60 Small Business Advertising Ideas to Consider

Advertising and marketing campaigns help businesses in nearly every location and industry spread the word about their offerings. The marketing strategy of a local business is likely to look different from a company that sells mainly online. Luckily, there are tons of different small business advertising ideas for each company to consider. Read on for a guide.

Table of Contents

Best Traditional Advertising Ideas for Small Businesses

If you’re trying to reach a local audience or one that doesn’t spend all day online, there are still plenty of traditional and local advertising ideas to utilize.

1. Print Ads

small business advertising ideas

Print ads can include photos, text, or editorial partnerships with newspapers, magazines, or print publications.

2. Trade Show or Event Sponsorships

Rent a booth at a trade show or another special event that’s relevant to your industry. Some events also post signage or distribute marketing materials for sponsors.

3. Flyers or Handouts

Small businesses trying to increase foot traffic or market within a specific area may benefit from posting flyers or passing out ads in person.

4. Cold Calling

small business advertising ideas

Cold calling involves placing phone calls to consumers. This is especially common for B2B businesses and those selling high-value products.

5. Business Cards

Purchase business cards and pass them out or display them in areas where interested customers can easily take them.

6. Promotional Products

Purchase promotional products like bags, hats, and mugs with your company’s logo to use as advertising. Offer them as prizes or hand them out at special events to increase brand visibility.

7. Referral Program

small business advertising ideas

Create a referral marketing program to incentivize customers to refer others to your business. This may involve offering discounts, cash, or free products to those who send new customers your way.

Top Ideas for Online Advertising

Both local and online businesses can benefit from online advertising. There are tons of options to help you attract new customers with paid ads and sponsorships.

8. Search Engine Optimization

SEO involves updating your website to make it more visible on search engines. This can include adding relevant keywords, updating useful content, and improving back-end code to improve your site’s accessibility.

9. Google Ads

You can also purchase ads through Google to increase website traffic. When people perform a Google search relevant to your business, your site may appear as a sponsored listing at the top of the page.

10. Online Business Directories

small business advertising ideas

Update your Google business profile and other business directories like Yelp. These platforms are generally free, but you can also pay for sponsored listings.

11. Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads allow you to target customers who have already purchased or engaged with your website in some way.

12. Sponsored ECommerce Listings

On eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, you can purchase sponsored listings to help your products appear high in search results.

13. Sponsored Blog Content

small business advertising ideas

Partner with bloggers relevant to your industry to have them create content around your industry or offering.

14. Podcast Sponsorships

Many popular podcasts also offer audio ads for products and services that may appeal to their listeners.

15. Online Contests or Giveaways

You can also host giveaways or contests on your own site or social media channels, or in partnerships with bloggers or influencers related to your industry.

16. Email Marketing

small business advertising ideas

Email marketing involves sending messages to people who have signed up to receive updates. You can even reach extra customers and raise brand awareness by partnering with other brands or newsletters.

17. Display Ads

Display ads usually include photos and text, and appear at the top or sidebar of popular websites.

18. Native Ads

Native ads are made specifically to match the form of the content on a particular site or app.

Ideas for Advertising Through Social Media Channels

Social media offers even more opportunities for advertising online. Each platform has its own specific ad formats, but here are some of the main categories that businesses should know.

19. Image Ads

small business advertising ideas

Image ads may include an Instagram post or Facebook photo that is pushed out to a specific group based on who you want to target.

20. Video Ads

Video ads are also available on many social media apps and sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

21. Carousel Ads

Carousels are social media ads that include multiple photos or videos that people can scroll through.

22. Sponsored Posts

small business advertising ideas

Sponsored posts usually start as organic social media posts. But you can pay to push them out to extra people. Each platform has its own process and rules for this type of ad.

23. Slideshow Ads

Platforms like Facebook allow advertisers to display slideshow ads that tell a longer story than a simple photo.

24. Collection Ads

Collection ads allow businesses to showcase their offerings in a seamless and immersive way. Followers can easily scroll or swipe through to see various products and purchase or sign up for updates within the platform.

25. Messenger Ads

small business advertising ideas

Messenger apps like Facebook Messenger allow businesses to advertise by sending messages directly to consumers.

26. Interactive Ads

Interactive ads are designed to increase social media engagement by providing something fun and usable within their feed. For example, you may provide a small game or quiz that people can interact with to learn more about your offerings.

27. Influencer Campaigns

Influencer campaigns involve sending sponsored messages out to the followers of a prominent influencer in your industry. Terms vary based on who you work with. And there are several platforms and agencies that connect people with influential social media accounts with relevant brands.

Local Business Advertising Ideas

When creating a local advertising strategy to reach people in your geographic area, these paid and free marketing ideas may help.

28. Local Print Ads

small business advertising ideas

Local print ads may include a small banner or handout in your local newspaper, or a paid feature in a magazine distributed to your community.

29. Local Event Sponsorships

Consider the events in your town that your target audience may attend, from golf outings to parades. Sponsorship may include signage, booth space, or placement in gift bags or favors.

30. Yellow Pages Ads

Many local consumers still use the Yellow Pages to find local businesses related to their needs. Buy prominent placement in the book or online to increase calls or visits.

31. Local Coupon or Deal Books

small business advertising ideas

Many local communities distribute coupon books full of deals from local small businesses. Offer discounts to price-conscious consumers in these formats.

32. Direct Mail

Direct mail is still a popular local advertising option for small business owners who want to target people in a specific community or neighborhood. Send flyers, envelopes, or brochures directly to their addresses.

33. Community Newsletters

Find small newsletters or even church or organizational bulletins to promote your offerings. This is most effective for a local business with some connection to the organization or community, like a small business owner who attends a particular church.

34. Local Sports Sponsorships

small business advertising ideas

If you’re looking for local advertising ideas to reach families in your community, consider sponsoring a youth sports team. This shows your community involvement and philanthropy and displays your company name on jerseys and other marketing materials.

35. Local Cable Ads

Purchase air time on a local cable channel to share video messages within your community.

36. Local Radio Ads

If you prefer audio messages, work with your local radio stations instead.

37. Community Bulletin Boards

small business advertising ideas

Reach prospective customers by posting flyers on bulletin boards around your community. These often provide free local advertising to attract customers looking for specific products or services.

38. Classified Ads

Purchase classified ad space from your local newspaper or on sites like Craigslist. These online and classified newspaper ads generally should promote a specific product or service, or a limited-time offer.

39. Local Website Advertising

There are several websites that specifically target local audiences, like Nextdoor and ioby. There may also be a locally run option in your community. These sites often provide paid and free tools for reaching people in your neighborhood.

40. Chamber of Commerce Advertising

small business advertising ideas

Your local chamber of commerce may offer advertising and marketing ideas to help you reach area customers. These could include event partnerships, coop ads, and help with Google business search ads.

41. Event Partnerships

Event partnerships involve teaming up with other area businesses to put on special promotions to attract customers. Many downtown business organizations facilitate these partnerships to increase foot traffic and spread the word about offerings in their downtown areas.

42. Parade Floats

If your community hosts and large events like holiday parades, you may be able to sponsor or create a float or display to increase brand awareness around town.

43. Local Event Booths

small business advertising ideas

If you sell products directly to consumers, purchase booth space at local fairs or festivals to reach attendees. For example, a small fashion boutique may purchase space to sell clothing at discounted prices. This can increase brand recognition and create a positive customer experience and lead to heightened word-of-mouth marketing.

Marketing Strategy Ideas for Outdoor Advertising

There are also outdoor ad formats that can help you reach people in your community and beyond. Here are some creative marketing ideas that fall into this category.

45. Billboard Ads

Billboards are large outdoor signs designed to grab attention for something that drivers or pedestrians may want or need in the immediate future. These are often most effective for restaurants, convenience stores, or businesses selling impulse purchases. However, they can also increase brand awareness for other products and services around town.

46. Vehicle Ads

Purchase ad space on taxis or other vehicles, or add vehicle wraps to your own fleet to advertise your products and services while performing work around town.

47. Digital Signage

small business advertising ideas

Purchasing space on a digital billboard allows you to quickly get your messages out to consumers and control your advertising in real-time.

48. Yard Signs

Print small signs to put in front of your business or to distribute to existing customers. These are often inexpensive and can spread the word about a special event or promotion.

49. Human Billboards

Hire someone to stand outside your business with a large sign or banner promoting a sale or offering. These can often grab more attention than static signs, especially if you’re in a busy area with lots of other signs and businesses to compete with.

50. Bench or Bus Stop Ads

small business advertising ideas

Purchase signage on a bench or the side of a bus stop to promote your products or services throughout town. These local advertising ideas are often most effective if your target customer uses public transit or if these ads are distributed throughout a busy area with lots of foot traffic.

51. Interactive Storefront Displays

Interactive storefront displays that engage passersby can be a powerful tool for attracting attention. Incorporating touch screens, QR codes, or augmented reality elements in your displays can make your shop more memorable and increase the likelihood of foot traffic.

52. Social Media Stories and Live Streams

Utilize the Stories feature on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, or go live to engage with your audience in real-time. These tools are great for showcasing new products, behind-the-scenes content, or special events, fostering a sense of immediacy and connection with your brand.

53. Location-Based Mobile Advertising

Leverage location-based mobile advertising to reach potential customers when they are near your business. Using geo-targeting technology, you can send targeted ads and promotions to mobile users based on their proximity to your store.

54. Partner with Local Bloggers and Vloggers

Collaborate with popular local bloggers and vloggers who resonate with your target audience. They can create content featuring your products or services, offering an authentic endorsement to their followers.

55. Wi-Fi Marketing

Offer free Wi-Fi in your store and use the login page as an advertising space. You can promote special offers, upcoming events, or encourage customers to sign up for your newsletter as they connect to your network.

56. Virtual Events and Workshops

Host virtual events or workshops relevant to your products or services. This can be a great way to engage with customers who prefer online interaction, offering them value while subtly promoting your brand.

57. Hyperlocal SEO

Optimize your online content for hyperlocal search engine optimization (SEO). Focus on very specific neighborhoods or landmarks near your business. This strategy can help you appear in search results when potential customers are looking for nearby solutions.

58. Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

Employ creative guerrilla marketing tactics that create buzz and surprise elements around your brand. This could include unique installations, flash mobs, or unexpected pop-up events in high-footfall areas.

59. Customer Appreciation Events

Host customer appreciation events either in-store or online. These events can be a powerful way to thank loyal customers and attract new ones, enhancing community engagement and brand loyalty.

60. Use Data Analytics for Targeted Campaigns

Invest in data analytics tools to better understand your customer’s behavior and preferences. Use these insights to create more targeted and effective advertising campaigns that resonate with your audience’s specific needs and interests.

How Do You Advertise for a Small Business?

Creating an effective advertising plan for a small business is essential for success. It requires a keen understanding of your target audience, the best platforms to reach them, and a clear message that resonates with their needs and desires. Below is an expanded guide on how to create an advertising strategy for a small business:

Define Your Target Audience

  • Demographics: Identify the age, gender, income level, education, occupation, etc. of your ideal customer
  • Psychographics: Understand their lifestyle, hobbies, values, and purchasing behaviors.
  • Geographics: Know where they live or where they spend their time.

Identify the Best Platforms

  • Local Events: Sponsorship or booths at community fairs, farmers markets, or local trade shows.
  • Online Directories: Listing on platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, and local directories.
  • Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter based on where your target audience spends the most time.
  • Local Print Media: Newspapers, magazines, or community bulletins.
  • Local Radio and TV Stations: Create catchy jingles or visually engaging commercials.

Craft Your Message

  • Value Proposition: Clearly state what sets your business apart and why customers should choose you.
  • Engaging Content: Use storytelling, testimonials, or before-and-after examples.
  • Clear Call to Action (CTA): Directly tell your audience what you’d like them to do next, whether it’s visiting your website, calling a phone number, or attending an event.

Engage with the Community

  • Host Events: Organize workshops, seminars, or product launches.
  • Collaborations: Partner with complementary local businesses for joint promotions or events.
  • Support Local Causes: Show your dedication to the community by supporting local charities or causes.

Optimize for Digital

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Make sure your business appears in local search results.
  • Paid Ads: Use Google Ads or Facebook Ads targeting local users or those showing interest in your industry.
  • Email Marketing: Send newsletters, promotions, or updates to a list of interested subscribers.

Monitor and Adjust

  • Feedback Loop: Regularly ask for feedback from your customers.
  • Analytics: Use tools to measure the performance of online ads and campaigns.
  • Pivot: Based on feedback and analytics, refine your strategies to ensure optimal reach and engagement.

In conclusion, advertising for a small business goes beyond just putting your name out there. It’s about creating a meaningful connection with your target audience by being present where they are, conveying a compelling message, and continuously refining your strategies to best meet their needs.

1. Define Your Target AudienceUnderstand who your ideal customers are.- Demographics (age, gender)
- Psychographics (lifestyle, values)
- Geographics (location)
2. Identify the Best PlatformsDetermine where your audience spends their time.- Local Events (fairs, trade shows)
- Online Directories (Yelp, Google My Business)
- Social Media (Facebook, Instagram)
3. Craft Your MessageDevelop the core content of your advertisement.- Value Proposition
- Engaging Content (storytelling)
- Call to Action (CTA)
4. Engage with the CommunityBuild a presence within the local community.- Host Events (workshops)
- Collaborations (joint promotions)
- Support Local Causes
5. Optimize for DigitalEnhance online visibility and reach.- SEO
- Paid Ads (Google Ads, Facebook Ads)
- Email Marketing
6. Monitor and AdjustEvaluate and refine your advertising efforts.- Feedback Loop
- Analytics (Google Analytics)
- Pivot strategies

small business advertising ideas

What Is the Cheapest Way to Advertise a Small Business?

The cheapest small business marketing and advertising ideas are those that utilize resources you already have. For example, businesses with a physical space may make signage to post outside or host an event on their storefront. Online marketing and advertising ideas that promote your site on local searches and social media can also be affordable.

What Is the Best Method of Advertising for Small Local Businesses?

The best advertising strategies for attracting local customers often involve search engines. If your business appears at the top of relevant search pages for your product or service categories, more paying customers are likely to contact you.

How Can You Advertise Your Small Business for Free?

You can advertise a small business for free by trading with other businesses or providing something of value to build brand awareness. For example, you could guest post on other industry blogs or publish helpful content on YouTube. You can also get free local advertising by creating business listings on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook.


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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

2 Reactions
  1. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are free to use and can be great tools to promote your business. You can create a business page and share information about your products or services, interact with your followers, and run targeted ads at an affordable cost.

  2. The best part about these ideas is that you do not need to spend a lot of money or hire any expensive resources to get them going. Instead, you can use the skills and knowledge that you already have within your business to help make your small business grow by getting the word out there about your products or services quickly!

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