Creating a low-budget advertising campaign

By Kathleen Aoki

For small business owners, finding effective strategies to promote their businesses while saving money is a win-win. Fortunately, in today's business environment, there are more opportunities than ever to get the word out cheaply and effectively.

Some of these strategies involve the use of social media, along with other free and low-cost services and opportunities.

Good old social media

The key to using social media to promote your business is to come up with interesting and interactive ways to get your followers involved and spread the word on your behalf. Here are some ideas for using social media to promote your business:

1. Run a contest

The four basic types include essay, photo, video and sweepstakes. The first three can be used to generate page content, whereas sweepstakes are easy and allow you to mine valuable information. To run a contest effectively:

  • Select a third-party app to implement your contest. Find the best one for your needs and make sure it is mobile-compatible.
  • Pick a valuable prize that represents your business. Even better, ask your customers what they'd like to win.
  • Promote your contest via email, paid ads and on other social networks.
  • Make your contest sharable.

2. Use different channels

While Facebook continues to be the most popular channel for small businesses, don't forget about:

  • LinkedIn: Great for B2B promotion.
  • YouTube: Create a following by creating your own channel.
  • Pinterest: Rapidly gaining popularity as a place to visually promote your business.
  • Digg: A good way to promote your blog.

3. Post great content

Don't bore your followers with ho-hum posts. Send them something useful, inspirational and unique. For example: recipes and tips; coupons; beautiful and/or amazing photos and uplifting quotes. Dare to be different!

Free PR services

Publicity still continues to be one of the best ways to get the word out at little or no cost. These days you don't even need a PR manager, with many free online PR services such as Sourcebottle enabling you to find PR opportunities quickly and easily. Click here for a list of 20 more to get you started.

Don't forget online directories

With the majority of consumers searching for businesses online (goodbye Yellow Pages) and on mobile devices, be sure your company is listed on as many local directories as possible. Most of them are free or low-cost, making this one a no-brainer.

Blog writers are looking for you

Blog writers are always looking for fresh and interesting content for their sites. Simply target ones in your industry and send them an email introducing yourself and what you can offer, and throw in a coupon for good measure.

For the brave entrepreneur

If you're not afraid of an audience, clubs and professional organisations are always looking for new speakers for their meetings. It costs nothing except your time and is perfect for networking and word-of-mouth promotion.

Use free labour to your benefit

And last but not least, hiring up-and-coming marketing and social media interns is a great way to help the younger generation out while they help you out. It's no secret that 20-somethings have their finger on the pulse of social media and can probably even teach you a thing or two.

Hopefully these ideas will get you inspired and started on the road to your own low-cost and highly successful marketing campaign in 2013.


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