Advertising Options for Small Businesses
If you own a small business, you may find that your advertising budget is too limited to effectively penetrate your market. You could expand your budget, but that means allocating money from other areas of your business, funds that you simply cannot spare. Without a sufficient advertising campaign in place, you won’t be able to reach new customers. What a vicious cycle!
Fortunately, there are ways to advertise your small business effectively without busting your budget. Read on and we’ll take a look at some options you can begin to put to use today.
1. Teach a class. You can reach your community by offering services to the community. One way to do this is by teaching a class, something that you can do at an adult school, online or at your community center. Work with your local chamber of commerce if you are a member as the students you reach might be other business owners, hence potential customers. Classes can be one-time or a series, with an eye to helping you impart useful information and to gain new customers.
2. Contact a reporter. Call your local newspaper or business publication and ask to have your business featured in an upcoming article. Newspapers like to look at the businesses that make up the community, giving you an opportunity to tell people about who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It also helps that you’re an active supporter of your community, such as a sponsor of a youth sports team, an advocate for cancer research or some other visible public endeavor.
3. Write an article. If you have something of value to impart to your industry, write an article that offers advice or provides guidance to people in that industry. Offer your article to a business publication, preferably your industry’s leading trade publication. Your article may be seen primarily by people in your industry, namely competitors, but it can raise your visibility elsewhere, particularly online. Ask that a link be provided to your website within your biography section.
4. Host an event. Your small business can benefit by hosting a local event at your place of business. For example, if you run a coffee shop, a cafe or a diner, ask your local business group to hold its next meeting at your place of business. Offer an across the board discount on meals and hand out coupons for follow up visits. If they enjoy your service and food, then they’re likely to come back. They’ll also spread the word about your business, just the kind of “word of mouth” advertising that doesn’t cost you a cent.
5. Direct mail. Sending out advertisements via direct mail is more cost effective than buying pay per click options online. Talk with your local post office about your campaign. Even if you don’t have a mailing list, you can still target people in your geographic area. Tip: Hand write your letters as a personally addressed letter is more likely to get opened than one that has an address label affixed to it. Include a colorful flyer with information about your business and include a coupon to lure your customers in.
6. Vehicle advertising. Have your vehicle fully wrapped in a colorful ad that features your business name, its location and contact information. Far cheaper than other advertising options, your moving billboard will get noticed and bring new customers to your place of business. Choose a customs graphic shop to make a wrap that fits your vehicle.
7. Advertise on a website. Find local websites that have strong local traffic and obtain advertising rates on these sites. You may be able to barter with the owner here — in exchange for a banner ad prominently placed on his site, you can offer a service of your own in exchange. No money changes hands, but the IRS does have rules about barter exchanges.
Advertising can be expensive, but low-cost options exist. You can also send out a promotional with your invoices, put coupons on the back of your business cards and print up flyers for door to door distribution by high school kids that you hire. In other words, you have may cost effective ways to get the word out about your small business!
See Also — Small Business Advertising on a Shoestring