about your service. In our experience most people are happy to share their experience if you have done a good job (the opposite is also true!) so don’t be afraid to ask people to share their experience.

Would you like any advice?

If you are interested in marketing a small business and potentially engaging with an online marketing agency who has 10 years’ experience with working with small businesses, then please get in touch. One of our team will be happy to listen to your aims, the marketing campaigns that you have done so far and then, hopefully, we can offer some ideas on how we can help you.