Small Business Advertising on a Shoestring

Small Business Advertising on a Shoestring


Reaching customers with your limited resources

It isn’t enough to run your business by paying the rent and utilities, meeting payroll and purchasing inventory. You still have to promote your enterprise, but guess what? Most traditional forms of advertising can be expensive, even prohibitive for small business operators.

magnify dollarFortunately, there are so many ways business people can get the word out, bypassing traditional and costly advertising including radio, television and print ads. But to be successful you need to hatch a plan and be willing to fund it and tweak it as necessary.

Let’s take a look at some strategies you can employ, cost effective advertising for the shoestring budget:

Target Audience — Your first step is to identify who your target audience is. Likely, you have a certain demographic in mind which may be, for example, women, between the ages of 21 and 35. You may even have a sub group in mind, let’s say African-American women. Once you know who you want to reach, then you’ll be targeting your ads accordingly.

Website Wonder — Every business big and small can and should have its own website. If you can’t build one yourself, a friend or family member may be able to do it for you. Choose a WordPress backbone (content management system) for your site and hire someone to update your pages on a regular basis. With WordPress, you can make quick updates because it is blog, but it can look like a professional website. Secure your domain for $10 and pay $5 per month for web hosting.

Craigslist — The best place to advertise anything at no cost to you (other than the time needed to write the ad) is via Still as ugly a website as ever, Craigslist will allow you to post an ad locally to be viewed by people in your area. If you want to reach people in other metropolitan areas, then you’ll need to create separate ads for each one. Not sure Craigslist is effective? Then read BNET’s, “When Craigslist Won the War Over Classified Ads,” to find out for yourself.

Something Free — Giving away something for free sounds costly and counter-productive, but it can be the best form of low cost advertising if the recipient is someone who will certainly show (and tell) everyone what you gave them. Freebie items offering maximum appeal include bookbags, hats and drink cups, each item prominently displaying your business name.

Paid Promotional — If done according to FTC rules, that is, you disclose that your ad or article is a paid testimonial or endorsement, you can hire someone to write something about your business online, to attract people directly to your site or product. This method of advertising is relatively cheap, costing you $5 to $25 per article through a site such as IZEA or you can choose someone to “tweet” through Twitter the virtues of your business. Google for a “virtual assistant” to handle mundane tasks for a stated fee.

Of course, any advertising campaign needs to be reviewed regularly for its effectiveness. Be sure to ask your new customers, “how did you find us?” and review your web statistics to find out how people are finding your website, what pages they’re reading and action they are taking once they are on your site.

Adv. — Do you need a business broker? Krayton M Davis, of the Novars Group can help you sell your business or help you buy one.  Contact Mr. Davis at 804.527.1103 for more information.


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Categories: Business Services

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".