Savvy business owners know how to be creative on a small or nonexistent marketing budget. These 10 business advertising strategies can raise your brand awareness without a huge investment. While there are no advertising costs involved, some tools may require a small investment—a worthwhile cost when you’re looking for budget-friendly ways to promote your business.
Read on to learn how to advertise for free—or almost free— and market your small business without blowing your budget.
How to advertise on Google for free (or at a low cost)
1. Create a Google My Business account
Google My Business is a free tool that can help your business site appear on the first page of relevant searches in your location. For example, when someone searches “dry cleaners near me,” a dry cleaner who uses Google My Business is more likely to rank at the first or second spot—where every business owner wants to be.
To get started:
- Create an account and add your address, phone number, website and other relevant information
- Verify your information so Google can confirm it’s a real and active business
- Download the Google My Business app to see how your business is ranking
2. Leverage SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) helps your site rank higher on Google. Creating content—like blogs and landing pages—that strategically uses hyperlinks, meta descriptions, alt text, keywords and internal links on your website can increase your online presence.
To get started, identify any content gaps on your site and create high-quality, keyword-rich pieces to fill those gaps. Additionally, review your current content to ensure it’s addressing user intent and optimized with relevant keywords.
3. Get your business on Yelp and TripAdvisor
Add your business to relevant lists on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and other directories. While basic listings may be free, some charge a fee for more advanced packages that will yield more visibility for your brand. But remember—the more directories your business is on, the higher your chances of appearing at the top of a customer’s search results in Google.
How to advertise your business for little to no cost online
There are plenty of other ways to advertise for little to no cost on the web. Consider these ideas for inexpensive or free advertising online.
4. Post on social media
Never underestimate the value of a social media following. Use your online presence to show off your products and services and entice your customers to check them out. Popular platforms for business accounts include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat.
To successfully build your presence on social media:
- Research the platforms that work best for your business
- Complete your profiles with the most up-to-date information
- Be consistent with your brand and messaging
- Regularly post engaging, share-worthy content
- Use unique hashtags
5. Run a giveaway
Hold a giveaway that rewards one lucky customer with a gift card, free service or basket of goodies from your shop. While there is no advertising cost, it may cost you some merchandise or time, but it’s an excellent way to interact with customers and build a loyal base.
Specify entry rules when you announce the giveaway. These rules should be easily verifiable ways customers can engage with you, such as following your social media accounts, tagging a friend in the comments or sharing a post.
6. Become a guest blogger
If you have the chops for writing, consider collaborating with a blogger in your industry and offer them a free article for their site in exchange for promoting your business. Start small—up-and-coming bloggers may be psyched for this opportunity. Remember to share the article on social media—both you and the blogger will get some free press out of it.
7. Send out an email newsletter
Curate a contact list of customers’ email addresses and send a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly newsletter that includes seasonal offerings, short-term deals and other business-related information. Encourage your customers to read the newsletters by adding coupons at the bottom—it makes for a nice incentive to your most devoted shoppers.
Remember, it’s against the law to add anyone to your email list without permission. Make sure users formally opt in and have an easy way to unsubscribe. Create a do not contact list for all customers who opt-out of receiving emails.
How to advertise your business for free (or at a low cost) offline
Along with going the online route, consider adding some inexpensive or free local business advertising to your offline campaign.
8. Hang flyers
Traditional marketing styles can sometimes have the biggest impact, and hanging flyers and handing out brochures is a low-cost way to promote your business (remember to ask permission before doing so in local facilities). FedEx Office helps you create and print professional business flyers, brochures and postcards for your business. Vibrant, attention-grabbing printed materials can help catch your target audience’s eye and promote sales, making them a worthwhile investment.
9. Publish a press release
If there are any noteworthy changes to your business, submit a press release to your local newspaper. This free local advertising can put your business in front of a large audience and helps spread the word to people who otherwise might not have known about your brand.
10. Introduce a referral program
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to transform leads into sales. A referral program allows you to advertise your business using your best commodity: current, engaged customers. Offer customers the opportunity to earn coupons or small gift cards every time their friends or family purchase from your business. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Small business advertising doesn’t need to break the bank with these inexpensive online and offline advertising ideas. Use these tips to promote your brand and set your company on a path to success.