Looking for the best way to advertise your small business? The secret is there is no one good way – that’s why we’ve listed 19 awesome small business advertising ideas so you can pick and choose the ones that would work best for you!
With a small business, time and money are incredibly important factors to consider. All of the advertising examples we’ve chosen keep this in mind, meaning they’re easy to slip into your marketing plan no matter how many other responsibilities you’re juggling.
Throw an EventWe’ll start with an exciting one: throwing a big event and inviting all your customers and local potential customers to come along. Whether this is an exclusive ticket-only sale, an opening night or a fun one-time-only class/workshop, events are a great way to get people excited about your business and can really help you stand out from competitors.
We recommend sending out invitations in the post rather than email invites. Not only does a paper invitation feel more personal, but it’s also more likely to trigger a response. According to the DMA, direct mail, like posted invitations, has a response rate of 4.4% compared to just 0.12% for emails.
Engage on Social MediaSocial media is a fantastic way to reach a lot of people quickly. And it’s free! The key to finding success with advertising on social media is to post often and post good quality content that users will want to engage with. For example, using interactive features like polls and asking questions about things you know your followers/potential customers will be interested in are great ways to get consumers involved with your brand.
Our top tip for social media marketing for your small business? Use a range of different social media platforms, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (whichever are best suited to your business), but use them differently, because the people you’re wanting to target will be using all of these different channels differently. Twitter is great for sharing industry news, business updates and news-jacking, whereas Instagram is more visual meaning it’s great for showing off your products, your facilities, and place marketing. Keep that in mind when creating your content.
Optimise for GoogleSEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – something that scares a lot of small business owners, but really shouldn’t. Maybe you think it’s expensive, or too complicated, but we’re here to tell you there are lots of ways you can optimise your website for search engines that aren’t that difficult – in fact, you’re probably doing a lot of them anyway without even realising.
When you’re creating content for your website, whether that’s commercial pages or informational blog type pages, think about what words consumers would search to find your page and use these words in your onsite copy. If you’re optimised for your customers, then you’re optimised for search engines! There are loads of free online tools to help you find keywords to target with your pages, such as WordStream.
Host a CompetitionCompetitions can be as extravagant or simple (yet effective) as you want, and you don’t always need to offer an incredibly expensive prize as the reward for it to work. It’s fair to say that your products/services are of general interest of your followers. To keep costs down, why not give away a prize related to your business’s offering?
As for your competition, the less effort it is for people to get involved the better. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. In our recent competition, we celebrated everything to do with merchandise! All people had to do was like our Facebook page, like the post and tell us what they’d put in their tote bag. Simple!
This technique is a fail-safe way of growing your social media following as well as getting your brand in front of fresh eyes.
Get Featured in a Local PaperGetting a story about your business in the local press is a great way to get attention for your business. Think about something you’re doing at the moment that local readers would be interested in. Are you recruiting in the local area? Have you raised money for a charity? Can you comment on something topical? These are all great PR hooks to help you get some publicity for your business.
Once you’ve decided on what you’d like to be featured for, write a press release or call local newspapers, radio stations, and magazines whose audiences would be interested in your brand. Make sure to include contact information should customers wish to find you.
Apply for an AwardThere are so many business awards nowadays – from national ceremonies to something a little more local. Somebody’s got to win them, and that somebody could be you! Winning awards isn’t just nice (well, it is, but…) it’s also a great opportunity to shout about your business, network at the event and then get great coverage in the press afterwards. Being able to call yourselves an award-nominated or - winning company also gives you a new unique selling point to customers.
Wear Your BrandIf you print T-shirts with your logo on, you can take your brand anywhere. Down to the corner shop, your child’s football practice, even the doctor’s surgery. Pride in your brand is infectious, and T-shirts are a great way to get the fever going.
Custom T-shirts also come in super handy for marketing events or when you’ve got a stand in a public area, like the team from Community Rail Lancashire below. They act as a uniform, meaning people recognise who to target questions to and therefore make you more approachable.
(Community Rail Lancashire)
Teach at a Local ClassEver heard the phrase ‘knowledge is power’? It means that the person who knows the most has the most authority. And this can definitely be applied to ways of promoting your business too. By placing yourself as the authoritative figure on a particular subject (related to your business) at a local class, even or workshop, you can educate people about your business from a trusted position. Just make sure you give your business a little mention at the end of class!
Start a Loyalty SchemeAgain, this isn’t as pricey or complicated as it initially sounds. All you need for a sound loyalty scheme is a set of loyalty cards! Hand them out to existing customers, get them to refer their friends, or even send them out in the post attached to your flyers for effective ways of getting them into customers’ hands.
We recommend getting a custom stamp or hole puncher – that way you know that the loyalty cards can’t be forged. An even cheaper option, which works if you’re a one-man-band, is signing the loyalty cards with your signature instead of stamping or punching.
Send Something in the Post
As one of the most effective ways to advertise your business, direct mail is a great addition to any marketing plan. Sending something useful to customers means they’ll keep hold of it for even longer – and your brand will be etched into their minds!
If you’re wanting to get the word out about your business to new customers, find a local flyer distributor. Re-engage with customers that haven’t visited you a while or send out a promotion to all your existing customers to boost sales.
Don’t want to send the same stuffy letter everyone else does? Check out these 8 fun examples of direct mail to help inspire your next campaign.
Offer Free SamplesGiving away free samples does two things: 1) it gives customers a chance to try your product and realise they can’t live without it before they buy, and 2) it makes customers feel special, and when customers feel good about your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you.
Free samples work especially well for food and drink businesses, but can also be seen being used by online businesses in the form of free trials whereby a paid membership unlocks the full experience. Doing something nice for someone (like giving them something for free) creates the urge for them to reciprocate this and do something nice in return – like purchase the full box of chocolates after being given one for free.
Hold a Themed SaleSales are fine. But what’s better than a sale? A themed sale! Whether you go down the traditional route of holding sales on Black Friday, Boxing Day and at various other seasonal times of the year, or try something a little different like hosting your own Best Friends night, try and give a reason for the sale – it makes it more memorable and more fun!
Have Extra Info Ready to GoIf you’re having a great conversation with a potential customer, make sure you’ve got something you can give them with more information to peruse at their own leisure. Flyers, business cards and catalogues are all fantastic examples of this.
It also means they’re more likely to remember the conversation you had with them and recall what you were talking about.
Focus on Customer ReviewsIf you get excellent customer reviews, there’s nothing wrong with shouting about it! Capture your customer reviews online via any of the many review websites available. You could even share your good reviews on social media, use them as testimonials on your website, and add them to your emails to instil even more trust in people who might not have bought from you yet.
If your reviews aren’t great, try and figure out why – and improve them!
Attend Networking EventsIf you’re not networking, you’re missing out. Making connections with people and meeting potential clients are essential activities for advertising your business – and there are loads of ways to do this that don’t involve attending special events.
If talking to people in real life sounds like your worst nightmare, or something you haven’t got time for yet, using social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with and form a relationship with people you think would be interested in your business is another great option. Or, why not send a handwritten note? It’s the perfect way to show that you’re genuinely interested in this person as a contact!
Networking can also happen when you least expect it, so make sure you’ve always got professionally printed business cards to hand.
Build an Email ListEmail marketing is one of the most popular ways to promote a business. According to Constant Contact UK, 66% of marketers report that email marketing delivers an excellent or good ROI (return on investment) and with over 70% of mobile purchasing decisions influences by promotional emails, they’re a great string to add to your advertising bow.
There are lots of ways you can build your email marketing list to help spread the message to even more people – encourage them to sign up through social media, via your website, at events or even in store to receive information on your latest news and deals.
Blog About Your IndustryBlogging about your business is a great way to appear as an industry expert. This will help increase visits to your website as you have more website pages containing your expert knowledge. These will appear in search engines when your customers are looking for more information on the products or services you sell. This is a great way to introduce your brand to a new customer.
For example, if you were a coffee bean seller, a potential customer might search for ‘what’s the best cup to use for a latte?’, and if your blog answers that question, you’ll appear to customers in search engines. You can then add a hyperlink back to your cups of coffee beans to show the customer that you offer these things.
Make the Most of PostersEvents, opening times, or just letting people know where to find you – posters are a fantastic tool for advertising your small business. And they don’t cost the world! You can use them inside and outdoors, and print them as big or small as your chosen space demands to make sure you grab attention from all those who pass by. Here are the best places to put your posters.
The key to all of these different small business advertising strategies is gaining exposure: getting your business in front of as many eyes as possible. If you’re doing that, you’re on to a winner! We love keeping up with all the creative ways our customers advertise their businesses. Share your top tips with us on Twitter and Instagram by tagging us @instantprintuk or #instantprintuk.