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8 Effective & Out-Of-The-Box Promotional Ideas For Small Businesses

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

As a small business owner, you know that promotion & marketing is essential to your success.

But with limited resources, it can be tough to come up with creative promotional ideas that will reach your target audience. Fear not! We've compiled a list of some effective and affordable methods for promoting your small business.

Keep reading to learn more.

happy customer after receiving a box.

First, Get The Basics Right:

Before going for any campaign, make sure you are well prepared for it. Following are the few essential things before you start any promotional & marketing campaigns.

1. The first step in marketing is to come up with a unique selling proposition (USP). This is a key part of your marketing strategy, as it will help you to stand out from the competition. Your USP should be something that makes your product or service unique and appealing to customers.

2. Another key part of marketing is determining the reason for promotion: Is it sales, awareness, or leads? Determining your goal will help you to focus your marketing efforts and achieve the desired results.

3. Once you have your USP and goal in mind, you need to set up a website and social media profiles. These are essential tools for promoting your business online. Make sure to include all of the relevant information on your website, and post regularly on your social media accounts.

4. Finally, you need to make sure you have enough product supply to meet customer demand. It is important to plan and make sure you have enough stock on hand to avoid running out of products.

6 Types Of Low-Cost Promotional Activities A Small Business Can Run

You can adapt these promotional ideas as per your resources, team, and business model. These are effective and proven ideas that any small business can use with some tweaks.

With every idea, we have included some examples as well to inspire you to think out of the box and make these promotional ideas effective and unique.

1. Giveaways Or Free Samples:

When a small business offers a giveaway or free sample, they are providing something for no cost to their customers.

This can be a great way to introduce a new product or service, as customers will be more likely to try something that is free.

Some businesses may also choose to give away products or services as a way of saying thank you to their customers.

For example, a restaurant may offer a free slice of pizza to new customers to entice them to come in and try the food. A hair salon may give away a small shampoo and conditioning treatment to new clients.

These Are The 10 Giveaway Or Free Simple Ideas For Small Business Promotional Activities:

  1. Free consultation to help new customers decide what services they need.

  2. A free product sample with every purchase.

  3. Discount on the customer's next purchase for referrals.

  4. A loyalty program that rewards customers for frequent visits or spending a certain amount of money.

  5. Free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

  6. A contest with a prize that is relevant to the business's products or services.

  7. A 'buy one, get one free sale on select items or services.

  8. Free gift with the purchase of certain items or services.

  9. A percentage off the customer's total purchase for signing up for the business' email newsletter or mailing list.

  10. A coupon for a future purchase that can be used online or in-store.

Want to learn more about the best giveaway ideas? Read the article here.

2. Buy One, Get One

Another common type of promotion is the buy one, get one free (BOGO) deal.

This offer is generally used to promote a particular product or service and encourages customers to buy more than one item.

BOGO deals can be a great way to increase sales, as customers are more likely to take advantage of a deal where they can save money.

For example, a clothing store may offer 20% off when customers buy two items of the same style and color. A grocery store may offer 10 cents off per item when customers purchase 10 items or more.

Here Are 6 BOGO (Buy One, Get One) Promotional Ideas For Small Businesses:

  1. Offer a free item with the purchase of a certain quantity of a particular product.

  2. Have a BOGO sale for a particular day or week.

  3. Place different items in BOGO deals together to encourage cross-selling.

  4. Create bundles of products that can be purchased together at a discounted price.

  5. Offer a BOGO on your least popular item.

  6. Offer a BOGO on an item that's out of season.

  7. Create BOGO offers as holiday promotions like Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.

Hand showing buy 1 get one free offer

3. Flash Sales

Flash sales are promotions that last for a limited time only. These sales can be used to clear out inventory that is no longer needed or to introduce a new product or service. They are often announced through social media or email marketing and allow customers to purchase products or services at discounted prices.

Select From Any Of These 8 Flash Sale Promotional Ideas:

  1. 50% off on all summer clothing for one day only.

  2. 25% off on all furniture for one week only.

  3. 10% off on all groceries for one week only.

  4. 15% off on all car rentals for one week only.

  5. $10 off on all haircuts for men for one month only.

  6. $50 off on all wedding packages for bride and groom if booked within one week of this announcement.

  7. Free shipping on all online orders over $100 for one week only.

  8. $50 off all wedding packages for bride and groom if booked within one week of this announcement.

4. Coupons Or Discounts

Coupons and discounts are other popular forms of promotional activity. They allow customers to receive a discount on their purchase by using a special code or by showing a coupon at the time of checkout. This can be an effective way to encourage people to buy more products or services, as they will be able to save money on their purchases.

Here Are 8 Coupons Or Discounts Promotional Ideas that a Small Business Can Use:

  1. $15 off when customers spend $100 or more.

  2. 10% off coupon for all products.

  3. Free shipping coupon on orders over $50.

  4. 25% off when customers refer a friend.

  5. Double rewards points on all purchases.

  6. 50% off one item for new customers.

  7. One free day of dog-walking services for new clients.

  8. 10% off all services for military personnel.

5. Recurring Sales

Recurring sales are promotions that occur on a regular basis. This could mean having a sale every week, every month, or on specific days of the year. Having recurring sales helps small businesses keep their customers engaged and encourages them to come back regularly for new deals.

Pick Any Of These 15 Recurring Sales Promotional Ideas For Small Businesses:

  1. 30% off all clearance items on the first Saturday of every month.

  2. $5 off any purchase of $25 or more on Tuesdays.

  3. 25% off all party supplies on the first Saturday of every month.

  4. 20% off all used books on the last Saturday of every month.

  5. 10% off all food orders on Thursdays.

  6. Free shipping on orders over $50 on Fridays.

  7. Half-price admission to the zoo on Wednesdays.

  8. $2 off any haircut on Mondays or Tuesdays.

6. Tripwires

Tripwires are offers that are so good that people can't resist taking advantage of them. They are usually low-cost items that are offered with a high-value bonus item for no extra cost. This type of promotion is designed to get people interested in buying more expensive products or services from small businesses.

For example,

  1. A free consultation with a personal trainer for anyone who purchases a 10-session package.

  2. A free appetizer with the purchase of any two entrees at a local restaurant.

  3. A free month of premium service with the purchase of a six-month subscription to a fitness center.

8 Proven & Fresh Promotional Ideas For Small Businesses

After sharing the major types of promotional activities that a small business can do, let us now share some of the unique, fresh & sharp promotional & marketing ideas in this section here.

1. Host A Social Media Competition

When hosting a social media competition, it is important to consider the reason why you are doing it. Is your goal to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, or increase engagement on your social media platforms? Once you have a goal in mind, you can then create a contest that will help you achieve it.

Before launching your social media competition, be sure to outline the rules and regulations. This will help avoid any confusion among participants. In addition, make sure that you promote your contest extensively on all of your social media platforms. You can use teaser posts and images to entice people to enter the contest.

When choosing a winner, be sure to select one at random. This will ensure that all participants have an equal chance of winning. Finally, be sure to announce the winner and thank everyone who participated.

Some Ideas for Hosting a Social Media Competition:

  • Design a new logo.

  • Create a new marketing campaign.

  • Write a jingle for the business.

  • Take the best selfie in your store.

contest form for cutest baby with a baby smiling picture

2. Share User-Generated Content On Social Media

User-generated content (UGC) is any type of content that has been created by users of a website or social media platform, rather than the company itself. UGC can take many forms, such as blog posts, videos, images, and product reviews.

There are several reasons why businesses should consider using UGC as a promotional tool. First, UGC is often more trusted than corporate-produced content. According to a study by Nielsen, 84% of consumers trust recommendations from other consumers more than information from brands. This is because people are more likely to believe information that comes from their peers, as opposed to a company that is trying to sell them something.

Second, UGC is a great way to build brand awareness and create engagement with your target audience. By sharing user-generated content on your social media channels, you can reach a wider audience and increase the visibility of your brand. Additionally, UGC can help you build relationships with customers and create loyalty among your followers.

If you're looking to share user-generated content as part of your marketing strategy, here are some tips for successful execution:

  1. Make sure you're choosing high-quality content. Just because something is user-generated doesn't mean it's automatically good quality. Make sure you're only sharing the best content from your followers and customers.

  2. Use hashtags to make it easy for potential customers to find your content. For example, if you're sharing photos on Instagram, use a hashtag like #mycompanynamehere so people who are interested in your company can easily find all the related photos.

  3. Thank the creators of the content when possible. Showing gratitude to the people who create great user-generated content is a simple way to show your appreciation and encourage them to keep creating awesome stuff.

a group of people standing with social media cardboard

3. Jump On Trending Topics

Jump on trending topics to get your brand in the news and seen by a wider audience. Make sure that your content is relevant to your brand and provides value to your audience. Be sure to research what topics are currently popular and plan your content accordingly. Also, make sure that you are timely with your posts, as trends can quickly fade. Here are some tips for successful execution:

  • Plan ahead: Research current trends and plan your content around them.

  • Be timely: post content that is relevant to the current trend.

  • Make sure your content is valuable: don't just post for the sake of posting; make sure your content is interesting and provides value to your audience.

  • Engage with followers: respond to comments and be interactive with your followers.

4. Sell Mystery Boxes

Mystery boxes are a great way to get people excited about what they might receive. They can be used as a promotional activity to increase sales, or simply to generate interest in a new product or service. When executed successfully, mystery boxes can create a sense of excitement and anticipation among your customers. Here are some tips for creating and marketing your own mystery box:

  1. Make sure the contents of the box are a mystery. Don't give away too many details ahead of time.

  2. Create a sense of urgency. Let customers know that there are only a limited number of boxes available, or that they need to act quickly if they want to take advantage of the offer.

  3. Use teaser images or videos to promote the box. Give customers a taste of what's inside without revealing all the secrets.

  4. Market the box as a special event or limited-time offer. This will help create a sense of excitement and encourage people to buy sooner rather than later.

  5. Use social media to spread the word about your mystery box. Promote it on your company's Twitter or Facebook page, or use hashtags to generate buzz on sites like Twitter and Instagram.

a mystery box made of cardboard

5. Sending Thank You Notes

A thank you note is a personal letter or card that expresses gratitude for a gift, service, or kind gesture. Thank you notes can also be used to apologize for a mistake or to acknowledge a compliment.

There are many reasons why businesses might choose to send thank-you notes to their customers. Perhaps the business has just completed a project for the customer and wants to express its gratitude. Maybe the customer has been a loyal supporter of the business for many years. Or, perhaps the business has recently received negative feedback from the customer and wants to apologize.

No matter what the reason, there are some general tips that businesses should keep in mind when sending thank-you notes:

  1. Be personal and sincere in your message.

  2. Keep the message brief, but make sure to mention specifically what you are thanking the customer for.

  3. If appropriate, include a small token of appreciation along with the note.

  4. Make sure to send the note as soon as possible after receiving positive feedback (or within a few days of apologizing).

Sending thank you notes is a great way to show your customers that you appreciate their business and support. Most importantly, it will help to build stronger relationships with them.

6. Customer Of The Month

A customer of the month program is a promotional activity in which a business rewards its best customers with special treatment. Some reasons for choosing this kind of promotion include rewarding loyal customers, recognizing top performers, and motivating others to achieve similar levels of success.

There are several tips for successfully executing a customer-of-the-month program.

One important tip is to make sure that the program is well-publicized. This means that everyone who works at the business should be aware of the program and know how to recognize customers who are eligible for the rewards.

It is also important to have clear standards for what constitutes being a “customer of the month”. This will help ensure that all customers who qualify for the rewards receive them fairly.

Finally, it is important to make sure that the rewards are meaningful and desirable to customers. This could include things like special discounts or access to exclusive products or services.

7. Memorable Swag Perks For The Customers

Memorable swag perks for customers can include anything from exclusive discounts to free products or services. They are a great way to show your appreciation for your customers and reward them for their loyalty.

Some examples of memorable swag perks for customers include exclusive access to new products before they hit the market, sneak peeks at upcoming collections, and early bird discounts.

Other great options include free shipping on orders over a certain amount, complimentary gift wrapping, and a loyalty program that rewards customers for their spending. Whatever swag perks you choose, make sure they are something the customers will really appreciate and be excited about!

There are a few things to keep in mind when planning a swag perk promotion:

  1. Make sure the perk is something your customers will appreciate and be excited to receive.

  2. Make sure the offer is relevant to your business and target market.

  3. Make sure the offer is easy to redeem and understand.

  4. Make sure the offer is communicated clearly and effectively.

  5. Make sure the offer is properly timed and targeted.

8. Create A Refer-A-Friend Offer

Refer-a-friend is a promotional activity that encourages customers to refer their friends to the business in return for a reward.

There are a few reasons why businesses might use refer-a-friend schemes as promotional activity.

  1. Firstly, it can be a great way to acquire new customers as referred friends are more likely to become customers than friends of friends.

  2. Secondly, it can help to build loyalty among current customers as they are rewarded for referring their friends.

  3. Finally, it can be used to increase brand awareness as customers are more likely to talk about a business if they have received a reward for doing so.

a women with loud speaker pointing her finger and speaking


Small businesses can benefit from promotional activities in many ways such as attracting new customers and boosting sales. Additionally, promotions can help create a positive image for the business, increase brand awareness, and build customer loyalty.

When planning a promotional campaign, it is important to set objectives and budget accordingly. With careful planning and execution, promotional activities can be a useful way to grow a small business.

We at RedFolk help small businesses to transform into brands people love. If you are looking to build and expand your business, we can help you. Get in touch!


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