17 Innovative Small Business Advertising Ideas In Shoestring Budget

India is currently buzzing with small businesses. Even the government is pushing people to just not rely on jobs but actually start them. They are constantly pushing for small business advertising ideas and asking people to come up and expand local businesses.

While the government is going all out to advertise the idea of a small business, one still needs to make sure that their business idea shines out and they are in no way lacking on any front.

One of the best ways to ensure that your business excels is to advertise it and to advertise it well. However, the biggest problem we face as small businessmen are that we are almost always in some financial crunch and thus don’t have much money to spare when it comes to advertising.

While low budget might have been an issue in the past, now with the advancement of social and online media, there are plenty of marketing tactics that one can use to advertise their business without blowing a huge hole in their pocket.

Here are 17 small business advertising ideas which would fit almost every budget:

(A) Online Advertising

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Online media is one of the best and cheapest small business advertising ideas. People these days are almost hooked to their phones and constantly check for recommendations online for almost everything they need or do.

According to CRISIL research that was done in 2017 in last five years mobile data consumption in India has grown 24 times and is expected to multiply at least four-fold in the next five years.


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1. Target social media platform

Be it Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or even Practo, one needs a social media presence for people to know about you and your business and not only is it effective, but it is also the cheapest way to advertise yourself.

Make sure your business is present online and that you update and check your profile regularly. Majority of these social media platforms are free and their algorithms target the audience in your business circle. They thus not only make sure your business has an online presence but also is the best place to reach out to your audience at once.

In case you are just starting out on and looking to increase your social media followers, don’t forget to check these easy steps that will you grow your Twitter followers.

In the past decade alone the e-commerce market has grown 10 folds with online businesses like Amazon, Google, and Facebook becoming the best in the world.

According to Google India Research, India is expected to generate $100 billion on online retail revenue by 2021, and in this  $35 billion will be generated through fashion e-commerce alone.

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2. Publish and provide great content

While having an online presence gets you started, one needs to make sure that you don’t get lost among the masses and that people just don’t scroll by your page and actually engage in it. For that, you need to provide a kick-ass content and one that provokes a reaction from your audience.

If you can create it this yourself good, if not, get someone who can do it for you. The online platform is full of people who can take care of your content needs and provide it on content to content basis.

This means you can either hire a person who takes care of all your social media presence daily or if you are on a strict budget, hire a freelancer or an agency which provides you content from time to time and as and when you need them.

3. Always ask for reviews and feedback

While creating a social media page is free, with a small amount of money you can turn it into a business profile which will not only advertise to your target audience but also let users leave reviews and feedback on your business pages.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews on these profiles. When potential customers come across your profiles, they will see the reviews and praises from other customers. This will make them less apprehensive to approach you for the services. Further, these feedbacks would also let you know where you need to improve and thus help your business in the long run.


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4. Apply online for Business Awards

While getting an award for your work leaves you with a great feeling, one can also use it to their business advantage and use them to promote themselves and build business credibility. Most industries have business awards that provide an online badge which you can place on your website and social media platforms and use to your advantage.

Badges like these can boost credibility, increase influence and thus increase sales.

According to research by Hendricks & Singhal of the University of Western Ontario and Georgia Institute of Technology, out of 1000, more than 600 quality corporate award winners had 37% more sales growth. Nearly 44% higher stock price return than their peers after they won an award.

5. Organize online contests

While you will need to spend some money on a prize, that would more than be covered with the number of participants and new potential leads you will get as a result.

Also, if you play smart, the participants would increase your sales in the long run and provide you with great clients for the future.

Even small rewards like fancy backpacks or gift cards to a store might be enough to draw in some users and they will promote your page for free and to a great extent.

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(B) Offline Advertising

While online promotion is a great and inexpensive way to promote your business, one cannot ever ignore offline advertising and needs it to reach their full advertising potential.

Not everyone is present online. Offline advertising helps us reach them and also help us reach those audiences which we might have ignored as a potential buyer or didn’t think of while advertising online.


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Here are few offline small business advertising ideas which are a great way to promote your business and fit in almost every budget:

6. Business Partnerships

One business can always help others and while one builds a strong partnership on the B2B front, these partnerships can also help each other on the B2C front.

For example, you might give your customers discount coupons to the other business for buying a product of yours and vice versa.

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You can also promote each other on your customer email lists and thus reach out to their customer list as well.

Look for complementary businesses and business that sells a related product. For example, a sandwich shop might partner with an ice cream store or a general store can provide discount coupons for auto-parts or hardware stores.

7. Vehicle branding

You don’t need to go all out on this and just paint or brand the company vehicles that you or staff members regularly drive around.

Consider branding these vehicles with your company logo and information that people can reach out to.

While a full paint job can be expensive, you can opt for stickers and magnets that stick to the sides and is visible to the audience. You can also print window decals to put on the side and back windows and/or even give these out to others to use in their vehicles.

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8. Print branding

Giving out free yearly calendars/pens/magnets which has your business details would help out immensely as it would ensure that they always have your numbers in front of them and think of you when they need your services.

The fact that these details are printed on things that people use every day only keeps them in longer circulation and is thus visible at almost all times.

9. Develop a customer referral program

Word-of-mouth has always been a powerful form of advertising and will remain to be so in decades to come. Thus, you need to make sure that you keep your regular customers happy and whenever you can reward them for their loyalty.

For this, you need to offer existing customers some free products, or services, or reward them in some other form for referring new customers.

So always keeps your loyal customers and friends happy as friends talking about your business has incredible value.


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10. Leverage your community

Think locally and always give back to your local community. People are huge on gestures and even a small step towards a community leaves a huge impact.

Look for local events and sponsor them if you can. Give out free printed shirts or prize for local competitions and get to know your local customer. These communities would not only thank you for helping them out at these events but also take you as part of their community and help you promote your business.

11. Make your business cards stand out

While many consider business cards to be an outdated idea, it still is one of the cheapest ways to advertise and with some creativity, one of the best way to stand out.

Note that most brilliant networkers always carry a large stash of business cards with them and hand them out liberally. It is best to make the most of this opportunity to make a business card that stands out and makes you memorable. This will not only ensure that new contacts never forget you but the creativity and uniqueness of the business cards will make them hold on to it even after they have saved your number on their phones.

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12. Try some guerrilla street marketing

While everyone prints out pamphlets, gives them out or put them on street walls and newspapers, you need to get creative with it and that is where guerrilla marketing differs.

Guerrilla marketing emphasizes creativity over budget and can make you stand out among the masses. The best campaigns will make passers-by stop, do a double-take, laugh and then get out their phones to share the ad on social media. Isn’t this exactly what you need to promote your business?

13. Speak at events and workshops

While we mentioned giving out to your local community above. You can also use these events to your advantage and use the platform to not only speak about the community but about your business as well. This will make you look more professional in your customers’ eyes and if you engage your audience well, they will also approach you after the event and thus build into a potential client.

14. Join associations

Join local associations and events, these will provide you with access to online forums, and job boards and also help you meet more people who in turn can provide you with more customers.

15. Send handwritten cards

While you can also do this on Facebook, emails and What’s App, sending handwritten cards or notes makes it much more personal and makes the person feel special.


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16. Survey your customers for feedback and ideas

It always helps to listen to what your customers are saying and Twitter, Facebook, and other online forums are a great place to get honest feedback and do market research.

You can also do this face to face and ask your regular clients for their feedback, this will make them feel more involved and let them know that their voice actually matters.

17. Be involved and answer questions

Be it in person or on online forums and sites. Help out other people and offer free advice on topics related to your products and services.

Also, reply to each and every feedback. You’ll gain their trust with this and will also look more professional with regards to your work and business.

These are just some small business advertising ideas that can help your business. In case you are a growing business looking for investors, here are a few tips that can help you with your Investor meeting.


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