Word of mouth is excellent small business advertising – but it’s slow, and may be practically non-existent for new businesses. If you want to grow your customer base more quickly, you have to advertise.
This collection of small business advertising ideas presents both the tried and true and some you may not have tried yet – advertising ideas for your small business to effectively reach your target market and attract new customers.
Tried and True Advertising Ideas for Business
1. Direct mail.
Direct mail can be very effective business advertising – and is much more favorably received than other direct marketing media, such as email or telemarketing. And even if you don’t have a mailing list, you can still geographically target your mail. Here’s an example of a sales letter to customers that will get results and how to write one. You’ll also want to read these 10 Tips for Maximizing Your Sales Letter Response.
2. Newspaper advertising.
Besides box ads and advertising inserts, local newspapers also often offer special advertising features showcasing particular businesses – all powerful business advertising opportunities. Don’t overlook special interest newspapers as an advertising idea if they exist in your area. They may be delivered to exactly the audience you want to reach.
3. Magazine advertising.
This advertising idea can be a very effective way of reaching a target market.
4. The Yellow Pages.
Although use of the printed yellow pages is on the decline, there’s still a lot of people who use the yellow pages to find the businesses they’re looking for – and they won’t find you if your small business isn’t listed there.
Get the biggest printed yellow page ad you can afford; the more visibility the better. As a more modern alternative consider the online version.
5. Business cards.
Sure, they’re advertising. Every time you hand one out to a prospective client or customer, you’re advertising your small business. But why not take this advertising idea further and make your business card a marketing vehicle by making sure that it states the primary benefit your product or service offers the customer. You can even go a step further and magnetize your business card, increasing the chances of it being posted on someone’s fridge or other magnetized surface where it will be seen regularly rather than just being shoved in a drawer somewhere out of sight.
6. Joining professional/business organizations.
Every professional or business organization offers exclusive advertising opportunities for their members, ranging from free promotion on the organization’s website through special section newspaper advertising. And being a member can be good small business advertising in itself.
7. Vehicle advertising.
The reason you see so many vehicles emblazoned with advertising is that it works; vehicle advertising is very visible business advertising.
If you’re not ready for custom graphics or a magnet quad sign that sits atop your vehicle, go for a magnetic sign that you can take off when you want.
Advertising Ideas You May Not Have Tried Yet
8. Sending promos with invoices.
Little advertising ideas can be powerful, too. If you’re sending out an invoice, why not take the opportunity to include some advertising? To draw new customers, try something such as a “bring-a-friend” promotion.
9. Cable TV advertising.
So you can’t afford to advertise your business during the Super Bowl. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the household reach of TV. Cable TV companies offer advertising ideas within the budget of small businesses, from advertising on the TV Guide Listings or Real Estate channels through running infomercials.
10. Radio advertising.
Another advertising idea you may not have thought of is radio advertising. Running ads on a local radio station can be both effective and relatively inexpensive.
11. Bench/bus stop advertising.
Looking to reach a mass audience? Then transit advertising may be for you. Contact your local transit company for information on bench, bus and shelter advertising possibilities.
12. Local website advertising.
More people are spending more time online than ever before. Cover all your small business advertising bases by ensuring that your business is listed on websites providing business information for your local area. Many municipalities, for instance, offer business listings on their websites. And make sure your business has its own website too.
13. Trade show participation.
One of the main reasons to participate in trade shows is to be seen and get known. While participating in big trade shows can be quite expensive, there are a lot of smaller opportunities that may work well for your business, from trade shows put on by local business associations through trade shows focused on particular industries. Before You Attend That Trade Show explains how to make the most of your trade show experience.
14. Email advertising.
If you already have an in-house mailing list or are able to develop one, email advertising can work for you. There are two truly great things about it; pretty well everyone has email nowadays and you can customize the email you send to target specific groups of customers or even individuals. Imagine how much better your return on investment could be when you can send the offer on food processors only to people who have previously expressed an interest in kitchen appliances.
15. Community involvement.
Visible, tangible involvement with your community is more than good PR; it’s also very effective small business advertising. So choose a charitable event or community association to get involved with and let yourself be seen as a business that cares.
Joining forces with other businesses can greatly increase your advertising power and your marketing reach. Kare Anderson explains how this advertising idea works and how to jump-start your cross-promotion efforts in Attract More Customers through Cross-Promotion.
17. eBay listings.
eBay can be a fast and inexpensive way to make your potential customers aware of your products. When you list an item for auction, you’re also advertising your business to whoever views the listing. Get started selling successfully on eBay with 7 Tips for Selling on eBay.
18. Advertise on YouTube.
Did you know that people watch over 6 billion hours of video each month on YouTube – almost an hour for every person on Earth? Or that according to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network? If that’s the audience you’re trying to reach, YouTube advertising could be your best bet.
19. Advertise on Facebook.
Organic reach on Facebook is dead – or at least, so seriously injured that it can’t do much to advance your brand anymore. But that doesn’t mean that reach is dead if you’re willing to pay for it, and Facebook’s ad targeting options are phenomenal. Facebook advertising is also one of the most inexpensive options on this list.
Learn What Works
Will all of these nineteen advertising ideas work for your small business? No! But by choosing several of these advertising ideas and focusing on them, you’ll be able to grow your customer base much more quickly than you would by relying on word-of-mouth alone. Like any kind of marketing you do, of course, your business advertising will be most effective if you plan your advertising campaign and track your results.