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LOW CODE/NO-CODE PROGRAMMING: THE ANSWER FOR MARKETING SMALL BUSINESSES STRAPPED FOR CASH

Updated: Mar 17

In the era of digital media, it is virtually impossible to think of any business, no matter the size, of not having an online presence or application. But the pandemic revealed quite the opposite. Main street businesses servicing their local community were not prepared for the shift to online,[1] resulting in little to no application development and the sound of business doors closing.


When trying to understand why a business did not have an online presence, the reasons were consistent – no time, no money. With limited budgets, funds had to be spent in-store and supporting customers.


Enter Low Code / No Code

It does not have to be expensive or time-consuming for small businesses to create online commerce or apps. A new generation of non-coding tools is equipping business users with an easy-to-use coding experience. These “citizen developers” as coined by Gartner, can build business-critical applications using a low-code or no-code platform. Rather than hire an IT developer or coder to develop an application that then must be updated and maintained, small business marketers can take on the task themselves.


With low code, there is little coding needed to build applications and processes. No code is even better as it does not require writing code at all and is based on a “drag and drop” model using a graphic user interface.


According to Forrester Research, low code/no code programs and platforms allow marketers to build cloud apps much faster and with limited to no dependency on IT or third-party resources. With the industry expected to spend approximately $22 billion in 2022, up from $3.8 billion in 2017, [2] low code/no-code programming and platforms are here to stay.


So Why Should Marketers and Small Business Care?

Today, more than ever small businesses must be present online. Consumers demand it and never has that task been easier to do with the aid of low code/no-code programming. Data-rich applications provide insight into consumer preferences, feedback, and innovation of new products/services. Marketers and small businesses now have the capability to develop various digital platforms without the burden of expensive development and/or outsourcing costs. This approach democratizes software development creating somewhat of an equal level playing field reducing the need for large budgets and technically skilled employees.


CASE STUDY: How Tessa Thomas Built Her Own App


Tessa Thomas is the founder of Recruit-HQ*, a free site she created for the student-athlete community to share experiences in real-time through ratings and feedback about specific academic and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) athletic programs in the United States (US). Tessa founded the company because of her own experience exploring options as a student here in Canada. As she was wrapping up her high school education, she was looking to pursue an academic/athletic scholarship in softball, in the US. Not knowing where to turn and what resources were available to her (scarce as they were), was a daunting task as she tried to navigate the American education system from north of the border. She succeeded but it was no easy feat.


Upon the completion of her education and return to Canada, and a few years removed from her situation, she realized there was a lack of resources here in Canada that would help Canadian students understand the process of choosing the best American academic institutions. Thomas was continually asked about her journey and if she could help. She realized there was a gap and a need for a centralized platform for students to share their experiences to help navigate the decision-making process which led her to create Recruit-HQ.


Knowing she wanted to build an online digital platform but not knowing how she explored hiring a software specialist and quickly realized it was too costly. As a small start-up, her budget was tight. She could not afford to spend all her funds on just building the site. She was determined to find a low-cost solution and spent hours trying to figure out an alternative Through her research, she stumbled on the concept of low code/no-code programming.


Having some exposure to developing apps in 2013 and knowing how time-consuming and costly it was, she was intrigued by this new programming approach. As a non-technical person, Thomas was apprehensive at first but immersed herself in it knowing it was the only way she could build an app with a limited budget. It took some time from the early days in 2016-2017 for low code/no-code programming to gain traction and produce solutions. Thomas continued to learn and access the growing number of programming tools available becoming so entrenched and well versed that she became a ‘Creator in Residence’ for Makerpad, a no-code education, and community that assists in building apps and websites, running online businesses, and automated workflows. Since 2018 Thomas has built more than one application for various business ideas.


Thomas shares these tips to marketers and small business owners who may be hesitant in developing their own applications:

· There is help. There are many communities to join to understand the ‘how to’ and offer free advice, guidance, and fixes.

· There will be roadblocks but also, solutions.

· It is about trying, making mistakes, and moving forward. Be patient.

· Start small. Focus on one idea/problem to solve. You can expand over time.

· Build up your network.


Thomas’ advice to marketers and small businesses is this:

“What is great about low code/no code is that it makes it more accessible to companies and people who have limited budgets and non-existent technical skills to try and build it themselves. It can be a little challenging at first but over time, it gets easier. The good news is that you have a community of people who are willing to help you. Most of all, do not get caught up in your big idea; break it down into small parts to get started and move forward with each step.”


Tessa Thomas is happy to provide advice to anyone interested in learning more about low code/no-code programming. Feel free to reach out to her on Twitter @TsquaredT


For a list of low code/no-code platforms to help start-ups, freelancers, and small businesses create without having to write code, visit here

  • Webflow

  • Scapic

  • Mailchimp

  • Parabola

  • Voiceflow

  • Bubble

  • Makerpad

  • Airtable



*Note – at time of publication, Recruit-HQ is on a temporary hiatus.

[1] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2021001/article/00009-eng.htm [2] https://blog.hubspot.com/website/how-low-code-and-no-code-tools-are-changing-marketing



Image Source: Neowin

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