Advertising On a Small Budget

How To Promote Your Business On A Dime

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Broke. Getty Images

Advertising can be expensive.

Very Expensive.

A 30-second Super Bowl spot in 2015 cost over $4.2 million. That’s excluding the money it took to actually create the ad itself. Print ads are costly, billboards take a lot of money, and even radio ads can set your back a princely sum.

If you’re a small business, how can you spread the word about what you offer, without spreading your funds so thin that you become a bankruptcy waiting to happen?

Well, there are ways. Here are some of the best that can help you make a splash.

Make a Cheap Video
You don’t need high-end cameras, producers, scriptwriters, lighting, sound equipment, special effects, or anything else that a modern, slick advertisement may come with. All you need, in fact, is a smart phone or other digital camera, a location, and an idea. But, that idea has to be a good one.

In these instances, your best friend is either honesty, humor, or the downright bizarre. In this example, Chuck Testa became an Internet sensation with his poor quality production and silly catchphrase. Yes, it was made by some viral video experts, but it could have been made by any member of the public. The same goes for this classic, using honesty as a virtue. And this one, featuring the world’s most honest politician. You can get noticed. Just make it, upload it, and seed it to the right places on the web, including your own social pages, plus Reddit.com, Digg.com, and other aggregators.

If it’s got a real spark, it can get you millions of viewers.

Do Something Newsworthy
What does your business do? What are you good at? What can you harness that can create a real flurry? Think hard, and then put that plan into action and start calling all the local news stations.

Maybe you own a restaurant, and decide to make the world’s spiciest curry or chili.

Sure, it will take a little money to initially spread the word, but the coverage you’ll get will be more than worth it. And those news clips get seeded on the web, giving the story massive reach. If you own a dry cleaning business, offer to dry clean the suits of the unemployed for free. If you own a coffee shop, maybe you choose to hire semi-naked baristas to serve the coffee (this isn’t my idea…it has been done).

The point is, you need to create a stunt that is unique, and worth talking about. The more newsworthy, the better.

Break a World Record
Following on from the newsworthy stunt is something closely related, but it also comes with the added bonus of being published in one of the world’s most famous books. Find something related to your business; something true to your brand, that you can exploit to break a world record (or, if a record doesn’t currently exist, create one).

There are thousands of opportunities, you just have to get creative with them. If you own a tattoo store, can you break a record for the most tattoos done in 24 hours? If you own a bakery, can you bake the world’s largest cookie, or wedding cake? Perhaps you can even create something nonsensical, like the greatest tug of war ever seen.

The point it, once you have the idea, reach out to the local press. Tell them you need volunteers to help with the record, or would like someone to come down and verify it on camera. You will generate a tone of free publicity.

Spread Your Expertise
With the Internet, blogging, podcasts, and other free online publication tools, it is now very easy, and inexpensive, to spread your thoughts far and wide. If you have a business, you will have invested time and money in getting it off the ground. You will also have a wealth of knowledge that can help other people.

Some say that exposing your secrets, or experiences, for all your competitors to see, is both dangerous and foolhardy. Not so. If you are genuinely good at what you do, you will have nothing to fear from showing the world your way of thinking.

But the number of business leads it can generate is invaluable.

Go Guerrilla
Ambient media, or guerrilla marketing, is a fantastic way to generate awareness of your company. And it can be a very cheap proposition.

Look at creating a small run of posters that you can attached to lampposts and telephone poles. That’s the simplest way. But, there are other options. Create a stencil and spray your message on pavements and walls using spray chalk. It is temporary, and can be washed away with the rain, or water. However, it can last long enough to reach people.

Maybe you can place ads in the bathrooms of the bars and pubs in your area. Sometimes it is better to ask forgiveness than permission, so go ahead and give it a shot, and you can always pull them if the owners don’t like it.

Be bold. Make a splash. Get people talking.