Word of mouth is free advertising.
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If you're a small business owner, you may be able to advertise for free and put some of that marketing budget into growing your business or paying for essentials, like inventory. Even in troubled economic times, you must advertise; and cutting a marketing budget rarely helps because it means you attract fewer new customers, according to entrepreneur.com.
You probably cannot forgo your entire marketing budget by using free advertising ideas because traditional media is still the most effective form of reaching people, according to a 2008 study by the ad consulting agency Yankelovich. People who use traditional media, such as television, tend to be more relaxed than digital users and to view traditional media in groups.
Rhonda Adams of USA Today suggests listing your business on Google's Local Business Center. When people search for businesses in your industry, your name will show up on a map of their local area. You do not even need to have a website for this listing. Another strategy, suggested by entrepreneur.com, is to use your expert knowledge to write articles for a trade magazine, journal or newspaper. If an article is published, you can also send copies to clients and customers. A third idea is to set up a referral system that rewards customers or clients for pointing business your way. Give the referrer free merchandise, and always send a thank-you note.
Related Reading: Free Ways to Advertise Your Small Business
Simply setting up a website does not guarantee any leads, and you still need a marketing budget and time to advertise your online presence, according to Business Know-How. Creating a website does open up your business to millions of potential customers, but they likely won't find your web page unless you promote it and won't visit unless you give them a reason. All this will cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Increase the chances your Web address will show up in a search by including relevant keywords in the "< META >" tag in the header of your site's source code, suggests verio.com. Put your web address on all your letterhead and business cards. If you send an email, include a link to your site in the signature. Another way to advertise through the web is to start a blog about your industry and company and let people leave comments. Dozens of websites exist that will host your blog for free.
Entrepreneur.com suggests dedicating at least one to two hours per week to implementing a free advertising idea. The potential of some free ideas is huge. One entrepreneur spent 90 days hitting a golf ball across Mongolia. This publicity stunt set a Guinness World Record and got him on the most popular national TV shows, such as "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "ESPN Cold Pizza."