7 ways to advertise for free!

I was looking at my analytics results for the past year for my site. I noticed one of the main things people are looking for are ways to advertise for free. Ok cheapskates, here are few ideas on me. When you strike it rich, just make sure to utilize your buddy over here at Air Support. Let’s go!

  1. Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, & Pinterest can be really powerful tools if you use them properly. It’s free to sign up, and the only real cost is your time. As a business without an advertising budget, you need to spend in a different way. Time is your ally. Use a social media managing tool such as Hootsuite to schedule your content. That way you can get it done in one hour a day. Consider using less prevalent social media sites as well like Foursquare, Tout, or Empire Avenue. Here’s an example. Foursquare is a site where people check in to businesses. If they check in the most, they become the “mayor” of that business. Consider offering an award to the current mayor. Soon, you may have people tripping over each other to become mayor of your business.
  2. Co-op – Co-op is free money. Check with your product lines to see if they offer a co-op program. If they do, they may pay for a portion or all of your advertising. Of course, there is a catch. They will have guidelines for you to follow. Sometimes you have to mention their product three times. Sometimes it’s simpler than that. Sometimes it’s their commercial with your tag at the end. Be wary of the guidelines. Co-op is valuable when it’s used for a commercial about you with a mention of a vendor. It’s not valuable when it’s an ad about your vendor with a mention about you. Be careful.
  3. Team up with relatable non-competing businesses – There are other businesses in your community with the same struggles. They don’t have a huge advertising budget either. There are areas where your spheres of influence coincide even if you don’t directly compete with each other. Find those businesses and cross promote each other. Think of tandems like “gyms and supplement stores” or “salons and nail boutiques.” They don’t directly compete with each other, but they share the same target client. Team up!
  4. Wrap your car – Yes, it does cost money to put your logo on your car. But, it only costs you money once. You don’t pay for air time or billboard space afterwards. It’s your car, and you probably drive it through your target market. Having your car wrapped can be more valuable than having a bus bench. Just make sure you don’t cut people off or flip them the bird. Keep it clean too!
  5. Give back – Share information – Business owners congregate in plenty of meetings to further their businesses. In your time on this planet you’ve probably learned quite a bit about a few different topics. Share that information for free. If you’re the queen of accounts receivable, tell others about your tricks. Look for public speaking opportunities (Chamber of commerce meetings etc...) Don’t try to sell anyone anything. Make the influencers in your community feel good about you and great things will happen.
  6. Train customers to speak for you – Selling your customer your product or service is the goal of your business. But, it shouldn’t be the final step in the process. It’s your job to turn that customer into an unpaid sales force. What extra step can you take to make them sing your praises? Maybe you could offer a discount to people who tweet about their experience with your business. Maybe there should be incentives for referrals.
  7. Karma – Your product is usually worth a lot less than air time or billboard space. Use it in the right situations to further your business. Leave random gift certificates under peoples windshields with a nice personal note. I’ve also heard of people leaving $100 at the Tim Horton’s drive through to pay for the next bunch of customers coffee. They ask them to say “this one’s on _________.” I know that isn’t free, but it certainly isn’t expensive. Plus, it’s a really nice personal touch that can be localized to your trade area.

Good luck with your frugal campaigns! Just remember, if you want to expand your business quickly, you’ll eventually need to spend some cash. Start (and continue) with these ideas, but begin a savings account for a future foray into the world of mass media advertising.