The Frugal Advertiser

For small business owners, there are always so many overhead costs that the advertising budget ends up getting the least amount of attention. But it is important to realize that building up brand awareness through advertising is an ongoing process. It does not have to be costly such as buying spots in newspapers or on radio or TV. There are several ways to create a buzz about your business even on a tight budget.

You need to answer three questions before deciding on the ways to connect with your clients.

What is your message?

Your message needs to provide solutions. Your market research will provide you with the clues to the target clients’ needs. Address it directly. Amidst the cacophony of marketing, businesses that offer solutions get noticed.

How compelling is your message?

Your message should be direct, since a client’s attention can get easily diverted by different marketing campaigns. Keep it simple and compelling.

What is your advertising budget?

Even if you are advertising on a tight budget, you need to find out how much money you have set aside for it. You can prioritize and spend money wisely by targeted advertising.

Below are five tips to advertise your business on a tight budget.

1. Social media marketing. Social media is the buzz word these days. Setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter account does not cost anything. Creating an interesting Facebook page will your clients a reason to ‘like’ it and become fans.

Avoid direct selling on Twitter: this is usually considered spam. Instead, engage and participate. Create interesting content. If your content is powerful, people will listen to you.

Be consistent. Create a calendar for social media posting and adhere to your schedule. Consistency shows your seriousness. You can post to multiple social networks through sites like Hootsuite

2. Blogging. If you like writing, start a blog. Make it your business story. Include links in your blog as it will help search engines increase your blog ranking. If you do not want to start a blog, become a guest blogger in someone else’s blog or participate in different business discussion forums.

Most forums do not allow direct selling. However, they usually allow participants to include their business URL in signature. Do some research and find out where your potential clients hang out. Comment actively in such discussions and leave your web URL in your signature. It will direct substantial web traffic to your business web site.

3. Marketing alliances. Creating marketing alliances is very cost effective. For example, if you are a green business, you can create an advertising alliance with some other like minded businesses. You can put a discount scheme in place for referrals. Pooling resources makes advertising less expensive for small businesses.

Creating a group on Meetup is a good way to meet other people and generate word of mouth publicity. It is a subscription based service (though the fees are quite nominal). Make your group meeting interesting by getting the participants involved, and incorporating their ideas in the group’s growth.

4. Online advertising. Craigslist is absolutely free. You can post in more than one section. Remember to relist your business services on a frequent basis. It will bring up your ad to the top. Etsy is another popular website. Update your postings on a regular basis. Many businesses have also had major successes with Google Ad words. You can set your own price while using Google Ad words.

Furthermore, with the popularity of location based services (such as Four Square  and Yelp),  your clients can be your biggest allies while reviewing your business favorably.

5. Get involved. Getting involved in community events costs nothing except your time. If you have a retail space, offer it to some local non-profit groups for their meetings after business hours. This increases your profile in the surrounding community. Volunteer in fundraising events is an incredibly efficient way to network.

Women’s Enterprise Centre provides further resources on smart marketing techniques.  Click to read Smart Marketing in Changing Times.

The above tools are some of the ways you can create an effective marketing strategy without exhausting your funds.





Alpana Sharma

Alpana Sharma is Communications and Client Services Coordinator for Women’s Enterprise Centre. She is also a great resource for clients who are planning to export or import. Email her your international trade questions at

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