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Marketing Hacks Every Small Business Owner Needs

Marketing Hacks for Your Small Business

Small business people need to be crafty, cunning, and clever when it comes to making their marketing budget stretch. Some of these marketing hacks may be old hat to my readers, but others find anything to do with marketing and demand creation to be like voodoo. Hey, even one new idea makes the few minutes it takes to read this worth your time.

You will be surprised how far you can stretch your budget with a few tried and true small business marketing hacks. The (perhaps not so obvious) implication here is that you still have to have a well-considered marketing plan. That plan starts with some basic questions.

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Who are my customers?

Not boring demographic variables like sex/gender, age, income and hair colour! Ok sometimes those might matter but way less than you think. I’m not defined by my age or my gender. There are lots of women 1/2 my age that share all kinds of characteristics with me, as there are men my age that are nothing like me. So get deeper and understand them better, and why that group would buy from you. You should be able to create a handful of “personas” that represent your model customer. A well-defined persona will include an alliterative name like Sassy Sally or Spendthrift Samuel, with some detail about their interests, values, beliefs, behaviours and some demographic description. 

You need to know who your customers are, because otherwise how do you know what to say to them?

Where am I likely to find them?

I don’t mean physically. I mean what channels will i use to get to them. Marketing hacks have to be applied in the right place otherwise they’re a waste of your time (even if not any money!).


What are my key messages?

This might sound quite obvious, but it’s not to many. You should take the time to determine what your 3-5 key messages are and then relentlessly repeat those in all your marketing communications.

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Marketing Hacks Explained

This is a list of the not so obvious tactics you can use (marketing hacks), not a to do list for all your marketing activity. These are just a few of the ideas that I’ve used over the years to get more bang for my marketing buck!

Leverage Your Network

In general, people want to help. It serves one of our primary needs as humans, which is to be helpful. So use that to your advantage, and leverage your network to get referrals for your business. If you don’t have much of a network, that’s something you need to fix, so join industry-related associations, the local chamber of commerce or BIA, or a service club. All are great ways to get to know more like-minded people.

Look for Free Money

New local, regional, state/provincial and federal government programs are always being introduced so mentioning them here is potentially not helpful, but in the past I have taken advantage of the Global Commerce Support Program (back when it was called the Program for Export Market Development or PEMD). This one is for exporters but there are lots more to be found. 

Use Interns

Contact the Business School at your local colleges and universities. I happen to work at a very fine university with arguably one of the top entrepreneurship programs on the planet and I know that many programs contain a requirement to put in some number of hours service (free of charge) at a local company in order to graduate. Your only requirement is to provide them with relevant work and to complete a brief report at the conclusion of their tenure.

Public Relations

Public relations is one of my favourite marketing hacks, since it mostly only need take up your time, unless you hire a PR pro to manage this for you. Think Publicity as the goal, and Public Relations as the management activity. 

I have used it quite effectively to build my profile as a speaker in the small business and cannabis world. 

If you’re looking to get exposure for your product, create interesting stories for news outlets to use. The key is to write the story for them. Make it “camera and microphone ready” and not too long. Something that can be read in 30-45 seconds is idea. If you want to dig deeper, has 101 PR strategies for you to follow.