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10 (sometimes) Free Ways to Advertise Locally

Several years ago, we were on a consulting engagement and received a great piece of advice from the client, "...dominate your local market." We democratize this message to all of our start-ups and new business clients.

In our experience, one common theme is that start-ups must be fiscally conservative because in the early stages, budgets are tight and cash flow is limited.

Below are free local advertising ideas to get seen by new customers.

1. Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile

Your Google Business Profile is a free local advertising tool that can help you attract local customers. In addition to appearing on Google Maps and Search, you can use the Q&A section and post promotions, events, photos, and products to incentivize customers. This strategy provides instant information and encourages action. Make sure to optimize your Google Business profile for local search.

2. Get reviews

Your Google Business Profile allows you to collect reviews, which act as free advertising. Reviews are trusted by consumers, with 93% reading them before making a purchase. By focusing on collecting reviews, you can increase your chances of appearing in searches and let satisfied customers do the advertising for you.

3. Respond to reviews

Responding to reviews is important for increasing customer satisfaction, addressing complaints, building trust, and acting as free advertising. In your responses, highlight positive points made by customers and show that you value their feedback, working to correct any issues mentioned in negative reviews.

4. Claim, verify, and create local business listings

Local business listings are essential for advertising your small business. Make sure your business is present on top listing sites like Google Business, Yelp, and Bing. Consistent and accurate information across these listings not only rewards search engines but also creates a positive customer experience. Additionally, adding compelling information about your business can attract more customers and provide free advertising space online. Use our free business listings grader to update your online presence.

5. Run a customer loyalty program

Customer loyalty programs reward customers and encourage them to keep coming back. Determine incentives, frequency of rewards, and keep track. Simple punch card or stamp systems are popular. These programs promote businesses and reward repeat purchases, making them a cost-effective way to retain customers.

6. Position your business as an expert with branded content

Invest in branded content on local news publications to position your business as an expert, increase awareness, and attract customers over the competition.

7. Try local search advertising

Local PPC positions your business on top search engines for relevant searches, increasing the chances of attracting customers. Target your search campaigns locally using Google Ads' location extensions to drive calls, visits, and learn more about your business.

8. Host an event

Events are a great local advertising idea. They can be anything from a party, demo, festival, workshop, anniversary sale, charity event, or webinar. Spread the word about your event and use bold signage to attract attention. Consider offering promotions, such as free coffee with a purchase or discounts, to entice attendees.

9. Send direct mail

Sending printed advertisements repeatedly to potential customers creates awareness for your business and keeps it top of mind. Incorporate coupons or promotions for even better results. Additionally, social media is a great platform to connect with and win new local customers. Try these social advertising ideas to get started.

10. Run a social media contest

Running a social media contest requires a small budget for a prize, but it can help you grow your following, connect with new customers, and increase awareness of your business. Simply determine a prize, decide how people will enter, and promote the contest through a post. Entrants can like the post, follow you, tag friends, or post a picture tagging your business.

In closing...

Having a local advertising strategy can greatly benefit your business by allowing you to connect with potential customers who are searching for businesses like yours in your area. It's important to consider how your customers are searching for businesses, the platforms they use to engage with companies, and the places they frequent both online and offline. By taking these factors into account, you can develop an effective local advertising plan that will help you reach your target audience.

Get more ideas for how to market your business here.