ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Business and Employment»
  • Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

5 Low Cost or No Cost Advertising Ideas

Updated on December 26, 2011
Customers are everywhere, when you look for them.
Customers are everywhere, when you look for them. | Source

Marketing is what you make of it

Not all types of advertising or marketing work for all businesses. Rarely will the person trying to sell you advertising point out that you will have a low or negligible return on investment. That's why many businesses of all sizes look outside of traditional avenues to get the word out. These are not the only ideas in the world; please feel free to share what's worked for you in the comments!

1. Market to your present customers. I've found no better return on investment that inviting my current customers back for another visit. While there are a variety of ways to stay in touch, the first step is collecting their contact information. Do it in a polite fashion and don't harass them if they don't want to give it to you.

Remember, spam is spam; high-frequency email offers don't make you any friends. Yes, they know you...as that guy who emails them every day. They hate it. A monthly offer is probably the best with the occasional email about super deals.

Junk mail is often thrown away with no attention paid to it whatsoever. There are two ways around this problem. First, postcards are great. They're a billboard for your pocket. One offer, a few words, and a simple graphic and the point is across. Plus, they're cheap to mail! Second, if you're doing a small mailing, hand-addressing the envelopes and putting a return address with no name will mean that your envelope will at least be opened.

2. Market to your neighbors. Most of your traffic is local. When I first opened my arcade, I printed flyers and hand delivered them to my closest neighbors (since it was a commercial street, I introduced myself to the managers). I then mailed post-cards to the rest of the street. It was amazing the number of people who would stop in and later come back with their kids. Some of my best customers worked up and down the street. They were the ones that I saw come in month after month for years. I wouldn't have picked salesmen at a used car lot as my potential customers, but they were some of my most reliable. You don't know who your next customer will be, but they'll probably live or work within a mile of your business.

3. Business Expos. My father ended up owning a cement business that made birdbaths, benches, paving stones, and such. Both of us thought that the majority of molds he had made tacky garbage we'd never use, let alone put in our yards. It was not a business either of us would have gone out of our way to own, so marketing the products we thought were gauche was rather daunting. However, the local garden club had a yearly "Garden Expo" in the spring. Dad arranged for a spot, took a picture book of what he made, and increased his sales exponentially. While not everyone wants a tacky garden gnome, most do need a pathway or a tree ring, or something simple at some point. You have to be in front of the right group.

4. Cooperative advertising. There are various ways this works. Ask your suppliers if any of the products you handle have cooperative advertising programs. Many large corporations have all types of ads prepared and ready to run and money to give you, if you'll only ask. In the tire business the split was generally 80/20 based on the amount of product you purchased. In other words, if your wholesale purchases were high enough, of every $1000 in advertising, you only paid $200. Granted, you generally pay up-front and get reimbursed on your account, but money is money.

Another common cooperative advertising strategy is advertising cross-branding. For years local phone books would pick up part of your advertising cost if you would include their logo and a mention that your ad can be found in their publication. You can build cross promotion ventures, too. If the local manager of a burger joint wants to include a $5 off coupon for your product with a value meal if you give your customers a coupon to his restaurant, it's a win-win.

5. Trade or barter. Media outlets love to give stuff away. You've got stuff. When your ad rep is trying to sell you the next giant package, ask about trade. One of my most successful trades of this kind was bunches of tokens to a Hispanic radio station. While the audience of the station tended not to be the kids, it was definitely their parents and grandparents. One of the DJs had a cross-over Hip Hop show on Saturday nights that drew a different crowd. Plus, every DJ and anyone else who worked there would get part of the tokens and bring their kids in. There's no telling how much free advertising I got from the DJs talking about taking their kids out to play at my arcade over the years, let alone the actual ads and residual interest from the give-aways.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DougBerry profile image
      Author

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      But the key to most advertising being successful is a call to action. Cards just say, basically, here I am. My cards contents are dictated by our corporate offices and have too much info on them. They cards should be like a billboard, short and sweet.

    • KevinTimothy profile image

      Kevin J Timothy 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Co-ops are totally awesome, but business cards are also a great way to advertise.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 6 years ago from California

      There is some great advice on how to advertise here. I am currently working on several internet businesses - I may use a few of these techniques and adjust some more of them to be more internet friendly.

      Thanks for writing!

    • DougBerry profile image
      Author

      DougBerry 6 years ago from Abilene, TX

      http://hubpages.com/@alocsin has been one of my best tutors. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a very careful use of Reddit is what I've done. Plus emailing friends and family when I have something I think they might like.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 6 years ago from Northern California

      I need to find more traffic to my hub pages. You sound like you know what you are doing here.

    • DougBerry profile image
      Author

      DougBerry 6 years ago from Abilene, TX

      Yes, an excellent idea.

    • profile image

      Kristiansen 6 years ago from Carbondale, IL

      I would add one more suggestion to the cooperative advertising point. There are often distributors for products in communities surrounding your own, or other franchise owners who are willing to go 50/50 with you on advertising. Pull your funds to increase visibility for the two businesses. This is a call you will have to initiate personally, but a great way to extend the reach and frequency of your message.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)