Cost Effective Advertising for Small Businesses

Woman planning advertising for her small business.

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So, you have a small business or have been tasked to advertise for one. But unless you're working with a company like Apple, Honda, Coors, or FedEx, you won't have millions of dollars set aside for your advertising campaigns.

Most small businesses and start-ups are lucky to have a few thousand dollars to make a splash, let alone a bankroll that could feed the third world. 

So, what little money you have needs to be spent wisely. Think smarter, and think laterally. You have to make the most out of the ad dollars you do have, no matter how limited you are. These cost-effective ways to advertise your business give you a variety of options to choose from, especially if you're on an ad budget die. Don't let the advertising game intimidate you.

There are so many opportunities out there for you to advertise your company that doesn't involve thousands of dollars. If you're willing to do a little legwork, you'll save money and find the best, inexpensive way to advertise your company. And all of them will give you a great return on your investment:

Create Podcast Ads

Podcast ads are easy for you to create on your own, and podcast ad time is a very reasonable buy. If you can find a popular podcast that's related to the types of products and services your company sells, sponsoring that podcast may also be a good option for you to consider.

Use Remnant Advertising

Think of remnant advertising in the same way as cut-price hotel rooms from a site like Hotwire. You will get a hotel room in the city of your choosing, perhaps even on the date of your choosing, and with the stars you want. But, you won't know which hotel you're staying in, how far it is from the airport, and what the amenities are around it.

Utilize Your Website to Advertise Your Business

Many business owners think they only need a website if they sell products online. No matter what type of company you have, you need a website. Potential customers hit the Internet looking for companies in their local area. If your competitor's online and you're not, guess who has the advantage.

Build a website that's beneficial to customers, though. You want to make a positive, lasting impression and having a poorly built Web site is a terrible way to advertise your company.

Post Your Commercials on YouTube

If you do have a TV commercial, get more shelf life out of it without having to pay for more air time. YouTube is an often-overlooked advertising vehicle. It costs nothing to post your commercial on the site, and you can promote it on your own Web site so customers in your area can watch your commercial(s) online.

Create Flyers and Handbills

Creating your own flyer to advertise your business is simple, inexpensive, and it's a great way to generate buzz about your company. If you want to make your flyer an effective advertising tool, offer incentives or discounts to people who bring in your flyer.

It also gives you an informal way to track how many people are coming in just because they saw your flyer.

Advertise on Cable

Wait! Before your eyes skip over this section, thinking it's just for those who can afford a TV commercial, keep reading. You can advertise on cable through crawls, full-screen ads and above program listings. These alternative advertising methods are very affordable. Crawls can cost under $10 a day.

Cross-Promote Your Business With Partners

National companies partner every day because it's an excellent ad tool to reach new customers and cut the advertising costs at the same time. But partnering isn't just for corporate giants. Going in with other businesses helps you save advertising money while increasing your exposure to customers.

Produce a Quality Newsletter or Email

A newsletter/email helps you keep in touch with your current customers and tap into a market of potential customers. Your newsletter shouldn't be used to send ads to your customers, though. Use your newsletter to provide your customers with valuable information that makes you the company they remember when they're ready to buy.

Get on the Radio

Don't ignore the radio as a means of communication. Yes, times have changed, and it is not in the same league as it was 40 years ago. But, there are still millions of people out there listening to public radio, and ad space is cheaper than it has ever been.

You can have the radio station create the ad for you (which can result in dubious quality ads), or you can hire an agency to do it for you. There's always the option to do it yourself, too, and if you have a family-owned business with a friendly feel, your own voice can be a great selling tool. 

If You're a Non-Profit, You Have Even More Options

There are plenty of non-profit and not-for-profit advertising strategies and tactics that you can take advantage of. For a start, you can ask professionals to donate their services for free, or a reduced rate at the very least.

There are special services available only to non-profits, such as Facebook's "Donate Now" button. And the Google Ad Grants program could award you $10,000 in free advertising if you qualify. Even if you're not a non-profit, consider partnering with one to spread the word about your business and their cause at the same time.

Create a Challenge or Break a Record

If you've ever watched a show like Man v. Food or Bizarre Foods, you will notice that a lot of the places visited by the host have something outrageous going for them. It's eating 50 hot wings in under 30 minutes or devouring a 7-pound burrito in an hour.

A challenge can spread the word about your business for free, but this clever strategy is not just applicable to eateries. If you can get creative, you can apply it to your own business. Think of a way that you could challenge your customers to do something, and get their names on a listing, or win a prize. It will go viral if it's good enough.