11 small business advertising ideas for 2022 | Zapier

I’ve spent years working with small restaurants and local businesses to help them grow, and honestly, very few of them needed a large ad budget to drive business. Sure, you could spend thousands on paid ads, hire a top-tier ad agency, and work with influencers to promote your brand. But you don’t have to: There are plenty of free or low-cost advertising options that will drive website traffic and in-person visits.

Technically, advertising refers to paid marketing: think of newspaper or google ads. But other marketing strategies, the ones you don’t have to pay for, can be just as effective. So before you spend 5K on Facebook ads, try these 11 free or low-cost ad ideas for small businesses.

1. claim google ad credits

google ads can help you reach your target audience in search results or on other websites through display ads. And you can be super specific with it: For example, you could target people who live within 10 miles of your store, or people searching for the items you sell.

The problem, of course, is money. Paid ads can cost quite a bit, and while they generally have a solid return on investment (ROI), it’s often too much for a small business to put up front.

One solution: Google offers free advertising credits to new users of Google Ads. Right now, they are offering $500 in free ad credits when you spend $500. Many hosting companies will also offer a few hundred dollars in free Google ad credits. use these credits to test advertising strategies and see if the return on investment makes sense for your business.

tip: Instead of starting your google ad strategy from scratch, see what works for other brands and steal their strategies.

2. claim and optimize your google my business account

google my business (gmb) is a completely free tool that allows you to manage how your business appears in google search results. imagine how much you would have to pay for a google search ad on “indian food” targeted to your local area; you can do it for free by optimizing your gmb account.

There’s a lot you can do with gmb, but here are the basics:

  • fill in all available information including address, name, phone number, business category and website.

    Use key terms that people are likely to search for in your description.

    include images and videos of the interior and exterior of your business.

    professionally respond to customer feedback.

    here are more tips on how to optimize your google my business account.

    3. use micro-audiences to stretch your instagram ad budget

    Yes, spending money on social media ads will help you reach a larger audience, but you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on each campaign. Instagram offers incredibly specific options to help you target micro-audiences.

    here are some ideas for targeting smaller audiences:

    • Custom Audiences – Upload your email list and target only those users. this is great for promoting new products or offering discounts to customers you haven’t seen in a while.

      People who are interested in your big competitors: For example, a cake decorator might target people who like cake boss or milk queen.

      a narrow age range: If your ideal target audience is older or younger, be sure to only target those users.

      A Specific Location: If you’re a local business, target people within a few miles of your store. If you have an online business, consider an ad campaign targeting people in a specific location, so you can still use geo-targeting.

      also use the exclude option, which allows you to exclude specific audiences, interests or locations; and the campaign budget optimization option, which allows robots to make your campaigns more profitable.

      If you target your audience to a very specific niche, you will reduce ad spend and only reach the most relevant users. start with a small budget, say $10 a day, and build from there.

      4. apply for business awards

      even taking out an ad in a newspaper will cost you a few hundred dollars, at least. but chances are good that your city or industry has a “best of” awards program. someone has to win those awards, why not you?

      Search online for “best of [your city]” or “[your industry] awards.” Application is often free or only a few hundred dollars, and it gives your brand exposure both online and in print. in local markets, winners are often invited to demo live on local news stations. That’s a lot of advertising for little money.

      It’s easy to dismiss this if you’re not a local business, but there are awards for every type of business, local or not, from air conditioning contractors to business tech to educational tech. There are also intersectoral awards such as the webbys, which recognize online excellence, and the us search awards, which recognize the best marketing campaigns.

      Use your judgment and don’t apply for all available prizes, or it will start to cost you a lot of money. instead, focus on awards that you think will give your target audience exposure.

      5. organize classes or events

      Hosting classes or events is a great way to get the word out about your business and, depending on how you do it, earn some extra income. here are some examples:

      • A social media management company could host a free webinar on an up-and-coming social media platform, with the goal of educating customers and generating new leads.

        A bakery could host a cookie decorating class and charge a few bucks for kids and parents. When families visit, a display of expertly decorated cakes might encourage them to order a cake for their next event.

        A clothing store might host a paint and drink event, where patrons paint and drink wine with friends, then peruse the store. it’s $25, but if they buy something, the gate fee is used as credit toward the item.

        Start by deciding what your goal is for the class: do you want to increase brand awareness, attract potential customers, or really make a profit? if you’re using it for advertising, I’d suggest keeping the class affordable or free, if possible.

        To increase subscriptions, use established platforms like airbnb experiences or online learning platforms like udemy or skillshare. that way, you have a built-in audience that can discover your brand, product, or services. You can also use the google ads and instagram ads tips above to increase event signups.

        6. offer a groupon deal

        I have a love hate relationship with groupon. I have enjoyed using them to test new businesses myself, and have used it to drive foot traffic for customers. But Groupon also attracts deal seekers who have no intention of coming back to your business. And if you’re not careful with discount amounts, it can end up costing you money. (usually groupon keeps half of your offer, so if you offer yoga classes for $10, groupon keeps $5).

        If you decide to give it a try, here are some tips:

        • set a firm expiration date (120 days is usually good).

          make it for first-time customers only.

          Limit the number of deals to one or two per customer.

          limit the total number of groupon deals. this will vary depending on the size of the business, but setting it to 25-30 coupons total is usually a good start.

          groupon is great for growing business during off-peak periods or building brand awareness; if it’s well established, it may not be worth it.

          7. cast through haro

          haro, which means help a reporter, connects journalists and media outlets with expert sources. those experts may include business owners.

          A few times a day, you’ll receive an email with lists of writers looking for sources. For example, a local reporter might be looking for fun summer camps or information on how small businesses are gearing up for the holiday season. you respond to their submission, and they’ll include your quote or example in their story if it’s a good fit. you can even place a backlink in an online post.

          here are some tips on how to write a good pitch to give you a better chance of getting that free publicity.

          8. send direct mail

          direct mail is alive and kicking. it’s more personal and much more likely to be opened than an email.

          As with most marketing campaigns, direct mailings will be even more effective if you segment your audience. For example, after moving into a new house, I received a package welcoming me to the neighborhood and offering me a discount on new windows and blinds. the ad mentioned my new house, so they were probably tracking public records and targeting new owners. In the age of personalization, hyper-relevant ads like this one can be incredibly effective.

          and it is quite profitable. If you want to send 1,000 postcards through a direct mail platform, you’ll pay about $800, while getting the same number of clicks on a Facebook ad could cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on your industry’s cost per click. . .

          9. associate with another company

          Advertising is expensive, why not split the costs? By partnering with another company, you’ll spend less and increase your reach to a new audience (theirs).

          How you structure the partnership will depend on your business, but start by looking for a business with an overlapping audience that isn’t a competitor. here are some examples:

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