39 (sneaky but brilliant) free advertising ideas (2023)

Whether your business is new or well-established, large or small, you need advertising.

But that doesn’t mean you need a Super Bowl-sized budget to get the word out. There are plenty of free advertising ideas that work for companies of all sizes and are especially useful if you’restarting a new business.

Just look at brands like Rolls-Royce, Kiehls, or Huy Fong Foods (the makers of Sriracha) — all brands thatdon’t bother with paid advertising. Instead, they use free tactics like social media and word-of-mouth campaigns to raise brand awareness

And you can too.

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The best free ad ideas

To get you started, we rounded up 40 of the best free advertising ideas for businesses — many of which you should be taking advantage of even if you do have a big advertising budget.

1. Claim any existing profiles or listings

There are hundreds of online directories, lists, and review sites out there. Make sure you’ve claimed your business’s listing on sites like Yelp and ensure that any information is up to date.

2. Find other opportunities to get listed

Look for opportunities to list your business on any directories or review sites that you’re not already using. There may be business directories related to your industry or niche, and neighborhood, city, and state listings for local businesses with physical locations.

3. Google your business

Make sure yourGoogle business listingis up to date. This is likely the first thing someone will see when they search for your business, so make sure your profile is fully completed and optimized. Upload some photos (or better yet, videos!) and don’t forget to add your operating hours and contact information.

If you have a local business with a physical bricks-and-mortar location, this is especially important, since it helps ensure your business appears on Google Maps.

4. Join the conversation

Look for discussions and forums related to your business or industry — your customers may even already be discussing your business online!

Remember that you don’t want to just push in with a link and an obvious advertisement. Instead, try to add value by answering questions, sharing your expertise, or, in cases where a customer is unhappy, making a good faith effort to help. Forum threads tend to remain searchable for years, so a single post can generatepassive incomefor a long time.

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5. Comment on blogs and articles

Likewise, look for blog posts and articles by thought leaders or businesses that are related to yours, but not direct competitors.Leave thoughtful comments(avoid appearing spammy!) sharing your perspective on the topic.

6. Start blogging

If you’re notalready blogging, you should be! Sharing relevant content consistently has a significant impact on where your website appears in search results. The higher up the page you are, the more likely customers are to find you.

39 (sneaky but brilliant) free advertising ideas (1)

Blogging is a tried and true ad idea that helps customers find you through organic search.

7. Host and/or participate in Twitter chats

Twitter chats are an easy way get your name out there. If you don’t have the bandwidth to host your own, there are plenty of opportunities to share your perspective in existing chats. Find chats related to your industry in this list fromTweetReports.

8. Start an email newsletter

Emailis one of the best advertising tools available. Here’s why: the people on your email list have opted in to receiving advertisements and other messaging from you. They’ve handed over something of value (theiremail address) in exchange for offers or information from you. Make sure to use it wisely!

9. Speak at an event

Look for opportunities to share your expertise by speaking at a conference or event or participating on a panel. By choosing an event that’s closely aligned with your business or industry, you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader and getting in front of an audience that’s (hopefully) a good fit for your business or product.

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Position yourself (and your business) as a thought leader through speaking engagements.

10. Meet the press

You don’t need an expensivePR firmto write and submit press releases to your local or industry news. Write up press releases for your big announcements and use a free submission service to get the word out —check out this listfor free distribution services to try.

11. Post on Reddit

There aresubredditsfor every topic under the sun. The key to posting on Reddit as a business is to avoid being salesy and to be transparent about the fact that you’re representing a business. Make an effort to participate in the community and be genuine and helpful.

12. Offer to guest blog

Look for opportunities to contribute a guest post on sites or blogs related to your industry. This tactic can help drive traffic to your website and build your name as a thought leader in your niche. Check outKissmetric’s guidefor tips on getting started.

13. Repurpose your content

Repurposing existing content is a great way to get more mileage out of content you already have — for free. Whether it’s polishing up an outdated blog post, turning an existing Ebook into an email course, or transforming a listicle into an engaging video, repurposing gives you more opportunities for exposure to whole new audiences.

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39 (sneaky but brilliant) free advertising ideas (4)

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Awesome Product Launch

14. Ask for referrals

Asking your best customers for referrals is a free, easy way to get word of mouth advertising. A recommendation from a friend is considered themost credible formof advertising. But many people won’t think to refer a friend to your business themselves, which is why it’s so important to make the ask.

39 (sneaky but brilliant) free advertising ideas (21)

Word of mouth is probably the oldest ad idea out there — for good reason.

15. Create infographics

Infographics are a way to turn not-so visually appealing data into engaging, highly shareable content. And thanks to visual social media networks like Pinterest, infographics have a way of spreading far and wide.

Pro tip:Turn your infographic into an eye-catching video, perfect for social media. Get started with aninfographic video template.

16. Reward your customers

Piggybacking off our last tip, consider ways to reward your loyal customers, especially for referrals or positive reviews. Sending some free swag, free product, or offering a small discount are all great ways to incentivize customers and build goodwill. If your customers share their good experience on social media, even better!

17. Create a website

Hopefully you’ve already done this, but if not, it’s time! Tools like Wix, Weebly, and WordPress allow anyone tocreate a website, no development skills needed. And there are aton of tutorials for WordPressand other website creators that make it incredibly easy to get started.

Whichever website-building tool you use, having a website goes a long way towards helping customers find you on search engines like Google.

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18. Keep your website updated

Once you’ve got a website, don’t just let it gather cobwebs. Updating it regularly with fresh content is important for ranking high in Google’s search results. Make sure your site is up-to-date and mobile-optimized. These days, if your website doesn’t work or doesn’t look good on mobile, many users will click away immediately.

19. Optimize for SEO

Using a free SEO tool likeYoastand conducting some basickeyword researchgoes a long way towards boosting your ranking in search results. Remember, the days of the Yellow Pages are long gone. Now people turn to Google to find a business, so it’s important to do all you can to help them find you.

20. Enter your business for awards

Look for awards offered by your local business or trade publications, Chamber of Commerce, and professional or nonprofit organizations. There are plenty of awards out there, but the truth is, getting nominated doesn’t come as a surprise — you’ve got to enter!

21. Volunteer

Giving back to local nonprofits not only helps you build goodwill and valuable connections in your community, it can help to build awareness about your business too. You can do a service project with your team, or serve in a leadership capacity, for example, by serving on a board of directors.

22. Ask for reviews

Reviews are hugely important, but did you know that people arefar more likely to share bad customer experiencesthan good ones? Even happy customers just aren’t all that likely to head to Yelp or Google and share their goodwill.

That’s why it’s so important to ask your best customers to share their good experiences with your brand.

23. Hold a workshop or webinar

Getting people in the door (in person or virtually) can go a long way towards building brand awareness. By providing a useful educational session that helps your ideal customer solve their problems, you’re building trust and connection, and ensuring they think of you next time they’re looking for a product or service like yours.

39 (sneaky but brilliant) free advertising ideas (22)

Build trust by creating a workshop or webinar that helps your ideal customer solve a problem.

24. Hold a contest or giveaway

You don’t have to spend a fortune on prizes for an effective contest or giveaway — in fact, you shouldn’t! Contests are most effective when the prize is closely related to your business For example: free product. Sure, you might get 1,000 entries if you give away an iPad, but are those people actually interested in what you do? Probably not.

25. Answer questions on Quora

When the internet has a question, Quora is often where it turns. Lots of businesses have found great success posting answers to questions on Quora, and doing so can build subject matter authority, add backlinks to your website, and drive traffic.

As always, strive to be helpful, not promotional — don’t just post a link to your blog and call it a day. Instead, look for questions related to your industry, especially if you’ve already got a blog post or video on a related topic. Then summarize the answer, and include a link to where people can learn more (if they like).

26. Make guest appearances on podcasts — or host your own!

Podcasts are an excellent way to reach a new audience. Lots of people don’t have time or don’t want to read written articles, but like tolisten to podcasts.

Reach out to the hosts of a few relevant podcasts and offer to be a guest. Even if you have your ownpodcast, appearing as a guest on others’ helps to expand your reach.

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Podcasts are everywhere. Get in on the action by appearing as a guest.

27. Attend networking events

For businesses of all sizes and industries, networking in person is one of the absolute best ways to build connections with potential customers or business partners. As powerful as paid ads can be, face-to-face connection and word-of-mouth remains one of the absolute best forms of advertising.

28. Form partnerships with other businesses

Say you’re a photographer — you probably have customers who also want to get their hair and makeup done. And if you’re a hair and makeup stylist, you most likely work with people preparing for special events like weddings, who might be looking for a photographer.

Forming relationships in which you work together and refer customers to one another is one incredibly valuable way to get free word of mouth advertising.

29. Develop your social media presence

Yes, it’s harder than ever to make an impact organically (read: for free) on social media. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Social media networks remain one of the most common places for people to learn about businesses.

In fact,25% of Millennial consumersstart with social media — not a Google search or visiting the company website — when researching a business. Make sure you have anactive presenceand fully completed profiles on whatever social media channels you opt to use.

30. Collaborate with another business or a nonprofit

Partnerships don’t have to be limited to referring customers to one another. Could you collaborate with another business or a nonprofit on a limited edition product? Or work together to host an event or contest? These tactics can help you reach a brand new audience since you and your partner will both be spreading the word on your marketing channels.

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31. Participate in local events

You don’t need to have a large sponsorship budget to participate in local events. Have your team volunteer as event staff, or donate event space, refreshments, your product as auction prizes, or a service related to your industry (for example, an audio company could provide sound.)

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You don’t need a large ad budget to participate in local events.

32. Make the most of your email signature

Is there a link to your website in your email signature? What about links to your social media channels? Your email signature is valuable, but often overlooked! You can even include a blurb about a current promotion or offer in this space.

33. Send cold emails

While many people are wary ofsending cold emailsfor fear of appearing spammy, when done well they can work — and they don’t cost a cent.

What’s important is to personalize your message, add a link to allow prospects to easilybook a callwith you, and keep itshort, actionable and valuable.

34. Open up your office

Offering your space for a meetup or other event is an outstanding way to build awareness about your brand. Partner with another business to provide refreshments and you won’t have to spend a dime!

35. Create brochures, flyers, or postcards

Sure, there’s nothing groundbreaking about offlineadvertising like fliers. But the fact is, they do still work. For the cost of some paper and toner, you can whip up flyers and brochures to leave in coffee shops or other locations where your target customer spends time.

36. Publish content on LinkedIn

LinkedInisn’t just for networking and keeping tabs on old coworkers. It’s actually quite a powerful publishing platform too. With a few simple tweaks to optimize your existing content for theLinkedIn algorithm, you can potentially gain exposure to a massive new audience.

37. Wear company-branded stuff — and give some away!

While not exactly free, you probably already havecompany t-shirtsor other company-branded gear. Make sure you and your team wear them when attending events. You can even share them with your customers as thank you gifts or contest prizes.

38. Leave reviews or give testimonials

If you work with suppliers or vendors, consider leaving positive reviews online or offering to share a testimonial about your experience. You’ll build goodwill with your partners, and get your name out there too.

39. Try paid advertising — for free

Last but not least, companies like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Amazon, and some hosting companies all offer promotional credits to try paid advertising.Facebookalso offers periodic advertising coupons, though you can’t directly sign up to receive them.

Check out this guideto learn how to take advantage of promotional ad credits.

The bottom line

Paid advertising has its place, and there’s certainly the chance for widespread exposure. But it’s not without its drawbacks — including the fact that it tends to bereally expensive. It’s definitely worth checking out all the free options out there before you go for a big spend.

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Alternatively, you may consider hiring amarketing mentorto guide you through building and deploying strategic PPC campaigns.

Whether you plan to use exclusively free tactics, or want to supplement your paid efforts, we hope these ideas help.


How can I advertise with no money? ›

No Advertising Money? Here Are 10 Helpful Solutions
  1. Offer Social Media Promotions. ...
  2. Register Your Business with Online Accounts. ...
  3. Send Out Press Releases. ...
  4. Create a Referral Program. ...
  5. Follow-up with Old clients. ...
  6. Attend Free Events and Conferences. ...
  7. Provide a Free Incentive to Turn People into Leads. ...
  8. Work on a Blog.

What is the most inexpensive way to advertise? ›

However, some cheap advertising methods that can be effective include online advertising (such as through social media platforms), print advertising (such as in newspapers or flyers), and word-of-mouth marketing.

How do you attract customers? ›

10 Ways to Get New Customers
  1. Ask for referrals. ...
  2. Network. ...
  3. Offer discounts and incentives for new customers only. ...
  4. Re-contact old customers. ...
  5. Improve your website. ...
  6. Partner with complementary businesses. ...
  7. Promote your expertise. ...
  8. Use online reviews to your advantage.
Apr 6, 2017

What is the most impressive advertisement? ›

The Best Advertising Campaigns of All Time (And What Made Them Successful )
  1. Nike: Just Do It. Ad Campaign: Print, Television, Internet. Source: brandchannel. ...
  2. Coke: Share a Coke. Ad Campaign: Print. ...
  3. Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle. Ad Campaign: Print. ...
  4. Anheuser-Busch: Whassup (1999) Ad Campaign: Television.
Jan 17, 2023

Where can I advertise myself for free? ›

Adding your company name and URL to these free advertising sites is a quick, simple and affordable way to gain exposure.
  • Craigslist.
  • Facebook Marketplace.
  • Locanto.
  • Oodle.
  • OLX.
  • Classifed Ads.
  • Hoobly.
  • Geebo.
Apr 28, 2022

Where can I post my business for free? ›

The top 10 free business listing websites in priority order:
  • Google Business Profile. Is anyone surprised Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business (GMB), is at the top of the list? ...
  • Bing Places. ...
  • 3. Facebook. ...
  • Yelp. ...
  • Apple Maps. ...
  • Foursquare. ...
  • Dun & Bradstreet. ...
  • Yellowpages.
Oct 31, 2022

How to get clients without spending money? ›

How to Get Customers Without Spending Any Money [Infographic]
  1. Leverage communities and existing traffic.
  2. Incentivize your users to share.
  3. Affiliate programs.
  4. Blogger outreach.
  5. Guest blogging.
  6. Reach out to your existing network.
  7. Sell in person.
  8. If you provide a service, work for free.
Jan 18, 2019

What is the simplest form of advertising? ›

Display advertising is the most simple form of digital advertising and usually combines images and text.

How can I advertise without being annoying? ›

Ways to Self-Promote without Being (Too) Annoying
  1. Start a newsletter/email list.
  2. Host a giveaway.
  3. Offer a discount or sale (for a set amount of time)
  4. Publish related (free) content.
  5. Incentivize others to promote too.
Oct 15, 2019

What words attract customers? ›

10 Powerfully Persuasive Words Your Customers Want to Hear
  • Free.
  • Exclusive.
  • Easy.
  • Limited.
  • Get.
  • Guaranteed.
  • You.
  • Because.
Aug 2, 2016

What to do when you have no customers? ›

What To Do When You Don't Have Enough Customers
  1. Go Back to Your Intention. What was your original intention in starting your business? ...
  2. Dig Into the Books. ...
  3. Gauge Quality Control. ...
  4. Value Your Current Customer Base. ...
  5. Embrace Social Media. ...
  6. Offer Discounts. ...
  7. Create a Loyalty Program. ...
  8. Stay Centered.
Aug 18, 2015

What makes a customer happy? ›

One of the best things you can do to make customers happy is to thank them for their business. A simple “thank you” goes a long way, and it's a great way to show your appreciation. Send them a follow-up email after their purchase or send them a coupon for their next purchase.

What is the most advertised thing? ›

GEICO - a car insurance brand that belongs to Berkshire Hathaway - ranked as the most advertised brand in the United States in 2021, with a measured media ad spend of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars.

What is the most effective advertising today? ›

Word-of-mouth advertising is considered the most effective form. It has the desired qualities of strong credibility, high audience attention levels, and friendly audience reception.

What is the most popular way to advertise? ›

  1. Media relations. Also known as PR, media relations is simply getting articles about you and your business in publications and their online websites. ...
  2. Social media. ...
  3. Digital advertising. ...
  4. Press advertising. ...
  5. Direct mail.

How do I sell myself professionally? ›

Six great ways to market yourself
  1. Identify a target audience. Understand your potential employers inside out. ...
  2. Know your USP. ...
  3. A way with words. ...
  4. Show a little personality. ...
  5. Keep your finger on the pulse. ...
  6. Web savvy.

How can I promote my business on social media for free? ›

15 ways to market your business on social media
  1. Start with a plan. ...
  2. Understand your target audience. ...
  3. Choose the right social media platforms for you. ...
  4. Add your branded hashtags. ...
  5. Cross promote on other social media networks. ...
  6. Run Reddit ads. ...
  7. Run Facebook ads. ...
  8. Set up a Facebook and Instagram shop.
Nov 3, 2022

How much does it cost to put an ad on Google? ›

The average cost per click in Google Ads is between $1 and $2 on the Google Search Network. The average cost per link on Google Display Network is under $1.

Are Google Ads worth it? ›

Every single second sees an additional 40,000 searches performed on Google, each one attached to a person who could well be looking for precisely the products or service you sell. So, are Google ads worth it? Yes, they are, even in 2022, and that will not change anytime soon.

What are the 10 kinds of advertisement? ›

10 Types of advertising
  • Online search advertising.
  • Social media advertising.
  • Print.
  • Direct mail.
  • Broadcast, video and TV advertising.
  • Out-of-home (OOH) outdoor advertising.
  • Cell phone mobile advertising.
  • Product placement.
Sep 25, 2022

What are the 5 most common advertising techniques? ›

20+ Commonly Used Advertising Techniques
  • Technique #1: Color Psychology.
  • Technique #2: Composition.
  • Technique #3: Rule of Thirds and The Golden Mean.
  • Technique #4: Focal Point.
  • Technique #5: Visual Path.
  • Technique #6: Typographic Composition.
  • Technique #7: Repetition.
  • Technique #8: Body Language.
Aug 30, 2019

What is the most popular form of advertising? ›

Here are ten of the most common types of advertising you should include in your marketing plan in 2022:
  • Digital advertising (PPC marketing) ...
  • Social media advertising. ...
  • Native advertising. ...
  • Email advertising. ...
  • Mobile advertising. ...
  • Print advertising. ...
  • Outdoor advertising. ...
  • Direct mail advertising.

What type of advertising is popular? ›

Broadcast Advertising

TV advertising accounts for 24.7% of the total media ad revenues in 2021. Broadcast advertising is the advertising of services or products that uses out-of-home mediums to reach broad audiences: i.e., T.V., Radio, Billboards, etc. Billboards are a type of broadcast advertising like TV or radio.

What are the 7 advertising techniques? ›

7 effective advertising techniques to try
  • Focus on feel-good moments.
  • Work with famous people and influencers.
  • Join the party with bandwagon advertising.
  • Run TV commercials.
  • Advertise using pop-ups.
  • Prove your worth with case studies.
  • Target luxury with snob appeal.
May 6, 2020

What are the 4 C's of advertising? ›

The 4 C's of marketing, which consist of Consumer wants and needs, Cost, Convenience, and Communication, are arguably much more valuable to the marketing mix than the 4 P's.

What kinds of advertisements are the most successful? ›

Word-of-mouth advertising is considered the most effective form. It has the desired qualities of strong credibility, high audience attention levels, and friendly audience reception.

What are manipulative advertising techniques? ›

The manipulative advertising intends to do that by using facts, arguments and plying with consumers emotions in a misleading and deceptive manner. The most claims used in manipulation through advertising are the exaggeration of the quality of product, fallacious arguments and emotional appeals.

What are the 5 W's of advertising? ›

The 5 W's: who, what, when, where, and why (and don't forget how!).

What is the best way to advertise on social media? ›

Best tips for social media advertising beginners
  1. Know what business objective you're trying to achieve. ...
  2. Know your target audience. ...
  3. Let your organic posts inform your ads. ...
  4. Pay for what matters: Impressions or engagement. ...
  5. Design your ads with mobile in mind.
Jan 11, 2021


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