Published September 4, 2009

4 Affordable Advertising Strategies for Small Businesses

Regardless of your approach, advertising is costly, and small business owners are especially vulnerable when it comes to developing a business advertising strategy. It's a unique double standard because without a business advertising strategy, small businesses won't generate the type of customer traffic necessary to succeed.

The key to an effective ad strategy is balancing the costs with a creative approach. Low-cost advertising options are available; you just have to know where to start looking and how to implement a plan that will generate results. Here are some simple tips to help you strengthen your small business advertising strategy without breaking the bank:

  • Social Networking Advertising

    The most affordable advertising options for small businesses can be free! Today's highly connected customers depend on social networks and blogs to make buying decisions. If you operate a small business with an online presence, consider marketing yourself to popular blogs in your industry. For example, if you sell home décor goods, send a short, friendly email with photos of your products to the largest decorating blogs. Visiting www.alltop.com is a great place to start researching for popular blogs in your industry.

  • Online Yellow Page Advertising

    Don't underestimate the power of the yellow pages. While the yellow pages might seem like an archaic ad strategy, it's important to realize that casual browsers still use them to find resources. The internet has made it exceedingly cheaper to place ads in the yellow pages. Websites like www.yellowpages.com and www.yellowbook.com are excellent resources that make this traditional form of advertising more affordable.

  • (Very) Niche Newspaper Advertising

    While newspapers may seem too traditional, they still remain one of the most effective ways to reach a niche audience. Although you may think twice before taking out an advertisement in the New York Times, consider small-scale publications published by interests groups or college students. If your company's main target audience is local college students, there is no easier way to reach these customers than with the campus newspaper, which typically offers very affordable ad rates.

  • Promotions and Coupons

    A simple and cheap ad strategy is using promotions and coupons to keep customers coming back to your store again and again. This can be done right along with your invoice process or receipt generation to kill two birds with one stone. You can include a separate insert with these items, or print the promotional offer/coupon right on the document. Extend special offers like the following:

    • "Bring in this invoice for a 15% discount on your next purchase."
    • "Redeem this receipt for a complimentary drink with your next lunch purchase."
    • "Collect three receipts and receive $10 off your next purchase over $25."

    Promotions and coupons are simple to create, and they encourage customers to return or tell a friend about your business. This is one special ad strategy that is tried, tested and true - and best of all, very affordable!

Building a business advertising strategy that works for your small business takes trial and error. The key is revisiting and revising strategies often to make adjustments accordingly. An effective ad strategy also grows and changes with trends in the economy, community and industry.

Focus on creating a unique strategy that can be easily adapted at a moment's notice. Small businesses cannot thrive without advertising. This is a critical area of business development that can never have enough attention in your organization.