Whether your business is new or well-established, large or small, you need advertising.
But that doesn’t mean you need a Super Bowl-sized budget to get the word out. There are plenty of free advertising ideas that work for companies of all sizes and are especially useful if you’restarting a new business.
Just look at brands like Rolls-Royce, Kiehls, or Huy Fong Foods (the makers of Sriracha) — all brands thatdon’t bother with paid advertising. Instead, they use free tactics like social media and word-of-mouth campaigns to raise brand awareness
And you can too.
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The best free ad ideas
To get you started, we rounded up 40 of the best free advertising ideas for businesses — many of which you should be taking advantage of even if you do have a big advertising budget.
1. Claim any existing profiles or listings
There are hundreds of online directories, lists, and review sites out there. Make sure you’ve claimed your business’s listing on sites like Yelp and ensure that any information is up to date.
2. Find other opportunities to get listed
Look for opportunities to list your business on any directories or review sites that you’re not already using. There may be business directories related to your industry or niche, and neighborhood, city, and state listings for local businesses with physical locations.
3. Google your business
Make sure yourGoogle business listingis up to date. This is likely the first thing someone will see when they search for your business, so make sure your profile is fully completed and optimized. Upload some photos (or better yet, videos!) and don’t forget to add your operating hours and contact information.
If you have a local business with a physical bricks-and-mortar location, this is especially important, since it helps ensure your business appears on Google Maps.
4. Join the conversation
Look for discussions and forums related to your business or industry — your customers may even already be discussing your business online!
Remember that you don’t want to just push in with a link and an obvious advertisement. Instead, try to add value by answering questions, sharing your expertise, or, in cases where a customer is unhappy, making a good faith effort to help. Forum threads tend to remain searchable for years, so a single post can generatepassive incomefor a long time.
5. Comment on blogs and articles
Likewise, look for blog posts and articles by thought leaders or businesses that are related to yours, but not direct competitors.Leave thoughtful comments(avoid appearing spammy!) sharing your perspective on the topic.
6. Start blogging
If you’re notalready blogging, you should be! Sharing relevant content consistently has a significant impact on where your website appears in search results. The higher up the page you are, the more likely customers are to find you.
Blogging is a tried and true ad idea that helps customers find you through organic search.
7. Host and/or participate in Twitter chats
Twitter chats are an easy way get your name out there. If you don’t have the bandwidth to host your own, there are plenty of opportunities to share your perspective in existing chats. Find chats related to your industry in this list fromTweetReports.
8. Start an email newsletter
Emailis one of the best advertising tools available. Here’s why: the people on your email list have opted in to receiving advertisements and other messaging from you. They’ve handed over something of value (theiremail address) in exchange for offers or information from you. Make sure to use it wisely!
9. Speak at an event
Look for opportunities to share your expertise by speaking at a conference or event or participating on a panel. By choosing an event that’s closely aligned with your business or industry, you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader and getting in front of an audience that’s (hopefully) a good fit for your business or product.
Position yourself (and your business) as a thought leader through speaking engagements.
10. Meet the press
You don’t need an expensivePR firmto write and submit press releases to your local or industry news. Write up press releases for your big announcements and use a free submission service to get the word out —check out this listfor free distribution services to try.
11. Post on Reddit
There aresubredditsfor every topic under the sun. The key to posting on Reddit as a business is to avoid being salesy and to be transparent about the fact that you’re representing a business. Make an effort to participate in the community and be genuine and helpful.
12. Offer to guest blog
Look for opportunities to contribute a guest post on sites or blogs related to your industry. This tactic can help drive traffic to your website and build your name as a thought leader in your niche. Check outKissmetric’s guidefor tips on getting started.
13. Repurpose your content
Repurposing existing content is a great way to get more mileage out of content you already have — for free. Whether it’s polishing up an outdated blog post, turning an existing Ebook into an email course, or transforming a listicle into an engaging video, repurposing gives you more opportunities for exposure to whole new audiences.
14. Ask for referrals
Asking your best customers for referrals is a free, easy way to get word of mouth advertising. A recommendation from a friend is considered themost credible formof advertising. But many people won’t think to refer a friend to your business themselves, which is why it’s so important to make the ask.
Word of mouth is probably the oldest ad idea out there — for good reason.
15. Create infographics
Infographics are a way to turn not-so visually appealing data into engaging, highly shareable content. And thanks to visual social media networks like Pinterest, infographics have a way of spreading far and wide.
Pro tip:Turn your infographic into an eye-catching video, perfect for social media. Get started with aninfographic video template.
16. Reward your customers
Piggybacking off our last tip, consider ways to reward your loyal customers, especially for referrals or positive reviews. Sending some free swag, free product, or offering a small discount are all great ways to incentivize customers and build goodwill. If your customers share their good experience on social media, even better!
17. Create a website
Hopefully you’ve already done this, but if not, it’s time! Tools like Wix, Weebly, and WordPress allow anyone tocreate a website, no development skills needed. And there are aton of tutorials for WordPressand other website creators that make it incredibly easy to get started.
Whichever website-building tool you use, having a website goes a long way towards helping customers find you on search engines like Google.
18. Keep your website updated
Once you’ve got a website, don’t just let it gather cobwebs. Updating it regularly with fresh content is important for ranking high in Google’s search results. Make sure your site is up-to-date and mobile-optimized. These days, if your website doesn’t work or doesn’t look good on mobile, many users will click away immediately.
19. Optimize for SEO
Using a free SEO tool likeYoastand conducting some basickeyword researchgoes a long way towards boosting your ranking in search results. Remember, the days of the Yellow Pages are long gone. Now people turn to Google to find a business, so it’s important to do all you can to help them find you.
20. Enter your business for awards
Look for awards offered by your local business or trade publications, Chamber of Commerce, and professional or nonprofit organizations. There are plenty of awards out there, but the truth is, getting nominated doesn’t come as a surprise — you’ve got to enter!
Giving back to local nonprofits not only helps you build goodwill and valuable connections in your community, it can help to build awareness about your business too. You can do a service project with your team, or serve in a leadership capacity, for example, by serving on a board of directors.
22. Ask for reviews
Reviews are hugely important, but did you know that people arefar more likely to share bad customer experiencesthan good ones? Even happy customers just aren’t all that likely to head to Yelp or Google and share their goodwill.
That’s why it’s so important to ask your best customers to share their good experiences with your brand.
23. Hold a workshop or webinar
Getting people in the door (in person or virtually) can go a long way towards building brand awareness. By providing a useful educational session that helps your ideal customer solve their problems, you’re building trust and connection, and ensuring they think of you next time they’re looking for a product or service like yours.
Build trust by creating a workshop or webinar that helps your ideal customer solve a problem.
24. Hold a contest or giveaway
You don’t have to spend a fortune on prizes for an effective contest or giveaway — in fact, you shouldn’t! Contests are most effective when the prize is closely related to your business For example: free product. Sure, you might get 1,000 entries if you give away an iPad, but are those people actually interested in what you do? Probably not.
25. Answer questions on Quora
When the internet has a question, Quora is often where it turns. Lots of businesses have found great success posting answers to questions on Quora, and doing so can build subject matter authority, add backlinks to your website, and drive traffic.
As always, strive to be helpful, not promotional — don’t just post a link to your blog and call it a day. Instead, look for questions related to your industry, especially if you’ve already got a blog post or video on a related topic. Then summarize the answer, and include a link to where people can learn more (if they like).
26. Make guest appearances on podcasts — or host your own!
Podcasts are an excellent way to reach a new audience. Lots of people don’t have time or don’t want to read written articles, but like tolisten to podcasts.
Reach out to the hosts of a few relevant podcasts and offer to be a guest. Even if you have your ownpodcast, appearing as a guest on others’ helps to expand your reach.
Podcasts are everywhere. Get in on the action by appearing as a guest.
27. Attend networking events
For businesses of all sizes and industries, networking in person is one of the absolute best ways to build connections with potential customers or business partners. As powerful as paid ads can be, face-to-face connection and word-of-mouth remains one of the absolute best forms of advertising.
28. Form partnerships with other businesses
Say you’re a photographer — you probably have customers who also want to get their hair and makeup done. And if you’re a hair and makeup stylist, you most likely work with people preparing for special events like weddings, who might be looking for a photographer.
Forming relationships in which you work together and refer customers to one another is one incredibly valuable way to get free word of mouth advertising.
29. Develop your social media presence
Yes, it’s harder than ever to make an impact organically (read: for free) on social media. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Social media networks remain one of the most common places for people to learn about businesses.
In fact,25% of Millennial consumersstart with social media — not a Google search or visiting the company website — when researching a business. Make sure you have anactive presenceand fully completed profiles on whatever social media channels you opt to use.
30. Collaborate with another business or a nonprofit
Partnerships don’t have to be limited to referring customers to one another. Could you collaborate with another business or a nonprofit on a limited edition product? Or work together to host an event or contest? These tactics can help you reach a brand new audience since you and your partner will both be spreading the word on your marketing channels.
31. Participate in local events
You don’t need to have a large sponsorship budget to participate in local events. Have your team volunteer as event staff, or donate event space, refreshments, your product as auction prizes, or a service related to your industry (for example, an audio company could provide sound.)
You don’t need a large ad budget to participate in local events.
32. Make the most of your email signature
Is there a link to your website in your email signature? What about links to your social media channels? Your email signature is valuable, but often overlooked! You can even include a blurb about a current promotion or offer in this space.
33. Send cold emails
While many people are wary ofsending cold emailsfor fear of appearing spammy, when done well they can work — and they don’t cost a cent.
What’s important is to personalize your message, add a link to allow prospects to easilybook a callwith you, and keep itshort, actionable and valuable.
34. Open up your office
Offering your space for a meetup or other event is an outstanding way to build awareness about your brand. Partner with another business to provide refreshments and you won’t have to spend a dime!
35. Create brochures, flyers, or postcards
Sure, there’s nothing groundbreaking about offlineadvertising like fliers. But the fact is, they do still work. For the cost of some paper and toner, you can whip up flyers and brochures to leave in coffee shops or other locations where your target customer spends time.
36. Publish content on LinkedIn
LinkedInisn’t just for networking and keeping tabs on old coworkers. It’s actually quite a powerful publishing platform too. With a few simple tweaks to optimize your existing content for theLinkedIn algorithm, you can potentially gain exposure to a massive new audience.
37. Wear company-branded stuff — and give some away!
While not exactly free, you probably already havecompany t-shirtsor other company-branded gear. Make sure you and your team wear them when attending events. You can even share them with your customers as thank you gifts or contest prizes.
38. Leave reviews or give testimonials
If you work with suppliers or vendors, consider leaving positive reviews online or offering to share a testimonial about your experience. You’ll build goodwill with your partners, and get your name out there too.
39. Try paid advertising — for free
Last but not least, companies like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Amazon, and some hosting companies all offer promotional credits to try paid advertising.Facebookalso offers periodic advertising coupons, though you can’t directly sign up to receive them.
Check out this guideto learn how to take advantage of promotional ad credits.
The bottom line
Paid advertising has its place, and there’s certainly the chance for widespread exposure. But it’s not without its drawbacks — including the fact that it tends to bereally expensive. It’s definitely worth checking out all the free options out there before you go for a big spend.
Alternatively, you may consider hiring amarketing mentorto guide you through building and deploying strategic PPC campaigns.
Whether you plan to use exclusively free tactics, or want to supplement your paid efforts, we hope these ideas help.
How can I advertise something for free? ›
- Craigslist. Craigslist is a classified advertising website that allows people to list products and services for free. ...
- ClassifiedAds.com. ClassifiedAds.com is another website entrepreneurs can use to advertise their products and services for free. ...
- Locanto. ...
- 4. Facebook. ...
- Oodle. ...
- Yelp. ...
- OLX. ...
- Google Business Profile.
- Use Instagram's free stickers. ...
- Get free ads on Facebook. ...
- Advertise for free on Yelp. ...
- Take advantage of Google Ad credits. ...
- Use Hootsuite for free. ...
- Set up a free landing page with Mailchimp. ...
- Take advantage of delivery through Shopify. ...
- Launch a free GoFundMe.
- Media relations. Also known as PR, media relations is simply getting articles about you and your business in publications and their online websites. ...
- Social media. ...
- Digital advertising. ...
- Press advertising. ...
- Direct mail.
Word-of-mouth advertising is considered the most effective form. It has the desired qualities of strong credibility, high audience attention levels, and friendly audience reception.What is the best free advertising? ›
- Google Business Profile.
However, some cheap advertising methods that can be effective include online advertising (such as through social media platforms), print advertising (such as in newspapers or flyers), and word-of-mouth marketing.Where can I advertise myself for free? ›
- Facebook Marketplace.
- Classifed Ads.
Some of the most common advertising techniques include emotional appeal, bandwagon pressuring (AKA bandwagon advertising), endorsements and social proof as well as weasel words.What are 3 ways to advertise a product? ›
- display advertising.
- paid search advertising.
- social media advertising.
- Purchased Online Ads. ...
- Social Media Marketing. ...
- Traditional Newspaper Ads. ...
- Targeted Radio Advertising. ...
- Local or National Television Advertising. ...
- Public Speaking Events.
How do you attract customers? ›
- Ask for referrals. ...
- Network. ...
- Offer discounts and incentives for new customers only. ...
- Re-contact old customers. ...
- Improve your website. ...
- Partner with complementary businesses. ...
- Promote your expertise. ...
- Use online reviews to your advantage.
Display advertising is the most simple form of digital advertising and usually combines images and text. These display ads typically show up as banners, pop-ups or flash ads on a website. The main difference between display advertising and other forms of advertising is that these adverts don't appear in search engines.What is the number one way to advertise? ›
Word of mouth is one of, perhaps the most, powerful way of promoting your business to the right people. Testimonials on your own website are great, but reviews on official platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are even better.What is the most impressive advertisement? ›
- Apple – “1984” (1984) ...
- Tootsie Pop – “How Many Licks?” (1968) ...
- Coca-Cola – “Meet Joe Greene” (1979) ...
- Budweiser – “Whassup?!” (1999) ...
- McDonald's – “The Showdown” (1993) ...
- M&M's – “They Do Exist” (1996) ...
- Old Spice – “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010) ...
- Always – “Like a Girl” (2015)
GEICO - a car insurance brand that belongs to Berkshire Hathaway - ranked as the most advertised brand in the United States in 2021, with a measured media ad spend of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars.What is the easiest way to promote something? ›
- Offer loyal customers an exclusive preview. ...
- Use a special introductory offer. ...
- Make use of Google My Business. ...
- Run a social media contest. ...
- Spread the word via email. ...
- Write a blog post. ...
- Host an event. ...
- Offer a complimentary upgrade.
The No. 1 secret to advertising success is to know your consumer. Once you know this, you can move on to figuring out the best way to connect with them. Before starting a campaign, do your research.What is the fastest growing form of advertising? ›
Answer and Explanation: Online video advertising has been the fastest-growing form of online marketing since 2013, according to The Economic Times. The technology advances with increased bandwidth, making video advertising possible and reaching most internet users.How can I advertise my business for free locally? ›
- Create a Nextdoor profile. ...
- Sign up for Google My Business. ...
- Claim a Bing Places profile. ...
- Get listed on Yellow Pages. ...
- Update your White Pages listing. ...
- Claim a Yelp business page. ...
- Sign up for Angie's List. ...
- Claim a Foursquare listing.
- Get Media Attention. A marketing stunt that doesn't get media attention is like peeing in dark pants. ...
- Best Marketing Stunt. ...
- Sticker Slap. ...
- Barter. ...
- Probably Not Legal. ...
- Social Media Giveaways As Marketing Tools. ...
- Let's Make Some Doh This Year! ...
- Bookmark To Attract And Engage.
How can I advertise without being annoying? ›
- Start a newsletter/email list.
- Host a giveaway.
- Offer a discount or sale (for a set amount of time)
- Publish related (free) content.
- Incentivize others to promote too.
- Be confident. Let's just call it what it is. ...
- Be persistent. We're not done with the clichés. ...
- Don't be boring. ...
- Offer a solution. ...
- Stop with the resume speak. ...
- Work on your non-verbal communication. ...
- Be positive.
- Know Yourself – What Makes You Unique (Because You Are)
- Selling Point – Create Your Unique Selling Proposition.
- Solve Specific Problems – Be the Answer.
- Profile Picture – Make Your Mom Proud.
- Leverage LinkedIn – Connect with Over 43 Million Professionals.
- Apple – “1984”
- Tootsie Pop – “How Many Licks?”
- Coca-Cola – “Meet Joe Greene”
- Budweiser – “Wassup?!”
- McDonald's – “The Showdown”
- M&M's – “They Do Exist”
- Old Spice – “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”
- Always – “Like a Girl” (2015)
- Choose your target audience. ...
- Conduct market research. ...
- Choose your platform and ad format. ...
- Decide whether you're building brand awareness or product awareness. ...
- Craft a memorable message. ...
- Gather creative assets. ...
- Create custom videos. ...
- Use striking visuals.
- AARP – “Wise Friend and Fierce Defender” ...
- Adidas Originals – “End Plastic Waste” ...
- Allstate – “Duet” ...
- Amazon Alexa – “Alexa's Body” ...
- Apple – “Fumble” ...
- Bud Light – “Last Year's Lemons” ...
- Cadillac – “Hands Free” ...
- Cheetos – “It Wasn't Me”
What is a slogan? The Oxford Languages tells us that a slogan is “a short and striking or memorable phrase used in advertising,” which is a pretty accurate slogan definition.What is the most famous ad of all time? ›
- 1959: The First Ever Barbie Commercial.
- 1965: The Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle.
- 1970: Tootsie Roll Tootsie Roll Pop.
- 1971: Coca-Cola “Hilltop”
- 1971: Keep America Beautiful's “Crying Indian”
- 1971: Life Cereal “Three Brothers”
- 1979: Coca-Cola “Mean Joe Greene”
- 1984: Apple Computer “1984”
- John West Salmon “Bear” (2000)
- Wendy's “Where's the Beef?” ( 1984)
- Cadbury “Gorilla” (2007)
- Reebok “Terry Tate” (2003)
- Budweiser “Wassup?” ( 1999)
- Bud Light, “Mr. Really, Really, Really Bad Dancer” (2003)
- Skittles, “Piñata” (2008)
- Starburst, “Bus Station” (2007)
An eye-catching advertisement is a combination of several visual aspects ranging from the image or video itself to things as basic as the colors and fonts you choose. They may seem unimportant, but fonts have a significant impact on what your ad communicates.
What is powerful words in advertising? ›
'You' remains the most powerful word in advertising. It's simple but effective. The reason why 'you' is convincing is because it's personal. Consumers feel that the ad is speaking directly to them and the problems they want to solve. To make your ads more effective, go through and soften the copy with 'you' and 'your'.What is a good advertising message? ›
A good marketing message is not easy to write because your small business' message is competing with all the others for the target customer's attention. A good message should be engaging, to the point, memorable, and lead to a purchase decision.What are the best social media ads? ›
- Facebook. ...
- Instagram. ...
- Twitter. ...
- TikTok. ...
- Pinterest. ...
- LinkedIn. ...
- display advertising.
- paid search advertising.
- social media advertising.
- The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - ...
- The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. - ...
- Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. ...
- If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor. -
- Nike - Just Do It.
- Apple - Think Different.
- Wendy's - Where's the Beef?
- Coca-Cola - Open Happiness.
- L'Oreal - Because You're Worth It.
- M&M's - Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.
- De Beers - A Diamond is Forever.
- Wheaties - The Breakfast of Champions.