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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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