The world of small business marketing is constantly evolving, and the way businesses practice it needs to evolve, too. Not to mention, what worked for reeling in new customers a few years ago may not work as well anymore.


We asked business owners what marketing tactics have been most successful in recent months. Here’s how they responded:


Providing free services

As a resume writing service, we’ve started offering free resume reviews, regardless of whether someone intends to, or can afford to, purchase a service from us. These are always 1:1 phone calls, and about 50% don’t result in a sale—at least not immediately. However, this strategy has grown our monthly revenues sixfold over the past year. Because of these free consults, we get many new referrals, and we’ve obtained sales from new people we’ve never met before. We’ve essentially created an army of sales representatives, and each one costs only 20 to 30 minutes of our time.

—Cole Sperry, founder, Optim Recruiting, Riverside, California


Networking through Facebook groups

Our most successful marketing tactic has been participating in Facebook groups. I’m in 670 Denver-related Facebook groups. Pretty much every neighborhood in the city has its own group, and I’ve created a few of my own that now have 10,000-plus people in them. The key is to come up with content to post on Facebook that offers value, not just spamming our link all over. For example, we provide advice on topics like self-defense and weight loss. We also make sure to respond to relevant posts by other people. We haven’t spent a dime on digital ads, and we’re profitable!

Emily Stork, co-founder, Worth The Fight Boxing & Fitness Studio, Denver


Hosting an online contest

One of the most effective marketing campaigns I have implemented for my wedding photography business is an “image of the year” contest. I gather one photo from each client over the past year. The clients then compete for first-, second- and third-place prizes, such as free photography sessions, prints or gift cards. They encourage their friends, family and social networks to vote for their image, with the first round of voting taking place on my website, the second on Facebook and the third on Instagram. People start to get really competitive, and we’ve had photographs get hundreds of votes. We’ve done this for a few years now, and it has established my photography brand in the community while helping me generate many new clients. This past year, this campaign alone led to bookings worth at least $10,000.

Charles Moll, owner, Charles Moll Photography, Bozeman, Montana

Running highly targeted social media ads

Social media targeting on sites like Instagram has played a large role in the success of my fitness e-commerce business. The most successful campaigns include a mix of targeted content ads, hashtags and user-generated content posts, depending on the channel. For example, we can target the word “dumbbells” and serve content ads for free dumbbell workouts to a targeted audience. This type of targeting brings many people to our page and new subscribers to our email list—eventually leading to purchases. I have found that ads simply pitching products don’t perform as well on social media and have learned to publish and promote helpful content.

—Jay Perkins, co-founder, Living.Fit, Austin, Texas

Advertising on TikTok

We are killing it with TikTok ads right now. We hired a video agency to create some high-quality short-form videos and use the targeting feature in TikTok to find people interested in our services. The cost of these ads is still quite low compared to Google or Facebook, yet the engagement is really high. We don’t expect this to last forever, but for now, it is our best-performing channel.

Matthew Meier, founder, MaxTour, Las Vegas 


What is your business’ most successful marketing practice right now? Share your insights in the comments section below!

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