Small business owners tell us they’re eager to find new cost-effective ways to engage their customers.

The explosion of social media and other online marketing tools — combined with the growing popularity of Internet-connected mobile devices — means businesses have more ways to communicate with customers than ever before.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs we meet, you have lots of marketing communications options — but not a lot of time to figure out which tools and tactics might work best. The good news is you can try new ways of marketing your business without investing a great deal of time and resources.

How can you accomplish that? With what we like to call “mini marketing campaigns.”

Mini campaigns are short-term bursts of marketing communications sizzle. They can be as simple as igniting a conversation on Twitter or Facebook, targeting an email promotion to an emerging niche audience, sending out a survey, or hosting an impromptu event.

Mini campaigns give you the flexibility to…

  • Fill in the gaps in your yearlong, major event, seasonal, and holiday marketing calendar.
  • Respond to news and current events related to your business or industry.
  • Test out new tools, networks, and tactics.
  • Identify new target audiences.
  • Create buzz around products or services.
  • Get a beat on what matters in your customers’ lives.
  • Create opportunities to engage customers right now.

Think about how you engage your customers today. Are there other ways you’ve been meaning to try?

Social media marketing campaigns may catch fire or fizzle out very quickly. That’s a challenge for businesses — and an advantage for those nimble and willing enough to try new ways of connecting with customers. A yearlong marketing calendar is a good anchor, but it shouldn’t hold you back from engaging in other communications activities.

Mini campaigns let you explore new ways to engage customers — around a conversation, a promotion, an idea, or an event — without incurring the costs or headaches of major campaigns or significant new content. Online marketing provides the tools and the channels. You provide the business savvy and passion for helping your customers.

Here are some inspirational social media campaigns to get you started.