You will find below a selection of free online and offline advertising ideas. These are ideas I have either used myself successfully or seen others have success with. They are not the only ways to advertise your business but they are some of the best free advertising ideas.
1) Facebook. www.facebook.com
Whatever you think about Facebook (FB) it is one of the most powerful advertising tools out there and for the most part its free. At present there are 750 million users and when they join and as they use Facebook they all give you hints as to what they are interested in which means we know exactly what to sell or offer them.
If I were starting my business all over again then my number 1 choice for advertising would be FB. I would be giving this a large part of my attention.
With FB you want to set up an account and then create an interesting profile. This is your profile that everyone will be able to see so make sure you use a decent photo of yourself and fill out the details with quality information rather than silly, jokey stuff.
You want your profile to be as professional as possible but without being boring. You can even put your website address in your profile that will become a link people can click.
When your profile is complete its then a case of interacting with others and creating relationships. You can do this by first finding groups on FB that are similar to your business by using the FB search bar at the top. You can then join these groups and start leaving messages about your business on their FB group wall. You can also make contact with the members of these groups and become friends with them.
What you can also do is leave messages on your own FB wall about your business such as content on your website or perhaps a particular product your promoting (don’t over promote). This will all be seen by any friends you have made on FB such as the ones you found in relevant groups.
As with all social sites its about creating relationships and FB is no different. And even though you may only be connecting with one person at a time on FB they in turn may have thousands of connections and these other connections may have thousands too who will all see your interaction with the original person. Its a viral thing that can spread like wild fire.
2) Twitter. www.twitter.com
Another social site that you can use for free and again like Facebook you can target people who will be interested in what you do. You start following people and in return they follow you. Its a similar procedure to FB as in you create a decent profile and then you start connecting with people. Again its a viral thing where your Tweets (messages) can be seen very quickly by many thousands of people and lots of them can be interested in what your business is about.
3) Linkedin www.linkedin.com
Although Linkedin is primarily a business social site that people use for job searching or networking it can be a very good place to promote your business. At present it has over 150 million users. Now not all business are suitable for Linkedin. You would not go there and promote beauty cosmetics. But if your business is about something that could help people with their careers then you may be in the right place.
Examples of this could be a business involved in self improvement, personal development. Perhaps your website is about public speaking or resume writing. If its along the lines of business people and things they would like then Linkedin is a great place to go.
Again as with FB and Twitter its all about making connections and getting yourself out there. But difference here is that its a much more formal way of connecting. Imagine everyone is wearing a suit rather than on FB where everyone is in jeans and trainers.
You want to make a professional profile that states some of your qualifications and careers to date as well as information about your new business as this is obviously what your there for.
4) Online Classifieds
There are many of these free online classified sites that you can place an ad on and get instant viewings for your business. Yes there are paid ones out there but stick to the free ones if your budget is tight.
The biggest one out there is www.craigslist.org which allows you to place ads in cities all over the world but its not perfect for every type of business and a lot of the larger cities particularly in the USA you will have to pay for.
Another huge classified site www.Gumtree.com
There are many other free classified sites online that you can go to, just Google something like “free online classifieds” or Free UK classifieds” and take your pick.
My advice with this type of advertising is to be very consistent on a daily basis. Its no good placing an ad a week and expecting miracles.
5) Shop Notice Boards.
A lot of large supermarkets/stores will let you place a small ad on there notice boards for free. Go round your local area and find as many as you can. Be aware that your ad does not stay up forever so you will need to place new ones every few weeks.
The type of ads I mean will be postcard sized and you want to make them stand out from all the other ones around it.
6) Email Signature.
This is simply where you put a little message at the bottom of every email you send out.
It will have a quick message about what you do and your website address that people can click on. Just think of all the emails you send out, everyone of them could be promoting for you.
You can set this up so its done automatically for you within your email system such as Hotmail, Gmail etc so that every email you send has this signature at the bottom. Don’t make the signature too long, just a quick message and then your website.
7) Article Writing.
Not for everyone but if your happy to sit down and write some good articles of between 250 and 1000 words then you have a great opportunity to advertise your business for free.
The way it works is by you writing articles relevant to your business and then uploading them to an article directory. The article directory then lists your article on their site which in turn is highly listed in Google. Your website is then seen by people doing a search online.
The advantage of all this is that at the bottom of all your articles there will always be showing whats known as a resource box. This box will contain a little message about you and your business as well as your website address of which people can click on to go to your website.
Article writing is a great way to quickly get your content ranking in Google because your piggy backing off the success of an article directory that is already ranked high with Google.
A good article can be picked up by lots of people who either read it and then click on your website address. Or they can freely copy and past the article via the article directory on to their blog or website and it will still include your resource box with your business link in it for everyone to see. This is great free advertising.
One of the best sites to join and upload your articles to is www.ezinearticles.com but if you Google “article directories” you will find many more you can post articles to for free.
Forums are great places for interacting with people who will be interested in your type of business.
What you can do is find forums that are specifically about the type of market you are in and then join them. Then you can start answering or posting questions as well as interacting with other forum members and at the end of your messages you will have your website address. Now if your interacting genuinely and not just spamming your products then people will be inclined to click on your website link.
This is a bit like the social sites where you create relationships but with forums its more about creating credibility with the way you behave and answer people within the forum its self. And be careful, if people think you have just gone their to promote your business or products you will get black listed fairly fast.
The best way to approach it is by having a real genuine interest in answering people questions and comments, this way they will be more inclined to visit your website and view your products.
Remember as well that a lot of these forums content including your interaction will be picked up by Google for people to see when they are searching for similar information via Google’s search box.
To find suitable forums just use good old Google. EG, if your business is around cooking then look for cooking forums.
9) Q & A sites.
Similar to forums but with the sole intention of answering questions and at the end of your answer you can have a clickable link to your website.
Its fairly straight forward, you simply look for questions you can answer that are to do with your business and you answer them as best you can. If yours is the best answer then you will get recognition for this and you will start building up your credibility.
Again remember to be genuine here and not just spamming your products otherwise your be shut down. Plus a lot of these Q & A sites allow Google to pick up the content and spread it around the internet which means your answers and website address will be out there too.
Two good places to join are,
10) Video Marketing.
Make an informative video about an issue people may have within your particular market with obviously a link to your website that has more content about this issue and a product that helps. You don’t have to be Spielberg here, you don’t even have to be in it, just your voice with some pictures. A simple clean video will do.
11) Contact Marketing.
A good old fashioned conversation or better known as contact marketing. If your comfortable doing this then when your out and about strike up some conversations with strangers, don’t go out deliberately looking for people but the ones you casually encounter during the day. Invariably the talk will come around to what you do and then you can do some self promotion.
This is really a great way to promote your business as it immediately creates a connection with your potential customer that they can still remember when they do visit your website.
My advice here is to have something to give them such as a business card. Yes I know this is about free advertising but you can go to somewhere like www.vistaprint.com and get a few hundred made for less than £20 / $30. Or if not get some details off them and email your details over to them.
Adding comments to websites/blogs that are in your market and similar to your website content is a very quick and very effective way to advertise.
Find websites/blogs that are in your market and leave a comment at the bottom of any articles you see on the site.
Read the article first so that you can leave a genuine comment. When you do this you can leave your business website address for people to click on as well.
People like to read comments and if your comment is on a high ranking website or blog then there is a good chance a lot of people will see it and your website address too.
13) A4 Tear offs.
Now this idea may seem very basic but its one I have used and many others as well to generate income with.
Simply create an advert on your computer in Microsoft Word or some similar program, nothing fancy, just some exciting words about your business or the products or service you offer. Then at the bottom create some vertical sections that have your website address in it. This part is the tear off bit.
Now print your advert off and then use some scissors to cut around the website address part but still leaving a part of it attached to the main piece of paper.
You can then place these ads all over your local area or wherever you like. I put them in bus stops, at cash dispensers, anywhere there is a high volume of traffic. What will happen is anyone who is interested in your advert can simply tear off your website address and check your site out later. Very effective and very free.
14) Back Linking
This method is one of the most important things you can do for your websites search rank with Google which ultimately leads to free advertising.
The idea is to be placing your website address all around the internet on places that are especially similar to your business market. You can leave your address anywhere but its more effective when its relative to what you do.
Now if your doing some of the other methods of advertising I have suggested earlier such as Q & A sites or Forums or Commenting then you will be naturally back linking as you go along.
But I make it a habit of leaving my website address whenever I get the opportunity online. If I have to leave my name somewhere then I will write my website address with it too. Any opportunity and I will leave my website details.
And here is a little tip, you want to be putting, http:// in front of your web address.
EG, my website is, www.nick-squires.com but in this case I would write it, http://www.nick-squires.com
This way you make it a clickable link and easier for Google to notice it. Google can then see that your website is appearing more and more around the internet which starts to tell them that your website is becoming more and more popular.
This gives them more reasons to rank your website higher and show it more times to the people doing a search through Google looking for information about businesses like yours. They in turn visit your website and Google again sees your website is getting more activity so again it ranks it higher. Its an endless circle that gets better and better for you.
15) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
OK strictly speaking this is not a method of advertising but if applied correctly it will bring you lots of traffic and customers and all for free.
SEO is all about configuring your website so that the search engines like Google know what your website is about and in turn they can place it in front of the right type of people doing a search online.
SEO is one of the best things you can do for your business which is why I have devoted a whole article to it titled “Is your website being seen by Google?“ and I strongly recommend you read it and implement the advice especially if your using WordPress.
If you would now like to see some more advertising ideas then take a look at my Paid advetising Ideas article.
Do you want some help with your business?
If your looking for some help with your marketing then why not leave me a message on the Contact Me Page and I will get back to you or if your looking to start an online business and you are not sure of the best way to go about this then why not leave your details on my Coaching Course Page. I will then be in touch to explain all.
Nick Squires-The English Entrepreneur