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Promoting your small business can be done without being expensive. Oh, yes, you can advertise in local papers and phone books, but that can add up quickly. And you can pay per click on social media, but it's not very effective on a local basis.
Save your cash for the things that count in growing your business. Use inexpensive methods to promote your operation.
Events. People are hungry for information. You are expert at what you do. Bring these two things together and you can promote inexpensively. Hold an open house at your place to give free demos and explain the benefits of acupuncture, massage, yoga, or whatever it is you offer. Hold informational meetings at clubs, senior centers, non-profit group meetings, and other gatherings--accountants can explain new tax laws, attorneys can advise what to do when you get a traffic ticket, chiropractors can explain the benefits of chiropractic, computer experts can advise dealing with viruses, and so on.
Classes. Classes take the public's hunger for information to the next level. Schedule a series of classes for beginners and another series for more advanced students. Bakers can teach baking and cake decorating, potters can teach throwing pots and glazes, accountants can teach business people ways to simplify record keeping, landscapers can teach garden design and maintenance, and so on. Run the classes two or three times each year, usually in evenings or weekends when people have free time. Attendees will spread the word for you and this will bring in referrals, expanding your business.
Social media. Much of social media is free. You don't have to buy an advertisement in order to take advantage of the power of social media. Facebook is a very good example. Many small businesses have jumped on the Facebook bandwagon to spread the word about their products and services. You'll need pictures, but you're snapping pictures all the time anyway, aren't you? Pictures posted need not be professional. A closeup of a decorated cake will certainly attract attention, as will a bouquet of flowers, a piece of jewelry, a trendy new outfit. More than Facebook awaits your use--Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
You can use all sorts of inexpensive promotions in your small business. These don't require cash--just your time and effort.
Promoting your small business is a never-ending undertaking. Promoting is not something you put in place and forget. That ad you put in the phone book is not doing its job if it's not bringing in enough business to MORE than pay for itself. I've written about promotions many times and given many examples throughout these write-ups. Check the previous listings.