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If you’re starting a small business or trying to expand your freelance business, things can get a little spendy.

Marketing doesn’t have to leave you broke. There are plenty of free and low-cost marketing tactics you can use online to get more people to know about you and your business.

And the best part about it is you don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to do any of these. In fact, you don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.

Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

These low cost marketing strategies are smart and you can easily give them a try.

Let’s get started.

1. Ask for Referrals

Ask your existing customers and clients for referrals. This is an easy way to leverage your current customers to generate more leads. It’s a very powerful way of marketing because people listen to what their friends say.

How to Ask for Referrals

There are several ways to do this. One way is to reach out to your customers who buy the most from you or interact the most with you. These are your biggest fans. They’re the ones who comment on your Facebook posts and return again and again for your products. Because they’re your most passionate supporters, they’ll be the most likely to spread the word about your brand.

Another good method for getting referrals is to reply to positive feedback with a request. Whenever someone sends you a message telling you that your product or service helped them, thank them for their patronage and ask if they’ll tell others about you. They’re at peak satisfaction so they’ll be happy to do it.

If you have an email list of subscribers, send out a message asking them to tell their friends about you. If you have a lead magnet for sign ups, give them a link so they can send this to their friends.

For all these methods, you can increase the number of referrals you get by offering some form of incentive. To keep things low budget, offer an information product, free access to your membership service, a free trial, or a discount so it doesn’t cost you anything.

How to Get Started with Referrals

  1. Send out an email to your list of buyers and ask them if they can suggest people you can contact who would be interested in your products or services.
  2. Choose one of the other methods for asking for referrals and ask.

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2. Make a Short Training Video

Make a short training video that you can post on social media and YouTube. Show or explain to your audience how to do something that they can master by the end of the video. People will see this video and click on your link in the profile to see what else you have to offer. YouTube is one of the internet’s most popular websites so it’s a great way to get new leads.

What can you teach? Start by thinking about your audience and the problems they face. Is there something you know how to do that others don’t? Are there any questions people often ask that you can answer in a short video? This would also be a great idea.

The video should be short and simple. Don’t get hung up on production; just get in front of the camera and tell or show your audience how to do something. Imagine you’re talking to a friend. If you want to work on your production skills, you can do this later down the line.

RELATED: Get Started With Video Marketing

People tend to prefer shorter videos, so keep your video under 5 minutes if you can. Plus, a short video gives you the chance to explain just one thing or offer just one tip; you can then make another video for your next idea.

Once you have your video finished, take some time to create a good description. The description should tell people what the video teaches and what they will be able to do after they finish watching it. Make sure you include search terms people will be using to find it.

How to Get Started with a Training Video

  1. Decide what you will teach or share in your short video.
  2. Make a simple video under 5 minutes with minimal production.
  3. Post your video on YouTube, social media, and wherever else you can and monitor results.

3. Create a Lead Magnet

Create a lead magnet and use it to capture leads. A lead magnet is a piece of valuable content you give away for free in order to bring people into your marketing funnel. It’s free because the purpose is to spread awareness as far and wide as possible. It should show people how to do something that solves their problems, demonstrating your expertise so they’ll want to learn more from you.

The best way to do this is to create an information product that doesn’t cost you anything to make and deliver. Unlike a physical product, people can simply download it from your site.

Examples of information products include:


An eBook is a PDF file that’s formatted like a book. It can be a short report of 4-5 pages that tackles a simple problem.


You can offer a free video or, even better, a free video course. This is a series of videos that teaches a complex task in steps, such as how to set up an internet-based business or how to design a business logo.


Offer a collection of free resources based around a certain topic. This could include text, videos, links, graphics, templates, or whatever else would help your audience solve their problems.

You can also offer a product that’s a mix of the above.

One shortcut you can use when creating your info product is to repurpose your existing content. As long as the content is valuable to your audience and helps them solve their problems, it can work as a free lead magnet.

You can create your lead magnet for free using free Canva templates.

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4. Distributing Your Lead Magnet

Your lead magnet should have a dedicated landing page. This is a page where all the visitor can do is input their information and download the product. Provide a form where people enter their name and email address in order to download. You can then keep in touch with them and market to them through email.

How to Promote Your Lead Magnet

In addition to creating a dedicated page to which you drive traffic, you should also promote your lead magnet anywhere else you can. For example:

  • Share content about it on social media
  • Mention it in your social media profiles
  • Write blog posts about it
  • Create a press release about it
  • Introduce it in a video that you can share on YouTube and also put on the landing page
  • Promote your lead magnet in online groups and forums

How to get started with Your Lead Magnet

  1. Create a lead magnet that helps to solve a specific problem your target audience faces.
  2. Publish this lead magnet on a dedicated landing page that adds people to an email list. Promote it other places online where you’re in contact with your target market.

LEARN: Lead Magnet 101

5. Write a Guest Blog Post

You’re probably blogging on your own already, but a great way to grow your audience and boost your marketing is to write a blog post and publish it on someone else’s blog. This way, you get exposure to a completely new audience and new leads. You also boost your online credibility by showing that your work is published on someone else’s platform.

The first step is to find relevant websites in your niche that publish guest posts. Their audience should consist of your target market. You can usually tell this by looking at the type of content they publish.

Where to Guest Blog?

It’s only natural that you would want to target big blogs with huge readership. But it’s more important that their readers are engaged. This means they’re reading regularly, subscribing, commenting, and sharing. If you submit to a blog that has a large readership but passive audience, the audience isn’t as likely to take action and follow you.

Guest blog topics

The next step is to choose a topic. The topic should be something unique. Try to find something they haven’t covered already or something you can take a unique angle on. It needs to be relevant to the blog’s readers, and it has to show you in a good light. Think about your natural strengths. Remember that this will be the blog readers’ first exposure to you, so start strong.

Pitching Your Guest Post

Choose three topics to pitch to blog owners. Contact them and tell them why you think you’d be a good match. Explain each of your ideas and how it would benefit their audience. There’s no reason to pretend you’re an avid reader of their blog, unless it’s true. Tell them you’d like to expand your audience but emphasize that, in return, they get a free piece of high-value content that will help their readers.

Make sure that each blog you’re considering lets you put a link in your author bio to your site.

How to get started with Guest Posting

  1. Choose 3 unique topics that show you in your best light.
  2. Research blogs you can write guest blog posts for and make your pitch.

Low-Cost Marketing Ideas

Now you have several low cost marketing tactics that you can put to use right away to start getting results. Even better, you can mix and match them to multiply your results and expand your marketing efforts even further.

See which of the above methods works best to get you the results you want and add them to your marketing arsenal.

And remember, you don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.

And these low-cost marketing tactics are smart!



About Digital Marketing Expert Torie Mathis

Torie Mathis helps entrepreneurs, like you, use digital marketing to grow your business without wasting time, money, or your sanity.  She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, speaker + trainer, and your digital marketing coach. You don't need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. In fact, you don't even need a lot of time. What you need is to be SMART.

Torie hosts SMART AF, a show for non-techy entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, with her husband Sean and is the creator of SMART AF Magazine. Learn from Torie at the Smart Arsenal and on her channel.

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hi im torie
I help entrepreneurs  learn digital marketing.
And I make it easy! 

You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.

Is YOUR marketing SMART?

Find out here.

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Hi! I'm Torie!

Torie Mathis HeadshotI help entrepreneurs (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + make more money. And I make it easy!

You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.

Get Smart AF

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