A picture of Times Square in New York.

If you’re running a small to medium business, you might find it difficult to find a big budget for paid advertising such as Facebook and search ads. When you’re competing against larger businesses with seemlingly unlimited budget, your efforts can feel like a whisper compared to a shout. That’s why you have to think smarter to get the best quality advertising on the smallest budget possible.

I have written some techniques that we have used with clients with very limited budget to get exposure. Some of them are obvious and some of them are more obscure. If you have any difficulty in trying them out, feel free to get in touch.

1. Google My Business

You may already have a Google My Business profile for your business. It is what is shown on Google search when somebody searches directly for your company. You may not, however, be making use of all of the features available to you. Google My Business has plenty of great ways to promote your latest news, deals and contact information.

The following is the business profile of yours truly, which has helped us attract a few quality leads who were already aware of what we do.

As you can see, we have posted on of our offers (namely our Free 5 Day Website Performance Email Course) on our GMB profile. Google lets your post timely and relevant offers and news on your profile, which will show up when anybody searches for your business.

In order to list your posts on Google My Business, follow this tutorial: Create a Post on Google

2. Guest Posts

Posting on the blog of another business is a great way to boost your exposure and also build a greater relationship with the other business. Most businesses are likely to accept high-quality guest posts which suit their audience well, as it removes some of the difficulty in generating frequent content.

If you already have a partnership with another company targetting your market segment, try to leverage that partnership by offering to write a guest post. They may even wish to write a post on your blog, which will boost their exposure.

3. Email Newsletters

If you don’t already have a mailing list, I suggest you start building one immediately. The current environment of social media marketing is making it more and more expensive to reach your leads through those mediums. With email, you are guaranteed a high delivery rate, albeit with a limited open rate.

Having a good mailing list allows you to segment your audience effectively by industry and position (if targetting businesses), or by demographics (if targetting consumers). You can also send out automated campaigns to streamline your marketing efforts. If you’d like some tips on automated email marketing, subscribe to our newsletter as we are releasing a new post just for it soon.

4. Public Speaking

It might seem odd to see a digital marketing agency suggesting that you turn off the computer and (shock) go outside, but public speaking is a great way to meet new leads. By talking about topics related to your products or services, you position yourself as a respected professional in your industry. If you don’t do it, one of your competitors will become the face of your industry!

Finding public speaking opportunities can be tough unless you already know of industry events in your area. If you are struggling to find events to talk at, use a site like Meetup to check out what’s happening in your area.

5. Partnerships

As mentioned above, leveraging your partnerships is a brilliant way of securing free and effective advertising. You should try to find partners who are targetting the same audience as you. By doing this, both partners can effectively double their exposure to their audience.

If you are new to this style of marketing, give the following article a read: What Is Joint Venture Marketing?

6. Email Signature

How many emails do you send in an average week? Why not make use of that valuable real estate (that you know your past customers are looking at) to deliver valuable content or to upsell your existing customers?

Perhaps you have an additional service that would be useful for a lot of your customers. Create a nice looking banner in Canva and put it in your email signature!

Here’s a simple example of my email signature (notice I don’t use an image as I don’t need it to stand out too much):

Email signature featuring an advertisement.

7. Business Directories

Business directories are a great way to get some free exposure, with the added bonus of a free backlink for SEO purposes. These directories usually have high relative domain authority, so you may recieve a higher ranking on Google just by being listed.

In addition, a lot of these directories are industry specific, which makes it a great place fo potential customer to find you. If you are a local service business then check out some of your local business directories!

Some examples of good business directories are:

8. Online Q&As (Quora, Yahoo Answers)

Another great way to demonstrate your expertise in a certain area related to your products or services is by posting answers to people’s questions on answer sites, such as Quora.

You may even want to link back to your own website from your answers to get some quality backlinks and to direct people to your services. However, be careful with this and be sure to keep the links relevant and contextual!

9. Social Media

Now no free advertising list would be complete without mentioning Social Media. However, there’s a reason I have left it at the bottom of the list. Engagement across most social media is going down, and it is becoming harder and harder to get engagement with your content. With platforms obviously wanting you to pay them more money, they are favouring personal connections over business profiles. All is not lost, however, as you can still find great results using LinkedIn and Instagram. Social Media is also a good way of attracting Top-of-the-funnel leads.