So last time I blogged about advertising, I talked about my thought process behind paid advertising, but what can one do with little to no advertising budget? Here are some thoughts... and while I tailored them to my business a bit, they really apply to any business.
- VISTAPRINT - If you haven't checked this site out, you need to... NOW! Go ahead... I will wait... I will even play the jeopardy music... ok... You back? Great! As you just saw or already know Vistaprint is a great way to get inexpensive marketing materials. And no, they aren't as fancy as hiring a professional printing company, but this is a blog post on advertising on the cheap. My point is...it gets the job done and doesn't break the bank.
- The Internet - In my opinion, no matter how big or small, new or old your business is, you need a website. It always floors me to see businesses, especially those that do artistic/custom work, not have a website. Again, it doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to be organized, easy to navigate, and contain the important information most customers are looking for.
In addition to having your own website, you can also search for directory-like websites and put your information on them as well. Most will charge for a "featured" listing, but many will allow you to list your business for free. You probably won't get much, if any, business directly from this, but you never know how someone will find you.
- Push your product - For a cake designer, this is easy. Bake some samples and take them to places where the clientele fits the clientele you are after or to locations where you may get referrals. It's not free, but you can always use "leftovers", especially if you are hitting up a business that has only a few employees such as a florist. Word of mouth is still the best advertising one can do.
- Social Media - In this day and age, I think you need to do some sort of social media campaign. Business pages on Facebook are free, Twitter is free, blogging is free... all help you spread the word.
- Networking Groups - Whether the group is specific to your industry, gender, age, etc., there are a ton of networking groups out there. My suggestion is find one or two that you like and fit your personality, and stick with them. Most networking groups allow you to "visit" before you join and some are so casual that you can come and go as you please. But be warned though, every group is run differently and many charge a fee for you to become a member, so make sure get all that info before you commit yourself and some advertising budget to it.
So there are some ideas on how to stretch your advertising budget... surely it isn't an exhaustive list, but it is a list of things that I have tried, used, done, etc. I plan on talking more about networking in a future post, but in the meantime... What types of cost-effective advertising has worked for you?