Small business owners have many options for reaching new customers. From local SEO to social media to online marketing, the opportunities for further growth are practically endless.

However, your digital marketing strategies are a bit more limited when it comes to local business advertising., and while there are many low-cost (or free) local marketing strategies, not all are effective.

That’s why small business owners need to use a hybrid online and offline strategy that targets local users via low-cost methods such as word of mouth.

In this guide, we’ll highlight the top proven, effective ways to advertise your business online and locally. Let’s get started.

Simple, Free Ways to Advertise Your Local Business

1. List Your Business On Google Search

Did you know the Google search engine lets local businesses advertise for free?

You can set up a Google My Business profile that includes your business name, phone number, and contact information. When customers “google” your business, your information shows up within local search results. The user can even use Google maps to find your business using your address.

This method works well if you want to target new demographics or new local customers, but it’s also an effective strategy for current, repeat customers who don’t have quick access to your company information.

2. Social Media and Influencers

There are nearly endless ways to advertise your business on social media. For example, you can set up a business page on Facebook or LinkedIn to extend your reach. Use blogging to highlight your products or services, offer free information to potential customers, and direct them to your site for additional information.

You can also partner with influencers on Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms to highlight the benefits of your business and create a positive review. Many influencers do this work in exchange for a free product or at rates much lower than traditional ad campaigns.

Social media marketing is one of the easiest, fastest ways to create brand awareness and target potential customers. Many social media platforms are available free or at low cost, with new ones popping up almost every day.

Most importantly, people search social media to find reviews, recommendations, and hashtags before making a purchase decision. If you want your business to succeed in the local market, you should set up a social media marketing strategy.

3. Local Listings and Business Directories

Business directories like the Yellow Pages or your local chamber of commerce may seem old-fashioned, but many members of your local community use these online directories daily.

There are newer alternatives to consider, as well. YelpFoursquareTripAdvisor, and Angi (formerly Angie’s List) are just a few popular options.

You will need a business listing to advertise on these sites. In fact, your business is likely already listed on each directory, but the information may be incomplete or outdated. Most platforms allow you to confirm ownership and then update the listing. Usually, the process is free or inexpensive, making it a practical, budget-friendly marketing tool for any small business.

4. Business Cards

Business cards are one of the most grassroots marketing strategies, but guess what — they work. A business card is an effective way to show potential customers you’re a reputable professional who knows the industry.

Make sure your business cards are high quality and feature all of your contact information. Then, hand them out freely to existing customers for referrals. You can also find potential customers around town and at local events. Make sure to leave a business card with every customer to increase your marketing traffic.

This strategy is highly cost-effective, although it involves a bit of legwork to get the job done well. Still, the effort is worth the payoff in the end.

5. Email & Direct Mail

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that targets a specific audience within your industry or niche. Most companies create a list of subscribers by offering an “opt-in” page on their website that captures the person’s email address and other contact information.

Once the person subscribes to your email list, you can send promotional materials to their inbox. However, it’s important to avoid spam filters that redirect your emails to a junk mailbox. You can prevent this problem by offering informative, helpful content with each email and then using links to bring readers to your product or service page.

Email marketing is incredibly successful, and it’s free or low-cost, depending on which email service provider you use.

Direct mail is a similar approach that uses physical, paper mail. However, readers don’t need to provide an email address or “opt-in” to receive your mailings. Instead, you can send promotional products directly to people’s homes or P.O. Boxes. If they’re interested, they use your contact information to make a purchase or sign up for your service.

These methods work well for recruiting potential new customers and for reminding current customers you’re still around. You can offer coupon codes or discounts to encourage readers to sign up or make a purchase, too.

6. SEO

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, a marketing strategy that targets specific keywords on the most popular search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

As a website owner or blogger, you can optimize your keywords to target a local audience using your city’s name or other regional information.

For example, a children’s clothing boutique in Sussex would add content to their website that targets that exact phrase: children’s clothing boutique in Sussex. When a potential customer searches for this phrase, your business information or website appears in local search results.

You can use backlinks and other advanced SEO strategies to make the strategy even more effective. This is one of the cheapest, most efficient ways to reach your target audience online.

7. Flyers, Ads, and Word of Mouth

People talk; it’s one trend that will never go out of style. Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing tactics for this very reason.

You can’t control whether customers spread the word about a pleasant experience with your company, but you can certainly ask them to do so. However, don’t forget that customers are much more likely to share an unpleasant experience than a good one. That’s why you should always resolve customer complaints quickly and effectively.

You can also spread the word on your own. Next time you’re chatting with a friend or acquaintance, wait for an opportunity to share about your business. Attend local events, hand out flyers, and place ads or press releases in the local newspaper.

People consider these offline methods to be tried-and-true marketing strategies. Put simply, they work. Even better, they’re inexpensive and often free.

How to Make Your Business Stand Out Online

Many small business owners have concerns about using digital marketing vs. traditional marketing methods, wondering which one is the more effective strategy.

The truth is that both online and print advertising are inexpensive and straightforward. It’s most important that marketers remember they’re targeting a local audience because these potential customers are much more likely to make a purchase than a general audience.

By implementing a hybrid marketing approach, you can rest easy knowing you’ve targeted the broadest possible customer base using the most effective methods available.

If you need help with printed marketing materials like brochures, flyers, business cards, and more, Banana Print is here to help. We design and print local advertising materials for small companies like yours every day. We’d love to help you grow!