5 Low-Cost Advertising Ideas for Local Businesses

Looking for ways to stretch your marketing budget and get your name in front of local prospects when money is tight?

If the budget is lean and your back is against the wall, don’t stress. Embrace the opportunity.

“It helps to have your back against the wall. Adversity is a huge advantage — as long as you think of it as an advantage — because it helps you do things you never thought you were capable of doing.”

Billionaire Phillip Anschutz

You get creative with your back against the wall.

Some of the best business ideas come out of that creativity.

“To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”

George Kneller

It’s true. 

To spark the big ideas, sometimes you have to dive into the very basics of everything you do.

In this article, we are going to go back to the basics and help you find impact producing, low-cost advertising ideas and strategies to grow your business.

Sometimes that means getting more from what you are currently doing. Sometimes that means taking risks in areas you’ve never attempted. It almost always means you are going to have to roll up the sleeves and do some work. 

But you’re used to that.

Below, you will learn ideas to:

  1. Figure out your ideal, target audiences — the ones that will get you immediate sales.
  2. Understand the most important ways to track your results and refine your advertising.
  3. Use social media effectively in your local area.
  4. Focus your website and digital to make your sales funnel lean and mean. 
  5. Expand your success and to tell your story in an integrated, cohesive marketing strategy. 

The key to low-cost local business advertising is efficiency — a combination of reducing costs while increasing your sales conversion rates. Let’s get to it!

Idea 1: Concentrate on generating immediate sales from your local business advertising

You may be wondering where’s the best place for a local business to advertise? Or what are the best, most affordable small business advertising tactics?

Most marketing professionals like to start where they know they should get sales. 

Where is the low hanging fruit? Who are the audiences most likely to convert?

For instance, brand traffic always converts the highest on Google Search pay per click ads. Whether it’s your brand, a competitor’s, a product brand … someone who is searching for that specific brand name most likely knows they are close to purchasing.

It makes sense, right?

If someone is searching your business name on Google, that person is pretty far down the sales funnel. 

So why start here? 

Because this traffic should convert. If it doesn’t, you have problems.

If they click to your website and they aren’t converting to a lead or sale, you may realize something in the sales funnel isn’t working.

Whether it’s the website, the pricing, the tracking … if you can’t produce immediate, successful sales from the most targeted, most likely to convert traffic — that low hanging fruit — you may still have a few bugs to work out before expanding your advertising.

Know your audience. Know what the low hanging fruit is. Listen to your customers. Learn from them. Really understand who your best customers are and why.

Start with them.

Here are a few ideas and considerations to help your local business hit the ground running and generate immediate sales so you can efficiently expand and build your local business client base in a more low-cost manner.

Leverage your sales team to really understand the ideal target audience for your small business

Here is the ugly: Your sales team is the first-responder to your customer, and after a phone call, they know a heck of a lot more about them than your analytics dashboard. 

So why not leverage your sales team better by gathering intel about your hottest customer archetype, in preparation for your award-winning ads campaign?

Let me be clear — if you know your target customers, you will win at advertising, and your non-savvy business competition will lose. 

You should also know a loyal advocate will purchase or refer (up to 10x more) than the average customer. 

10x. That’s significant at scale.

Now, Is finding your target audience easy? No, and you likely don’t actually know your best customer archetype.

Even if you’ve decided in advance what you think your target audience might be, there may nuances you can learn by talking with your sales staff. Sure, you might be able to make a solid attempt at putting your own marketing resources to work by pulling what you know from your head. But see what others on the front line have to say. 

Every little bit of customer knowledge you can gain is an edge you can use to lower your costs in local business marketing. 

Also, if possible, you should target those who you know will most likely become your most loyal customers. Talk to staff to develop that customer persona. This will ultimately help you find your best audiences without breaking the bank.

Leverage third-party tools to figure out your target local audience 

A great way to figure out your customer base is by getting their demographic data. You can get demographic data in a number of ways, especially through brief questionnaires through the mail or on your website or this is can help you figure it out to 10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market.

Oh, surveys are a good option too.

These methods will allow your customers to share their information, like location, age and name, etc.

An easy way to understand who your target customer is can be found through Google Ads. This is where we typically start. By simply running ad campaigns in Google Ads, Google will identify interests, affinities, demographics and other details about your website visitors. As this data builds, you can learn valuable insights into your target customers — maybe they are green living enthusiasts or, like in the below graphic, are 17.1 times more likely to be interested in Trips to the San Francisco Bay Area. 

There are hundreds of data points that can be gathered automatically to build out your target customer profile. Knowing these details can be leveraged in many creative ways (and can also be used to your advantage with your advertising).

Why is understanding your local business clients important? 

Is advertising online easy? No, it’s long been gamified and mastered by many. Also, these advertising platforms are engineered to generate more revenue for their own company, not necessarily yours per se. 

They can be highly inefficient when you start trying to target by audience or keyword.

Only a minuscule percentage of potential customers will actually start paying off which will counterbalance your investments. This can get expensive.

But success is in how relevant and compelling you can be to your audience in order to get that sales conversion.

Want to be efficient with your local business advertising? Be relevant.

Relevant. That’s the key takeaway.

The more you know about your target audience, the more relevant you can be.

The more relevant you can be, the more likely you are to see those high converting, immediate sales.

Once you can build up your audience information, you will have a better understanding of who your customers are and, therefore, be more relevant to them.

Learn how to listen to your small business customer

They are telling you things. They do it all the time. Are you listening?

For instance, when they are leaving reviews of your products you can identify how your products and/or services are working and better tune your product to keep your target audience and customers.

Listening to your customers’ needs is key when making the effort to get your sales up. Making the customer a part of the conversation is vital for boosting sales of your products and services. (A side benefit, they will feel more involved with you and will be more prone to buy the products that you’re selling.)

Since things have advanced so greatly in terms of advertising, we have a wealth of digital advertising technology to set the tone for any advertising conversations.

Further Reading

Digital advertising helps us reach our target audience and reach them in a much more efficient way than it would have many years ago.

For instance, in the days of direct mail, it took months and months to gather data and results of your split testing. With digital advertising that can be reduced to days.

Depending on your target audience, these days most people use digital devices to shop, find deals and interact with businesses about their products. In most cases, the interaction is highly valuable for both the business and the customer.

Customer conversation through a digital medium is the driving force for successful digital advertising (and all advertising in general).

Customers are feeling a sense of inclusion as they realize they are able to get their voices heard by being a part of the overall business functioning process. This also comes with engaging your customers for a response, especially on social media.

See how this company responds to a customer’s review of their experience:

By interacting with your customers it makes them feel more valued, that they are not beneath you, and you aren’t just a business trying to push a brand without any care about them.

Most of all, by listening, you can keep your focus towards your loyal customer base with advertising and incentive sales promotions that speak to their interests.

Engaging your customers in a conversation simply takes time and effort. And most importantly to our overall topic, you don’t have to open your wallet and spend money to do it. It’s a low-cost tactic for local businesses.

Understand what promotions are sufficient to small business customers

Most local businesses use some type of promotion. Whether it’s to promote off-peak times, upsell or upgrade a service, or build awareness, it’s a common local business tactic.

Because you use promotions to garner more attention from your consumers, especially in an effort to get them to buy your product and services, you should focus your attention on the promotion at hand. The one you are most likely doing now.

When trying to create a successful promotion, it has to be a well-understood and visible promotion by the target audience you’re trying to gain or keep (by keep, we mean your loyal customer base).

Are your current promotions as visible as they could be?

Are they easy to understand?

Ultimately, you need to know how to promote your own promotions.

How do you promote promotions?

The tactics can vary from the good old word of mouth, which can be from both employees and loyal customers, to such things like PR releases, flyers, email campaigns, social media, commercials, copy in your Google ads — and above all else your website and place of business.

How many of those efforts are you currently undertaking with your local business?

None? Some? All?

Don’t know where to start? 

Some methods have extremely high ROI. For instance, you are likely to get a better rate of return with email promotions to your customer lists. 

This is typically the most affordable, low-cost, high-return approach.

It just takes your time and effort. If you are ignoring that, putting it off because you are too busy, maybe try to hire a little extra help. The ROI here should pay for itself.

Or consider retargeting your small business site visitors with remarketing ads that feature a new promotion. This type of campaign has a high ROI as your promotion can push those on the fence to take action. 

Run the promotion to your Facebook followers. Facebook advertising that highlights your promotion to your existing customer base can return great results. 

With that being said, many email, digital and print channels will keep your business generating money if given enough time for testing and optimization. Start with your existing customer base through email campaigns, remarketing campaigns, social media campaigns and build from there to find the true ROI-positive, business-building marketing tactics that work for you. 

Get your product marketed even before it’s ready to go on the market

Some people may be intimidated by this approach and that is with good reason. Some questions could be:

What if my product is not good enough to market yet? Don’t I have to wait until it’s perfected? What if I am not able to meet demand?

But if the money is tight, you may not have a choice. Again, if your back is against the wall, you’ve got to be creative.

You need momentum when your product is ready to go. Starting a marketing or awareness campaign before it’s ready can be highly beneficial. If everyone is clueless about your product because they have no knowledge of it coming out, you will likely work harder to advertise and market your product to boost its sales. Do you have that kind of time?

Prep an awareness campaign, one to inform your audience, change their behavior and create a positive image that will inspire and at the same time elevate your brand awareness. Inform the consumer that your product is coming soon…and the customer will be ready to buy.

No matter how you market your product before it comes out, all of your advertising must be relevant. It needs to be relevant because customers expect to see an ad that fits their needs and most relevant to what they are looking for in a product, as mentioned.

When advertising, businesses, especially small businesses need to get their prospective customers engaged in the product before it comes out. All of the right advertising across all mediums whether it’s a social media, website, commercial or print, these are certainly powerful advertisement platforms and can catch the viewers’ attention the first time they see the advertisement.

A powerful advertisement will also make customers remember that product and when it will be coming out. Since customer loyalty is earned, you have to go the extra mile to make sure your advertisement truthfully speaks to them and sending a purposeful yet, promising message. 

It’s like: Do you want a quick date with the customer purchasing your product once? Or: Do you want a commitment to building a long-lasting relationship with the customer, marrying the customer to your brand? It takes time and effort to build that relationship.

So the sooner you can start the courtship and engagement, the sooner you can get to the marriage once the product is released. 

Know how to not sell a comparison but sell the benefit of a product

Advertising solely about your business and its products and services is what will let customers know how you stand out. Generally, when you’re comparing yourself to another business then the customer feels as if there is room for doubt.

Have no fear, there are a few ways to make yourself stand apart from the competition without even mentioning them.

Quality…Cost…Quality + Cost equals selling yourself better.

Get a good look around at the competition. Think about how to find where a local business competitor is advertising. Know how they are pricing their products and services. This will give you a general idea of how to position yourself and better price your products. 

The quality of your advertisement should be as good as your product, but your product should still be great at any price point. If the quality of your product/service is better than the competition, people will remember your products and remember your business from that product’s advertisement.

Selling a product that affects a customer’s life in a positive way is also a method that lets you know you have combined both the Quality + Cost of your product.

Once you have locked in the market on certain products, then you won’t have to advertise so vigorously for that product because customers will remember to come back to it and why they enjoy it so much. Then you can shift focus to other products that might need help in the advertisement.

A comparison can highlight your business and products but keep in mind that you are solely selling your product for the benefits it has to the customer.

Here’s an example from Infusionsoft comparing with Active Campaign, an email service provider:

Infusionsoft realizes that their potential customers are looking for different alternatives, so what they did was address those objections and give a reason why their product is more superior.

You can advertise that your product is superior to another business but actions speak louder than words in most cases. Your product will really have to beat the competition in quality if you even speak of them in comparison.

If you come up short on the quality that will make your business look bad and boost the competition’s ratings.

Learn how to price your product and study labels, especially competitor labels. Figure out things that you can do better with your own products like extract harsh chemicals to make it more eco-friendly and play up that angle. Provide a value-added service that your competitor doesn’t.

The point is…never come up short when advertising you are better.

Be creative with your local business advertisements

When advertising you want to go against anything that may seem a bit too ordinary and stale.

To get more impact and more bang for your buck from advertising be unique. Thinking outside of the box can definitely make you stand apart in the industry and make your small business more efficient and effective in marketing.

Do you want to improve your company’s advertising? Get creative.

You may have a semi-successful brand but if you don’t, you need to know how to think outside the box when it comes to advertising and generating your business’s immediate sales. If your advertising is terrible then you can expect to have slow sales and not bring in much of a profit.

Slow sales, less profit… that’s what we’re trying to avoid.

Creativity never hurt anyone, and it certainly won’t hurt your business to try being different — as long as you can stay relevant to your customer. If it’s too abstract. If a connection to your product or service is not made, then that creativity may fall short.

Some approaches that you can take to advertising creatively and uniquely different are:

Cartoon shorts

One of the most powerful ways to advertise your small business is a creative advertisement animation. It is also profitable in promoting your business’s products with a minimal amount of effort.

You can create explainer videos that show your customers how to use your product or show why your product is better than the rest. You can get services like these done in Fiverr or Upwork for relatively cheap. We like low cost, big return!

Social media hash-tagging

If you don’t think so, hashtags are highly crucial to advertising. Hashtags can start movements worldwide. So the next time you’re on social media and see a hashtag just remember that thousands, if not, millions of people may see that hashtag.

You can use hashtags to expand your audience.

Using hashtags makes it easy to categorize your posts on many social sites. It also makes your business more visible on site searches. For example, if you hashtag: #jewelry, social media can classify your post as jewelry which will make it easy to find your posts when hashtag advertising. It is also free advertising which saves you money while trying to make sells. You can also engage your target audience with your business’s hashtags.

Urban marketing

If you live in a densely populated place, urban marketing could be a great strategy for your small business. People from urban environments are more likely to shop at the mall and/ or larger outlet centers which has a wide variety of different products ranging on different quality and pricing scale levels. These products tend to meet the requirements for loyalty consumers thus giving consumers more exposure to a particular brand.

Some urban marketing ideas that you can use to be creative in your community is by getting a mural painted that represents your store. Get an ad placed in a densely populated area. However, there are no limits to what you can do for your small business to market it with any urban marketing strategies.

Have a mural painted on a space

As discussed in urban marketing, you can commission a painted mural from a local artist if you want. Advertisements can be presented in many forms and if you can acquire a space for a mural, this will get your product and services more recognition.

Murals give your small business a sense of community feel and makes your business more personal to people within the community as well as outside of the community.

You can have a mural done in order to target your audience by advertising your business and this will engage more people to want to get to know what your business is about and what products or services you offer.

At the very least…big, bold ideas like this can get your creative juices flowing.

Contest marketing

Another approach that you can use is contest-marketing strategies. Contests highly appeal to any consumer; Why?  Because they have the opportunity to get something for free in regard to them winning the contest.

However, with contest marketing this also satisfies the consumer’s need for instant pleasure because it grasps power in urgency to influence consumer actions. It can influence consumer actions in a number of ways. Consumers need for instant pleasure because it grasps power in urgency to influence consumer actions as well. Urgency can influence consumer actions in a number of ways which is the point.

Contest promotions

Social media is the best platform to hold contest promotions, especially on whatever you’re advertising for your small business. Contest promotions can attract customers to your company or products.

With contest marketing, it should be effective in the sense that it has research benefits, promotional benefits, be cost-effective and boost the motive to get a customer to pay attention to your product and want to purchase that product.

From a research benefit, you can get your target audience demographic by having the ability to collect their information; names and contact information, age, etc.

Businesses generally use this approach in order to analyze better ways to promote their products and better promote future products to their consumers.

The benefits that come with promotional benefits is a contest will spark potential consumer’s interest and that you will get more brand recognition within the market place space.

Giving little promotional incentives such as a raffle, radio contest for tickets or something else, this can boost your business. Your business will be able to generate a following, especially if you use social media because people will follow and fan your business pages.

Offer something outrageous

If you are a local restaurant, create a $150 dessert. Something amazing. Go over the top with it.

Why? This is the kind of creativity that creates viral buzz. People start talking and spreading the word. And…people will actually purchase them to see what it’s all about.

These are just a small portion of ideas to get your brain brewing.

When it comes to being unique in your effort to create unique advertising strategies for your small business, there are tons of great ideas that you can come up with or follow and make them more custom to your creativity.

Idea 2: Wondering how to market your local business online? Measure the results with as much precision as possible

Any good marketing professional starts with tracking.

How am I going to measure the results of this ad campaign?

How will I know this ad copy is more effective than this other version? What promotion or incentive produced the best results?

Want low-cost advertising? You need to know your cost per acquisition (CPA).

There are many methods that will give you a basic idea of whether your ads are doing what you want them to.

Know your business goals and know that you can monitor the effectiveness of your ad campaigns by monitoring new customers, sales, website and brick and mortar traffic, information requests and click rates. 

The objective should be clear: To build and grow your business you need to identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

Compare your ad campaign sales before, during and after the campaign

This is the most basic tracking.

One thing you will have to remember is that advertising will most likely have a delayed effect which can also be cumulative. The immediateness of ad-driven sales may not even be possible.

Comparing your campaign sales with metrics before, during and after the campaign is a highly important way for you to understand how your campaign is shifting. Ultimately, this will help you to keep track of your results to see how your results are in terms of rising or declining.

Of course, gathering metrics before, during and after the campaign can help you see how you’ve done with your budget, targeting and schedule.

This can also help you with future campaigns and how well you execute them to have a better ROI.

With that being said, you have to set the benchmark and there can be more than one.

First:  You need to figure out which metric is most important to you when starting an advertising campaign; i.e. your KPI. Then pick that metric as the focal point of your campaign.

Second: You need enough data for a valid comparison. Is the online traffic the same or different than other campaigns? If it’s different, maybe look at “rate” data (conversion rates, click-through rates, etc.). That will be easier for comparisons.

Third: You can analyze your campaign by comparing them to campaigns from the past that are seemingly similar. This will help you do better on future campaigns. You can configure this by the objective of your campaign, the reach of your campaign or the marketing channel used. For instance, while it’s important to compare how Facebook did compared to Google. Better comparisons are how your current Facebook campaign compared to previous similar Facebook campaigns. 

Figure out how to track your local business traffic

Whether you’re a small business in retail or another industry, tracking traffic is a highly simple, yet effective way for you to know if your advertising is working for or against you.

You’ll begin to realize this by counting the number of people who enter your establishment whether it’s brick or mortar or a website if it’s online.

You must monitor all traffic before you start any ad campaign and this will definitely give you better structure when doing your comparisons. You need that baseline data for comparison.

Analytics can be as simple as looking at your site visitors to some very complex integrations with a single platform like Google Ads. (For a deep dive into that topic, check out 15 Google Analytics to Maximize Your Google Ads Marketing Performance.) 

It’s up to you how deep into the numbers you want to go. But the more familiar you are, the more affordable you will make your local business advertising.

Give small business customers a variety of incentives and compare effectiveness

You don’t just want to compare marketing channels to marketing channels or campaigns to campaigns. You also want to compare offers.

Let’s go back to discussing promotions and incentives, you can offer them to customers for a variety of reasons (upgrades, loyalty, off-peak sales, etc.) 

But how much should you offer?

This is why nailing down your tracking and measurement is so important. Does a 20% off promotion drive more sales than a 15% offer? Is the increase in sales substantial enough to offer the larger amount?

Suppose you were trying to drive sales on a Tuesday. You ran an offer for 15% off every Tuesday for 4 straight weeks. Next month you decide to offer 20% off every Tuesday as that month’s special offer. What’s the net impact of that increase?

Maybe you track these offers by marketing channel and learn that your Facebook ad campaigns performed twice as good as your Google Ads campaigns.

Now you can act on that data and focus more spend on Facebook with the right incentives, discounts and special offers in the mix.

One other side benefit of incentives and offers is that people like to share really good offers. If they know something is a high value and for a limited time, they might let their friends know on social media.

For real low-cost, high-value marketing, see if you can find someone an influencer who might be interested in your promotion. Influencers who are well known on social media platforms and mention your offer to their followers can be a huge win. This would allow you to build your business a broader range of people.

If you find one that really works well, then measure their fans and followers to learn more about them. What’s the age range of the follower? What do they like by what they influencer?. Keep in mind, that sometimes influencers’ fans can fall within a specific age group and sometimes they can have a broad range of variety in age followers and fans.

Some, however, have a lot of commonalities that you can learn from to leverage in your own social campaigns. Knowing what works and how to measure it is vital to any efficient marketing efforts.

Call Tracking: Your local business’s new best friend

No matter what local business you are in, it is critical in local business advertising to track your phone calls. Knowing which Google ad, Facebook ad, print ad, billboard, etc. produced phone calls is vital to effective, efficient local business marketing.

Call tracking is essential for local businesses. If it seems difficult, it’s not.

It’s actually very easy, and with the proper knowledge you will become a call tracking master.

Or at least proficient enough to be a savvy local marketer.

You may already be spending money on pay per click (PPC) advertising, your website or a host of other different things that you feel are going to make your marketing strategy work.


If you don’t have call tracking it can make figuring out what your marketing strategies are a bit more difficult than it should be. Call tracking can help businesses to figure out what AdWords Keywords are best and have the best rate conversions within your ad campaign. This can also help you to better budget your advertising more effectively.

 Call tracking has the ability to:

  1. Give you a better understanding of ROI for your small business
  2. Not break the budget (Google even has a free product!)
  3. Increase your leads
  4. Increase the effectiveness of all ad strategies.
  5. Work with your existing phone numbers
  6. Dynamically change your phone number on your website for each visitor.
  7. Be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. 

How does it typically work?

Let’s say your an electrician looking for leads and you place an ad in Google ads. A potential customer searches for “electrician near me.” This prospect clicks on your ad, comes to your site, sees your phone number and now calls you. This is a pretty straight forward process, right?

And it would be important to know how they got to your site…so you can get more of that traffic.

The key to tracking is rerouting users through a forwarding phone number.


With Google’s free call tracking in their ad platform, all you have to do is add some code to your website. This code will change out the phone numbers for every visitor sent to the site from their ads.

Once a visitor calls that number, it forwards to your main line. Then, it reports back to Google Ads that a call came from this campaign, this ad group, this ad, this keyword, etc.

That’s valuable data you can use to optimize your campaigns.

If you want to track results from other ad platforms and channels, then you will likely need a third-party call tracking company (Call Rail, for example, is popular).

This will allow you to track all your digital channels and it can even pull this data into your Google Analytics account.

If this sounds complicated, it’s not. These companies will also help guide you through the setup process on your website.

But what if you want to track something that’s not on your website? A billboard or print ad for example?

All you need is a simple call forwarding number (Ring Central, for example, can provide these for a few dollars a month). Place one on your ad and you can even have it announce to you the source of that call (“Call from print ad”) before you are connected to the prospect or customer.

Measuring phone calls is often an area skipped by your competitors. They often don’t know about the above options. Use that to your advantage for some affordable and effectively measure local advertising for your business.

Set goals and deadlines to set up proper small business tracking and measurement — it’s important!

If you’re still unsure of what it is you’re trying to achieve for your small business advertising…

The answer is tracking…tracking…tracking…

Not just tracking one part of your business, but all sources of contact that leads to success (and failure).

If you only set up one form of tracking, you are not getting a complete and accurate picture of your business. And you will be wasting money on advertising.

If you feel like the above points we discussed is a bit overwhelming, it is best to map a goal and get yourself some deadlines and tasks to get you there. SMART goals can help you in achieving that.

As a small business owner or marketer, things can get overwhelming. You are pulled in multiple directions on a daily basis. You may want to set up some of the above tracking ideas, but soon find yourself pulled sideways…

…and days of delay turn into weeks and those turn into months.

Tracking and measuring are mission-critical to your small business’s success. You can’t rely on dumb luck for success. SMART goals will make you smarter. 

Don’t let less important tasks sidetrack you. Measuring, tracking, setting up analytics is vital to low-cost, effective local business advertising.

Measurement and tracking give you clarity.

SMART goals, attached to deadlines, will give you clarity in what needs to be done … to achieve that clarity in measuring success for your business.

Idea 3: Use Facebook advertising and social media to grow your local business

From an overall advertising standpoint, digital marketing may be considered the most efficient way to advertise your business. It’s just so measurable. 

Of the digital options available to you, upwards of 85% to 90% of businesses claim that social media boosted their company’s exposure effectively.

For a local business, building an effective social media presence in your community can pay big dividends.

Think about your circle of friends on social media. Certainly, it expands out of your local region…but there is a very large section of your friends in your immediate area. This is the case for most people.

Using Facebook and other social media has several advantages for getting your local business a heap of recognition in any industry. Nowadays, most people are loyal to social media and use it for many outlets.

Social networking has become a major force in almost all aspects of marketing strategies. Also, social media is a cost-effective way to get some great marketing attention. This resource has the potential to garner any business significant growth.

Some may argue that there aren’t any real tactics to get your business boosted with social media and question if they are effective, but finding the right tools can make your social media marketing most successful.

Social Media can:

  1. Target your local community.
  2. Get you higher conversion rates
  3. Get you more inbound traffic
  4. Improve your search engine rankings
  5. Increase brand awareness
  6. Bring customer satisfaction to your business

If you implement a great social media strategy, it is what will make people notice your company more within the digital space and it will increase your brand recognition in your local community.

Local businesses rely on a lot of word of mouth business. People ask their friends which company is best for ______ all the time. They do this on social, whether that’s Facebook, Next Door, Instagram or other platforms.

With social media, you’ll be engaging both existing and potential customers while generating a much broader-based audience with an increased following.

Let’s dive into it! 

Become familiar with the most common PAID SOCIAL MEDIA GOALS

If you’re going to incorporate social media into your campaign strategy you need to familiarize yourself with some of the more common goals. This will help inform your tactics and local business advertising ideas.

When implementing social media goals, these are the top 5 that are going to happen:

1) Get a visibility increase

Eyeballs on your business. You don’t want to be out of sight and out of mind.

The more awareness brought to your brand the more traffic, the more loyal customers, the more recognition and the more sales/purchases. 

Your visibility goals should be a priority in social media marketing so that you are increasing your “reach” to an audience and make a great first impression. 

“Reach” is an important metric on social media. This is the total number of people that have seen your ad. (This is not to be confused with impressions, which is the total number of times your ad was seen.)

Focus on reach within your local business area. This will work wonders for your campaign awareness.

2) Have an increase in engagement

When customers and potential customers are engaging with your content, you can measure engagement by likes, how many are sharing the content, as well as commenting on your content. It also generates a lot of conversation about your brand.

This “engagement” is social proof of your business. “If other people are liking it, it must be good.”

Engagement also increases your reach. People are sharing your content more. Your campaign suddenly got distributed to a higher number of people. You’ve gone viral. Etc. 

Engagement increases your overall brand awareness.

3) Rise in lead generation

When you have good reach and high engagement, good things follow.

People who see that social proof around your business, obviously will become more interested in what you are about and what you offer.

Because of this a high number of local businesses use paid social media ads to help boost lead generation.

4) How much should a local business spend on Facebook advertising or social media to see sales increase? 

Obviously, there are a lot of platforms for social media that businesses can use, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, etc. All of these have their own ad platforms with varying degrees of sophistication, costs and results.

Most businesses tend to start with Facebook (through Facebook’s interface, you can also target Instagram with a click of a button).

Just because that’s the most common place to start, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the most effective. Different products/services will get different results on different social media platforms. 

Ultimately, you need to commit to a platform and test it for a while.

You need to run different targeting options. These different targeting options will get different results. You need to constantly test your ad copy. Some versions will convert better than others. 

Once you are producing sales, this will help you determine how much to spend on each platform. (Ideally, you can figure out the lifetime customer value to really understand your ROI.)

To answer the question “How much does a local business spend on digital advertising each year?” … it’s simply different for every local business and every business category. Why? Because some businesses are better at optimizing all of the above in a profitable manner. 

All those variables above will determine how much you should spend on Facebook and other platforms. (Some digital marketing agencies like to have at least $1,000-$1,500 a month minimum to spend on their clients’ social campaigns because they need a good flow of data to optimize by. That’s not to say that’s the minimum, but that’s why they like a minimum. Otherwise, it takes a while to build data.) 

This is why tracking your success is vital to determine ROI and appropriate advertising spend. What’s right for one business may not be right for you.

5) You will notice a traffic Increase

Social media can definitely increase your traffic. It can also bring more people to your website, product landing pages and to your social media pages.

Traffic is great…but you want to convert traffic to lower the cost of your local business advertising.

So be aware, not all traffic is the same.

When choosing the right social media network, you want to make sure that it’s the right platform for you. A B2B business may lean more toward LinkedIn than a platform like Next Door, which is more B2C oriented. Is imagery important to your business? Maybe try Instagram.

A lot of the social media channels have different benefits which can work to your advantage. Understand the differences before you commit your time and resources to build a presence there.

Tip: Look at the advertising options they have available to you. One platform may be able to give you specific job functions that might be vital for B2B targeting. Another platform might not have those at all, but could have various in-market audiences exactly for your business.

Find out where your audience is, how you can reach them and build from there.

Consider also that maybe you just want to focus on your own audience — your site visitors. It’s a great practice to just run remarketing campaigns on social media. Once someone leaves your site without a purchase, you can target them again on the various social media platforms.

This can be especially useful if you have an e-commerce website and you want to target people who put a product in their cart, but didn’t check out. (Here’s an in-depth read on Ecommerce Retargeting with Facebook to find out more about that tactic.)

Idea 4: Focus your local business website and digital footprint to be a lean, mean sales machine

There’s a wide variety of advertising ideas for small businesses, but which ideas really fit your needs? Are they all on your website? Is your website just filled with clutter? Can people understand your website?

Sometimes a website will become a hot mess of all these ideas.

Competing offers. A variety of calls to action. Multiple colors and images. Too many options and choices can become a roadblock in your sales funnel.

As a small business owner, you’re probably looking for ways to grow your business by drawing in a wider customer base whether it’s local or a customer base expanding around the globe. You probably want to speak to large clients as well as small. It’s hard to be everything to everyone.

Your website design and content need to be pristine. People need to be able to access your website and its content with ease.

If not… 

  • It can tank your conversion rates.
  • Give off the wrong impression about the quality of your service.
  • Make you look dated and even obsolete.
  • Develop unnecessary anxiety when you are trying to overcome that.
  • Confuse your ideal customers to the point that they leave.

Some local businesses spend so much time perfecting their brick and mortar location and experience that they neglect that same experience online. This can be an anchor holding you back from everything we’ve discussed above and everything you want to accomplish with your business.

Consider the following statistics:

Yes, your digital presence is important.

Consider that it only takes a few seconds to look at your website, press the back button on a browser and click on a competitor instead.

To quote Eminem:

If you had
One shot
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?”

Let’s dive into your web presence.

Are there any misconceptions when it comes to running a small business website? Absolutely.

Misconception #1: One of the greatest misconceptions of a small business owner is that a website is a website and it will magically grow the business by just existing.


You’ve got work to do to still get your site noticed.

The only way to do that properly is to get traffic to your site. To do that, you go about some of the things we discussed above. Advertise on Google, Facebook, etc. You add your site to your Google My Business listing. Write blog articles for SEO (or hire an SEO agency). Or hire a top local PPC agency. Add the site to your brochures, business cards, emails, etc.

You promote the crap out of it.

Misconception #2: Once you build a website, you don’t need to work on it for a while.


This is not like a new car that should run fine without any issues. That’s how most seem to treat their new website.

In an ideal situation, you get traffic to your site. You get conversions and have data to work with.

Suppose your conversion rate was 3%? This is pretty common. But that also means that 97% aren’t converting.

That 3% might even be great for business. You could have a steady flow of customers and be happy with the results. 

But what if you could bump that to 6%? If you could double those conversion rates and double your website revenue would that be worth it?

Of course.

That’s why your work isn’t done after you launch a site and send traffic to it. You need to work on your Conversion Rate Optimization.

This may involve some redesigning, some split testing of landing pages and offers, some new calls to action. 

You need to go from version 1.0 of your site to 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.0, 2.1, etc. It’s a process of evolution.

Misconception #3: More is better.

As you can see, you might be making a lot of changes and additions to your site. Just know that “more” isn’t always better.

Sometimes you have a lot of ideas for your local business. Over time you add them one by one and now you have something like this:

Colors, ideas, button sizes and shapes … overload!

And now it’s a mess. 

A common mistake that local service businesses make when building their websites is adding too much. They simply feel that they are not adding enough content, when in fact a little bit goes far in website design and content.

More isn’t always better.

Getting online with your local business

So where to start?

First, there’s really no time like starting now. If you’ve been putting this off, don’t do that anymore. If you have a brick and mortar store and aren’t selling anything online, having a website will promote your local business 24/7.

Customers will be able to directly use your website to sell themselves on your business or shop their heart’s desires if you have e-commerce. A website will enable you to be able to advertise, promote any store specials, and generate leads 24/7, whether your office or store is open or not.

Getting sales when you sleep? Sounds good, right?

Roll up the sleeves and get to work.

Start by looking at your competition.

See what design trends your competitors are using. If you are looking at lead gen for your contractor business, check out other similar contractor sites in your area. But don’t stop there. Check out other local contractors in other cities and states. See what websites appeal to people shopping in your industry.

You don’t have to be an expert to see trends when observing these websites. Take notes on what is common and the ideas you see with frequency. This is free competition research.

Look at the sites that really seem to have their act together. Use the Way Back Machine to see how they may have evolved their site. The good ones may have spent tens of thousands of dollars over time perfecting their site to where it is.

There’s no reason you can’t benefit from that knowledge.

Look at how they built their site. A great tool to find out what a competitor’s site is made out of is BuiltWith:

Knowing what works well within your current market will help overcome the “where to start?” question quickly.

How to simplify your local business site

Now, if you’re like most local businesses, you already have a website. You may have even gone through several evolutions and versions.

Let’s talk about how to simplify your website.

Why is this important?

Well, when visitors come to your site you have about 3 seconds…maybe up to 10 seconds…time frame to convince them to stay on your website so they can see what your site has to offer. 

If a visitor can’t navigate your website well, game over, they are gone.

And visitors are not a patient bunch. Consider that 57% will leave the site if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

They will go elsewhere and possibly pay higher prices for a lesser product and/or service. For the customer’s sake, make sure the website is clear and concise and very easy to navigate from one page to another. 

Don’t clutter your website with unnecessary junk. Definitely don’t put irrelevant videos and photos and other content that doesn’t make sense to what you’re trying to sell.

Be as focused as possible. 

If you are a local marketing specialist, don’t just send traffic to your home page. For instance, if someone clicked on an ad about your carpet cleaning lead generation service, send them to a page about just that.

Your website has a purpose and that is to get to the point of your relevant product or service. And do it quickly.

Create content that is useful to your local business clients

Organization is a key to being able to build important, fresh/new content to help your local SEO, and at the same time not overwhelm visitors.

Keep your service pages tight. Give people what they need to know. Refine your calls to action. Make them lean and mean.

But for new content, designed for SEO, use your blog.

SEO-friendly content will help to get your website and its content noticed. This will aid your website in attracting new site traffic and keep your loyal customers, loyal.

Blogs can help you as a small business develop a connection with your customers and potential customers. You need to provide value.

Link back to your service or product pages from your blog where it makes sense. But provide something worthwhile as the blog will often be an entry point to your site.

Finely tune your small business website for marketing

Whether your website is already up and functioning up or newly functioning, it’s always a good time to delve into it. Make it work for your business instead of having it work against you.

Something to consider with your website is adding direct content to it — simple, direct call to action messaging.

Just about all of your content on your website should let your visitors know that they are on your website to do something. Without proper, clean calls to action you may not push them through that funnel to take action. 

Your website could call for customers to engage in many different forms such as softer calls to action like following you on social media. Or harder calls to pick up the phone or set an appointment.

Keep pushing them through that sales funnel in different ways and consider that they are in different stages of the sales funnel.

If it’s an invite to opt-in to something this will likely get their attention as well as gently but firmly asking them to purchase your products and services.

Most consumers need the extra nudge to get them moving into action. Your website should offer the right nudge at the right time. Do it clearly and thoughtfully.

Make it easy for customers to navigate your site for purchases

Make your site very easy. Get second and third opinions about how your website looks. Have them navigate the site and watch their behavior. 

Use third-party tools like Lucky Orange to watch how that local business traffic behaves on your site by looking through video sessions of users.

Is there a hitch in the sales funnel? Are people stopping and leaving the site at certain points?

Ideally with fine-tuning your website’s checkout, you should always make sure that the checkout process on your website is easy and there’s no barriers that the customer can’t get past in order to finalize a purchase. One-page checkout is ideal.

Make sure that you are doing a website maintenance regularly to find any kinks in your site. Sometimes when looking at these video sessions of your site, you will see something broken that is confusing people.

You can even present ways for customers to give you feedback about your site and the clarity of your website. Build a questionnaire or survey asking them their overall experience when shopping on your site, including the clarity of content and ease of purchase.

The point is to pay close attention to the site behavior. 

It’s not like the register on the counter at your business where you are present for the sale. You have to make an effort online to be present. To study that behavior.

If something is confusing to them, if you have confusing navigation and too many choices, your site visitors will stop in their tracks. They might get frustrated. They might suddenly go from being in the mood to purchase to now being not so sure.

Keep that sales funnel a simple, clean process without an obstacle course for your potential customers to get through!

Idea 5: Develop an integrated market strategy for your small business

If you don’t know what integrated marketing strategies are, we’ll help you learn here.

Before we delve into the concepts behind integrated marketing strategy, let’s get into what options are out there for small businesses.

Businesses generally use traditional, mobile, web-based, social media direct and email marketing. 

However, in the world we live in today, there are certain things that small businesses need to know and do. Digital marketing has basically monopolized the way marketing is more efficiently and substantially done. 

Because of their efficiency, marketers can often test and refine their campaigns on digital platforms before rolling them out into the non-digital.

An integrated marketing strategy combines the channels and tactics into one unified ad campaign.

The Association of National Advertisers definites integrated marketing as:

“…an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force. It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer.”

Good integrated marketing doesn’t just carry a slogan from marketing channel to marketing channel — it tells a story about you and your brand. 

Instead of scattered messages across different channels, all of your marketing endeavors should work together to pull your customers in the right direction. 

Building relationships — a key component of any local business advertising

With your advertising, to achieve sales you are usually trying to:

  1. Elevate your brand awareness
  2. Establish a solid reputation in the marketplace, and
  3. Build a relationship with your customers

When you truly connect in an integrated marketing campaign, the customers not only come…they become strong advocates for your local business. As they might share a good promotion, they will also share and advocate a clever marketing campaign.

One of the most effective methods of advertising is generating word of mouth referrals. To do that, you must first work on building relationships.

Conversations such as; “Hey did you see the new eye care cream advertisement by [Your Company] on Facebook?” or “Did you catch the TV commercial about [Your Company]?”

When you find a concept that works and resonates with customers…when you’ve tracked the results and compared them to your previous advertising…and you know this works really well — that’s when you roll out an integrated marketing strategy to carry that story through your different channels.

Don’t water down the impact of your local business integrated marketing campaigns — plan for a tight focus

As a small business, you aren’t likely to carry an integrated marketing campaign across as many channels as large businesses. You most likely don’t have the workforce needed.

Having different minds and a lot of them working and focusing on one project can make a difference in the overall success of your campaign. That’s an advantage of an integrated campaign where everyone rallies around one idea.

But as a small local business, you need to focus.

Just executing in one marketing channel can be tough. Add in two or three or four and now you risk watering down the effectiveness of each.

If you have several things going on with your business and you are overwhelmed, you can set your campaign up for failure. You may miss many key points, tactics and nuances to deliver your strategies. 

Creating an integrated marketing campaign is a bit more extreme than a newspaper, billboard or even a social media campaign. There is no definite rules to follow when it comes to being creative and creating a solid integrated marketing campaign. But as a small business, certainly don’t bite off more than you can chew.

So much detail goes into the decisions of making your business great that figuring out what marketing channels will be most successful is usually something that will come with time. If you are good in a few areas, the focus there.

Again, to save money and budget, look for the most relevant low hanging fruit you can with your marketing.

Focus on those customers you know are likely to convert in those channels you know you are comfortable with. 

Then tell your story.

Some final thoughts on low-cost advertising for your local business

If you’re a local business looking for the most efficient, low-cost ways to advertise your business there’s a list of things that you’re going to have to change about the way you’re running your business. 

Efficiency means you are lean, converting visitors at a high rate. You are winning the moment with your customers with more and more frequency.

To get to that point requires focus and effort — focus on the right things and effort in the right places.

Go back to the fundamentals of everything you do. Go back to the basics and clean them up. Get them right. Get creative with them.

Hopefully, your head isn’t spinning at this point.

Just understand this…

Whether you’re trying to build relationships with customers new and old, boost your sales, expand your social presence, get yourself ranked in the search engines better … don’t feel intimidated by wanting better for your small business.

It’s a process.

Take an idea you want to accomplish, make a SMART goal with a deadline for it, and get after it.

Then tackle another. And another.

Eventually, you will look down and realize you just climbed that mountain. 

Yeah, it was hard.

But the view is great.

Further Reading