Whether you’re working on a new startup or focusing on an existing venture, you may be feeling strapped for cash when it comes to marketing your business. That’s perfectly understandable – an advertising budget can be tough to configure! But it doesn’t have to be.
There are plenty of advertising budget ideas that you can implement in order to get your name out there. In this blog post, we will discuss cheap marketing ideas for businesses that have a budget of under $10, under $100, and under $1,000.
We will provide examples of effective marketing campaigns that you can replicate for your own business. So don’t fret – with a little creativity and ingenuity, you can market your business on a tight budget!
One cheap advertising budget idea that you can do for under $10 is to create a social media profile for your business. This is a great way to connect with potential and current customers, as well as get your name out there.
You can create a social media profile on any platform, but we recommend starting with Facebook and Instagram. Once you have created your profile, which is free, be sure to populate it with content that is relevant to your business.
This could include blog posts, images, infographics, videos, or anything else that you think would be of interest to your target audience. You want your posts to drive traffic to your website as this leads to more brand awareness and eventually conversions.
In addition, be sure to interact with other users on the platform – social media is all about engagement! By interacting, you can build your list of followers, which increases the amount of people that see your posts and stay updated regarding your newest offerings.
Once you have created your social media profile, you can start running social media marketing campaigns. These campaigns can be very cheap to run, and can be very effective in promoting your business.
With Facebook, you set the amount you want to spend, which can be as low as $5 if that’s all you have in your advertising budget. The average cost per click for Facebook advertising is about $0.97/click and approximately $7.19 CPM, or cost per thousand impressions. An impression is when someone sees your ad.
You don’t even have to spend money to market on social media. You could run a social media contest or create a hashtag that users can follow and use to share content about your business. You could also offer discounts or coupons to users who follow your social media profile and engage with your content.
You can also start a blog for your business. This is another great way to connect with your audience and provide them valuable content. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our guide on how to start a blog for tips and advice.
Blogging is a great way to build an audience and attract attention to your business. You can blog about anything related to your business – industry news, product information, tips and advice, case studies, or anything else that would be of interest to your target audience.
Once you have created a few blog posts, you can start promoting your blog on your social media platforms. You can also submit your blog to blog directories, or guest post on other blogs in your industry.
This is a great way to get exposure for your business, and it can be very cheap to do. You don’t even have to touch your advertising budget if your’e developing your content yourself. Once you have created valuable content that drives traffic, you will notice that your placement in search engine results improves over time as well.
This happens as you build your domain authority and your pages become shared and linked to. Improved search engine results placement means a lot of essentially free advertising for your business on an ongoing basis.
Another cheap advertising budget idea that you can do for under $10 is to create some promotional materials, such as flyers or posters. You can distribute these in local businesses or post them in public places.
Most print services have minimum order requirements, so if you’re trying to keep it under $10, you may want to consider printing your flyers from home. Based on some rough averages, you will probably spend about a half a cent per page on paper and about $0.07/page on ink if you’re printing in black and white.
At a cost of $0.08 per page, you would be able to get 125 flyers printed. If you can afford to go over budget a bit and meet minimum order requirements, you can have your flyers printed with some online printers for as low as $0.06/sheet, though prices vary based on flyer sizes and paper type.
On your flyers, make sure to include your business name, contact information, and a brief description of what you do. You can also include a promotional offer, such as a discount or coupon, to encourage people to check out your business.
Be careful to not overuse coupons, though, as you don’t want it to seem like you have to buy your customers’ business. The last thing you want to do is devalue your brand. One way to get around this is to offer discounts only for special occasions, grand openings, new product launches, or seasonal events.
If you have a little more money to spend in your advertising budget, you can consider cheap marketing ideas such as online advertising. You can use Google AdWords to create ads that will appear when people search for keywords related to your business.
AdWords allows you to set an advertising budget for your campaign, so you can control how much you spend. This is a great way to get exposure for your business, and it can be very effective if done correctly.
Technically, AdWords could have been included in the under $10 category because you can set your budget to your liking, but some keywords cost more than that per click! Since the price of keywords is on a bidding system and thus constantly changing, it’s nice to factor in a bit extra spend compared Facebook advertising.
The average cost per click on Google’s search network is between $1 and $2, while the CPC on their display network is usually under $1. Again, keywords that are in greater demand will command higher prices. That said, a recent Google study showed that advertisers enjoy a return on investment of roughly 800%. It’s unknown whether this figure was verified by any independent source.
Establishing a Web Presence
Another cheap advertising budget idea that you can do for under $100 is to create a website for your business. If you don’t have a website, you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with potential and current customers.
Even if your business doesn’t transact online, your website will be a critical source of business in today’s technology-dependent world. Whereas years ago you would crack open the Yellow Pages to find a service or product you were looking for, nowadays you pull out your device and search for what you need.
You have to give those searchers something to click on or you risk losing their business to the next company with an online presence. This is your opportunity to make a positive and professional first impression.
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy – it just needs to be functional and informative. Include your business name, contact information, and a brief description of what you do.
With a little bit of coding knowledge (and even with none thanks to page builders), you can create a website for next to nothing. The first thing you’ll need is a domain name. Prices vary based on the TLD you’re looking for, but you can usually score a .com domain for under $10 from a place like Namecheap. This will be part of your annual advertising budget.
Next, you’ll need web hosting. If you’re just starting out, you can get away with shared hosting, which can run under $2/month if paid for annually. Shared hosting means your host machine’s resources are shared between many different websites running on the same IP.
Once you start enjoying a lot of traffic, you’ll want to upgrade to something like a virtual private server (VPS), which provides you with dedicated resources. We use Cloudways (affiliate link) because they offer a bunch of different services and add-ons, their prices are the best we’ve found for what you get, and their customer service is responsive and knowledgeable.
Without a bunch of coding knowledge, you’ll find it easiest to use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress. It is estimated that about 40% of all websites run on WordPress, meaning there is a ton of software and support for it. It’s easy to use and, best of all, it’s free.
Beyond that, you may opt to use premium plugins for WordPress, which vary in price. Plugins are pieces of software that extend the functionality of WordPress. There are a great deal of free plugins, however, including some free page builders that allow you to develop your website while skipping coding altogether.
If you’re really tech-averse or your time would simply be better spent on something else, you can always hire someone to build your website for you. This can dock your advertising budget from a couple of hundred dollars for a cheap Fiverr contractor to more than $10,000 for a professional web design firm.
Contests or Giveaways
Another cheap advertising budget idea that you can do for under $100, as long as your product or service is valued at or around $100, is to hold a contest or giveaway. This is a great way to generate buzz and interest in your business. Be sure to promote the contest heavily on social media and in other places where potential customers are likely to see it.
Here are some cool facts about using contests in your marketing plans:
- Nearly 80% of contest shares are through Facebook
- 33% of contest participants are receptive to learning more about the company and its products
- 34% of your audience will engage with your contest
- Over 62% of contest participants share the contest with at least one person
- Instagram contests increase followers 70% faster
- Contest emails have an open rate of almost 9%, which is more than double that of typical email marketing campaigns
If you have a bit more money to spend on marketing, you can consider cheap advertising budget ideas such as print advertising. You can place ads in local newspapers or magazines. This is a great way to reach people who might not be using social media or the internet.
Newspaper advertising varies in cost based on several factors, the most of important of which are usually the size of the ad, whether it’s in color, and the day of publication. Newspapers generally have their greatest readership on Sundays, but Wednesdays is also popular because it is the day when most stores release their circulars.
To get an idea of how much newspaper advertising costs in real life, we inquired with the Tampa Bay Times. Trying to max out our $1,000 advertising budget without going over, the best options were as follows:
- Sunday newspaper, 6 column (full page) x 3″ banner, black and white, readership of roughly 770,000: $756 per run
- Wednesday newspaper, 5 column x 5″ ad, black and white, readership of roughly 470,000: $919 per run
- Weekend standalone insert section within Wednesday paper and distributed to newsstands, 3 column x 4.75″ ad, black and white, readership of 684,000: $855 per run
These prices were for one-time advertisements and there were discounts given for frequency agreements. They also offered targeted email marketing services, but their price breakdown was not very explanatory.
Aside from the newspaper, there is direct mailing, which involves sending physical flyers or postcards out to your potential customers via USPS. Here is a cost breakdown for sending out 700 bi-fold flyers:
- Customer/address list (purchased from USPS): $0.15 per contact x 700 = $105
- Design: you can do this yourself for free with a tool like Canva. If you hire someone, on Fiverr for example, you can pay as little as $15. Remember to read feedback carefully.
- Printing: USPS will print full-color bi-fold flyers for you for $0.88 apiece = $616
- Mailing: postage for bi-fold flyers will cost you $0.50 apiece = $350
- Total cost: $1,086
Okay, so we were slightly over our advertising budget on this one, but it was close. You can reduce the cost by mailing to fewer addresses or choosing a smaller format option, like traditional postcards. Run your own calculation with USPS’s cost calculator.
Here are some interesting facts about direct mailing:
- 42.2% of direct mail recipients actually read standalone mail pieces. This is drastically ahead of email opening rates, which average about 17% across industries.
- Direct mailing has an average return on investment (ROI) of 29%
- 44% of people can recall a brand after seeing their direct mail piece
- Direct mail has an average response rate of 9%
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
First off, this could cost you well over $1,000 in ongoing fees if you stick with a third-party company for your SEO needs for an extended period of time. It could also be free. We’ll get to costs later. This is also contingent upon you having a website.
The goal with search engine optimization is to make the pages of your website appear as high as possible in search engine results. The better your SEO, the more likely people are to find you when they search for keywords related to your business. There are two types of SEO: on-page and off-page.
On-page search engine optimization refers to all the things you can do on your website to improve your ranking, such as using keyword-rich titles and descriptions, having optimized content, and creating a user-friendly experience.
Off-page search engine optimization is everything that happens outside of your website that affects your ranking, such as link building and social media engagement.
Here are some tips for doing on-page SEO:
- Use keyword-rich titles and meta descriptions at character lengths of 50-60 and 150-160, respectively
- Make sure your website is responsive (mobile friendly). You will lose about 40% of your customers if your website takes longer than three seconds to load.
- Do keyword research and be sure to include long-tail keywords in your content. Keyword research can be an in-depth topic, so check out Ahref’s guide for more information.
- Optimize your website’s content. Write user-friendly, engaging content that people will share and choose to link to.
- Make sure your website has a good user experience. Broken links, undersized tap targets, and non-responsive frames and images are sure ways to prevent customers from returning to your site.
There are many free and paid tools you can use to help with SEO. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start for keyword research, and Rank Math is a popular WordPress plugin that can help with optimizing titles and descriptions, as well as content.
Circling back to price – you can do all of your SEO in-house if you have the knowledge. SEO requires constant learning as search engine algorithms are always changing, so you have to stay up to date with the latest industry information.
The reason SEO is here on this list is, based on industry averages, you can get a couple of solid months of SEO services for an advertising budget of roughly $1,000. Again, SEO is an iterative process, but a couple months of watching a pro do it is going to help you be able to maintain things on your own afterwards.
Here’s a little recap of what we’ve covered and associated costs:
- Social media presence: <$10 (free)
- Blogging: <$10 (free)
- Print materials: $10 for 125 flyers
- Google AdWords: <$100 to practically unlimited
- Website: <$100 if self-produced
- Contests or giveaways: ~$100 (depends on value of product)
- Print advertising: ~$1,000
- Direct mail: ~$1,000
- Search engine optimization: $497/month on average
As you can see, there are plenty of cheap marketing ideas that you can implement regardless of your advertising budget!