3 Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses You Can Steal From Hubspot, Canva, and Upwork

Are you looking for low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses?

Then let’s steal some.

Although stealing your competitors’ ideas might sound scammy, it’s faster, safer, and more effective to look at what’s already working.

You are looking at Upwork, Canva, and Hubspot in this post.

Let’s see what they did to bring sales and traffic and develop their brands.

Let’s start.

#1. Offer a lot of free but valuable stuff 

Think of Hubspot, and you can see what they are giving for free, such as:

  • An academy where all the courses are entirely free. 
  • Documents and templates of all kinds
  • Free CMS plan (that you can upgrade to a paid plan)
  • They have 557 Videos and 211k subscribers on YouTube (As of today, July 14, 2022) 

These have more than 1 million users using their services.

Create free resources

The same applies to Canva and Upwork. They have many free resources that make it easy for their customers to do their best work.

What to steal from them:

  • Understand your buyers through persona and research
  • Look at the other areas of their businesses and lives. What can you create or design to help?
  • Create free tools and products to help them. 
  • These can be videos, free ebooks, courses, or templates. You can hold a webinar by inviting an expert or another customer to do the teaching.


How much will creating 100s of videos, writing books, or creating free tools cost?

That’s a good question.

Are you creating the resources or hiring people to do it? The cost can be a few bucks to thousands of dollars per tool. So I suggest you should start small.

Think about 100 videos as 2 videos per week for one year. You can hire people to create those even with a tight budget.

Where to find video creators at affordable prices: 

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • LinkedIn

Always think about stuff that will make them visit your page because of the valuable stuff they get for free. In business, you have to keep appearing when your customer needs your products. But it must be for a good purpose. 

If you plan to write an ebook, I can be your ghostwriter. Reach out using the contact form.

2. User-generated stories

What happens when people take Hubspot courses and earn a certificate from them?

They share it online like a badge of honor. 

It’s user-generated advertising.

More people see it. If they are marketers or business owners, they might want to try it out. Therefore, they get to know Hubspot and its products.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

The good part of this process is that once the course is created, it can serve your brand for years. 


If you have used Upwork, the management usually organizes lectures for users. Many of these lessons are handled by people who have had successes on Upwork. 


There’s a group on LinkedIn where people show how they have used Canva in their businesses. You will find extraordinary designs that you wouldn’t have imagined on an average day were created with Canva. In addition, you get a badge for being an active contributor if you participate regularly.

These are examples of how these big brands use low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses.

And you can do it.

People might be reluctant to respond to your request because they don’t see what value it will add to them. Like HubSpot certifications, give out a badge or honor people who participate. Participation should be worth the time and effort.

All of these are low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses. You can implement them and share them. You can start by asking your customers for pictures, a short video, or reviews. 

Read 11 marketing tips for small business owners.

3. Email Marketing/Blogging 

Recently, Hubspot acquired Thehustle.co. 

The Hustle is a newsletter publication and the biggest in the world, with 1.5 million subscribers, and it’s still growing. It was acquired by HubSpot for 27 million dollars

It shows how valuable a big email newsletter is and how much Hubspot cares. This acquisition is also proof of the profit and popularity of email marketing.

So you’re a business owner who thinks email marketing isn’t your thing. Well, think again. 

If your business is online or your customer uses a phone, emails are worth trying, even if you are a location-dependent business. You can use emails to convert website traffic to leads.

77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months.

Smartphone users prefer to receive brand communications via email. 

64% of small businesses use email marketing to reach customers.


These stats show it’s a practical, low-cost marketing idea for small businesses. You can find more data in the link above, which most emphasize the truth. You need to lean into email marketing if you haven’t started already.

How to start

Starting a newsletter isn’t hard. The hard part is consistency, choosing what to write about, and growing the number of subscribers.

What would you write about if you were an online food ordering service? 

The answer is here: what do your buyers want to read about? FOOD. THE CITY. HEALTH BENEFITS

You can get more ideas when you study your audience and competitors. You can do keyword research.

Not every small business will need an email marketing strategy, but if you can start a blog, you may need to lean toward email marketing. 

So, how do you start a newsletter or email marketing strategy? 

  • First, understand your buyers.
  • You need to choose a newsletter software like Covertkit or Mailchimp. Platforms like Substack and Medium feature that let you build a newsletter. 
  • Schedule your delivery daily, weekly, or twice a week. 
  • Then, offer the same value described in the first point. Again, give valuable and free resources.
  • You need excellent writing and conversion skills. Check this post to improve your writing


Look at these blogging statistics:

Companies who blog get 97% more links to their websites.

In addition, blogs have been rated as the 5th most trustworthy source for gathering online information. 

Businesses that blog experience twice as much email traffic as businesses that don’t.

Small businesses shouldn’t ignore blogging. If you do, you’re missing out on the powerful benefits of Search Engine Optimization, which can drive web traffic with the content your audience loves. 

I like to mention the Upwork blog when talking with a small business owner. When you check it, the pages are filled with details of how customers grow, including tools and tips for customer success.


Blogging is a low-cost marketing strategy. If you are using a template blog set on WordPress, the cost can be ridiculously cheap. It becomes cheaper if you already have SEO knowledge and understand how to use tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, and other paid tools like Ahref or SEMrush. 

If you don’t know much about SEO, hire someone who can help. Spend a little to get a lot, especially with local SEO. It can change your business’s success for a long time.

So what are you doing first?

Check out some content writing tips that might help when starting a blog

You can reach out through the contact form if you need help with any stages.