3 Tips for Advertising on a Budget


For many small businesses, advertising can be a source of frustration. Looking at big businesses and the size of their marketing budgets, it’s easy to feel inadequate and unable to compete. However, even those large dominating brands once began as small businesses with limited budgets. They grew over time by implementing specific disciplines that formed a foundation on which they could build. By putting into practice our 3 tips for advertising on a budget, you’ll be able to do the same.

Tip #1: Have a Set Budget

Even though it may be small, it’s important to allocate a concrete number in your yearly budget. Having a set amount helps you prioritize your spending. Without one, fear can keep you from spending when you need to, and a lack of discipline can cause you to overspend when you shouldn’t. A budget will keep you on track and away from emotional decision-making.

Know that a smaller budget also does not mean your marketing will be less effective. Consistency and quality play a far more important role in driving leads and conversions than quantity. A budget forces an organization to prioritize its spending and remain diligent. Our blog on setting a marketing budget will help you determine the right amount for your business size.

Tip #2: Create Dominant Frequency

With so many options available, it’s tempting to want to try them all. However, with a limited budget, you likely won’t be able to effectively leverage more than one or two options. Focus your decision strategically. Leverage Dominant Frequency by selecting an advertising medium that reaches your target audience and a campaign that fits within your budget. Then stay committed to growing market share with that audience. Fragmented advertising leads to fragmented results. Your goal is to grow your awareness with that audience until you “own” it. As business grows, build on your exposure with that medium until you are financially ready to add another advertising channel.

Tip #3: Leverage Existing Resources

Most businesses have underutilized resources that already exist. For example, consider your email database. Existing contacts and customers have a relationship started with your business and are the fastest way to expand sales. Start by collecting contact information from everyone you can. Then, be sure you’re working a system for staying in touch regularly and letting them know what additional products and services are available.  

Another often neglected area is social media. Creating profiles is free, and while most businesses have them, very few use them to their fullest potential. Regularly engaging with followers on the platform can help build a strong brand and establish expertise, but takes time, effort, and planning to execute. Things like regular posting, sharing photos of happy staff and customers, brief videos, and links to other resources make your profile helpful and engaging.

Another area is the lost art of the follow-up. There was a day when conversations were followed by a note and business card in the mail a few days later. Times have changed, but not the desire for communication and the art of building relationships. It costs very little to follow up with people you meet by phone, email or even text.  Think about how much you can gain by connecting again after an introduction. Making yourself available to answer questions, provide information, or just say thank you is powerful…especially if your competition isn’t doing it.  

Seth Godin said, “Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.” Remember that even big businesses once started small. They were relentless, however, about applying these 3 keys to advertising on a budget and saw the fruits of their work as their business grew. Now you can too.


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