For a small business, it can be hard at times to justify allocating funds to marketing. But just because big competitors spend millions on advertising doesn't mean you need to follow suit. Take advantage of the many ways to advertise your business for very low costs, or better yet, FREE!
- Websites are a necessity for any size business. Imagine your store is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week! The internet is everywhere - laptops, cell phones and tablets. Consumers are researching and shopping all hours of the day. Create a professional website with the help of a web designer or check into a hosting company that offers free support. Just having one adds legitimacy to your business.
- Facebook and other networking sites offer free business pages to promote your company. Interact with viewers by posting comments and questions in the news feeds. Upload pictures to show the world what you have to offer. Giving your business a personality can drive customers to you, and help develop brand identity.
- If done correctly, targeted use of paid advertising can be successful. Different models exist, such as Pay Per Click, Cost Per Million, and Cost Per Action, that may suit your business well. Successfully reaching your demographics with these potentially inexpensive online advertising techniques could go a long way.
- Free Business Directories can help your business get noticed by major search engines. Once your website is up and running you have to get people to visit it, especially if you're revenue model is e-business. Start with local community and trade affiliations, memberships often include a free listing on their website. Google your business name and you may find public listings that you can claim and customize for free.
- Emails are a great way to keep in contact with interested prospects and current customers. Create a monthly newsletter that provides the reader with helpful information that ties in with your business.
- Business cards can give more details than just your name, address and phone. Printing both sides of your business card will tell your potential customers more about you. Folding cards can open to show your complete product lines and services. They can be inexpensive, or even free. Hand them out to anyone you come into contact with that may be able to give you business.
- Yellow page listings are still used by a number of potential customers without internet access. Years ago, businesses were judged by the size of their yellow page ad. Today yellow page listings provide only the basic information about the company. Who (company name), what (the company provides), where (physical and internet address) and how (to contact, phone#, email).
- Vehicle advertising gives your business a rolling billboard. Try dressing up your delivery vehicle with magnetic signs or professional vinyl decals. To really get your message across, consider wrapping the complete vehicle. It's a unique way of advertising that's hard to ignore, especially during rush hour traffic. Be sure to keep vehicles clean and rust free, though - your image depends on it.
- Promotional printed products, such as pens and giveaway items, can be excellent reminders for your customers. Trade shows are a great way to get prospective customers to come to you. Presenting your visitors with a token gift is a wonderful way to say thank you.
- Newspaper ads can be costly and many times unread. However, you can receive free publicity with press releases. Let your community know you are new in town. Perhaps you just attended a conference or received an award; let everyone know about your accomplishments.
- Radio spots can be paid for with trade if your business provides something the station could benefit from. If your business is consumer driven, gift certificates that the radio station can use as prizes can offset the cost.
- There are many coupon packet companies eager to add you to their envelope. Check how they obtain their mailing list, quantity sent out and quality of their printed ads. Some companies offer a mention in radio ads.
Advertising takes time and money. Find out what works best for you by tracking the results of each advertising method. Ask the customer how he found you, use a unique code for each ad and record it on the customer's invoice.