Starting a business is one thing. But you won’t get very far unless you can work out how to find customers to it, tell them what you do and why they should come to you. While online and social media marketing is the latest thing in business marketing, there are still some simple ways of advertising your business that are cheap or even free.

While we wouldn’t recommend that you use only these methods instead of paid advertising they can be a useful addition to the range of marketing tools you can use to help launch or grow your business.

How to find customers:

  • Word of mouth. This is one of the best ways of bringing in business for a new or small project. Get some business cards. Hand a stack out to everyone who know. Ask them to tell their friends and colleagues about what you’re doing and help spread the word.
  • Window cards. In shop windows, supermarket notice boards, church, club and community centre notice boards. These are low cost or even free. But be sure to place plenty of cards – not just one or two – if you want a good response.
  • Local newspapers and freesheets. A cheap way of targeting customers in your local area. Always negotiate on advertising rates though as the ad. sales people will often take much less than the rate card price.
  • Street posters. Again good high-impact advertising that can get you noticed fast. Many local councils don’t like you putting posters up on lamp posts etc. Look for local people or shops who will display a poster in their garden or in their window for a small rental.
  • Leaflets. Door to door and street hand-outs. A great cheap way of getting a lot of business quickly. Make sure they are good quality or people won’t read them.

Dropping them yourself is the cheapest way. If you use a leaflet distribution service make sure they are reliable and will give you a list of all the streets they’ve dropped to.

  • Free newspaper coverage. Contact all your local newspapers and tell them about your new business. Send them a press release and a photograph. Most of them will be glad to run a news story on your new business, which is great free publicity. Send them more press releases from time to time.
  • Radio and TV. It’s always worth contacting your local radio and TV stations. They might invite you to come in and talk about what you’re doing, which again is great publicity for nothing.
  • Giving talks. Offer to give free talks on what you’re doing to local clubs, associations, community groups and business clubs. Most are always glad to hear from new potential guest speakers. Works well if your product or service is relevant to that group.
  • Free local, Internet advertising! You don’t necessarily need to pay out for a website for your business. Simply registering it with Google Places and filling in your business profile will mean potential customers in your area will be able to find it when they’re searching for the products and services they want.

Remember, you can get more free information and advice on online marketing techniques by checking back with our Online Opportunities section