Are you desperate for more customers but don't have money to advertise?
I have heard this time and time again.
If people don't know who you are or how to find you, how can they buy from you?
Advertising is a tax-deductible business expense.
It's an investment to grow your business.
Here are 11 of my favorite ways to advertise on a shoestring budget.
- Events. Plan or attend an event. If you organize an event, recruit other businesses to set up a table or sponsor you to help you with the costs. If you provide enough value, you can charge admission to cover advertising.
- Create a Deal. This is a no up front cost advertising program. You may have heard of Groupon or Living Social. The publisher of your deal will keep a portion of the buy now purchases in exchange for promoting your deal and business to its audience of people that signed up to get discounted deals, you keep a portion of everything they offer brings in, and money is automatically deposited into your bank account. Experiences and packages work well for this kind of advertising. The purpose isn't really to make money but to get new clients that you can turn into return customers.
- Free Calendars. If you have an event you need to promote, you can usually post it for free on "things to do" calendars that can be found on social media, local news websites, newspapers, radio, broadcast stations, and magazines. Be prepared for sales calls, but it's free to submit the info. This isn't a guaranteed form of advertising, it's up to them to approve the post, and they can decide when and how long it runs for. If the info gets picked up, it's a great way to get your name out there to a wider audience for free.
- Press release. Send your information to all the relevant news sources that may have an audience you are trying to reach. To learn how to make one, read my article 5 insider tips on how to get into the news.
- A website. Having an online presence builds trust. When your website is easy to find, relevant to the user, mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate, you will show up higher in searches when people are searching online to purchase or do research. It used to be that you had to spend thousands of dollars and tons of time to make changes to get it just right, and then after that, it must constantly be updated and optimized to be found easily online. Now, you can have a professional website that's easy to set up, update and optimize yourself. This is one way you can grow awareness for your business.
- Social Media. It's free to start business pages and groups to gather your tribe of people that want to connect to you in real time on a more personal level. Your customers, fans, and followers want to hear from you and interact with you online. They want to share your information with their friends and leave reviews. What are you waiting for? Social media posts show up on internet searches, post content to be top of mind and be found easily online. Share pictures, updates, and offers, and ask for referrals using your social media pages. Use hashtags with each post that is relevant, and be sure to interact on your business page with your target audiences as much as possible with engagement on posts, comments, and shares to grow your digital presence faster.
- Google Adwords. Reach your exact target audience while they are online researching in the buying mode. You can run a search ad or display ad to be seen on search results as well as on websites your target audience spends time on. You have control over the budget and the ad copy. There are keyword planner tools you can use with Adwords to help you with insights into what people are asking about online to help you plan content for your ads.
- Paid social media display ads. Target your ads and unique message to audiences with specific behaviors, interests, income levels, zip codes, buying behaviors, and more. Ads will work better if they have been written for the right target audience, with images that look like them. Your ads will cost less if your page is getting a lot of engagement first, so be sure to send your ad out for a test to your best engagers for an opinion before you decide to put money into boosting it. Use the Ads Manager function of Facebook for the best targeting capabilities.
- Video Marketing. Live video will be the #1 way to reach your audience in terms of visibility. You can use social platforms like Youtube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook Live. You can also share your homemade video from your phone on your pages and with news outlets to make it go viral. Add captions and embed your live broadcast or recorded video on your website's home page for an SEO boost. Email it out to your list using mail chimp, embedding the video into the email with lots of keyword-rich content and hashtags included.
- Email marketing. Continuously build up your list of email subscribers, and schedule regular emails to reach and engage them. To grow your list, you will need a strategy to entice them to give up their info willingly. One way is to offer something of value in exchange for the information. Try to keep it simple. Include this in your marketing strategy. You can offer links to your products and services to people that know, like, and trust you. Google Forms is free to set up a form that you can use to capture email data. You can also do a form for free inside Hubspot, which manages customers' information and allows you to email them easily. If you have an email for your website, you can use Mailchimp or Hubspot to make and schedule great emails for your business using your list.
- SEO. Take a peek at keywordtool.io and check out the long-tail keywords your customers search for, and incorporate them into your content. This helps you show up in google searches. This works great when you explain the problem, how you can solve it, and give people a way to buy. There are three kinds of searches that people normally do. A. Researching B. Information, and C. intent to buy. Be sure you have the right call to action for your audiences, depending on what their search intent shows based on the keywords they are searching for.
Hope this gave you some good ideas on how to advertise for free or at little cost!
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3 thoughts on “11 pro tips for advertising on a shoestring budget.”
Great list, I got some new thoughts out of it.
Awesome, thanks Andrew!