You may have the best small business in the world, but without some advertising, no one will ever know about it. Advertising, unfortunately, can be quite expensive; the cost of newspaper ads, radio announcements, and TV commercials quickly adds up to thousands of dollars. What is the small business owner to do? Here are 7 surefire ways in which you can advertise your small business for under $100, or even for free.
1. Flyers. Quality flyers can be printed at places like Office Depot or Staples for pennies per copy, then posted on store bulletin boards, street signs, and community center walls. Always be sure to get the store's or city's permission before posting any kind of advertising material; otherwise, your flyers may get removed and you may be fined for soliciting. Flyers can also be used if you wish to canvas your local neighborhood and let people know about your services; such an approach is quite useful if you're in the landscaping or construction business.
2. Business clubs. Most towns and cities have business associations and clubs where members can discuss their small business activities and ideas. Join several of these entrepreneurial clubs and use the meeting time to mention your own business. You may even wish to sponsor the club's refreshments, which of course allows you to plug your own business as the host.
3. Business web and/or blog site. Almost every business you can think of nowadays has its own web site. Starting a web site for your own business is not expensive; Hostgator allows you to set up web hosting for $15/month and to purchase a domain name for $10/year. After that, you are bound only by your own imagination as far as your business web site layout and design are concerned.
4. Customer referrals. Happy customers offer you some of the best advertising that is available. You can reward customer referrals by offering business discounts on future goods and/or services. Alternately, you can reward your referrals via gift cards, gift baskets, etc.
5. Viral marketing. You may choose to advertise your small business on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn. These social media platforms are advantageous because they are viral; in other words, by announcing your business to 10 social network friends, you may have effectively announced your business to a 100 or even a 1,000 individuals. You may also consider setting up a business name and page exclusively for each social media platform, then provide discounts or coupons through those sites.
6. Community events. Small towns and even larger cities will often have event areas set aside for small business owners to convene and sell their wares or advertise their services. Find out what events and festivals are going on in your area and ask how much it would cost to set up a booth or table. Most likely, the cost of doing this will be minimal. However, if the event coordinator wants to charge over $100, ask about working off part of your fee by helping with event set-up/breakdown, clean-up, etc.
7. Vehicle ads. For about $50, you can have a magnetic placard made that advertises your business and which can be affixed to your vehicle. Such a placard is priceless when it comes to advertising your small business, especially if you spend a lot of time commuting. Being stuck in traffic is not so bad when you at least have the opportunity to advertise your business.