A small or home-based business owner knows they have to have clients or customers in order to succeed but traditional advertising is expensive.

If you have a quality product or service you can compete with major companies without having to spend a fortune on advertising your company.  Use a little creativity and think outside of the box when you are brainstorming on ways to advertise.  Involve family and friends and ask for ideas and help.  Don’t just sit and hope someone will come to you.  That won’t happen, especially if you don’t have a storefront for your business.

Home Based Business(42324)Credit: andywilloughby.com

How can you get the word out?

Hit the Street – A personal approach might be one of the best ways to let others know about your business.  Door to door “visiting” will help you not only introduce your service or product and your new small business but will introduce yourself.  People will remember you if you are friendly, non-intrusive, and informative.  Never try to “make the sell” at that time, just introduce yourself, give a one or two minute speech on what you do, and then hand them a business card or brochure. 

Where should you do this?  Always check with local regulations about door-to-door sales in neighborhoods before knocking on doors to private homes.  Target small shops that might have an interest in your product or service.  Never interrupt, annoy, or approach customers.  Wait until the owners are able to take a moment to talk to you.  Introduce yourself and then ask for a later appointment.  

Hit the Net – Social media and networking has taken business recognition to a whole new level.  Set up a page for your business on several social networking sites absolutely free of charge.  You can also purchase a website for very little money and they have made setting them up so easy that a beginner can do it.  Blog about your products and services.  Send emails to friends and family telling them about your new venture and ask them to spread the word for you.  Again, free advertising.  What about selling your product on free want-ad type of website sites?  This does take constant monitoring to do.

Flyers – The old tried but true method!  People hang flyers on bulletin boards because it works!  And, it can be done for very little investment, just printing costs and with the new software programs and desktop printers you can make nice colored fliers for very little money.  Take your flyers and distribute them in neighborhood grocery stores, laundromats, schools, and anywhere else that has a community bulletin board.  You can also distribute them by taking them door-to-door by rolling into a tube, putting a thin rubber band around it and hang it on the front door knob. This keeps them from becoming litter on the streets.  Always have a stack of flyers handy to leave at businesses you support, if they will let you do so.  Visit your barber, hairdresser, nail salon, or other places you support and ask if you can leave your flyers or business cards with them.

Signage – In some communities you can have small vinyl signs (2x2) made and put them on the corners of busy intersections.  Keep it very simple such as:  “Mattress Sale 555-5555, just enough to catch the eye of passing motorists.  If your business is based out of your home, can you put up a small sign in your yard?  Check with your Home Owners Association about doing this.

Magnetic Signs – If you use a vehicle, advertise with it!  Magnetic signs are very reasonable and easy to take on and off as needed.  And if your Home Owners Association won’t let you put up a sign in front of your house, park your car out there with the signage on it! 

Vinyl Lettering – Another way to use your vehicle as a sign board to advertise your business is vinyl lettering.  The nice thing about vinyl lettering is you can get much larger and more creative on your vehicle than you can with a magnetic sign, but it can be easily removed, unlike painting your car up with lettering and advertising.  Keep vehicle signage simple and make sure your phone number is in large letters for other drivers to read.

Participation – Set up a booth at local fairs, trade shows, flea markets, farmer markets, and any community event that draws a crowd.  Typically you will have to pay a fee for your space.  Is it possible to set up a small roadside stand with your product or service?  A small standup shelter is about all you need to do to advertise your home-based business.

Parade Float – This is pretty self-explanatory.  Take the time to enter your local parade and have plenty of signage on your float.  If they allow you to hand out brochures, do so.

Sponsorships – This will take some cash or products but if you can help sponsor a high school ball team, local scholarship pageant, community play, or any other event and you will receive advertising and name recognition for only a few dollars donated.

Community Service – Similar to sponsorships but you can actually put your donation money toward a social cause that you believe in such as Relay for Life, Make a Wish, Walk a thons, or other causes.  They are usually very generous in their recognition of their sponsors with a variety of ways it will benefit your business.  Sponsor a local benefit auction by donating goods or services.

Open House – Even if you don’t have a storefront you can hold an open house for your new business.  Hold it at your own home, rent a small conference room in a hotel, have a back yard barbeque, hold it at a local park, or any other place that might work for the product or service you are selling.  This doesn’t have to be an expensive affair.  Have a few snacks available but concentrate on selling your business.  Send invitations to everyone you know.  Post it as an event on the Internet.  

Banners – Always have at least one big vinyl banner sign made for your business.  This way if you sponsor a local event or fundraiser they can hang it on the wall or fence to do some advertising for you. 

Other - Seek out local publications such as local newspapers or home town magazines and see if they will write a story about your new business. Check with your local television and radio stations to see if they do any spotlights on new small businesses in town.

Join the local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or other civic organizations.  They also spotlight and introduce new members.

By thinking creatively you can advertise without a taking a huge chunk out of your start up budget.