Cheap Advertising for Start-Ups

Cheap Advertising for Start-Ups

Small start-up businesses don’t usually have the resources to launch huge advertising blitzes in multiple media formats. Unlike the big corporations and well-funded dot-coms, small enterprises do not often have the luxury of buying a full-page spread in a glossy magazine or a spot on prime-time television.

For advertising to be effective in creating brand awareness for your products or services, it needs be done regularly. Given the high cost of advertising, even large companies find it hard to develop successful advertising campaigns, despite their deep pockets and huge marketing budgets. And with the avalanche of ads everywhere (on every imaginable billboard, empty wall of a building, and even cars) it has become increasingly more difficult to attract the attention of consumers. People are simply over run with ads!

If your small business does not have extensive cash allocation earmarked for promotion, you can stretch your marketing dollars by using non-advertising approaches to promotion. They generally require less money to implement and are often more effective. The only catch is that they require time and creativity to develop.

1. Start a Contest
People love contests: it has never failed to attract people to participate and try their luck to win. Just witness the phenomenal success of game shows like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” In business, the often used contest ‘You win if you are the 100th, 1000th or 1,000,000th customer”, that never fails to attract attention. For your contests to generate considerable interest both from the media and the public, you need to infuse it with fun, or even make it silly. Take for example the contest launched by one dot-com: the search for “America’s Ugliest Office.” Contests like these will surely generate considerable media interest – and remember, this is essentially free advertising.

2. Gifts
“Free” is such a powerful word in marketing, and will never fail to attract new buyers. Offer free gifts with your regularly priced items, chances are the customers become much more receptive to your products. People love to receive something for free, even if they have to pay a premium price for a more expensive item to get the freebie. This technique has been used most successfully in the beauty and cosmetics industry, which offers free gifts if you purchase an x amount of merchandise. It is much easier to entice buyers to purchase your computer systems if you bundle it with free printers, for example. Or offer free CDs for every stereo equipment purchased.

3. Giveaways
Giveaways never fail to attract customers for your business. If you know that you have an excellent product or service, and you know that consumers will love it if they just see its effectiveness, then the best way to do it is through giveaways! For consumer service businesses, you may want to offer your product for free estimates if you are in a service-oriented business. Retail businesses may hand out balloons or other novelty items to build traffic or retain customer interest.

4. Sponsor Events
Sponsor a community or civic event, or hosting a special event in your business establishment, such as a celebrity appearance or a charity fundraisers. Not only is this a terrific way to introduce people to your business or maintain contact with existing customers, you can also leverage your sponsorships for community service ads, which are usually free. It also will create an aura of excitement and goodwill. You may even obtain media coverage!

5. Exclusive Offerings
Offering exclusive purchases or previews or new merchandise to existing customers is a great way to inspire a feeling of excitement and loyalty. To enhance participation, you may wish to offer a discount. If the exclusive offering is in itself extremely attractive, the discount can be small.

6. New customer offers
Attracting new customers is one of the most difficult marketing challenges to achieve even with powerful advertising or a dedicated sales force. That’s why different businesses – national greeting card manufacturers to local oil delivery services – offer incentive pricing, freebies, or extra advertising allowances for new customers. Macy’s, for example, gives an extra 10 percent discount to new customers who sign up for their charge card. Even lawyers customarily offer a free first consultation.