Shoestring advertising strategies for small businesses

Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive.

09-finance-ad-budget-BKT_571Sometimes small business owners get caught up in the idea that advertising consists of commercials, billboards, and radio spots. These, however, are just the tip of the iceburg. There’s a whole plethora of options when it comes to advertising, many of them much more affordable than those three options.

According to, “There are 23 million small businesses in the United States, all of which are trying hard to stand out from the crowd, make a name for themselves, and generate awareness of their brand.” Here are a few options if you want to come across to your audience as unique without breaking your budget for the next four quarters.

Personalize your ads

One reason many people choose to work with small businesses rather than large is because large businesses lack the personal touch. You may have less clients, but you could gain their loyalty much more permanently based on how you treat them when they interact with your brand.

One example is the “I do something nice for you, you do something nice for me approach,” or, as marketing writer John Schmoll puts it, “[show] up at a potential client’s business with donuts.” He goes on to explain that you don’t really have to give them donuts, but you do need to give them something of value—perceived or real. Do you have some important information that could help your potential customers solve a problem? Could you cut them any deals, provide them with coupons, or let them in on insider tips? People appreciate feeling “special.”

Look for ways to network

As a small business, you might consider attending local events and setting up a booth (again, candy, food, donuts, toys, etc. would not go amiss here). People attend such events to shop around and they’ll be much better primed to make a purchase than if they were to randomly come across your storefront on the internet or on the street.

Another option is to set up an affiliate network. These are usually bloggers who share an interest in whatever product or service you provide. They can review your products, stage giveaways, or participate in the Pay Per Call marketing program that incentivizes them to seek out qualified leads for your sales of promotions. They’re only paid when a lead qualifies, so you won’t be bombarded with people who aren’t really interested or don’t qualify.


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