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23 ways to advertise your business for free

6-minute read

Lucy England

Lucy England

3 June 2024

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There are a number of ways that small businesses can advertise their products and services for free. From free digital marketing channels and tools to cheap real-life advertising options, our guide is packed with great ideas to get your brand in front of new customers.

  • free digital marketing and comms strategies

Free digital marketing and comms strategies

1. Make the most of free social media channels

Social media marketing is one of the best ways to connect with customers and advertise your business for free.

Setting up accounts for the big players – Facebook, Instagram, and X – regularly posting quality content and engaging with comments and messages will help increase awareness of your business. If you have lots of imagery to share you could also use Pinterest.

2. Join LinkedIn groups to expand your network

You can promote your business on LinkedIn in a similar way to other social channels. There’s also the option of joining LinkedIn groups. Here you can network with fellow business owners to get advice on running your business and also reach a targeted group of people that might be interested in your product or service.

3. Create and share videos

Businesses can also use YouTube and TikTok to boost their brand with helpful videos and behind the scenes content.

If you haven’t considered TikTok yet, keep in mind that many consumers (40 per cent) are going straight to the short-form video platform for information instead of using search engines. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re targeting Gen Z customers, with 64 per cent using the platform as a search engine.

4. Create quality blog content and use free SEO tools

If you’re able to create your own website, publishing regular blog content can help bring in customers for your business. You can use free versions of many SEO tools, such as Ahrefs and Semrush, to find out what questions your target audience needs answering. Or you could simply share your personal expertise and what’s going on behind the scenes at the company.

You could also collaborate with other businesses by hosting guest bloggers – they get added exposure and a link back to their services, while you get extra website content that’s shared to their audiences too.

5. Use free email marketing tools

Email marketing is just as vital as social for keeping in touch with your customers. It allows you to send advertisements, updates, sales messages, and important information about your services or products.

Many email marketing platforms offer free options. Mailchimp, for example, lets you add up to 500 contacts for free, with 1,000 sends a month and a daily limit of 500 emails.

6. Get on business review websites

Potential customers love to read reviews of products and services before buying, so you should have a listing on plenty of relevant sites – whether that’s a general one like Yelp or an industry-specific one like Resy.

It’s absolutely key to make sure you have a Google Business Profile. Due to its integration with Google Maps. Positive reviews here can attract new customers and also enhance search visibility.

7. Promote your brand with press releases

Getting your business featured in the news is a great way to reach a new customer base. You can try to make this happen by creating a genuinely interesting press release and sending it to relevant publications and journalists.

You’ll need to share a newsworthy story, which could be that you’ve launched a new product or noticed a new industry trend. Writing a press release and getting a journalist to even read it can be tricky, though – find some tips in this guide.

If you’re an expert in your field, even locally, you could regularly share commentary on industry trends and news stories with journalists too.

8. Collaborate with influencers

Influencer marketing can be a cost-effective way to market your business depending on the popularity of the influencer and the type of collaboration – they may be willing to post about your product in exchange for a free sample. However it’s important to find an influencer that authentically matches your brand and whose audience will genuinely be interested in your products or services.

9. Host an Ask Me Anything Q&A

Another social media trend is the Reddit-focused AMA session, when influencers, celebrities, and other prominent figures will candidly answer questions submitted by followers or fans in an online forum. Businesses could either have one of their own leaders, an employee, or even a customer host the discussion, as long as they were happy to be candid and conversational.

10. Don’t forget your email signature

Adding a promotion, campaign, or even a recent article to your email signature can pique the interest of potential customers in day-to-day emails and draw them back to your website.

Tap into your customers and networks

11. Create customer loyalty and referral programmes

Loyal customers and word of mouth referrals can improve your chances of getting both repeat business and new leads. You can reward customers for their loyalty and for becoming advocates of your brand with money off or free products or services – or just ask nicely in person! It’s also essential to ensure your end-to-end customer experience is top-notch, so customers happily promote your company to friends, family, and colleagues.

12. Attend or host events

Attending networking events and trade shows are a great way to get your brand seen by potential customers. Make the most of the event by engaging with any key profiles or hashtags on social media. Some events are free to attend but others may come at a cost, especially if you choose to have a stall.

On a smaller scale, there’s always the option of getting involved in local community events. You could donate goods or services to a raffle or volunteer for charity (and share images online). Hosting or sponsoring a networking event will bring people in your industry together.

13. Form industry partnerships

Team up with another business whose products or services complement yours to create a cross-promotional deal or package. This means your company will be promoted to their customers and you’ll get free advertising on their channels.

14. Use employees as brand ambassadors

Asking genuinely engaged and passionate employees to act as ambassadors for your brand can help you attract more customers. They could post about their work or your products on their own social media channels, or you could feature them on your business’s channels or on the company blog. You could offer employees free product samples, discounts, or other incentives to become involved.

15. Enter awards

Entering industry awards is a great way to reach new audiences, especially if you’re a new business or have just launched a new product or service. You’ll also benefit from describing yourself as “award-winning”, and any victory will make a great news story for PR and marketing.

No matter your niche, there are plenty of local and national awards options to enter. There can be a fee though, and it takes some time to put together an entry.

16. Free radio

Offer to appear on a radio station to share expertise on a newsworthy or trending topic in exchange for a mention of your business, meaning free local advertising.

17. Try podcasting

Podcasting is a great way to promote your brand to a new audience, especially if you or your team are particularly entertaining or passionate about a niche or theme that’s fairly close to your business. You won’t want to directly promote products and services during an episode, though.

Equipment will take some investment, but there are plenty of reasonable podcast microphones and headphones online. The two best-known recording software options, Audacity and Garageband, are free and easy to use. You’ll definitely want to distribute the podcast via Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Podcasts.

If you can’t launch your own podcast, you could appear on a relevant existing show, just as with radio.

18. Ego bait/celebrity endorsement

Ego bait means creating content featuring celebrities or big names in your industry, in the hope that those featured will re-share to their audience. Influencers are everywhere these days, meaning there are a lot more egos to massage.

For ego bait content you could interview a well-known person in your industry, which also has the benefit of providing valuable insight to your blog readers. Event coverage is also useful, as are expert roundups related to a trending topic. Finally, there’s the much-loved listicle.

19. Stand out with a mascot or brand character

Brand mascots and characters can actually increase profit and emotional connection with customers by up to 41 per cent. And while small businesses may not be able to afford to feature a mascot in lots of big budget TV ads, putting some time and design investment into creating a company character means you can feature them on day-to-day brand materials and social media.

Free and cheap offline advertising

20. Create a PR stunt or do some guerilla marketing

PR and marketing stunts aren’t just for big businesses with bottomless pockets. Small companies can make a splash too, especially locally, with the right idea and staging.

A PR stunt is designed to get public attention and news coverage, while guerrilla marketing might just get your brand discussed over the water cooler or via social media. Guerrilla campaigns are also usually more thought provoking and challenging.

21. Advertise on your vehicle

Putting a good logo and slogan on your day-to-day work vehicle can drum up a surprising amount of brand recognition. Make sure you make clear what it is you offer, the area you work in, and how to contact you as well – especially if you don’t have an online presence.

22. Wear your brand

Just like with your car or van, making sure you and your employees wear your brand on your clothing will get you noticed. A prospective customer might see a cleaning team leaving a property, for example, and choose to look them up next time their home needs a spring scrub.

23. Put marketing materials in local shop windows and on noticeboards

This is a very simple idea that small businesses can forget about. Putting flyers in your own or other company windows (many other businesses will be happy to promote you) and on notice boards is a great way to get noticed locally.

Not all these options will work for every business, but thinking outside the box when advertising your business will help you reduce your spending while still reaching plenty of new customers.

Do you have any great free advertising and marketing ideas or examples? Share them in the comments.

N Felix/
Lucy England

Written by

Lucy England

Lucy England has been writing for and about small businesses for around ten years. Initially working as a journalist covering tech startups, Lucy has extensive experience writing about insurance, fintech, tax and financial services for brands including Moneycorp and Muse Finance. Lucy has also supported a number of small businesses with their marketing, across industries as diverse as engineering and management consulting.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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