9 Affordable Advertising Ideas for Your Small Business

Woman sitting on couch with laptop in front of her looking at a letter she received in the mail

Are you looking for affordable small business advertising ideas? If not, then you should be – there are always intelligent and cost-effective ways to advertise. But can a small-sized business get its message across in a world that has so much advertising spam and clutter? Big companies seemingly dominate when it comes to messaging. However, there are still numerous free and low-cost methods for promoting a small business. All it takes is some imagination and hustling, and you can achieve fantastic results from affordable small business advertising.

 

9 Affordable Small Business Advertising Ideas

 

 1. Get Covered for Free

There’s nothing cheaper than “free.” Therefore, one of the best ways to advertise your business is through “earned media” – aka “publicity” or “covered in the media.” This method is about getting local media, business bloggers, and news media to do stories about your business. While there isn’t really a straightforward way to make this happen (you can’t just say to them, “please come write about my business!”), you can make it happen using some subtlety and creativity.

It starts with finding a news angle that a key story from your business could fit into. For instance, let’s say that the holidays are coming soon. You could offer to appear as a guest expert who explains how small businesses are preparing for the new holiday shopping season. Another way to get free coverage is to capitalize fully on your business successes. Write up a press release covering one of your latest success stories and send it to your local news reporters or journalists who cover your industry.

 

 2. Direct Mail

Here at Coffee News, we’re big fans of print advertising methods, and direct mail fits nicely here as an affordable advertising method.

According to recent research from the Direct Mail Association, direct mail gets a higher response rate at 4.4 percent than email does at just 0.12 percent. Furthermore, direct mail marketing cost at $51.40 per order/lead is less than that of email at $55.25 and PPC at $52.58.

As you can see, this tried and true method of advertising can still achieve significant results in this digital marketing era. The best part is that it can always be cost-effective. Just consider the fact that these days, most people’s email inboxes are more cluttered than their actual mailboxes outside! Consequently, these people may respond better to a direct mail letter, brochure, or postcard rather than just another email advertisement.

 

 3. Put Your Business Information in Clever Places

Some people can get overwhelmed with the number of business cards they receive and toss them out. So, including your business information outside of a coffee mug, for example, will ensure that your potential customers frequently see your name.

 

 4. Thank-You Cards

Another great and inexpensive way to use print advertising is to send thank-you notes to your favorite clients. It’s well worth spending a bit of money to create some printed postcards or color-filled photo cards that include your photograph, business logo, or other photos from your business. That way, your thank you notes will be personalized and let people know that you are a real person they’re buying from, which will help them connect with you on a human level. This strategy is also great for creating brand loyalty!

 

 5. Customer Loyalty Programs

And speaking of loyalty, there are plenty of sophisticated online tools that offer inexpensive customer loyalty tracking programs to help you reward deserving customers. You may wonder if it’s worth the effort. It’s absolutely worth it, especially considering that existing customers are usually a great source of repeat business that is often more efficient than trying to get brand new customers.

 

 6. Referrals

After you’ve built up a solid relationship with one of your customer’s you can further capitalize on this by getting them to refer/send new customers your way. You can do a referral program in whatever way you’d like. Whether it’s informal and on an as-needed basis, or with exact targeting and scheduling.

Whichever approach you choose, be sure to put enough thought and time into it and be mindful of how you approach your customers. You don’t want to just approach anyone; after all, you’re asking them for personal information – names of their friends, family members, etc.

A referral should be rewarded nicely with an appropriate gift. Consider what a new customer is worth to you, and that will help guide you in picking a suitable reward.

 

Man on laptop with coffee in hand looking at email

 

 7. Email Marketing

Email marketing is another viable digital advertising method that doesn’t cost too much. It’s an excellent way of reaching out to existing customers as well as your fans and followers. There are plenty of great resources online for how to establish an effective email marketing strategy.

 8. Accelerate Your Efforts on Social Media

Social media is undoubtedly one of the most affordable small business advertising methods in existence currently. One reason is that posting on social media is free. While it’s true that there’s a lot of clutter on social media, there’s still plenty of methods that a business can utilize to boost their numbers on social media without needing to spend too much money.

 9. Purchase Facebook Ads

If you want to go with the “paid approach” on social media, you should consider going with Facebook ads. FB has some top-notch methods of targeting – you can focus your ads on a particular group of people (a key demographic, for example) that matches who your ideal target audience is. You could even make your ad only target certain age groups, a specific gender, location, behavior, interest, etc.; the sky’s the limit!

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different affordable small business advertising ideas out there. Therefore, you should never feel like you don’t have enough funds to improve your marketing results. Regardless of the industry that you’re in – ingenuity, hard work, and some hustling can go a long way when promoting your business.

If you’re prepared to spend some money on purchasing ads or investing in direct mail advertising, then this is one of the best times to start. There are MANY advertising opportunities for any size business to scale-up that can fit your needs and budget. 

 

6 Local Business Print Advertising Factors You Need to Know

Man sitting at table with coffee reading the newspaper

Is it better to advertise your business in your local magazine or the newspaper? Find out the answers to these questions by learning about these 6 factors of local business advertising below.

It wasn’t too long ago that running ads in the local newspaper was the status quo of local business advertising. However, with printed newspaper readership on the decline, this type of advertising has begun to seem archaic compared to online marketing strategies. Print advertising still works great for local businesses, however. You just have to be aware of the key factors that are in play.

 1. Relevancy is Crucial

It’s first essential to understand what the secret ingredient is that makes print advertising work. The secret ingredient is ensuring that your ad gets in front of a targeted audience. That will ensure that they’re at least somewhat interested in seeing what you offer.

As anyone who reads a hobby-specific magazine can tell you, it takes longer to read through a magazine involving your favorite hobby than it does to read through a general-interest magazine. That’s because, in hobbyist magazines, people actually read the ads as well.

In contrast, in general-interest magazines, people usually skip through them. Why? Because in general interest magazines, ads aren’t targeted and are therefore irrelevant to most readers. Ads relevant to readers generally show useful items to its readers, i.e., golf clubs for golfers. This piques golfers’ interest because a golfer will want to know what new clubs or other tools are available to help them improve in their hobby.

But relevancy isn’t only about items; it can also be about geography or even content. Relevance can be achieved by showing your ad to a clearly defined group of people in a specific area.

 2. Solid Distribution is Essential

Does your community still have a vibrant local newspaper? Or how about one that’s distributed to a certain area of the city (or only to residents of a small town)?

If so, then you might try to get into the action as well and advertise to those people if that’s the area where most of your current customers are from.

But first, what do we mean by vibrant? This means that the newspaper isn’t just delivered locally but is also eagerly received.

For instance, picture this: in one neighborhood, a local newspaper is distributed to houses in the geographic footprint-free of charge. It’s tossed onto people’s driveways. Many homeowners in the area leave it on their driveway for a couple of days before finally tossing it out – it happens every time.

Now picture another scenario: in another neighborhood across that same town, a different version of that same newspaper (created by the same parent company) is delivered right into their mailboxes. Afterward, they end up in people’s living rooms and kitchens. They end up getting read, and neighbors share what they read with each other.

Now you understand why it pays to know how many people receive print media AND how they end up receiving it.

 3. Content > Ads

First, do your research into whether the publication you’re considering putting ads into actually has active readers. A good indicator is if there’s any actual content in the publication besides ads. Publications that are little more than miniature coupon books have little perceived value among consumers and often get thrown out before even being given a good look. It’s basically the same as when people fast forward past commercials on TV.

In short, if the publication has no content, then we wouldn’t usually recommend you to advertise in it.

 

Senior man sitting on bench outside reading the newspaper

 4. Relevancy + Activities for Readers

Let’s go ahead and take ads to another level. Take Coffee News KC for example. We publish 10 area editions of our paper that are focused on specific neighborhoods in towns and cities across the KC area. The writing focuses on the particular neighborhoods and content relevant to the people in those neighborhoods. In fact, many of the articles are written by people who actually live in those same neighborhoods.

Not only that, but these papers offer readers another carrot: neighborhood-specific activities that they can engage in. Every month, the paper features special events for people in the community to join in, including advertisers. It could be a movie night or a special dinner at a local restaurant. These personal events give print advertising that extra “kick” it needs to work better.

 

 5. Implement a CTA to Help Measure Success

Frequently a local business will put out an ad in the local magazine or newspaper to raise brand awareness. The issue with this approach is there’s no means of finding out if it produced the desired effect. It’s much better to create a specific CTA instead.

What you can do is announce an event on a certain day, require an RSVP (or give a unique discount that expires on a specific date). That way, you’ll be able to measure precisely what response you received from the dollars you spent on the ad.

For instance, a country club that wants to increase its number of winter diners in their restaurant could do the following. They could start by putting out ads at the beginning of fall, advertising a “Harvest Festival Dinner” or “Holiday Brunch.”

It should be made clear in the ad that reservations are required and that only a specific number of reservations can be accepted. However, placing reservations should be simple for everyone  – both phone reservations and online reservations should be taken.

And finally, always include a deadline for your CTAs.

 6. Repetition Matters!

It isn’t just a simple sales tactic being done by these publication companies; it’s a tried and true print advertising factor. Repetition of ads works to get better results. Create a series of advertisements that repeat over time for optimal results with print advertising. They can be similar but remember to change them up every so often. People will still be aware it’s advertising but will give them a look because the ads are slightly different.

Great examples of print media advertising and why they worked

Using print media to advertise your business these days might seem very challenging. After all, a print ad today must compete with memes.

Some think that this task is impossible.

Not us.

We’re here to tell you that, fortunately, there’s a lot that print advertisers can learn from memes.

print-media-advertising

A meme is just the right combination of words and images. There are many layers to both, which you will see in these great examples of using print media to advertise your business:

  1. The beer cooling ad

How many beer drinkers have wished they could speed up the cooling process? Probably like 99.9%.

Well, this ingenious ad lets you wrap the ad itself around the bottle after soaking the ad in water first. You then put the bottle in the freezer.

(the print ad was formed with salt particles which reduces the freezing point of the water.)

  1. A unique ad

This ad was soo good that it won the Mobile Grand Prix at Cannes in 2014.

The ad includes a wristband that you can put on your child as well as a set distance limit that alerts your app when he crosses it.

Unique concept in an ad = a win.

  1. Proof is in the pudding…

This is an engineering and tech university that had the goal of recruiting more students.

Instead of doing the standard billboard of smiling graduates, it demonstrated a “proof is in the pudding” concept and infused their technology into their print billboard.

Their billboard absorbed the water from humidity to create enough water for hundreds of families in Lima, Peru, which gets very little rainfall.

  1. Phone Chameleon?

They worked with Wire to promote their phone’s customization options. By simply pushing a button, they could change the phone’s color.

  1. Car ad comes to life

This creative print ad from Peugot features a page with the interior of a car, followed by a second page.

When you hit the first page, the second page will have the replica of the very same airbag pop up out of the page.

Yes, we aren’t kidding about that.

  1. Having children can be a scary thing…

Safe sex is, of course not a fun topic for children. However, DDB Mozambique managed to pull it off in a humorously terrifying ad. Or terrifyingly humorous? Whichever works.

It features two creepy kids from famous horror stories like The Shining. The product being advertised? Lirandzo condoms.

Genius.

  1. You eat what they eat

This ad strikes at the heart of an issue: throwing plastic into the ocean. When you look at the ad, it speaks for itself.

The ad was created by a German advertising company named Ogilvy for their client, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation organization.

  1. Open for business!

Whether you like McDs or not, their advertising is right on point. In this ad, the M stands boldly in the dark background, sending a clear message that they are open for business at all hours. Also, their blurry ad campaign is effective too, for several different reasons.

  1. EDM and “fresh” sounds

The studio Ethos made a simple concept into something remarkable. Promoting an all-day EDM festival, they used fresh fruits and bright poppy colors in the same print advert together.

The fruits represent “fresh sounds.” The objects in the ad were also thoughtfully created, as they represented real-life objects that were hand-painted bright colors.

  1. A Better Job is Out There Waiting

Made by Joe Public United, this ad campaign focused on an image of a person sitting at a computer at work, while mold and disgusting spiders were crawling all over his body.

A simple concept that gets pushed to extremes for a very big emotional impact.

  1. Lickin’ Chicken

Anyone who has tried KFC knows that it lives up to the marketing as finger-licking good.

KFC has acknowledged this truth in their advertising by illustrating mouths popping up on everyday objects to lick your fingers. Creepy yet hilarious as well. It takes meming to a whole other level. Props to KFC.

  1. Kiss with Pride

Absolut partnered with LGBTQ organizations to create a firestorm of an ad. It features two homosexual couples kissing with the bottle in the middle.

Also, notice the colors around the bottle – those that represent gay pride. That’s one way to get your message across, and it’s bound to get attention. Mission accomplished.

print-ads-newspaper-advertising

  1. Flame Grilled Since 1954

How many of you love Burger King? I certainly do, especially their flame-grilled burgers.

Well, even though we suspected all along that they cooked their burgers in a special way, BKs latest ad campaign brilliantly confirms this fact.

BK has famously had many restaurants burn down thanks to their flame used in cooking their burgers.

You know what they say, never let a good tragedy go to waste… As you can see here.

  1. FCK

For a time in the UK, this was put on their chicken buckets. No, we’re not trolling.

This was due to KFC running out of chicken thanks to a disagreement they had with a distributor.

KFC handled it like a champ though and wrote a decent apology on the ad.

  1. Just Because

The brand Chambord, which likes to encourage women to do as they please without feeling pressured by societal norms, added a random cabbage in their ad. Just because. And that’s it. A lesson that even the most seemingly random ad can create massive success.

newspaper-ad-media

Conclusion

All these print ads required companies to think outside the box. That’s the key to creating an emotionally compelling print ad in the age of abundant memes and digital media.

newspaper-ad-media

Here’s what we saw that worked:

  • It’s worthwhile to partner with outside groups and causes to create a print advert that speaks to your target audience.
  • There’s also a lesson in seizing on past failures to create future successes.
  • Creatively using colors also helps get the messaging across.
  • Using print ads in public apologies works wonders.
  • Popular culture can be used in print ads.
  • Meme-ifying your ads works too.
  • Disgust works surprisingly well in many kinds of ads

What are your takeaways from this list?

How do you think you should start using print media to advertise your business?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Is it Worth it to Advertise Your Small Business in Your Local Newspaper?

Deciding how to spend your small business’s advertising budget can be one of the hardest things to figure out. Ad sellers offer hosts of reasons on why their venues are right for you, but where is your money going? How can you ensure that you are going to get the returns that you need to succeed?

Is it worth it to advertise in your local newspaper?

The answer is: It depends on what you are selling and how you define your “local” newspaper.

It used to be that on Sunday morning, newspapers would head to subscribers’ homes filled with coupons and ads showing potential consumers all the deals for the upcoming week or month.

Changing Consumer Trends

Is it Worth it to Advertise Your Small Business in Your Local Newspaper?

A small business could easily advertise alongside the big box store and get exposure to those consumers who would clip the coupons and look for deals. They would often clip coupons for deals that they may not specifically have been in the market for, but that caught their eye while they were looking at coupons from other businesses. This was a successful partnership that was used by companies for years.

However, now, readership is in a downward trend for print media, and ad sales are declining even more sharply. A decline like this has been attributed to shifts in reader habits — a daily overload of information that is causing many consumers to bypass ads altogether.

Readers have been known to throw local advertisements into the recycling bin without even a glance. This leaves the small business that is trying to gain notice with little to no value in using large market newspapers to advertise in.

Where Does That Leave Your Business?

With the large newspaper market dwindling, small businesses, especially those catering to consumers, have compensated by shifting their ad spend to alternatives.

These alternatives include using

  • daily deal coupons
  • location-aware services like Foursquare
  • hyperlocal newspapers, like Coffee News
  • local news websites

Many have also taken to finding advertising space in online sites where the ads can be cheap and where they have access to a much larger market. However, using an online ad platform like this can make it even harder to determine the effectiveness of your ad money spent.

Positive Returns with Newspaper Advertising

Is it Worth it to Advertise Your Small Business in Your Local Newspaper?

For small businesses, positive returns are found when advertising with hyperlocal newspapers because these papers publish specific news about their community and the local events in that community.

By association, your small business ad can find its way into the hands of the very consumer you need to reach.

Hyperlocal newspapers market and distribute their papers in a different way, which enables them to reach the audience you most need to connect with. As an added plus, the ad rates in those hyperlocal papers run on the cheaper side.

Small community newspapers are growing, while their larger counterparts are struggling to maintain readership.

Another thing to consider is if the hyperlocal paper has a local website, then that may also offer you a viable spot for some online advertising.

Is it worth it?

For many small businesses that sell to consumers, the answer is – Yes. It is as long as you think of your local newspaper as being a local community or suburban newspaper and not a major-metro newspaper.

In your local community paper, the ad rates are lower, and the staff is motivated to place your marketing message with more of a thought to where it would be of most benefit rather than just where they had space to fill.

Taking this into account, your small business advertising dollars can go a long way to helping your business succeed if you use not just the right ad, but if you place that ad in a local community paper where it has the best chance of getting into the hands of the specific consumer you are most wanting to reach.