As a small business owner, you don't have to feel overwhelmed by advertising costs. Sure, you have a smaller advertising budget, but all that means is that you have to manage the money you do have wisely. You can still get the word out to the market if your resources are limited.
Additionally, many options listed below can be customized for your budget. You can start with a free or low-cost solutions in your community and add more as your business and needs grow. Because much of the world is online, there are many tools to help you communicate with potential clients.
Here are a few creative ways to stay competitive without going over budget.
Build a website that's reader friendly.
I realize this might be an obvious requirement for some businesses, especially if you are a retailer. However, even if you don't think you need a website, you should have one anyways. You can use it to network and for establishing credibility. Most of your audience is online. It doesn't matter what you're selling or whether you want to stay local.
Creating a website is easy and affordable with plenty of platforms and mediums to guide you. Plus, there are tons of tutorials and pre-made themes to help. An important thing to note is that you'll need to optimize your site so it looks good on mobile. Most themes will do it automatically but definitely double check.
I started out using a newsletter that gradually grew into a website. With so much information being generated every day, having a website is a great way to keep it all in one place. Get feedback on your website design to make sure that readers can and will want to explore your content.
Try native advertising.
Disruptive advertising can be overwhelming to the user. A website that starts playing a ghost video or is too cluttered can be distracting from the actual content. This can lead to users downloading ad blocking software or even avoiding your site altogether.
It's better to engage with readers/visitors with information without being obvious that it's an advertisement. It can be a guest post or even something peppered into an article. Depending on your site and the content, this method can provide quality information that persuades readers naturally. Just be sure to be ethical and upfront that content may be sponsored.
Get cash back business credit cards.
There's no way around spending money on your business. As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. But don't let this deter you. A business credit card can help you earn while still getting you the tools to grow.
Use your business expenses to your advantage to receive cash back on purchases you were going to make anyway. I've used business credit cards to get many rewards that I've applied to my travels, which in turn grew my business. I've learned to manage my spending plus I've made my life much easier during tax season.
Credit card benefits vary. A Forbes study found business credit card offers that include free employee cards, no international fees, and/or the ability to earn on purchases like internet and phone services. So while you're advertising your product or service on Facebook ads and Google Adwords, you're generating three times more points.
Development an SEO strategy.
Once you have your website, SEO is a relatively inexpensive cost to advertising your business. The basics of search engine optimization, SEO, is that it's organic traffic to your site. The images you post and their ATLs, meta description, HTML tags, headers, content, and much more contribute to how you'll be ranked on search engines.
The plugin Yoast on Wordpress can help you create helpful content with the correct keywords that your customers are using. Having your content on your blog and guest blogging are also great cost-effective ways to advertise who you are, what you do, and how it helps consumers.
I personally love guest blogging, especially with smaller publications. I get to share information about the latest in travel news that hopefully encourages people to travel and visit my site for more. Plus, the ability to engage with different points of view is helpful.
Consistently get to know people.
Go where your audience is on social networks and create contests or highlight challenges. Give prizes for guessing something relevant to your business. Donate your products. Offer a free class (and maybe even record a teaser and put it on your site).
Be relatable and think big and small. Encourage visits to your social networks and website through social media (it's free). Most importantly, engage with your subscribers often. Do so at different times of the day to ensure you are reaching different audiences.