5 Free Marketing Ideas for New Business Owners

free marketing ideas

So you’ve started your small business and its time to dig into marketing. Unfortunately, like most other small businesses, your marketing budget is probably minimal—if you have one at all. Luckily, there are no shortage of free marketing ideas to test out.

Focusing on small opportunities and staying local is not only inexpensive (I.E. free), but will also be the perfect first step into marketing. Use these five ideas to share your business with potential customers without reaching into your pockets.


It’s no longer a question that your customers are accessing most of their information via mobile devices, ranging from cell phones to tablets. In fact, 56 percent of millennials and 53 percent of people aged 55 and up agreed that they prefer mobile to do their research and online shopping.


While you’re likely already on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms, you probably haven’t jumped on the Snapchat train. Snapchat, the newest video sharing app, is not only super easy to use, but your potential customers are probably already snapping on the daily.

Not to mention, Snapchat allows you to be fun and show followers who you are (without selling them). The best part, it’s an inherently engaging platform. Sign up for free and start snapping today.

Online Listings

When I started personal training, I found as many places as possible to list my business online. I learned to start with broad listing sites, such as Yelp, and then dig deeper into niche sites. Most allow you to add details about your experience, what you’re offering and a photo. While you may not get a lot of referrals at the start, it’s an easy thing to do while watching a movie or relaxing on a Sunday that will drive passive traffic and interest over time.

Don’t forget to look for local listing sites as well. Alignable is one that I’ve signed up on—you can connect with other local business owners, create specific offers, and get recommended by others in the local business community.

Tear-Off Flyers

This may seem a little old school, and it is. However, if your business relies on the local community—whether you’re a personal trainer or a computer repair business—this is one of the simplest free marketing ideas that will help drum up business. I customized this pre-made template I found with a quick Google search for my own marketing efforts.

Once finished, take one day to go out and find as many places to hang it as possible. Some local businesses that are not direct competitors may have a space for something like this in their storefront. Other places to try: telephone poles, library, laundromats, grocery stores and local college campuses.

Don’t forget to include your contact information and keep your CTA short and straight to the point.


Local Business Partnerships

Many small business owners want to connect with other local business owners to bring in more potential customers. In most cases, it ends up being a win-win situation, not to mention it gives you a chance to network with more people within your community.

Write a list of local businesses that complement what you do, then reach out about how you can work together. For example, I recently did this with a local juicing shop. After reaching out and we decided I would run group-training classes at his shop, and all of my participants would get a free juice at the end.

MeetUp Groups

The best way to market yourself is to talk about what you do. It’s in these conversations that your passion about the work comes through the most. I heard a piece of advice once that I really loved: Talk to at least one person a day about what you do, because you never know who you’re talking to.

MeetUp groups are a great way to talk about your business and show your passion. While you shouldn’t show up and immediately start promoting yourself, you can create genuine connections and in conversation your business will more than likely come up.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring business cards. If someone is interested in what you do, or knows someone who is, you don’t want to miss a chance to make sure they can get in touch with you or pass your information along.

Free Marketing Ideas = Growing Your Business

There are hundreds of free marketing ideas you can use to spread the word about your brand new small business. While many times we focus on the big picture, like continually driving leads or reaching a mass amount of people at once, it’s important to consider the smaller steps you can take.

Getting involved in your community, networking with others and reaching out to local small businesses are easy ways to market yourself for free.

Also consider promotional items, such as magnets, business cards, and banner pens

Images:  Ideas Celestine Chua

Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes. She also writes for Business Insider, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.