Inexpensive Advertising Ideas for Small Businesses

Perhaps on of the biggest challenges a new small business has is getting customers in the door. Advertising has always been a great tool to let the public know who you are and what you do, but what can you do when you have a very limited budget?

Television ads on a local basis are often very effective, but can end up being quite expensive. Billboards can be effective, but again, may end up being quite pricey. If you think a little creatively, you can come up with some inexpensive ways to get your name out there.

T Shirts

Have t-shirts pressed with your company name on them. It doesn’t have to be a large icon or your name plastered across the back of it, you can be subtle. A small logo and your company name on the front right of the shirt is all you need. Have friends and family wear them around when they are going into town or malls, and give some away as a promotional expense.

You can usually find printers who will do shirts for you at an inexpensive price, but you may have to buy a little more than you wanted. Look in your yellow pages or online for the best deal you can find.

Sponsor Community Events

It may only take a small donation from you to get your business name attached to an event in your town (this may be out of your budget in a large city). Many people will hear and see your name when attending the event, and during the advertising leading up to that event.

Sidewalk Sales

How do you draw attention to your shop when it’s in a row with fifteen other shops competing for attention? Put some of your merchandise outside your storefront. This, of course, won’t serve you well in winter months or during rainstorms, but this is great for clear spring, summer, and fall months.

Place some of your more affordable items outside and try to display them attractively. When the casual shopper is walking within eye view of your store, their eyes will be drawn to your display. Many people will browse simply out of curiosity. Don’t fret if they don’t buy something, the point is that they are now aware of your business.


Many people think to have a grand opening of some sort, but they forget to alert the press. Call the papers (and even the television media) in your area and let them know you are a new business and you are having your grand opening. You may be surprised who will show up to cover your event.


Don’t forget to have website, even if you don’t plan to sell online. It doesn’t have to be overly fancy, but it does have to be professional looking and thought out. Make sure you include directions to your store, a description of what you sell or do, and contact information. Well-worded content about who you are and your services will increase your chances of popping up in an Internet search, and pictures are always a good idea.


Visit the businesses around you (as long as they are not competition) and introduce yourself. Simply making yourself known will help get the word around about your new business, quite inexpensively. You may get customer referrals this way, or work out a deal where you help each other out. They may allow you to leave a stack of business cards in their establishment if you do the same for them.

Final Thoughts

A lot of small businesses forget how important advertising is to their success and leave only a small amount of their budget open for this purpose. Good advertising and word of mouth can make or break a new business venture, so it’s important to take it seriously. Even when your budget is low, these inexpensive advertising tools can help you get the ball rolling. Before you know it, you may have enough to buy those expensive television advertisements.

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