7 Long-Term Marketing Strategies on a Budget

marketing long term
Marketing and advertising expenses are usually areas where small business owners proceed with caution, and that’s understandable. Smaller businesses have smaller marketing budgets, and each dollar is that much more important.

Many small business owners rely purely on local referrals and word of mouth for new business (both are good sources), but with a little creativity and a small investment you can implement a few long-term marketing strategies that don’t require as much constant activity and work.

Here are a few long-term ways to spread the word about your business, without spending too much money:

1. Leverage Your Business Cards

A great business card is a mini-marketing strategy that is both cost-effective and has strong impact. It’s a fast portrait of your business, listing who you are, what you do and how people can contact you. Business cards offer long-term potential, too, because many individuals tuck them away for future reference or even collect them. To maximize the long-term effect, make sure you place stacks of them in local chambers of commerce and other areas with your target market.

2. Create a Web Presence

Many small businesses try to get financial strength before investing in solid web presence, especially in small or rural towns. A good website offers plenty of marketing appeal, though, working 24/7 to let people know what you have to offer. A small site is affordable, too, with a long-lived return on investment. Most websites pay for themselves within a year or less. Don’t forget to add your website address to your business card.

3. Design Quality Brochures

The modest brochure is usually one area where people cut corners. They opt for cheap fliers tucked between local newspapers or stuffed in mailboxes. Invest instead in a well-made four-color brochure with attractive images and compelling text. It may mean the difference between an interested individual and the recycling bin. Leave brochures in stores related to but not in direct competition with your business, and potential clients will pick them up over a period of time.

4. Advertise with Your Car

A new trend picking up steam having a vehicle customized with a business logo and contact information using printed magnets or stick-ons. The cost of having your car personalized may seem a little pricey, but your car will be noticed wherever you go for as long as you own it. Make sure to park where you’ll be easily spotted, too!

5. Start an Email Newsletter

Building an email list that you contact regularly can be one of the single most valuable long-term strategies for a small business. It can help acquaint potential customers to you, and will help keep older clients in the loop. If you don’t have an active email list, I recommend you start one right away. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could even start a business blog.

6. Build a Company Folder

Put together a folder containing a few leaflets about your company mission, products and services, a business card, a CD of your portfolio and maybe a discount coupon or a small gift. Folders haven’t gone out of style. Visit places of business to introduce yourself personally – and leave them with your folder to look through later on. These tactics work especially well for businesses that have expensive or premium products.

7. Write a Cornerstone Article

Writing a key article or press release is a great way to cement your company’s market position. Your article should contain some interesting information, it should provide some value, and it should show why your company is unique. Once you’re finished writing, you can distribute it online and in local publications. If you write something really great it will generate interest for a long time to come.

Caution with business expenses is good, so apply some critical thinking to your marketing strategies before you choose a method:

  • Decide which marketing will work best for your business with the least cost.
  • Know which marketing tactics will help you stand out against your competitors.
  • Invest in good-quality products, it will show you have a successful business

When marketing your business, apply your confidence, too. You believe that your business is good, don’t you? Show it. Tell people. Back up your marketing with drive and determination. The feeling that you’re serious about your business and that you’re here to stay will shine through.


Reader Comments

Linda P. Morton
Mar. 26. 2008 7:54 AM

This is a great list of seven ideas that can help small business owners.

I would add, identifying and learning as much as possible about their target markets.

When you market to everybody, you market to nobody.

Market segmentation helps small business owners to identify the people most likley to become customers, and provides information about those potential customers to enhance the effectiveness of marketing efforts.

Mar. 26. 2008 5:08 PM

Linda, you’re absolutely correct. Marketing to a broad audience and trying to please everybody is one of the surest ways to failure.

I would say that instead of adding that to the list though, it should be an integral part of almost any marketing effort.

Linda P. Morton
Mar. 26. 2008 5:16 PM

Mason, you’re absolutely correct. Gathering information to really get to know a target market should be part of any marketing strategy, and you are really covering marketing tactics in this post.

I just like to remind people of its importance because many small business owners plunge into tactics before they have their strategies in place.

The best tactics depend on the target market. For instance, the WWI generation reads newspapers and can be reached through news releases. But you can’t reach Generation X with news releases. Gen Xers neither trust traditional media nor appreciate journalistic style.

Scott Howard (ScLoHo)
Mar. 26. 2008 8:34 PM

I agree, an excellent article.  Especially with the input from Linda about targeting.

I tend to shy away from the brochure unless you can create one that is general enough and specific enough which is a tough mix.  I prefer to customize nearly everything and so I have templates that I modify for particular target markets, or even better yet, modify for a specific potential client.

Mar. 26. 2008 9:20 PM

Hey Scott,

If you service many different markets it can definitely be a hard job to create a brochure to fit, and usually isn’t even a good idea. The better route is to create one for each market, but that can be expensive.

In small business, it’s usually just a difficult thing to appeal to many people at once.

Mar. 27. 2008 6:39 PM

I was wondering how you felt about online brochures. They don’t have the leave behind factor like printed brochures but the online versions can be emailed for quick response to clients and I think they can make a great addition to a website. We convert most all of our printed brochures to online InfoFlip versions. Any thoughts on this practice?

Mar. 27. 2008 7:20 PM


I think online and email-able brochures are certainly a great addition to any print materials you have. I know that I personally email a lot of portfolio and product information to clients every day.

My only suggestion would be to stick with widely accepted formats, namely Adobe PDF. You could also simply make the information available on your website, if it’s easier.

Does that answer your question? Or is there something specific about the InfoFlip format you’re curious about?

Mar. 27. 2008 8:01 PM

No that pretty much answered it.

ionut franga
Feb. 27. 2014 1:47 PM

Honestly, a business blog seems a much, much better idea than an email campaign. Blog are trendy right now, and if you take the time to actually write something interesting and useful for your customers, it will boost you much higher than an e-mail campaign simply because emails don’t increase the rankings of your website, but a blog like :blog.<yourwebsite> (or, for example, blog.mysite.com) will boost your site in search engines and get you closer to your customers, which will take you more seriously

Mar. 7. 2014 7:55 AM

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Terry Brown
May. 17. 2014 10:30 PM

Online presence is very necessary for many small business. Sending email newsletter is will help you to retain your existing customers as there is a general marketing rule that cost of getting new customer is always higher than retaining an existing one. I am glad to find useful tips for making a successful marketing plan with limited budget.  mba model question papers Thanks

Jun. 4. 2014 10:46 AM

Web presence is so important nowadays, and it applies to eveyr industry possible. More important than that is your online reputation, because there are many forums or websites where your clients or ex-clients are able to state their opinion about you and about your collaboration with them…

Aug. 4. 2014 8:01 AM

In my opinion, every business that wants to try out a serious marketing strategy for the first time should do this on a budget since experience comes with time and it’s much better to fail when you have financial limitations than to fail when you put everything you have to risk.

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