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Ten ways to advertise on a budget

Don't blow your advertising budget on an expensive radio advert which goes out at 3am. Spread your risk and save money by investing in a range of low-cost advertising options

  1. Use your local press. Whether through a successful press release or a classified advert, featuring in your local paper will get you in front of a good number of local people. PR is free; classified advertising starts at around £20. 
  2. Get into business directories. Many people turn to their local business directory first when they have a need. Yellow Pages and Thomson Local are two of the best. You can get a basic alphabetical listing in directories for free. Consider the multmedia packages that directories now offer which can be tailored to include online, directory and search engine advertising.
  3. Use free notice boards. A small printed ad on your local supermarket or community centre noticeboard will be seen by a surprising number of people - and it's usually free. Focus on your USP to attract the attention of browsers. 
  4. Make more use of business cards. Business cards are very useful for reinforcing word-of-mouth recommendations. Carry plenty with you and give two to contacts - one for themselves, one to pass on. 
  5. Print and distribute flyers. A flyer through the door with a clear USP, business name and contact details will bring enquiries. Printing starts at around £70 for 250 flyers; if you have them professionally designed, add a one-off cost of around £200. Exchange flyers with other businesses - for example, a wedding venue if you are a photographer. 
  6. Give away branded merchandise. Merchandising manufacturers cater for all budgets. Stick to useful items that people will actually use, such as t-shirts, keyrings, mugs and pens, and give these things to customers, suppliers and anyone else at every opportunity. 
  7. Sponsor a local sports team. Most small teams will be happy to wear your logo in return for some kit - and supporting your local side will reinforce your community identity. Fourteen shirts can cost as little as £150; good quality complete kit is likely to set you back around £500. 
  8. Use public transport. Bus, taxi and train companies all carry advertising posters inside vehicles and stations, and thousands of people see them. It's not as pricey as you might think - a poster panel in some London Underground stations, for example, can cost as little as £85 for two weeks. 
  9. Brand your business vehicle. Carrying your logo while you're on the move can establish a strong presence in your community. Prices for small panels start at £100; a vehicle wrap will cost up to £2,000, but will last for five years and could be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. 
  10. Endorse car park tickets. Everybody uses them, and few people remove them straight away - mostly they sit inside car windows for a few days before being peeled off. £500 will get your name on 90,000 tickets.

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