Business tutorials, How to promote your business
Five free to low-cost advertising ideas for small businesses
Advertising is key to a company’s success, particularly in the beginning when no one knows of its existence, but the cost of advertising can put small businesses off.
But there are many ways to advertise your business without going bust! Find out how:
1. Use free directories
This is particulalrly a great wayto promote a location based business. If you run a florist, mobile hair and beauty business, or a local accountancy firm, you should look into advertising (for free) on the websites, Yell.com, Thomsonloca.com and Google Places. Like you, when your customers are looking for a local business to provide a service for them, they will either Google it, or use these online directories. The online guides help people find local businesses, restaurants, retailers and more. In addition, users post reviews of businesses, so ideally your company will receive great word-of-mouth marketing from happy clients. Adding your business to these directories is free, but you can buy sponsorship ads, too.
2. Set up a website for the company
Before you click away, this does not have to cost you a small fortune – in fact, there is no reason why a basic business website should cost you more than £250 for the design and hosting in the first year. If you are not a technophobe, you could actually set up a professional looking website for the cost of your time.
A website gives you a medium to keep your customers up to date with new upcoming products and services. Moreover, it will allow for a direct line of communication with customers, which can lead to satisfaction for the customers and then more advertisement through word of mouth and social networking sites.
Having a website means that people can research your products and find a place where they can read about it.
3. Social networking
Having a Twitter account will allow you to tweet updates, changes, and announcements in a quick, effortless, and free way. You don’t even have to log onto your laptop to do it – use your smartphone to post all the update yu need to, while you’re relaxing in the evening, or watching your favourite soap.
A Facebook page would allow people to follow any updates as well. You can keep in touch with customers that way as well.
4. Get to know the press
Another piece of advice is to send press releases to local newspapers and business magazines that are relevant to your are of business. Be sure the story is newsworthy, not simply an advertisement. Send press releases when you employ new employees, win an award, reach a milestone, host an open house, partner with another company, expand your products or services, restructure your business, work with a charity or rebrand your business.
5. Cross promote your business
Many businesses get caught up with the obvious media and their competitors. But there’s much benefit to talking to a non-competing company in your industry about cross-promoting your products and services. You could add links to your websites, share a booth at a local trade show or split the costs for a direct mail piece.
Here are some examples: a hair salon and a clothing shop, a print shop and a computer repair store, a nursery and a dentists. Collaborating with other businesses, sharing business cards, featuring links of each other’s sites will help you get greater exposure for your business.
Advertising is very important for a business, particularly one that is just starting out, so remember that as you approach other businesses to help you spread the word.
Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.