35 Ways To Get Free Advertising For Your Business
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We all recognize the presence of large businesses and corporations in advertising. Whether it’s through witty TV commercials or logos plastered on city billboards, big companies with big budgets find plenty of ways to dwarf those who want to compete.
If you have a small business, startup, or even a side hustle, you might not have the funds or the cash flow to front thousands of dollars for basic paid advertising, let alone prime time spots on national television. Fortunately, today there are more ways than ever to get free advertising for your business. While large businesses are busy swinging for the fences, you can have a real impact by focusing on free advertising spaces.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 35 of the best ways to advertise your business without having to dig deep into your wallet to make it happen.
Let’s get started!
1. Connect with searching customers through Yelp
Founded in 2004, Yelp is now one of the largest online directories, boasting more than 4.8 million claimed businesses and nearly 200 million reviews to date.
The platform is home to approximately 91 million unique visitors each month, many of whom use the platform to find local businesses across almost two-dozen main categories that range from food and shopping to real estate and hotels.
Even national businesses, such as Honda and Regal Cinemas, attribute increases in traffic, leads, and customers to Yelp Advertising.
Particularly if your business thrives or relies on local customers, you’ll love Yelp’s Nearby feature, which brings searching customers to you. If your business isn’t already using Yelp, know that there are likely customers who are choosing local competitors instead.
2. Promote your business with VOICED Market
Consider partnering with VOICED Market, a platform that helps businesses gain exposure and reach new customers all over the world.
The platform handles the entire advertising process for all its merchants, from listing the product or service to promoting and selling it across not only VOICED Market, but its own network. This gives your business an additional revenue stream with very little effort.
The best part is — there is no upfront cost. All advertising costs are performance-based, meaning the platform only takes a cut when you make a sale!
Furthermore, a percentage of all VOICED Market profits goes towards feeding and educating those who are in need; this allows you to grow your business and have an impact in the community simultaneously.
3. Start using Microsoft Advertising
With Microsoft Advertising, you can market your business across the Yahoo! and Bing search engines with highly specific, targeted ads. Customize an audience, target specific keywords or keyphrases, and set a budget for your ad campaign.
While Bing and Yahoo! are largely believed to operate in Google’s shadow, these search engines still present huge markets where businesses can achieve success in finding new customers; and in many cases, there are even better opportunities on these platforms than on Google. In fact, the average Bing desktop user spends 35% more money online than the average Google user does.
Juliana Dean, the digital marketing manager at Vegas.com, is just one of many people who have experienced this kind of success firsthand. By leaning on the intelligence of the system, as well as the expertise and ideas of the platform’s support team, she was able to increase the return on her business’s ad spend by 27%.
Spending just $25 on Microsoft Advertising today will earn you a $100 credit that can be spent on even more advertising for your business.
4. Start a blog
Starting not just a website but also a blog gives you the opportunity to discuss your products, services, and mission in much greater detail than you would on a conventional landing page. By publishing quality content on a frequent basis, you’ll also establish your business as an authoritative voice in its niche or industry.
For just $3.95 per month, you’ll start with 50GB of SSD storage, a free SSL certificate to make your site secure, a free domain name, and access to outstanding 24/7 customer support. Better yet, you’ll be able to get your website up and running quickly with the assistance of the Bluerock platform.
With more than 2 million unique websites hosted, it’s easy to see why Bluehost is such a popular choice for a web hosting service.
5. Invest in SEO
The process of climbing search engine rankings is a fantastic way to advertise your business organically, but it’s not easy. Google, as well as other popular search engines, have evolving algorithms with factors that impact where a website or blog should rank for a specific keyword or keyphrase.
While some of these ranking factors are unknown, many of them are known. You can supercharge your blog and multiply your traffic by implementing solid search engine optimization (SEO) practices consistently.
SEMRush is a software company that will help you get the most out of your site’s SEO. By using SEMRush, you’ll have access to features such as keyword research, social media tracking, and on-page SEO checking, to name a few. You’ll be able to compare your website and your keyword ranking to that of your competitors. You’ll even have access to SEMRush’s audit tool, which can be used to perform a full assessment of your site, determining strengths and areas that need improvement.
Perhaps most importantly, SEMRush’s robust analytics interface allows you to track almost any metric imaginable — whether it’s a specific keyword, the backlinks that point to your domain, or traffic over a certain period.
With over 4 million users and more than 580 million domains, SEMRush has an excellent track record of helping site owners climb Google’s ranks with solid, proven SEO tactics and strategies. Some of these businesses include globally recognized companies such as Wix, Booking.com, and Air Europa.
6. Claim your business in online directories
Did you know that there are likely places online where your business is listed but you don’t own the listings?
You can easily put this to the test. Start with Google My Business (GMB), for example, which is the largest online directory. Simply run a Google search for your business and check out the results. If you’ve been in business for any significant amount of time, your listing should pop up in the right-hand column and should include all of the essential details about your business.
If you have already claimed this listing, you should be able to sign in (if you’re not signed in already), update your company’s information, and lock it as needed. If you haven’t claimed this listing, you won’t be able to make changes or respond to customer reviews; and over time, this has the potential to have a negative impact on your business’s online reputation.
7. List your business in all directories
If your business isn’t listed in all major online directories, make sure you go through and register your business on as many as possible. The more places where potential customers are able to find you, the better.
Owning a public listing will allow you to control and monitor your business’s information and make sure that only current, accurate details are posted. Better yet — including your business in online directories will have a positive impact on your search engine visibility.
Here are a handful of places where you’ll want to start:
- Google My Business (GMB)
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
8. Write guest posts
Writing guest posts for other high-authority websites and blogs is a great way to not only get your name and your brand in more places online and tap into other audiences, but to also link back to your own website or blog and build your own domain authority.
While guest posting might require you to put some time into creating content for other businesses, this practice will pay dividends down the road. Backlinks are one of the most important search engine ranking factors, and when multiple authoritative websites link to your website, search engines will begin to recognize your site as being authoritative.
If possible, look for guest posting opportunities within your industry or niche. If you worked for a dental office and tried to write a guest post for an entertainment blog, for example, there wouldn’t be many circumstances in which you’d be attracting relevant traffic to your business’s site or blog. Furthermore, linking to your site would appear forced, and search engines would likely penalize you as a result.
9. Answer questions on Quora
Search engines are in the business of problem-solving. Ultimately, they want search engine users to be able to find answers to their problems quickly. Quora pages tend to rank high in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) because they tend to provide very practical answers to common questions.
As a registered Quora user, you too can offer your unique insight by answering relevant questions. Of course, you’ll want to answer questions that are most relevant to your industry or niche. This will allow you to flex your knowledge on these topics and promote your business naturally.
10. Publish content on LinkedIn
One of the reasons why LinkedIn is such an effective platform for advertising is because it’s filled with professionals who are looking to network and build connections within their respective industries.
In fact, roughly 45% of LinkedIn readers hold upper-level management positions at their respective companies. These readers are always in need of resources, services, and partnerships; and if you publish content on LinkedIn frequently, you can position your business as a solution for others and build valuable connections with industry leaders.
Don’t be afraid to put your business out there! After all, it’s plastered all over your bio.
11. Feature on podcasts
Some people are readers. Some people are watchers. Others are listeners.
Podcasts prevent a very unique advantage. Unlike most written content and video content, podcast listeners rarely “skim.” Approximately 91% of podcast consumers typically listen to an entire episode, or most of it.
With these levels of engagement, it’s easy to connect and resonate with an audience. If you want to reach those who like to consume hours of audio content during their weekly work commute, start featuring on podcasts relative to your industry.
Hosts are constantly on the hunt for guests who can offer value to their listeners. So long as you fit the bill, hosts are typically more than happy to have you promote your own products and services in return.
To land your first podcast appearance, make a connection with someone who hosts a popular podcast within your industry, and reach out — through social media, email, or even that person’s website — with a persuasive pitch about the value you can offer his or her target audience by featuring on the podcast.
12. Use your email signature to promote
Including your website and social media links in your email signature is one of the most passive ways to advertise. After spending a little time setting up your signature, your emails will do all of the work for you.
Continue sending emails as usual and, naturally, recipients will begin to notice the content of your signature. As your emails are forwarded and circulated throughout different organizations and groups, your business may also be exposed to a completely new audience.
13. Send out newsletters to subscribers
If you’ve already started a blog or a website that sees a reasonable amount of traffic each month, you can add email sign-up forms to your website or blog.
In building email lists, you’ll be able to start sending newsletters to your subscribers. This will allow you to advertise your paid products and services further without needing to create even more content.
Simply issue a newsletter that keeps readers abreast of new content each week. As long as these newsletters are compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, you can deliver them to your subscribers with confidence.
With an email marketing platform, such as Constant Contact, you can design attractive, highly clickable email campaigns in a matter of minutes.
Constant Contact comes loaded with customizable templates and a tool that even allows you to create your own branded templates. After an email campaign has been created, scheduled, and launched, you can sit back and monitor real-time data, making adjustments as needed.
Constant Contact also provides custom email sign-up forms that you can add right to your website or blog! You can get started with a 60-day free trial!
14. Attend networking events
It’s easy to form connections and relationships online, but there’s a level of empathy that only comes with in-person interactions. Getting out to networking events will not only help you become more familiar with your industry and market but it will also help you make valuable connections that can be leveraged down the road.
Remember, the purpose of such an event is typically to connect businesses with other businesses. You won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary by seeking out like-minded business owners.
Start by joining a few relevant Facebook groups and scouring the platform for local events. Also, consider registering with Meetup or Eventbrite — platforms that allow you to explore both free and paid events in your area and industry.
Finally, ask your clients! What events have they attended in the past? Which events are they looking to attend in the future?
15. Speak at an event
While speaking at events isn’t for everyone, fortune favors the brave. If you’re able to get up and speak in front of a crowd, you’ll have an opportunity to build rapport and credibility among other business owners and peers — particularly if you’re able to share valuable, actionable information or make an impression on people.
Especially when the spotlight is on you, it’s likely that others will be more receptive to what you’re saying — even if it does include a little shameless self-promotion.
However, you’ll quickly find that it’s difficult to secure a guest speaking spot for an event with more than a dozen people without having connections to major players in your area or industry. So, you’ll need to first become familiar with others and the different events that are held. Join Facebook groups, follow Instagram hashtags, and keep a close eye on the different events your competitors and clients might attend.
Additionally, sign up with a service such as SpeakerHub, which connects people with speakers for their events. Be sure to complete your profile in full and list all of your qualifications, so that you’re considered a top candidate in your industry or area.
Another way — and perhaps the easiest way — to secure a guest speaking spot is to host your own event! Plan your event well in advance, get another speaker or two on board, and open your event up to the public to get as many heads through the door as possible for maximum exposure.
16. Hold a product giveaway or contest
Particularly on social media, holding a product giveaway or contest can be a highly effective way of exposing hundreds — even thousands — of cold leads to your business. As long as you’re giving away a really enticing product and creating shareable content, you should be able to generate shares with relative ease.
Employing a few of the following tips will help you get the most out of your campaign:
- Ask participants to follow your social media account(s)
- Ask participants to tag friends in your post (or theirs!)
- Ask participants to share your post
- Ask participants to use your branded hashtag in their posts
- Ask participants to share why they’d like to win
17. Post flyers and brochures
While largely seen as an old-school method of advertising, flyers, and brochures still work today. Just make sure you check your town’s rules for distributing flyers. Some towns have designated areas and bulletin boards for posting flyers, while others have no restrictions whatsoever.
18. Create video content for YouTube
Today, it’s impossible to maximize your online presence without prioritizing visual content. For many reasons, people resonate with video; and creating video content for social media’s largest video platform, YouTube, can help you reach and win those customers.
Whether it makes most sense for you to create vlogs, explainer videos, or tutorials for your business, identify the type of content that will help attract your target market and start creating that content.
Because YouTube is owned by Google, do you know what content ranks extremely high within the massive search engine? That’s right — YouTube content.
Not only does YouTube have the potential to help you generate more site traffic but it also provides ways to earn multiple streams of revenue within the platform itself! In fact, many YouTubers make decent money and top-tier YouTubers are multimillionaires.
19. Spread the word on social media
Social media is perhaps the most impactful vehicle for advertising that exists today. Not only does it offer access to the largest network on planet earth but it also provides a means for you to promote your business, its products, and its services for free.
If your business doesn’t already have pages set up on some of the larger social media platforms, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with potential customers — locally, nationally, and globally. At the very least, create social media pages on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, which boast population reaches of 73%, 69%, and 37%, respectively.
20. Join and engage in relevant Facebook groups
Amidst all of the noise on Facebook, there are smaller, close-knit communities that allow people with similar interests to discuss, collaborate, and advertise for their businesses: Facebook groups.
Chances are that there are already groups you can join and use to interact with others online. Using Facebook’s search bar, enter a few keywords that are most relevant to your niche. Next, click “Groups” on the main toolbar and choose a few groups from the results.
If there’s nothing that catches your eye, you can always create a group! Pick a topic that is relevant to not only your business but also to other businesses or customers. While it may take a while to build a community, you’ll benefit from having complete control over the direction of your new group.
By posting regularly, sharing helpful tips (perhaps even your blog content!), and interacting with others, you’ll establish your business as a recognizable name within that group.
21. Post to photo and video platforms
While there’s plenty of value in blogging and posting about your business on Facebook and Twitter, don’t ignore photo and video platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Not only are these platforms home to more next-generation users but they also allow you to connect with people visually.
You can enhance your presence on video platforms for free by taking a do-it-yourself approach to video production. Using a video maker tool, such as Animoto, you can create professional-looking videos without any editing experience whatsoever.
Pull from dozens of beautiful pre-built storyboard templates and millions of stock assets, stitching them together using Animoto’s simple and user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. With complete control over aspects such as colors, fonts, and music, you’ll be able to create a unique clip that reflects your business’s branding and messaging.
Animoto is free to use, but you can gain access to even better tools and resources with a premium plan.
22. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews
Social proof carries incredible weight in the advertising world, where people are doing everything to paint their own businesses in the best possible light.
What others say about you is important than what you say about you. But when happy customers walk out your doors, what are you doing to make sure they share their positive experiences with other potential customers?
Whenever you gain a satisfied customer, you should ask that person to leave a review on one of your larger review platforms. Not only will this raise your overall ratings on various online directories but it will also give others the social proof they need to choose your business over your competitor!
You can even incentivize reviews by offering coupons or discounts on future purchases. With time, this kind of campaign has the potential to raise your overall reputation online and drown out the few negative reviews you may have received.
23. Ask customers for referrals
Similar to online reviews, referrals keep new customers coming through your doors. However, some people are hesitant to recommend businesses to their friends and family, largely because, let’s face it — it takes work!
With this in mind, consider incentivizing referrals with a customer referral program. For a successful referral, you might award a customer a 20% discount off his or her next purchase, or you might give away a promotional product. You might offer an online store credit or even make a charitable contribution. There is no shortage of ways to incentivize referrals.
As for the terms of your referral program, you have complete control! Just make sure there’s a real incentive in place that will encourage your happy customers to recommend your business.
24. Send cold emails (that aren’t spam!)
Cold emailing can be an effective method of free advertising for your business, but only when done right.
First and foremost, it’s important that you use a cold email sparingly to reach out to a prospective customer. Sending a few dozen cold emails in one sitting will likely get at least one or two of them marked as spam; and if this happens, your emails may start appearing in fewer inboxes. But even more importantly, failing to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 can even result in heavy fines and trouble with the law.
Second, your cold emails should never be ice cold. In other words, don’t grab a name out of a hat and send that person an email. You should know at least something about the person you’re emailing that qualifies him or her as a potential customer or client.
25. Join the conversation on Reddit
Reddit is home to millions upon millions of very specific discussions. You can find information about nearly any subtopic on the platform, including ones relevant to your own business.
There are likely dozens upon dozens of threads where you can connect with potential customers, answer frequently asked questions (FAQs), and ultimately, market your business.
26. Create shareable infographics
If you’re struggling to make an impact with your blog, you might want to try your hand with infographics. The reality is that some people prefer to consume visual content that is easier to digest.
Today, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to create professional infographics for your business. With information about your business in hand, use a tool, such as Canva, to bring your data to life in the form of engaging, shareable infographics.
27. Enter your business for local awards
One of the best ways to build your business and grow in recognition is to achieve local success. So, consider going head-to-head with your competitors for your town’s local awards this year!
First, there’s the exposure that comes with getting your name out in the community and the voting group. But more importantly, coming out on top will position your business as a preferred option in your niche or industry — at least on a local level. Furthermore, a local award is something you can show off to potential customers by mentioning it in your social media bio, on your website, or in other material collateral.
Start at the local level, scouring your town’s website and newspaper for upcoming awards and the guidelines for nominating your business. If you’d like to try your hand at some more difficult awards, you can nominate your business for one of this year’s U.S. Small Business Administration awards.
28. Trade advertising with other businesses
Especially if it makes sense to market to their audience, consider trading advertising space with another business. Whether it’s via your website, social media page, newsletter, or even a brochure, there are likely a number of areas where it’s mutually beneficial for both parties can trade advertising space.
29. Volunteer with nonprofit organizations
Particularly if you’re a local business, there’s real value to be had in getting your face out in the community. At many of these events, you might wear a nametag that also indicates your affiliation. At other events, you might occupy a booth that represents your company.
As a result, people who attend these nonprofit functions and events are more likely to associate your business with the noble causes, charities, and institutions you’re supporting.
30. Create a workshop or webinar
Supplementing your advertising efforts with education is one of the best ways to show potential customers that you’re not only knowledgeable about your niche but that you’re also invested in providing value.
Consider developing a free workshop or webinar that you can use to build trust and rapport between you and your audience. Of course, you can use this event to also advertise your business, products, or services; but you might instead use your workshop or webinar as a means to capture new leads. As long as you’re offering your audience with real value, there is more than one way to go about advertising.
While creating a workshop or webinar might require your time, the process doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, there are dozens upon dozens of places online where you can record and host your webinar for free. Here are a few:
- Google Hangouts
- ezTalks Webinar
31. Take advantage of live video
Live video has taken the social media world by storm in recent years. In fact, Livestream reports that 80% of people would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog.
If you’ve already spent time developing your brand’s social media presence and building a loyal following, you can use Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as other platforms that feature live video functions, to interact with your followers in real-time.
If you’re not good at creating catchy content on the spot, you might need to come up with a detailed game plan for your live video. There are a handful of ways in which you can use live video to interact with your online audience:
- Host a live Q&A
- Create a live webinar
- Rattle off important announcements
- Give your audience an office tour
- Provide an exclusive look at something you’re working on
- Just say “hello”!
32. List your business in local newspapers
Although not nearly as effective as it once was, newspaper advertising can still be used to attract local customers. While most newspaper ads cost money and getting a free ad in the New York Times is a near impossibility, you may be able to get free advertising by appealing to your local paper. Here are a few tips that will help your case:
- Market an event or giveaway, rather than a product or service
- Choose an item or event that has a low price tag (or none at all)
- Keep your ad short (less is more when trying to get ad space)
33. Leverage business relationships
If you’ve already spent time connecting with other executives on LinkedIn, through Facebook groups, and at local events, it’s likely that you have developed at least a few relationships that you can leverage for your business’s benefit.
Keep in mind, however, that most businesses want to receive something beneficial in return; so you’ll need to make sure you have something to offer before calling on others for advertising help.
34. Partner with micro-influencers
There are some places you can’t reach and there are some people who might simply not be moved by your message or your brand. However, in the hands of someone with influence, your business, products, and services can become more enticing.
Influencer marketing has taken the marketing and advertising world by storm in recent years, and it forecasts as one of the most effective marketing methods going forward. 89% of marketers say that the return on investment from influencer marketing compares to or exceeds that of other channels.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to partner with macro-influencers without some form of compensation (unless they really love your business), it’s much easier to partner with micro-influencers. Sometimes all it takes is a complimentary product or service to get them on board with your brand.
Instagram remains the most popular platform for influencer marketing. Start there and look for fans first, as these are the people most likely to deliver a passionate, persuasive campaign for your brand.
35. Hand out business cards whenever possible
One of the simplest ways to advertise is to hand out business cards as often as possible. In fact, you don’t always need to hand your business cards out personally. You can just as easily ask local businesses whether you can leave stacks of business cards, or you can even leave business cards lying around town. Simply having more eyes on your brand can result in more customers for your business.
Don’t have a business card? Does your current business card look old and outdated? Customize an existing business card template or create one from scratch on Canva!
Now, Let’s Get Your Business Out There!
Free advertising can be equally as impactful as paid advertising; and now, with the 35 unique methods we’ve covered, you have no shortage of options that can be put to the test. Choose the advertising spaces where you foresee your business being most successful and start spreading the word!