If you’re running a home-based small business, chances are your advertising budget isn’t just small; it’s probably non-existent. But there are still ways to reach your target audience with news about who you are and what you do.
1. Message Boards
Cost: approximately $0 – $25, depending on method and print quantity
I know an editor who specializes in post-grad academic papers and advertises solely with tear-away flyers on college campus billboards. While college students might not be your target audience, there are other ways to make the most of message board advertising. Try posting flyers at the library or on the community bulletin boards of local grocers and coffee shops. Or, take your message to digital boards like Craigslist. If you’re an active forum participant, you could also mention your business in your signature.
2. Press Releases
Smaller, local media outlets love to share newsworthy information about the small businesses in their area. So if you’ve got something newsworthy to announce — you’re a brand new business, you’re offering a new service, or you’re expanding, for example — send a press release to the local newspaper or radio station. (Before you send that press release, make sure you haven’t committed any of the cardinal sins of press release writing!)
Local reporters often need expert commentary to beef up their articles. When you’re quoted in an article or invited as a guest speaker on a local radio talk show, your name and credentials will be mentioned to establish your expertise on the subject being discussed — that’s free publicity for your home-based business. You can use those press releases mentioned above to reach reporters and producers in advance of the relevant topic. Let them know that you’re an expert source and you’re available for interviews and guest commentary.
4. Business Cards
Cost: $10 and up
Business cards are still a tried and true method for advertising your business. They are relatively inexpensive to make and are versatile little tools. You can hand out a business card at a networking event, after you offer an estimate for services, or to a new acquaintance you want to reconnect with. Functional business cards can also be used as appointment reminders for service-based small businesses or as coupon incentives for new customers.
5. Logo Apparel
Cost: $25 and up
You could be a walking, talking advertisement for your business. If the nature of your work takes you to other homes and businesses, wear a branded Polo shirt. You’ll look more professional out in the field, and the customers you encounter at the convenience store, post office, or office supply store will take notice of your business, too. Virtually anywhere you go, you can advertise your home-based business — the airport, the doctor’s office, an industry conference, or your kid’s soccer game.
Advertising on a budget is possible, but it will require your time and creativity to be effective. What are some creative and inexpensive ways you’ve advertised your small or home-based business?