How to advertise your small business inexpensively
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Getting the word out about your business can be the most frustrating thing a small business owner faces. If you build the world’s greatest mouse trap, but nobody knows about it, you aren’t going to sell any.
With a small business’ limited budget, how can you spread the word? In the 21st century, there are myriad free or inexpensive ways to advertise.
- List your business with Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and Yahoo! Local. Post your location, hours, phone number, website and email. Be sure to include a description and photos, because those listings draw more attention and more business. Once you’re listed on Google My Business, you can import your listing directly into Bing.
- Social media. Post frequently on Facebook and Instagram. Show your products, services and employees. Post on other Facebook pages related to your business or on local community pages that allow it.
- Show off your products on Pinterest, especially if you have good images. You can even let people share images directly from your website, which will drive traffic there.
- Talk about your business, your products and your industry. Most people would rather have their teeth drilled, but public speaking engagements at conferences, webinars and podcasts can be a way to get the word out about your business. Don’t try to sell your goods or services, just speaking as a professional will draw attendees to your business.
- If you have a good or original story, contact local newspapers and television stations and see if they would be interested in doing a feature on your business.
- Send out regular press releases to newspapers, news services, radio and television with changes, improvements and special events at your business.
- Get listed as an expert in your field with HARO (Help A Reporter Out). The reporter uses you as an expert resource and your business gets a plug.
- Gather reviews on sites like Foursquare, Google, Yelp or Tripadvisor. Some customers check these sites before making a purchase, and a positive review can bring in new business.
- Post your business on the Nextdoor app in the neighborhoods in your area. This is grassroots advertising and it’s effective.
- Make sure your business shows up in a Google search by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Get some pointers here: https://backlinko.com/seo-strategy
- Create how-to or promotional videos for YouTube.
- Build an email list of your current customers and potential customers and send out marketing materials on a consistent basis.
- Join the local Chamber of Commerce and get listed on their directory. And be sure that the person who answers the phone there likes you and your business. When the chamber has get-togethers, show up, smile, talk to people and pass out business cards.
- Expand your network (and customers) with LinkedIn groups interested in your products and services.
- Partner with other small businesses. For example, if you own a small cheese shop and there’s a wine store in town. Stage a wine and cheese event where you can both show off your products and draw on each other’s customer base.
- Team up for charity. Even if you can’t donate cash to a nonprofit, you and your staff can volunteer, or you can offer a share of your sales on a certain day. Fans and followers of the charity will turn out and could discover a new favorite place — your place.
- Get your car professionally wrapped with vinyl matte advertising and park it in a conspicuous place. Driving back and forth to work will also bring attention to your business. The initial cost can run about $2,000, but you have a movable billboard that can last five to seven years.
- Donate your goods or services to a silent auction for a community event. Nail and beauty salons, barbershops, restaurants and boutique owners often use this to find new fans.
Not all of these advertising strategies will work for every kind of business. Trying a variety and gauging the response will let you know where to spend your hard-earned advertising dollars.
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