If you’re running a home-based small business, chances are your advertising budget isn’t just small; it’s probably non-existent. But there are still ways to reach your target audience with news about who you are and what you do.
1. Message Boards
Cost: approximately $0 – $25, depending on method and print quantity
I know an editor who specializes in post-grad academic papers and advertises solely with tear-away flyers on college campus billboards. While college students might not be your target audience, there are other ways to make the most of message board advertising. Try posting flyers at the library or on the community bulletin boards of local grocers and coffee shops. Or, take your message to digital boards like Craigslist. If you’re an active forum participant, you could also mention your business in your signature.
2. Press Releases
Smaller, local media outlets love to share newsworthy information about the small businesses in their area. So if you’ve got something newsworthy to announce — you’re a brand new business, you’re offering a new service, or you’re expanding, for example — send a press release to the local newspaper or radio station. (Before you send that press release, make sure you haven’t committed any of the cardinal sins of press release writing!)
Local reporters often need expert commentary to beef up their articles. When you’re quoted in an article or invited as a guest speaker on a local radio talk show, your name and credentials will be mentioned to establish your expertise on the subject being discussed — that’s free publicity for your home-based business. You can use those press releases mentioned above to reach reporters and producers in advance of the relevant topic. Let them know that you’re an expert source and you’re available for interviews and guest commentary.
4. Business Cards
Cost: $10 and up
Business cards are still a tried and true method for advertising your business. They are relatively inexpensive to make and are versatile little tools. You can hand out a business card at a networking event, after you offer an estimate for services, or to a new acquaintance you want to reconnect with. Functional business cards can also be used as appointment reminders for service-based small businesses or as coupon incentives for new customers.
5. Logo Apparel
Cost: $25 and up
You could be a walking, talking advertisement for your business. If the nature of your work takes you to other homes and businesses, wear a branded Polo shirt. You’ll look more professional out in the field, and the customers you encounter at the convenience store, post office, or office supply store will take notice of your business, too. Virtually anywhere you go, you can advertise your home-based business — the airport, the doctor’s office, an industry conference, or your kid’s soccer game.
Advertising on a budget is possible, but it will require your time and creativity to be effective. What are some creative and inexpensive ways you’ve advertised your small or home-based business?
Press releases are by far the BEST advertising method. You can do a lot with sending out press releases. Press releases can lead to those great interviews that you mentioned. Message boards are also a great way to get the word out, I still read flyers on message boards when I see them and I know lots of other people who do, too.
Something you could do with the business card, is go to your local bookstore and place your card in relevant books targeted at your market. :)
Great article, Emily!
Thanks for these great ways to promote home-based businesses.
I’d like to add the benefit of offering free workshops in your niche to your local community. I did just that last night at a local library and 60 folks showed up. This gave me an opportunity to show my expertise and promote my coaching and upcoming pay workshop as well.
I have recently started a job with a non-profit, and these techniques will definitely be part of plan to gain them more exposure within the community. Thanks for creating such an all-in-one post for me to get started!
My dream was to always own a clothing store, I have 4 boys and was recently working a full time night job and part time day job and it was all becoming to much for me and my kids, because I barely had time for them. We’ll I finally said it was enough, I need to be home more with my kids, so I took my savings and since my family own businesses, they pointed me in the right direction as far as wholesale places and I got my sellers license and opened me up my own business. I been trying to promote my online business to all over the United States, but I don’t really have much funds for that just yet, just trying to figure out what else I can do. The only thing I haven’t done was the shirts, everything else I’m doing.
How much was your initial investment? How are you currently advertising? Are you still working outside of the store or is the store your sole source of income? What is the current monthly revenue for the store and what is your goal? I’m sure I could help out in some ways.