42 Creative Ways To Advertise Small Business
There are countless ways to advertise your small business on a small
budget. As the CEO of a small business, have you ever felt daunted by
the idea of establishing a name for yourself?
In a market where the big dogs are spending
millions of dollars a year to interrupt people and put their names in
front of the masses, have you ever thought it
impossible to gain attention? I know I have.
What we lack in capital,
we have to make up for in creativity, tenacity and effort. We have to
hustle harder than everyone else out there. We have to be the champions
of our cause - day in and day out. We have to be remarkable.
"In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is his effort. The
same applies to business. The only thing an entrepreneur, salesperson
or anyone in any position can control is their effort." -Mark Cuban
Instead of spending money to interrupt your audience, focus on building the
best possible business and providing massive value. If you're great,
people will notice and opportunities will appear.
The following is a
list of 42 creative ways to advertise your small business on a small budget, but
the possibilities are infinte.
My goal in creating this list is
to spark your creative juices so you can make your small business the
best it can be and communicate your message to the audience who
needs it most.
1. Get Clear On Your Purpose
Why does your organization
exist? What is the purpose of your company? Why should I care? What’s in
it for me? If you can answer these questions clearly and concisely in
less than 20 seconds, good for you, you’re on the right path. If you’re
having a difficult time articulating your purpose, it’s time to get
clear on it. If you can’t tell us why you exist or why we should care
about your product or service, we’re not going to be inspired to action.
Simon Sinek gives a transformational TED Talk about how great leaders
inspire action by starting with "Why".
2. Build A Website
internet is where most people do their research, and being easy to find
online is incredibly powerful. With all the tools available today we
don’t need any technical know-how to build a website. Most web hosting
companies like Host Gator and Blue Host provide dozens of free website templates. If you’re a little more tech savvy I suggest using Wordpress.org.
In my opinion, it’s the most powerful blogging platform and provides
the most flexibility. To make the process simple, Michael Hyatt put
together a screen cast that will show you how to launch a self-hosted Wordpress blog in less than 20 minutes.
3. Content Marketing
content marketing on your website to cultivate a community that trusts
you. “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and
distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and
engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the
objective of driving profitable customer action.” I suggest learning as
much as you can about content marketing.
4. Delight Your Online Community
create compelling content for your website and delivering value to your
audience. Build trust. Do this year in and year out. Give your
community the most outstanding content, the best information, your gems
of wisdom and they will come back for more. Give, give, give -
generosity pays dividends.
5. Build Your Email List
your email list by offering a free piece of content on your website in
exchange for first name and email address. Your list your the most
valuable marketing asset, and it doesn’t cost a dime. To learn more
about building your email list, click here,or do a quick web search for “how to build an email list”.
Photo courtesy of mulligand
6. Online Directory Listings
Submit your website to online directories such as dmoz, aboutus.org, joeant.com, the world wide web virtual library, or Yahoo Directory.
7. Location Based Services
Submit your business to location based services and apps such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Foursquare and Facebook check-in, to name a few.
8. Leverage Local Community Events
a local charity event, golf tournament, county fair, festival, or any
event in your area that will be well publicized. What activities or
events are going on in your community? Sponsor a youth sports team or a
charity 5k run.
9. Post Fliers On Bulletin Boards
can find bulletin board at your local grocery, library, community
center, college campus and coffee shop. Take advantage of digital
bulletin boards as well, such as Craigslist or Backpage.
10. Write Press Releases
and send press releases to local newspapers or radio stations. This can
lead to great interview opportunities, but make sure to avoid common press release mistakes.
11. Collaborate And Cross-Promote
with complementary businesses in your area to cross-promote one
another. You can use coupons, bundled promotions, fliers, website links,
social media and anything else your creative mind can dream up. By
collaborating you can expand your customer base by reaching someone
else’s audience. A great example would be a pizza shop and a video
store, if video stores still existed.
12. Build Meaningful Relationships
spamming people with your business card at chamber of commerce meetings
and other networking events isn’t enough. Get to know people. Connect
with them as a human being. Be genuinely interested in their story,
listen to them and care about them. What are their dreams and
aspirations? What can you do to help them achieve their goals? Discover
what they’re interested in, what makes them tick, and maybe someone will
listen to you and care about your story, too.
13. Give A Speech
Most of us hate public speaking. Face your fears
and do it anyways. If you can’t do this, you’re disconnecting yourself
from massive opportunity to share your business and your story to large
groups of people. There are organizations actively seeking topic-experts
to present to their group. Volunteer. You don’t have to be a
professional speaker as long as your information is helpful. The
development of any skill in life requires practice. Don’t expect to play
like Eric Clapton the first time you pick up the guitar, or shoot like
Tiger Woods the first time you swing a golf club. Public speaking
is one of the most intimidating skills to develop. No one was ever
great the first time they spoke in public, and even the most influential
speakers were nervous when they first started. If they can do it, so
can you. You’ve gotta crawl before you can run, and you have to fall
down a few times before you learn to walk.
Photo courtesy of tvvoodoo
14. Go The Extra Mile
Going the extra mile
means rendering more service than your customer expects, and doing it
with a positive mental attitude. This is the essense of being remarkable - under-promise and over-deliver. Make
your customer happy and wow them with extraordinary value. This simple
but powerful tactic will bring you the attention of those who can
provide you with opportunities to grow.
15. Ask For Customer Referrals
are one of the best ways to grow your business, and there’s only one
way to drastically increase yours – ask for them. Don’t assume your
clients will do this one their own. Take initiative, be proactive and
build the habit of asking all your customers for referrals. If you go
the extra mile and consistently exceed your customer’s expectations,
they’ll be happy to refer your product or service to their network.
16. Develop Your Current Customer Relationships
Building trust is the goal of every organization.
It’s easier to keep an existing customer than to gain a new one. Make
sure your customer experience leaves clients feeling happy, valued and
important. Be intentional about this. Trust and attention are your most
important assets – nurture them. What are you doing to delight your
17. Offer A Free Trial, Demo Or Sample
free trial, demo or sample of your product or service. Prospect's are
more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience
18. Pay Per Click Advertising
Pay per click
advertising is one of the most targeted forms of advertising. It’s
relatively inexpensive and can be very effective if you’re strategic
about it. Please educate yourself on PPC advertising before jumping into
it. Start by reading Copyblogger's "5 Steps To Pay Per Click Advertising That Works."
19. Social Media Marketing
media marketing on websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can
be quite powerful for advertising your small business, and it won’t cost
anything but time and effort. If you’re not a social media pro, there
are many resources available to educate yourself about social media
marketing. I suggest the Social Media Marketing Podcast from Social Media Examiner and Amy Porterfield’s Podcast on social media
20. Paid Social Media Advertising
ads, promoted tweets, LinkedIn ads and StumbleUpon’s paid discovery are
a few examples. I don’t have personal experience with paid advertising
on social media so I can’t speak for its ROI. Make sure to do your
homework before jumping in.
21. Get Published
for blogs that focus on your industry. Write content about your industry
for local publications like small newspapers, magazines, coupon books,
trade publications or association newsletters - or write a book.
Everyone’s an expert at something. Leverage your expertise by delivering
valuable content that helps people in some way. Think about the kinds
of questions that your audience is asking, and answer those questions to
the best of your ability. As you become more published your name
recognition and authority will grow, which will lead to greater
Photo courtesy of Conrados
22. Offer Free Workshops And Classes
free workshops and classes in your niche to your local community. This
gives you an opportunity to showcase your expertise and promote your
business, service and future paid events and workshops
Teach a class.
Municipalities hold all kinds of classes for their residents, such as
music classes, fitness classes, and how-to classes. Find out if your
local government or chamber of commerce holds classes on business
ownership, running a business, or anything related to your specific
industry. Ask how you can teach a class.
23. Print Advertising
old-fashioned print advertising. Instead of buying a large ad in the
most popular newspaper, consider placing smaller ads in smaller
newspapers or other publications such as shopper’s guides or coupon
24. Offer Coupons
Offer coupons on your website,
on fliers you post or in coupon books. Research shows that people will
go out of their way to use a coupon.
25. Offer Discounts And Deals
love getting a deal - consumers love bargains. This is a great way to
market your business and reward customers. Leverage your website and
social media profiles to promote your discount and drive sales.
26. Word Of Mouth Advertising
of mouth advertising is the most important and effective marketing tool
because when recommendations come from people we know, we’re more
likely to follow up on it. First, leverage your family and friends. They
know you, your offerings, and want to see you succeed. They’ll do what
they can to let others know why they should come to you. Second, turn
strangers into friends. Engage everyone, even the cashier at the grocery
store. A two-minute genuine conversation during checkout and a business
card can go a long way. Be aware of natural situations that allow you
to share the gift that is your service to people who need it.
27. Trade Your Services
Trade your services to a worthy organization in exchange for advertising space. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
28. Get Your Product or Service Reviewed
influential bloggers in your industry and ask them to review your
products or service. Give them a free product to use and many will be
happy to do a review. It’s a win-win – the blogger gets a great piece of
content for his website, and you get some publicity with his audience.
If you find the right person with the right network, this could end up
driving a ton of traffic to your website.
29. Run Competitions
Run competitions to create interest and community engagement. Use a great prize to intrigue customers and reward contributors.
Photo courtesy of lusi
30. Delight Power Users
social media power users of your product or service. These are
customers who are already fans of your product or service, and who share
their positivity about it on the web. “If I know there’s a Twitter user
who loves purses and talks about them a lot (which I can find using
Twitter Search), and I sell purses, I reach out to her and offer her 20%
off to come in or check out my catalog online, just because I know she
digs purses,” said Jason Falls, a digital strategist and social media
consultant who writes about internet marketing. “If she blogs about
purses, maybe I send her a new model with a note that says, ‘Thanks for
telling people about purses. We dig you.’ I’m betting she’d talk about
me, and I didn’t have to break the bank to get the conversational love.”
31. Get Involved In Your Local Community
your time, especially in high profile events. Serve on a local board or
committee. Help plan, raise money or work in the annual parade or local
fair. Donate. Give back. Not only will you be able to advertise that
you volunteered for a worthy cause, you’ll meet a lot of new people and
build relationships with potential customers, partners and people who
will open up doors of opportunity.
32. Be Easy To Contact
seems like a no-brainer but is often overlooked. Every single brochure,
email, flier, and all pieces of company literature should include your
full contact information including website, email address, phone number
and company address. On your website, the contact information should be
simple to find. Make it ridiculously easy to get in touch with you. No
need for unnecessary barriers.
33. Intentionally Craft Your Message
your ads, speak to one target market only. Focus the message to the
target group. Create ads that generate interest and make the customer
want more information. Generating a poor response isn’t the fault of the
medium; often the problem is the message. Plan, test, reflect on
results, and adjust your advertising regularly. Be strategic about your
message. What is being communicated to your audience?
34. Write Genuine Handwritten Notes
genuine handwritten thank you notes to your customers. This was the
most influential piece of advice I took away from Dale Carnegie the
first time I read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ Dale
Carnegie loved genuine handwritten notes, and so does anyone who receives one. Even in
the Internet era, you can’t beat the personal touch of a handwritten
Photo courtesy of johnmeyer2
35. Get Interviewed
Reach out to bloggers in your
industry and let them know you’d love to give them an interview.
Volunteer to be interviewed by a local reporter. Reach out to be a guest
speaker on a local radio talk show. Provide some compelling content to
their audience and you’ll be rewarded. Interviews have the power of
leveraging someone else’s audience to promote your own product or
36. Purchase Business Cards
Your business card is
the most classic way to brand yourself, your business or your service.
They’re inexpensive and portable. Always keep a few of them on you,
include them with every handwritten note you send out, and give them to
contacts you meet as you move about your day to day life. If you don’t
already have business cards, you can get 500 of them for less than $10
37. Wear Logo Apparel
a walking, talking advertisement for your business. Wear a branded polo
t-shirt. You’ll look professional, people you interact with will see
the shirt, and it serves as a great conversation starter. Everywhere you
go, you’ll be advertising your small business – the dentist, little
league games, the airport, conferences, coffee shops.
38. Brand Your Vehicle
Put a logo or decal with your phone
number on your car. This can establish a strong presence in your
community and will be seen by thousands of people.
39. Public Transportation Advertising
in a bus, taxi or train is not as pricey as you might think. You’ll get
in front of the eyes of thousands of people on a daily basis.
40. Host An Event
a cookout and serve free food and drinks. Host a free clinic where a
professional demonstrates your product or talks to people. Give
something to the community for free.
41. Excellent Customer Service
service is an art. Zappos termed it "delivering happiness." Don't
confuse this with responding quickly and concisely. Excellent customer
service is achieved when you've not only answered some one's question,
but also put a smile of their face. Your customers should come away from
your interaction feeling happy and grateful you were there to help them
with their issue.
42. Actively Contribute To Online Forums In Your Niche
this may not be relevant to every business, there are online forums for
almost any niche you can think of. Entire communities of people talking
about and seeking information on what you do. If you provide them
value, they will listen to you. If you become a known member and develop
an excellent reputation instead of spamming people about your busines,
you will become a trusted source of information. Example: if you sell
collector cars and you become well known on one of the thousands of
collector car forums, your business will also become well known as you
become involved in the community.
You don't need millions of dollars to advertise your small business on a small budget, but you will need creativity and effort. You need to be remarkable.
The goal here is to authentically engage in low-cost activities
that drive new customers to your business and accelerate growth. Act
courage and hustle because you're the only one responsible for your
focused on building the best possible business and providing massive
value to your audience. If you're great, people will notice and
opportunities will appear.
Have you had success creatively advertising your small business on a small budget? If so I'd love to hear your story.