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A few inexpensive marketing ideas for small retailers in 2011

A number of recent surveys have found small businesses plan to increase their marketing spending in 2011. In fact, one study by business community Manta found nearly half of respondents plan to devote their 2011 spending to marketing alone. However, many marketers remain unsure of how to proceed.

Small retailers are in a tricky position, as they represent an industry that has suffered hard from the recession's reduced consumer confidence. Although the 2010 holiday shopping season broke spending records left and right, the question of whether to focus spending on expansion, marketing or hiring is a tough one that needs to be made on a case-by-case basis.

For small retailers that feel compelled to spend on expansion, you can still invest in smaller marketing initiatives that will not affect your more pressing budgetary needs. Usually, these smaller marketing investments involve print, especially for small retailers, where novel marketing formats such as social media and search engine optimization are less relevant.

For instance, the new year may be a good time to roll out new business cards for you and your staff. Carry them with you everywhere and ensure that they are able to capture prospects' attention.

You may also want to design and print a tagline for store communications such as emails, letters, brochures and other methods of correspondence. Maybe print a calendar featuring your company's logo and offer it as part of a package deal or rebate.

The ideas are virtually endless, but what's important is to not let marketing fall by the wayside.

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