There is never enough money. You can raise a million dollars for your business and still be out of cash within a year or less. Outside of product development and engineering, marketing is usually one of the biggest expenses for most companies. That’s why being scrappy as f**k is the key to small business marketing.

Small Business Marketing = Scrappy

Let’s define scrappy marketing: doing more with less. Producing the best you can with the least amount of resources possible.

Now, let’s look at my favorite benefits of scrappy marketing for small businesses:

  • Gives yourself permission to prioritize completion over perfection.
  • Find out what works and what doesn’t quickly and cheaply
  • Learn by getting your hands dirty
  • Move more quickly than your competition

Shedding perfection is a giant unblock. I can feel the stress dissipating as I remind myself that nobody cares that it’s perfect except me. I feel like your next question will be, “This is great Justin, but how do I apply this?”

Easy. Here’s a small business marketing idea that shouldn’t cost a thing! Embrace the A/B test. Both Semrush and Neil Patel have some great guides for beginners. I love A/B tests because it’s an opportunity for my customer to vote their preference.

Real-Life A/B Testing

Story time. My partner was shopping at her local Trader Joe’s. She came across two new sauces, one garlic and one basil flavored. Out of curiosity, she decided to look at the ingredients for both sauces. Surprisingly, the sauces were exactly the same. We both have allergies and dietary restrictions, so I know she was thorough.

The sauces had the same ingredients and nutritional values. In fact, the only difference was the packaging design. Human psychology and behavior is fascinating isn’t it. It makes you wonder how many other people shared this experience and left confused.

Clearly, Trader Joes was product testing using a simple A/B test in their stores. Will customers prefer to purchase a garlic or basil sauce? Don’t get too hung up on the flavor. If this is confusing, think about the toothpaste aisle at your local drug store. They all have various labels smacked on the front next to the brand logo: Whitening, Sensitive, Tartar Control, Gum Health, and more.

Unlike Trader Joe’s, the basic ingredients for most toothpastes are exactly the same, and then additives are layered in to support the features they promote. It’s not a perfect A/B test. Though, I would bet there’s a reason there are 20 different options littering the shelves instead of an all-in-one toothpaste killer for double the price. It’s because testing revealed big brands like Crest and Colgate could capture more of the market by providing differentiated product for each persona.

Marketing Ideas for You

You can use examples from big business and apply it for yourself.

For example, you can use A/B tests to find the right approach on your brand messaging and tone of voice. The scrappy method would be to use a free version of Convertkit or Mailchimp. You can A/B test subject lines or body content of an email newsletter. If the features require a subscription, then send emails one-at-a-time to a small group of test groups. Use the free version of Hubspot to which people opened and clicked links. Compare the amount of opens and clicks for each group.

Another example, if you want to see what kind offer will be more exciting try A/B testing your opt-in form. Have one form that offers 15% for the customer’s first purchase, and another that offers 25% off. Instead of paying to drive traffic to your landing page, use social media instead. Creating content isn’t necessarily as efficient, but it has other benefits like SEO and engagement. Plus, it’s free!

Small business marketing means being scrappy AF. Use free tools whenever possible including software trials and Google Sheets to record results. Drive traffic using creativity and social media instead of digital ads. Learn how to do things yourself before spending the money on experts and agencies. Focus on getting things done instead of perfect.