Simply put: small businesses don’t have the advertising budget of Fortune 500 companies. Even if mom-and-pop shops could afford to run national campaigns, a brick-and-mortar location trying to service a single community calls for a different type of advertising than an international chain. Similarly, a small internet business with a tight focus and niche-like products wants to reach a more specific demographic than a large company selling an almost-universal good. Here are ten inexpensive ideas for advertising as a small business.
1. Take Advantage of Free Social Media. Make a company page on all of the popular social media networks. Give incentives for individuals to “like” or “follow” the page, and keep your online personality consistent, informative and entertaining.
2. Sponsor Popular Blogs. In this digital age–regardless of your products or services–you can likely find a number of blogs and individually-run sites that correspond with your industry. Offering payment in exchange for featuring a company banner ad is common practice for many. Ask for site statistics about traffic to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
3. Offer Free Products in Exchange for a Review. Understanding that paid-for product reviews should be disclosed as such, consider approaching a handful of writers and video-bloggers to sample your offerings and share findings with their audiences.
4. Sponsor a Local Charity or Service Event. To build goodwill in a community while spending your advertising dollars, host or co-host a local event to do good. Team up to help a respected charity or develop your own company vision to give back in a way that gets your name out there to potential customers.
5. Purchase School Newspaper Ad Space. Although taking out an ad in a national newspaper may not make financial sense, featuring your company in local and niche newspapers and newsletters can be effective. If your product is age appropriate, contact local schools and residential communities to see what newsletter space is available for purchase.
6. Distribute Coupons. Coupons–whether they offer free products or discounted prices–are great incentives for new customers to try out your offerings. Based on your business structure, consider producing and dispersing digital coupons that can reach a wide audience for cheap.
7. Interact with Relevant Online Communities. Let your voice be heard on relevant forums, interacting with online communities. As is appropriate, answer questions and introduce new products.
8. Find Symbiotic Partners. Determine what complementary goods exist for your product and team up with other companies in bringing consumers joint information. Splitting the costs and reaching the other company’s audience are among the biggest benefits.
9. Hold a Contest. Get your name in the papers and on trending topics by holding a contest or record-breaking event. Capitalize on the media attention to get your product known.
10. Logo Free Merchandise. At events and other functions, be sure to have company pens, notepads and key-chains–complete with logo and phone number–to hand out to interested customers.