Advertising and marketing campaigns help businesses in nearly every location and industry spread the word about their offerings. The marketing strategy of a local business is likely to look different from a company that sells mainly online. Luckily, there are tons of different advertising avenues for each business to consider. Read on for a guide.
How Do You Advertise for a Small Business?
Creating an advertising plan to reach potential customers starts with outlining your target audience. Once you know who you’re trying to reach, consider where those individuals are likely to gather, either in person or online. And think about the type of content and messaging you can share at local events, online directories, or on social media.
Best Traditional Advertising Ideas for Small Businesses
If you’re trying to reach a local audience or one that doesn’t spend all day online, there are still plenty of traditional and local advertising ideas to utilize.
1. Print Ads
Print ads can include photos, text, or editorial partnerships with newspapers, magazines, or print publications.
2. Trade Show or Event Sponsorships
Rent a booth at a trade show or another special event that’s relevant to your industry. Some events also post signage or distribute marketing materials for sponsors.
3. Flyers or Handouts
Small businesses trying to increase foot traffic or market within a specific area may benefit from posting flyers or passing out ads in person.
4. Cold Calling
Cold calling involves placing phone calls to consumers. This is especially common for B2B businesses and those selling high-value products.
5. Business Cards
Purchase business cards and pass them out or display them in areas where interested customers can easily take them.
6. Promotional Products
Purchase promotional products like bags, hats, and mugs with your company’s logo to use as advertising. Offer them as prizes or hand them out at special events to increase brand visibility.
7. Referral Program
Create a referral marketing program to incentivize customers to refer others to your business. This may involve offering discounts, cash, or free products to those who send new customers your way.
Top Ideas for Online Advertising
Both local and online businesses can benefit from online advertising. There are tons of options to help you attract new customers with paid ads and sponsorships.
8. Search Engine Optimization
SEO involves updating your website to make it more visible on search engines. This can include adding relevant keywords, updating useful content, and improving back-end code to improve your site’s accessibility.
9. Google Ads
You can also purchase ads through Google to increase website traffic. When people perform a Google search relevant to your business, your site may appear as a sponsored listing at the top of the page.
10. Online Business Directories
Update your Google business profile and other business directories like Yelp. These platforms are generally free, but you can also pay for sponsored listings.
11. Retargeting Ads
Retargeting ads allow you to target customers who have already purchased or engaged with your website in some way.
12. Sponsored ECommerce Listings
On eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, you can purchase sponsored listings to help your products appear high in search results.
13. Sponsored Blog Content
Partner with bloggers relevant to your industry to have them create content around your industry or offering.
14. Podcast Sponsorships
Many popular podcasts also offer audio ads for products and services that may appeal to their listeners.
15. Online Contests or Giveaways
You can also host giveaways or contests on your own site or social media channels, or in partnerships with bloggers or influencers related to your industry.
16. Email Marketing
Email marketing involves sending messages to people who have signed up to receive updates. You can even reach extra customers and raise brand awareness by partnering with other brands or newsletters.
17. Display Ads
Display ads usually include photos and text, and appear at the top or sidebar of popular websites.
18. Native Ads
Native ads are made specifically to match the form of the content on a particular site or app.
Ideas for Advertising Through Social Media Channels
Social media offers even more opportunities for advertising online. Each platform has its own specific ad formats, but here are some of the main categories that businesses should know.
19. Image Ads
Image ads may include an Instagram post or Facebook photo that is pushed out to a specific group based on who you want to target.
20. Video Ads
Video ads are also available on many social media apps and sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
21. Carousel Ads
Carousels are social media ads that include multiple photos or videos that people can scroll through.
22. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts usually start as organic social media posts. But you can pay to push them out to extra people. Each platform has its own process and rules for this type of ad.
23. Slideshow Ads
Platforms like Facebook allow advertisers to display slideshow ads that tell a longer story than a simple photo.
24. Collection Ads
Collection ads allow businesses to showcase their offerings in a seamless and immersive way. Followers can easily scroll or swipe through to see various products and purchase or sign up for updates within the platform.
25. Messenger Ads
Messenger apps like Facebook Messenger allow businesses to advertise by sending messages directly to consumers.
26. Interactive Ads
Interactive ads are designed to increase social media engagement by providing something fun and usable within their feed. For example, you may provide a small game or quiz that people can interact with to learn more about your offerings.
27. Influencer Campaigns
Influencer campaigns involve sending sponsored messages out to the followers of a prominent influencer in your industry. Terms vary based on who you work with. And there are several platforms and agencies that connect people with influential social media accounts with relevant brands.
Local Business Advertising Ideas
When creating a local advertising strategy to reach people in your geographic area, these paid and free marketing ideas may help.
28. Local Print Ads
Local print ads may include a small banner or handout in your local newspaper, or a paid feature in a magazine distributed to your community.
29. Local Event Sponsorships
Consider the events in your town that your target audience may attend, from golf outings to parades. Sponsorship may include signage, booth space, or placement in gift bags or favors.
30. Yellow Pages Ads
Many local consumers still use the Yellow Pages to find local businesses related to their needs. Buy prominent placement in the book or online to increase calls or visits.
31. Local Coupon or Deal Books
Many local communities distribute coupon books full of deals from local small businesses. Offer discounts to price-conscious consumers in these formats.
32. Direct Mail
Direct mail is still a popular local advertising option for small business owners who want to target people in a specific community or neighborhood. Send flyers, envelopes, or brochures directly to their addresses.
33. Community Newsletters
Find small newsletters or even church or organizational bulletins to promote your offerings. This is most effective for a local business with some connection to the organization or community, like a small business owner who attends a particular church.
34. Local Sports Sponsorships
If you’re looking for local advertising ideas to reach families in your community, consider sponsoring a youth sports team. This shows your community involvement and philanthropy and displays your company name on jerseys and other marketing materials.
35. Local Cable Ads
Purchase air time on a local cable channel to share video messages within your community.
36. Local Radio Ads
If you prefer audio messages, work with your local radio stations instead.
37. Community Bulletin Boards
Reach prospective customers by posting flyers on bulletin boards around your community. These often provide free local advertising to attract customers looking for specific products or services.
38. Classified Ads
Purchase classified ad space from your local newspaper or on sites like Craigslist. These online and classified newspaper ads generally should promote a specific product or service, or a limited-time offer.
39. Local Website Advertising
There are several websites that specifically target local audiences, like Nextdoor and ioby. There may also be a locally run option in your community. These sites often provide paid and free tools for reaching people in your neighborhood.
40. Chamber of Commerce Advertising
Your local chamber of commerce may offer advertising and marketing ideas to help you reach area customers. These could include event partnerships, coop ads, and help with Google business search ads.
41. Event Partnerships
Event partnerships involve teaming up with other area businesses to put on special promotions to attract customers. Many downtown business organizations facilitate these partnerships to increase foot traffic and spread the word about offerings in their downtown areas.
42. Parade Floats
If your community hosts and large events like holiday parades, you may be able to sponsor or create a float or display to increase brand awareness around town.
43. Local Event Booths
If you sell products directly to consumers, purchase booth space at local fairs or festivals to reach attendees. For example, a small fashion boutique may purchase space to sell clothing at discounted prices. This can increase brand recognition and create a positive customer experience and lead to heightened word-of-mouth marketing.
Marketing Strategy Ideas for Outdoor Advertising
There are also outdoor ad formats that can help you reach people in your community and beyond. Here are some creative marketing ideas that fall into this category.
45. Billboard Ads
Billboards are large outdoor signs designed to grab attention for something that drivers or pedestrians may want or need in the immediate future. These are often most effective for restaurants, convenience stores, or businesses selling impulse purchases. However, they can also increase brand awareness for other products and services around town.
46. Vehicle Ads
Purchase ad space on taxis or other vehicles, or add vehicle wraps to your own fleet to advertise your products and services while performing work around town.
47. Digital Signage
Purchasing space on a digital billboard allows you to quickly get your messages out to consumers and control your advertising in real-time.
48. Yard Signs
Print small signs to put in front of your business or to distribute to existing customers. These are often inexpensive and can spread the word about a special event or promotion.
49. Human Billboards
Hire someone to stand outside your business with a large sign or banner promoting a sale or offering. These can often grab more attention than static signs, especially if you’re in a busy area with lots of other signs and businesses to compete with.
50. Bench or Bus Stop Ads
Purchase signage on a bench or the side of a bus stop to promote your products or services throughout town. These local advertising ideas are often most effective if your target customer uses public transit or if these ads are distributed throughout a busy area with lots of foot traffic.
What Is the Cheapest Way to Advertise a Small Business?
The cheapest small business marketing and advertising ideas are those that utilize resources you already have. For example, businesses with a physical space may make signage to post outside or host an event on their storefront. Online marketing and advertising ideas that promote your site on local searches and social media can also be affordable.
What Is the Best Method of Advertising for Small Local Businesses?
The best advertising strategies for attracting local customers often involve search engines. If your business appears at the top of relevant search pages for your product or service categories, more paying customers are likely to contact you.
How Can You Advertise Your Small Business for Free?
You can advertise a small business for free by trading with other businesses or providing something of value to build brand awareness. For example, you could guest post on other industry blogs or publish helpful content on YouTube. You can also get free local advertising by creating business listings on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
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Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are free to use and can be great tools to promote your business. You can create a business page and share information about your products or services, interact with your followers, and run targeted ads at an affordable cost.