17 Ways to Advertise Your Business Locally (for almost free)

Written by Fraser McCulloch.

Learn how to advertise your business locally using these free and paid tactics.

Use this advertising planning process of “why, how and who” first before choosing where to advertise.

Why do you need to advertise ?

There are 2 reasons to advertise; to reach prospective customers or current customers and offer them services or products that will meet your business or sales targets.

Business goals and sales targets

When I worked in telecoms marketing, our customer acquisition strategy was to gain 2000 new customers every month.

The marketing strategy was to run a sales offer every month with a closing date at the end of the month.

We used our marketing budget to promote the same service; simply varying the offer each month.

Sales people and customers were motivated by the end of the month offering.

Solving a prospect’s problem

Advertising is based on one thing; happiness.” – Don Draper.

If your product or service can solve a prospect’s problem you’ll make them happy.

Solve a prospect’s problem with your product or service and they’ll pay to remove their fear, doubt, hunger or boredom.

Free Guide to Local Business Advertising

How you might solve that problem ?

You are not the only company, product or service available to your prospects or target audience.

So you need to communicate what you offer and how you can solve their problem.

Look at market positioning of this restaurant/bar – “oh I do like to be beside the seaside“.

They’ve not just targeted nearby customers; they are appealing to a wider audience who may wish to dine near the coast or sea.

When COVID happened many businesses could not open and they had to adjust their entire way of trading.

  • Most service business had to take appointments.
  • Many businesses moved to offering an online ordering service. 
  • Fitness classes and education quickly evolved into virtual classrooms.

So figuring out how you can solve their problem with your solution as society and markets evolve is crucial before you start any advertising.

Who is your target audience?

You have 2 audiences;

  1. Prospective or potential customers
  2. Current customers

And you will most likely advertise different products, services and messages to each.

Other advertising resources

What message about your product or service will you advertise ?

Before starting a business advertising campaign, you need to decide the products or services you will promote and the message you will communicate.

Now you have answered the why, how and who questions you have a number of options of where to advertise.

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Where can you advertise ?

There’s many advertising options for business owners to choose from; each option varies from business to business and budget to budget.

Website and design

People will judge you on your web appearance and Google will judge your website on its speed and mobile friendliness.

Most commercial websites have an image hero area on the home page of their website.

Look at the offer on this home page; try 5 frames at home for free.

This offer is blended into the other content sections of their home page.

Mobile users can clearly see the offer above the fold of their mobile browser.

Free Guide to Local Business Advertising

Local SEO

A website home page should describe your business name, the business sectors you operate in and where you are located.

So for example, this laundrette is located in Ayr and Prestwick.

This accountant is based in Watford and you can see how they’ve titled their home page.

You can use this free tool called SEO Minion to check your home page is geared towards being by local searches.

Search Engines and Content Marketing

The Google search engine is the world’s largest buyer research tool.

46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information.

So your seo strategy should be to show up when people are searching.

There are 4 events that trigger a search query :

  • When they recognise a problem
  • When they need information about a product or service
  • When they need to compare or review products and services
  • Or when they are considering a purchase

Using keyword research you can discover what potential and existing customers search for and then use content marketing to deliver answers to help them.

Defining content marketing

The best definition of content marketing is “ content marketing equals answering questions to help solve problems before they buy without interrupting or selling”.

Content marketing = answering questions to help solve problems before they buy and without interrupting or selling @mjhuber @DigSumDallas #dsdal

— Its me, kg (@kgaltweets) December 5, 2017

Create and publish one piece of content per month

With an educational content approach and knowing what prospects are searching for it should not be difficult to publish one piece of relevant content per month.

This article you’re reading gets roughly 455 visits a month.

Advancements in AI make creating fresh content for seo purposes easier.

There’s also tools to repurpose existing content into video content such as educational videos.

Free Guide to Local Business Advertising
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Google My Business

Google My Business, formerly Google Local, is a really great advertising solution for local businesses.

Your business name, business category, and location can be found on your Google business profile on the internet.

There are other online directories but as Google gets better at catering their search results to the searcher’s location, this free business listing should be a top priority.

Here’s how to add your business to Google My Business.

Google My Business can help in the following ways.

  • List your business profile and get found for business category searches
  • Discovered on Google maps
  • Higher positions on local results and maps searches with online customer reviews
  • Photographs of inside and outside of your company can be uploaded.
  • Create local search ads

Google Posts

Google Posts appear in search results when people search your company and are used to promote your offers and communicate news.

How to advertise your business locally with Google Posts for free

  1. Log in or open the Google My Business iPhone app
  2. Select Posts
  3. Click Write your post
  4. Choose What’s New, Event, Offer or Product
  5. Create an image in Canva.com at 400 x 300 wide
  6. Upload the image
  7. Write post
  8. Add a call to action
  9. Preview
  10. Publish your Google Post
  11. Share your post on your social channels

Google Post Login

Log into Google My Business and select from the left menu.

Create a Post

You can choose what’s new or promote an event, offer or product.

Be sure to have an image ready; I use Canva.com and create images at 400 x 300 pixels and make sure the content is centred.

Add a headline or text that will persuade people to click and add the url of the page they will be taken to if they click your post.

What a Google Post looks like

A Google post will appear just below your company name in the search results.

There are 3 tabs; overview, posts and reviews.

Google has experimented with the display and positioning of posts so they may vary by device and over time.

Directories and citations

Before Google can rank your website you need to register your business with local business and industry citations.

Citations are the signals Google trusts to verify you are a real business.

You need to ensure you use the same company name, address, postcode, phone number and website address for all citations.

You will pay around $2 per citation and I have produced a step by step guide here.

Once your citations are in place then you can be more proactive with link building campaigns.

Here’s my citation guide.

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Email Marketing

I have an email list of nearly 2000 people who have opted in to receive useful information or news by email about seo and marketing.

I send regular email newsletters to educate and hopefully convert them to paying customers.

Email newsletters to customers

Every local business acquires email addresses of customers from website forms, coupons or other places.

A local accountant client of mine stays in touch with customers by emailing them useful tax and accounting news by email.

A client, who’s website runs on WordPress, has 583 enquiries stored in their website address book; with Flamingo.

  1. Export the list of subscribers from Flamingo.
  2. Set up a free MailChimp account.
  3. Import subscribers to a list.
  4. Create a regular email campaign with MailChimp.
  5. Go to campaigns.
  6. Click create campaign.
  7. Click email and begin.
  8. Add recipients (the email list you imported).
  9. Select the personalisation field.
  10. Add a subject line ie: the name of your offer.
  11. Select design email and choose one of their free email templates.
  12. Customise the template and add your offer template and images.
  13. Preview the email, do a test send and schedule it.

That’s your email campaign sent.

My email marketing provider of choice is ConvertKit and it has a useful broadcast feature that enable you to resend to those people who did not open the first email campaign you sent.

Photography

A great marketing resource is to invest in original and unique photography of your office, staff, vehicles, building, products or services in order to prosper in a digital world.

I recently briefed a local photographer for a local service business.

£350 for a one day photoshoot works out at less than £1 a day.

Here’s a step by step guide to briefing a local photographer.

  • Write down the photography goal eg: photos of staff to communicate trust to be used on website and social media
  • Summarise the company’s products and services
  • List the industries they cover
  • Outline the access to people and equipment required
  • Summarise the location, logistics and date of photography
  • Detail the images required and the dimensions
  • Write down the full shot list required
  • Provide screenshots of images you like from other websites and why
  • Comment on previous photoshoots, if any, highlighting reason photos were poor

Social Media

Free Guide to Local Business Advertising

Here’s a number of social media channels available that enables you to reach and communicate with prospects and customers.

Facebook Page

A Facebook business page is a free web page that companies can use to promote their business and communicate useful company information.

A company Facebook page is a popular channel to communicate with existing customers or promote a customer loyalty programme or rewards scheme.

Instagram – local hashtags

I have a local client that doesn’t do any local search marketing but wants to grow their business.

Simply, they need to reach more people and introduce their services.

So I suggested Instagram; an image sharing social website owned by Facebook.

Here’s how to set up an Instagram account.

Next you need a business profile, here’s how.

Now you need to get people following you.

So I would suggest the best way to get followers when you have none is to use local hashtags when you start posting.

  • Have your bank of photo assets loaded onto your phone
  • Download the free app; Canva; to use for customise photos and images
  • Come up with an angle to connect with local people.

The client I will use in this example is a local laundrette.

First, find the hashtags of local towns; just type something into a post followed by the hashtag and town name.

Finish the rest of your text, from the location box add the location and share the post to your Facebook page as well.

Next way to leverage Instagram locally

As I start to build up followers, then I will start promoting the 20 or more rugby and football matches played locally with messages of good luck.

When I post a good luck message I will include the local hashtag and include the address of the team #troon @marrrugby.

I’m effectively riding on the back of the interest and followers others have built.

Instagram – let prospects and customers get up close and personal

Now onto the social strategy of letting prospects and customers get up close and personal with your company or brand.

Tools such as Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories enable you to post images and small video clips that disappear after 24 hours.

People have a curiosity of people, brands and companies they are interested in.

I follow a football club and some of their players on Instagram where they provide you with behind the scenes access to them.

Inside the tunnel as players are walking out onto the pitch is a great asset and insight to leverage.

I consulted with a fashion brand and encouraged them to provide customers with behind the scenes access to their photo shoots of new products they were getting modelled.

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Free Guide to Local Business Advertising

Quuu Promote

Quuu Promote is a low cost promotional tool to reach influential people in your market.

First your content or article has to be useful for others in your industry.

You pay about $40 for Quuu to push an article to influencers who seek to curate and share articles with their Facebook and Twitter followers.

I have earned thousands of shares, website clicks, backlinks and even website enquiries using this promotional strategy.

A small budget is required; just cut out those drinks on Saturday down the pub to pay for Quuu.

Signage – shop front and vehicles

I was having a conversation with my web designer about re-designing a client’s website.

I believe the current logo design provides me with limited redesign options.

So I asked his advice.

He said “bloody hell; I see their vans all over the city, don’t change the logo”.

Here’s a picture of the vehicles their engineers drive to and from clients in.

Think about it.

Your vehicle could be outside a client’s office for hours, you could be parked in a supermarket, driving through town and driving down motorways.

You’ve already invested in vehicle purchases or lease hires.

The cost of branding or adding a temporary signage with your logo and website address is minimal.

Vehicle branding is essentially low cost local advertising.

Magnetic vehicle signage prices start from £59 depending on the size and artwork.

That’s 16 pence per day.

And if you have retail shops, use signage and window space to communicate your company, message and even your website address.

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Free Guide to Local Business Advertising

Local Sponsorship and Events

A forewarning; I’ve never sponsored a local team; only managed a £3 million a year football sponsorship deal.

I see many local companies taking out a form of local team sponsorship.

Since most local sports team websites are powered by Pitchero you can negotiate with the club secretary to get, at least, a website banner link and backlink to your website.

The best asset to leverage in local sponsorship is to take out a hospitality package.

Dining and spending time with clients at a sports event is by far the most profitable way to advertise your business; especially B2B companies.

I attributed a return on sponsorship investment mainly from corporate hospitality from the 2 teams my former employer sponsored.

Online Advertising Options

Now onto the paid advertising options.

Re-targeting

If you’re inexperienced in running advertising campaigns, you’ll find it hard to use Google Adwords.

I used to run ads myself but it’s becoming too complicated; even for me.

Here’s Google’s guide to running a re-marketing campaign.

The idea is to advertise to people who have previously visited your website.

Likewise you can use Facebook to re-market to people who have previously visited your website.

Ideally, for myself, I would only re-market to those people who visited my website structure guide from the UK.

I get visitors from India and they are not my target audience.

Free Guide to Local Business Advertising

Facebook Ads

Facebook advertising is an ideal marketing channel for local businesses to reach prospective customers.

Facebook has audience targeting options including:

  • demographic targeting eg: age, gender, job title etc
  • location targeting eg: your town or city
  • radius targeting eg: with 10 miles of your location

Lead generation ads, offers, event promotions, video marketing, and getting people to like your page are just some of the ways Facebook advertising can be utilised.

If you want to run an advertising campaign to target your prospects on Facebook, you can use their Audience Network, Messenger, and Stories.

I ran an advert to help rent out local office space, only targeting business owners in 4 towns nearby the rental space.

In order to reach more people, more times, more frequently and more cost effectively, I ran a lead generation campaign for an insulation campaign.

Google Ads

You need a website that will convert clicks into inquiries and sales if you want to use Google Adwords.

How much does it cost to advertise locally?

For example, an estimated 21,000 to 35,000 customers within a 5 mile radius can be reached by a local business willing to pay £9 per day.

When should you advertise ?

Around 30% of retail revenue occurs between October and December as Christmas triggers sales.

Many businesses leverage birthday occasions, bank holidays, school holidays, festivals and national events to promote and advertise themselves.

In quieter months, accountants may need to advertise because they are very busy during the tax return season.

So your advertising can be built around the key events that influence your prospects and customers buying behaviour.

Download your advertising guide

Free Guide to Local Business Advertising