Advertising is important to any business, big or small. When times are tough, people often want to cut down on advertising costs. This is not ideal and can hurt the business. Revenue and profits will further decrease and the modest small term saving will have been wasted. If anything, in tough times you want to advertise more.

There are many ways to advertise and most of them are quite expensive. There are, however, a number of effective means of advertising that don’t have to cost the earth. Here are 7 inexpensive advertising ideas for small businesses.

1. Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms are all powerful business advertising methods and all are free to set up. Sure, you will have to spend a bit of money if you really want to increase your reach but you can still achieve a lot for free.

Many people spend most of their time on social media so if they are looking for a place, product or service, that is where they will look first. Make your page entertaining and informative to make people want to come back. Without paid ads, not too many of your post will be seen by most of your fans but that does not mean you should not post regularly. Two per week is about the bare minimum.

2. Email Marketing
Just because it has been around for a long time, that does not mean that email marketing no longer works. You might not reach all the younger generation this way but if you have a decent database of addresses and create an informative compelling mail, you can still get good results. Best of all, it is totally free. 

3. Local Media
If you want to advertise a special offer or a sale, you will have to pay for an advert but local newspapers are always looking for a good story. If your company has done anything interesting or newsworthy, let the local media know and you could get some free publicity.
It is also important to take advantage of free listing sites that let you post free ads. This is a free and effective way to get your message across. 

4. Host an Event
An excellent way to cement relationships with existing customers and meet new ones is to host an event. This need not be an expensive exercise. Host it at your work premises and just have a few decent snacks and something to drink. 

Have people on hand to explain or demonstrate products or displays. Don’t make it too formal that you bore people but a brief speech thanking them for coming and a bit about your company is perfect. 

5. Vehicle Branding and Bumper Stickers
A great way to advertise your company and keep the name fresh in the customer's mind is vehicle branding. Your cars are on the road in traffic most of the day so it makes sense to have your brand proudly displayed. 
If you make an attractive bumper sticker that will appeal to people, this is an extremely cost-effective way to get the brand seen by thousands of people every day. Make it something unusual or witty that people will want to put on their cars and ensure the brand is clearly visible

6. Rewards Program
Rewards programs work well and are relatively simple to set up. If you have regular customers that spend a fair amount of money with you, you want to do everything in your power to keep them coming back. Rewards programs are perfect for this. They also give you another free opportunity to advertise and you can send the program members specials and new deals every so often. 

7. Network
There are lots of opportunities to network from formal networking meetings to other occasions. They key to being remembered is to do something different to all the others. Use a coffee mug instead of a business card or a similar item that people will value and use often. 

A business card will probably end up in the bin whereas a coffee mug or interesting item will sit on their desk as a constant reminder of you and your company. There are lots of new and exciting promotional items that you can brand that are not too expensive. 

Then you have to work the event, making sure you speak to as many people as possible. Engage with them and give them a branded item to remember you by. 

Final thoughts
If budgets are tight and traditional advertising is becoming expensive, you just need tobe a bit more creative. These 7 ideas will get you going with effective but inexpensive ways of marketing and advertising your company.  Don’t let a tight budget stop your advertising as it is essential to keep drawing in customers.