Marketing September 27, 2013 Last updated November 14th, 2019 2,305 Reads share

Creative and Affordable Ways To Advertise Your Small Business

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As a small business owner, you likely lack the resources required to purchase advertising space in TV, radio or print media. While the price of a 30-second spot on primetime television soars to extreme amounts. If you cannot afford ad space in traditional media, it’s important to find creative ways to advertise your Small business and promote your brand. Learn how.

Hot-Air Balloons

Brand placement on a hot-air balloon, otherwise known as “custom inflatable advertising,” is a memorable way to advertise during the warmer months. Most hot-air balloon companies offer corporate advertising programs that allow you to fly your balloon over the cityscape, or turn it into your very own inflatable billboard.

For a small business, the most affordable option is an 8 to 18 foot tall branded hot-air balloon at a price that ranges from $1,500 to $2,000. If you have some freedom with your budget, you can use custom shaped inflatables to promote the launch of a certain product (like a giant inflatable three-hole punch if you’re in the office supply industry).

If you’re unsure of the value of inflatable advertising, US-based real estate company RE/MAX is a testament to its success – the iconic RE/MAX hot-air balloon became part of their logo.

Examples of hot-air balloon corporate advertising programs:

Sundance Balloons (across Canada)

US Hot Air Balloons (across the United States)

Sponsored Events

Sponsor an event in your community to promote your company and, if done strategically, reach a new market or demographic. For example, if you’d like to extend your current customer base beyond the over 50 crowd, sponsor a youth-oriented concert or party that will help you to gain “cool points” among the 18 to 35-year-olds.

On the other hand, if you want your brand to be taken more seriously by older consumers, explore sponsorship opportunities with local 50+ networking clubs or community centers. If you associate your brand with an organization that is deeply rooted in tradition, you can gain the credibility you need to get your small business off the ground.

Transport Trucks

If you work in a product-driven industry, ground shipping remains the most reliable and cost-effective way of distributing your cargo. The only challenge is that as a small business owner, you likely won’t have the financial means to maintain an in-house fleet of heavy-duty commercial trucks.

However, if you outsource your shipping needs, most private trucking fleets will adopt your company’s colors and branding during the shipment. Each truck becomes a flagship for your company, a moving billboard on city streets and highways. Also, since you’ve already paid for the shipment, the advertising comes at little to no additional cost!

Leading Canada/US freight management companies:

Canada Cartage

Freight Management Inc.

Little League Sports

Community involvement can help to generate grassroots brand awareness, create ambassadors for your company and help to establish your reputation as a civic-minded small business. And one of the best ways to get involved in the community is to attach your brand to a kids’ sports team.

For a nominal sponsorship cost, your brand will be advertised at every one of your team’s little league softball, soccer or peewee hockey games. Ideally, the players’ parents will also appreciate your donation and in turn, become supportive of your company. Organize a few company outings to their games as an added show of support.

Promotional “Swag”

If you’re a small business owner with a handful of employees, making a full catalog of branded apparel can be costly and ineffective. It’s more prudent to manufacture small branded items that you can easily hand out at events or client meetings. Here are a few examples of fun and versatile branded trinkets and their average cost:

  • Refrigerator magnets (Avg. $0.10/magnet)
  • Wristbands (Avg. $0.30/band)
  • Sunglasses (Avg. $1.30/pair)
  • USB Drives (Avg. $4.00/drive)
  • Golf balls (Avg. $2/ball)

In-search or Promoted YouTube ads

With an average of 1 billion unique visitors every month, YouTube is one of the most effective methods of advertising online. YouTube allows you to target your video ad to a search query that matches your service or product (i.e. if you operated sightseeing tours, “travel ideas” would lead to your ad).

Like Google Adwords, you can pay per view of a promoted or in-search YouTube ad. Although YouTube’s audience share is naturally lower than Google, the cost savings make it a viable alternative for small businesses. According to the Search Engine Journal, the average bid for Google Adwords was $2.13 vs. $0.28 for YouTube ads.

Prize Donations

To further your community involvement, keep an eye out for charity runs, galas or silent auctions that require a donation prize from local business. Your donation of a high-quality product or service will help to cement a partnership with the organization and generate word-of-mouth brand awareness in the community.

Untapped Online Markets

Outside of file sharing, social media and search engine websites, there are several niche online markets with untapped advertising potential. Depending on your small business’ core mandate, there are two key digital demographics that are worth exploring:

Senior websites: In 2000, around 605 million people were 60 years or older. By 2050, that number is expected to be closer to 2 billion. In the US alone, seniors control 77% of all wealth. If your small business hasn’t come up with a strategy to advertise to seniors, it’s probably a good idea to start.

Although seniors are more inclined to use traditional media, many of them spend a significant amount of time online. According to Forrester Research, 60% of seniors (aged 65+) use the Internet and of that number, 91% use e-mail, 49%  have Facebook and 59% have purchased products online in the last 3 months. And that demographic is growing fast. So, if seniors are within your target market, buy online ad space on heavily trafficked and easy-to-navigate seniors’ sites like:

  • AARP
  • Senior Planet
  • Seniors for Living
Joyce Kmith

Joyce Kmith

Joyce Smith has over 10 years of work experience in PR and marketing. She’s a part time yoga instructor and full time Leafs fan.

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