Advertising on a Budget

5 Creative Ways to Get the Word Out

By Gabrielle Frank

Pattie Simone, chief strategist for Write-Communications, shares her tips for advertising on a budget.

1. Promote with free products

Promotional products help get your name out there, building brand and buzz. It should include your company name, your logo, a short tagline and your web address. The freebie doesn’t need to be a pen or a mouse pad, but think function, fun and environmentally friendly too. Five out a T-shirt with a cool graphic, or advertise your company on a baseball cap. You can do minimum orders of 6-12 T-shirts, give them out as gifts, have a contest, and it’s promoting your company and what you do. It’s a very inexpensive way to get your name out in front of people.

2. Advertise while you drive

Go to your local print shop and have them make up several different kinds of large magnets that you can affix to your car, or that your friends can affix to their car to help you promote what you’re doing. You can get your web site painted on your car (try to keep your URL simple) or use a large, inexpensive magnet. 

3. Create viral buzz

If you’re running a business and someone goes online and Googles you and they can’t find you, it’s highly suspicious. I strongly recommend people invest in a website, but if they want to get started right away, go to LinkedIn and Facebook. Another site is Squidoo, it’s fun place where you cans strut your stuff and it’s a free portal. Any advertising that you do should be done with the idea of driving inbound traffic to your main portal which is your website.

You can blog for free on Blogger. When you’re running your website, you have your business attire on and with your blog you have your blue jeans on—in other words, your blog should be chatty, informal and fun even though the purpose behind it is strategic. You want people to think of you as a valuable resource. Share tips and expertise and make sure you do it frequently, two or three times a week. Visit Free Press ReleasePR and PR Leap, online public relations hubs, which distribute your press releases for you.

Twitter can help build brand, buzz and sales if you’re tweeting links of value (i.e., if you business sells organic foods, you can tweet about studies that support the idea that organic is superior). Create an email campaign with E-newsletters. Myemma.com will develop a template for your brand. And make sure you get listed locally on business.com, yellowpages.com and superpages.com. 

4. Create your own network

People across the country are hosting their own networking events. Start your own and you’ll get instant credibility. Host in a casual place like Panera Bread or Starbucks. It’s a creative way to get face space. You can approach a cool local bar or a restaurant about hosting events with live music and giveaways. 

5. Make a deadline

People love deals, but make sure your promotions have deadlines. Use a 60-day deadline (30-days is too short and 90 days is too long). Make sure you test the language, different headlines and offers. Also test different deadlines because if it’s not a direct-mail piece, you want to encourage people to sign up. You want to foster that tension that they have to act soon in order to get the offer.

*A Bonus Tip

Video! Video! Video! I would highly recommend that people use videos to secure testimonials from their clients or customers. You have the opportunity to mention a little bit about yourself, hyperlink back to anywhere and list key words. Once you upload something on YouTube it creates a code that you can post elsewhere in a newsletters or emails.

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