Cost-effective Marketing Ideas that Deliver Results

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“Your number-one job is to tell your story to the consumer wherever they are, and preferably at the moment they are deciding to make a purchase.”
Gary Vaynerchuk –

Marketing here in Cleveland can seem a little overwhelming, and when you see large companies launching huge campaigns across the internet it might seem like marketing is out of your league. Acclaim is here to tell you that is not true, and to at least point you in the direction of a few tactics that will increase your name, your identity, and your reach. We understand it can get busy in whatever industry your business or non-profit happens to be in, but we live in an age dominated by social media, dominated by short-form videos, and dominated by identity (or lack thereof). The effort towards marketing must be in the public eye.These are some affordable and effective marketing strategies for small businesses and non-profits.

This list is meant to help cover some easy and cost-effective ways of building some awareness of who you are, and what your brand stands for. We will start off extremely simply and cost you the least amount of time and money, and towards the end it will become more time-consuming and may cost some money. We know Clevelanders come from all walks of life, and so do our businesses.

A cellular telephone

Content Marketing

Pretend you are opening an app on your phone, almost any app, and you will see content marketed towards you. Sometimes you cannot even recognize that it is marketing, and you genuinely just find a topic to be fascinating. We have found ourselves watching videos of the most obscure things, like farmers trimming hooves of a cow on TikTok, only to notice that the creator is selling a cow trimmer for a commission. We like to stay up to date with marketing, so we often attend webinars and presentations on SEO marketing strategies, but these events are not just to teach marketers, they are marketing a service or platform like HubSpot or Yoast.

You can use the exact same approach with your business or non-profit, and best of all it is free. Here is a list of the most popular social media sites in the world:

Here is the cost of starting an account for your brand on every single one of these: $0. Seriously, it has never been cheaper to start creating things for your brand or business. This is your way of selling yourself without spending a cent. Talk about the most affordable and effective tactic for building you brand.

There will always be a quantity versus quality debate for everything in the world, but we can confidently tell you that it is a healthy combination of both. Writing a few blogs every week and then repurposing those topics and ideas into digestible social media posts is a couple of hours a week at max, and can seriously make your brand look flushed out, active, and sending a sense of importance to your customers. Take a picture of the food you make at your restaurant, make a statement about current events, write a post about something interesting that happened to your business over the week (even bad news like a pipe busting in the restroom can create interest the day-to-day customers)

In addition to copywriting and images you can now post videos on every one of those platforms mentioned above. Each has their own time limit on how long they can be, but they all have built-in editors to cut your videos to an appropriate length. Video is king in the social media landscape, and luckily, we have seen a meteoric rise in naturally filmed vertical videos, so just pulling your phone out of your pocket and filming something is now the most common type of video in the world.

Unless you need to buy a phone, taking a video on your phone is free, and it is one of the most engaging ways to promote yourself. A picture of the front of your business is nice, but a short video with the leaves bustling about on the trees, the sun shining and creating moving shadows, and birds flying in the distance make a video more interesting than a picture ever could be (unless you are handy with Photoshop).

Email Marketing

Have you ever received an email? No? Well, I am surprised you have access to the internet then Ishmael, as emails can be a super powerful way to reach your audience (Ishmael is the sailor from Moby Dick, you should read it). Email presents a way to get your company’s name in the physical palm of your customers. People born after 1944 now must check their email usually 6-7 times per week at a bare minimum, and having your business’ name at the top of their email is imprinting your identity onto them. You do not want to bombard them constantly, but a weekly email with deals or current events can really help people recognize your name.

Here are a few services that can help you build an email list, starting with the cheapest and ending with ones that may cost some money:

Building an email list is an incredibly powerful way to send offers to your clientele. Once you learn how to craft an email in a service like those mentioned above, it becomes incredibly fast, cheap, and reliable to reach your mailing list. If you have not started saving emails in some form or another, get on it, they are invaluable. A couple of these are free, which is the most affordable price for marketing you can imagine for sending bulk emails. We all know typing in 40 addresses into Gmail is not working.


Get your business cards ready because we want to tell you one extremely effective strategy to network yourself around Cleveland. Business expositions. Honestly, it is impressive how many small businesses and non-profits completely forget to set a day out of the month to go to a smaller suburb of Cleveland where local businesses gather and just pass out business cards. You can go one step further and reserve a booth at a couple for yourself.

Creating apparel for booths can get pricey, but nothing is stopping a small business from showing up, passing out business cards, shaking hands, and talking with other local businesses. You would be surprised at how effective it is to shake a person’s hand and say, “Call us sometime.” This comes with the cost of buying and printing business cards, but you have done that already or were considering it.

Beyond physical interaction another approach is to use LinkedIn as a networking strategy. There is a good way to do this and a bad way to do this. The bad way to do it is to spam people in your industry with messages and bombard them with lists of your services and products. We highly advise against this; it will just build you a reputation for being annoying.

The good way of marketing on LinkedIn is to find companies or individuals that interest you and use this social media site to be… well, social. Like and share their posts, comment on things you like or even do not like, be supportive and encouraging, things like this will put your company’s name front and center on their notifications list. Then after engaging and being social send them a short and concise message about networking.

Do not write a novel and hope they read the whole thing, just a simple “Hey, I notice we’re in the same industry, we should talk sometime.” This will go MUCH further than a short novella and three bullet points about your services and accomplishments, we promise. And best of all, LinkedIn is completely free. (Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Windows+ L for a weird surprise that comes installed on every computer now too, we just thought it was interesting)

Step to branding include identity, logo, design, strategy, and marketing.

Paid Advertising

We had a few freebies listed, so now we must talk about paying for an advertising campaign. Do not worry, we are not suggesting something that will completely deplete your marketing budget, but it will use some of the things already talked about in this article.

After you have started creating posts, taken pictures, and made some videos you have the option to boost your posts or to make an ad campaign out of your content. It was free to film a video on your iPhone, but now you want to get that video in front of as many people as possible. Luckily, there are paid advertisement options on most social platforms. This can range wildly, and it does give you options to test the waters before you decide to put some money behind it.

Instead of talking about Meta Ad campaigns ad nauseum we wanted to just talk about the power of boosting a post with say $20. Let us say you have a cool post with maybe an awesome picture or video you took, and you’d really like that post to get some attention around Cleveland. You can simply hit the “Boost Post” button and throw $20 at it and Meta will put that post in front of a staggering amount of people.

The best part is, you can localize the post, so if you limit the distance to just those in Cleveland, then Facebook and Instagram users from Cleveland will be the only ones who see it. Pair this with a projected audience size that Meta will give you, and you can get your post in front of a sizable chunk of Clevelanders over the course of a week.

Online Marketing is one of the most affordable ways to build your brand.

Tying it Together

Here are the things you should be working on as a small business to get your marketing started on the internet:

  1. Create social media profiles.
  2. Create an email list.
  3. Post on those social media sites.
  4. Email that list.
  5. Get your business cards into the hands of other people.
  6. Use LinkedIn to start building a network of people in your industry.
  7. Spend the $20 and boost that post.

These things will not guarantee a massive amount of success, but they are the most affordable ways to get your name out there for the least amount of time and money. Also, having these steps completed will help a marketing agency you might turn to if you start getting too busy with work or if life gets in the way. Having your social media accounts set up and active is an incredibly essential thing that marketing firms will do for, or with, you.

These are, without a doubt, the most effective and budget friendly steps small business in Cleveland can take to jump start their marketing efforts. You can always reach out to Acclaim and pick our brains on cost-effective marketing strategies. If you are not completely ready to turn to a marketing agency, we will be happy to talk shop with you.