How To Advertise:
Seven Low-Cost Ways
To Advertise Your Small Business

by Tom Egelhoff

Author Tom Egelhoff

Small businesses always seem to be short of cash for advertising, marketing and promotions. I don't think that will ever change.

If it doesn't then there's a reason for this website. Here are a seven things you can do to keep the name out there without breaking the bank.

1. Write about your business.

That's what I did, first the book idea and then the website. Good information is at a premium in today's marketplace.

Can you provide a column for your local newspaper or shoppers guide? Are there local magazines who are looking for regular contributors?

Can't write? See if you can make a series of note cards about your industry that cover the important parts and the news writer will write the actual story.

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2. Teach a class.

People who know all about your business don't take classes. Although some should. I teach classes on marketing, business cards and brochure design, website marketing, sales and customer service.

They bring me customers and they provide a service to the community.

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3. Hold Contests.

Have slow times in your business. Pump up the sales traffic with a contest. If you're a florist, have floral design contests. Biggest flower. Ugliest flower.

Tailor the contest to your business or a local event. Kids love contests and often get the parents (another name for them is Customers) involved.

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4. Try low-cost ads.

Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can advertise at all. Rather than running a single ad in the local paper, try several smaller ads in shoppers papers.

Also use the classifieds. These can sometimes give you more exposure for the buck than one large single ad.

You can also test how your advertising will work by having "in-store specials." If they are popular then roll them out in your other advertising mediums.

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5. Don't just be one of the crowd.

Find creative ways of calling attention to your business. Take samples door to door if you have a restaurant or food service. Have unusual sales or giveaways at odd times.

I've mentioned Yellowstone Harley-Davidson in Belgrade, Montana, a town of about 6,000. They have a billboard on the interstate proclaiming themselves, "The Largest Harley-Davidson Dealer In Belgrade."

Forget the fact they are the only Harley-Davidson Dealer in Belgrade and the only one for over 100 miles in any direction.

They call attention to themselves in an outrageous way without offending anyone.

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6. Have a great business card and carry them with you.

Such a simple thing but most businesses never capitalize on it. If you ever have the opportunity to send me a bill, I guarantee you'll receive a check and my business card.

I don't care where you are in the world you'll get my card.

Water bill, electric bill, credit cards, magazine subscription, and all insurance bills. I give cards out in grocery stores and gas stations.

I don't walk up to people and say, "Here take my card." I find a reason to talk to them ask a few questions, they eventually ask me, "Well, what do you do."

Bingo, here's my card. They're in the glove compartment of both cars, my wallet, and a card case I try and carry with me.

My wife has my cards and when she's asked, "What does your husband do?" she passes out my card.

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7. Say "Thank You."

Again such a simple thing. The bigger the ticket item the more a thank you is in order. Let customers know that you appreciate them spending their hard earned money on your products or service.

Customers who truly feel special will send you referrals of their friends and neighbors.

Write a letter (not some obvious form letter) or at the very least, make a phone call.

Remember, advertising and marketing doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Be smart, be creative, and do some of the things that your competition isn't.

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