Advertising doesn't have to expensive. Here are ten ideas to help small firms like yours advertise on a budget.
- 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.
- Do a contra deal. Talk to some of your neighbouring business owners and see if you can advertise each other's businesses on your websites. Complementary businesses, such as beauty salons and clothes shops, or electricians and light-fitting shops, could help each other out.
- 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. Create a compelling heading, use an image and 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. There are merchandising ideas 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 and suppliers 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. A poster panel in a local bus shelter or an advert on a well-placed billboard could cost a lot less than you think.
- 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 £150; a vehicle wrap would cost around £2,000, but will last for five years and could be seen by hundreds of thousands of people.
- Try advertising on social media. More and more small firms are taking advantage of advertising opporuntites on Facebook. It offers a range of audience targeting options including location, demographics and interests so your ad will reach your target audience.
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