Four tips for small business marketing in a poor economy

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Heather Phillipson
Heather Phillipson

In some ways, small businesses were hit the hardest by the latest economic downturn. Heather Phillipson, online marketing manager at, says there are a number of ways small businesses can combat the tightening of budgets and the slowdown of consumer spending. Here are four tips to boost creativity and visibility without overtaxing a budget. 

Explore affordable or free marketing alternatives. Use cheap and effective ways to market and get your brand's name out there, Phillipson says. A brand can still make a huge impact without denting its pocket too much. Explore all options to do affiliate marketing and use an online presence to increase visibility.

Phillipson points out that postcards have become a very popular affordable option for local marketers trying to cut mailing and printing costs. She adds that to make the most of postcard mailings, marketers should research all mailing options. Often changing paper stock or cutting down on the number of colors can make a real difference in cost. “The important thing is to balance your marketing objectives with the cost,” she says.

Stay in front of the customer's face. Small businesses can maximize small investments in promotional tools by coming up with clever ways to use useful items to promote a business. “Things like magnets and calendars have a lasting shelf life and force consumers to constantly interact with your brand and your message,” says Phillipson.

Another great way to stay a part of customers' lives is to offer loyalty points, she points out. By marking important dates and incentivizing repeat visitors, small businesses can increase their likelihood of creating lifelong customers.

Step outside the box to be remembered. Taking calculated risks by using unique catchphrases or memorable images can have a huge payoff. “People receive a lot of messages all the time,” says Phillipson. “Marketers need to cut through the clutter to be remembered.”

She adds that there are many ways to stick out for customers and be creative. “Marketers are always nervous to step outside of the box,” she says. “If it's a good idea that resonates with the brand, you should be able to talk the C-suite into trying it out.” For small business marketers who need to sell new ideas to their superiors, a test is a great way to get a sample of results.

Never miss an opportunity to use branding. Just because you have a straightforward direct marketing offer, there is no excuse to not use your branding whenever you can. “It's a great gut check that your tagline and logo should compliment anything else you are doing,” Phillipson says.

She suggests brands use their logos wherever they can. “Even a traditional label with your logo on it can get many different uses and keep your brand at the front and center of marketers' minds,” she says.


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