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A Simple Guide to Setting Up and Marketing Your Business on a Shoestring Budget

By: SmallBizClub



Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make

~Bill Bernbach

Every business, at some point or other, has operated on a shoe string or non-existent budget. But of all the activities you do, marketing your business is simply essential.

Marketing your business is what water is to a young plant; it is the thing that nourishes it and enables it to grow. Too much too quickly, and it will wither away, just like if your small business grows too fast it will be swamped.

But not enough water, and the conditions are not right for the young plant to grow at all. In fact, starve it of water and it will die, and pretty quickly too. If you don’t market your business—and do it well—then your business will fail. Lack of effective marketing is the main reason why businesses fail within the first year.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Thus, as you stand on the precipice and wonder what it is you need to do, this simple and quick guide will be helpful. Before, you spend your shoe string budget on anything, even if you do intend to use high quality roller banners, leaflets and business cards, stop and think what it is your business actually needs to connect with the right audience.

Elevator Pitch

When people ask ‘what do you do?’ what do you say? Do you have a fabulous answer ready for them that trips off the tongue, or do you bluff and bluster?

If you bluster, you need to stop it. You need to be able to tell people, succinctly and with sparkling clarity what it is your business does.

This is a script that you rattle off, taking no more than six to eight seconds to do so and frankly, its invaluable. Frankly, those few seconds are all you have to grab someone’s attention. Create it, practice it, hone it—and have it ready for use.

Local before global

We live in a world that is connected digitally and this is wonderful. You can talk to and see people in the four corners of the globe via a live link, you can send an instantaneous email to far flung places and receive a response within seconds.

But we often think of a global audience at the expense of a local community.

Raise awareness locally; don’t think that your local audience and customer base doesn’t matter. Sponsor the local under 12s football team, or sponsor the kit of the local rugby team etc., support community groups and you may find that some of these people need your business…


We often assume it is a cut throat world, where everyone is looking to undercut the next business but in some ways, this is a fallacy. Collaborating with non-competitive local businesses is one solution.

Why not get a group together, put in a small amount each and create a handy ‘go to guide’ to be distributed to homes and business across your area? Customers want to shop local, especially if they could be on to a good deal.


(Groan) (Sigh) It is a tough thing, and not something that everyone enjoys.

A bit like speed-dating, turning up at a breakfast meeting and starting conversations with complete strangers is not everyone’s idea of a great time.

However, take a look at the well-planned networking events—usually introductions are made, mentors assigned—and you could make one or two connections that could invaluable.

Ask for referrals

Sticking with the networking and collaborating for a minute, asking for referrals is something not many new businesses do which is to essentially miss a golden and free marketing opportunity.

So, someone knows someone who may be looking for something, similar to what you offer. Leap on in there! Give the contact your business card, ask them for contact details for ‘someone’ and strike while the iron is hot.

Offer a free trial (if needed)

This is really tough to reconcile when your shoe string budget is about to snap. But sometimes, a little loss-leader can open up a market that could be a golden ticket, leading on to bigger and better things.

Someone not sure whether your product or service is right? Offer them a short, free trial so that then get a better chance to examine its amazing qualities. This could be anything from giving away sample jars of your delicious jam made from local strawberries, or it could be a day using the software in their offices.

Some marketing and promotional activities are either low cost or free but can still produce the same results. Why not give them a try?

Author: Colour Graphics is a successful online print and design agency. With over 20 years of experience, they have seen markets change, as well as new technologies that make high quality printed promotional material far more accessible and affordable. But sometimes, the tried and tested deliver the best results.

Published: September 30, 2016

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SmallBizClub.com is dedicated to providing small businesses and entrepreneurs the information and resources they need to start, run, and grow their businesses. The publication was founded by successful entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton. We bring you the most insightful thinking from industry leaders, veteran business owners, and fellow entrepreneurs. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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