7 Free or Low-Cost Advertising and Marketing Ideas for Your Small Businesses

By Scott Vollero

If you own a small business, it’s a good bet your marketing budget is small as well. But, did you know there are a lot of creative ways to market and advertise that don’t cost a fortune? Here are 7 of the most effective free or low-cost, yet powerful, ways to advertise your business.

  1. Have a contest. Nothing brings potential customers in more than the possibility of winning a prize. You can easily run a simultaneous online and in-house contest, accepting entries from both locations. The prize should be something of value and preferably a product or service you offer. Add contest details and entry instructions to all of your current printed material as well as your website and social media channels.
  2. Run a charity event. Perhaps you can collect non-perishable food for the local food banks or supplies for the nearby animal shelter. Is someone in the neighborhood ill and struggling with paying medical bills? How about hosting a fundraiser? Partner with other businesses in the area to help defray the modest cost of the event. Ask for community volunteers to play music and entertain.
  3. Let your personality shine. Become the face of your business. Put your picture on your website, social media channels and printed advertising material. Include pictures of team members. Prove to onlookers there are friendly people behind the scenes ready to serve.
  4. Partner with another non-competing small business to advertise. Design two-way printed advertising material and split the cost. If you and your partner both send out invoices, place partner advertising material in with the invoice to widen each business’s reach. If both businesses have storefronts, display partner advertising handouts on counters.
  5. Host a customer appreciation/bring a friend party. A party is a great way to show current customers how much you appreciate them. And, if your customer brings a friend, you have a prospective customer in the works.
  6. Conduct a survey. Ask your customers to fill out a printed and/or online survey. Ask what their favorite websites, magazines and newspapers are. Ask how you can better serve them. Offer a gift, discount or chance to win a prize when they complete the survey.

“The feedback you receive about websites. reading materials and service improvement gives you a better idea about where to put your advertising dollars and how to better meet customer needs.” – Scott Vollero

  1. Post trending and related product or service content on your website and social media channels. Content is an important advertising element if you have an online presence. Adding relevant and informative content, such as latest trends and how-to advice solidifies your expertise with current customers and shares allow you to reach a wider audience.


Scott Vollero is an international entrepreneur and expert in the precious metals and automotive parts recycling industries.

How to Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

By Scott Vollero

One of the classic maxims about persuasion is to show, not tell. Pinterest, the picture-sharing social media site, is one of the best platforms to do that. Pinterest is a site where people share images on virtual pinboards and write little descriptions about them. Unlike later picture-based social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, Pinterest is about the curation of photo content.

Pinterest has 100 million active users, but it also has several demographic features that make it very attractive to certain niches. Most notably, as of 2014, 85% of the user base is female. This is extremely unusual for social media platforms.

Unlike a Facebook post, a Pinterest pin’s focus is on the image, not on the text. Pinterest users want pictures that are useful, beautiful, and inspirational. You may need to change how you approach social media to use Pinterest successfully, but as their many success stories have shown there are ways of leveraging this type of content to expand your business.

  • Show off your product

If you offer a product, take photos of it and show it off. Even better than an attractive product photo is pictures of people enjoying the product. Show off the end result someone will get from using your product. If you think about it, Pinterest is at its core a visual advertising platform. But unlike other platforms, the images are part of the user experience, not an interruption.

You can also use Pinterest’s new Buyable Pins offering to let someone purchase your products directly from your pin.

  • Show a sneak peek

Behind-the-scenes shots of businesses are quite popular. Show off a part of your production process or your warehouse. Pinterest users enjoy peeking behind the curtain of their favorite companies. Don’t be shy!

  • Inspire your niche

Every product offering has a place in a buyer’s life. Show how your product can fit into the overall idea that a buyer has about their life. For instance, if you’re a paint company or a furniture company, you could show off home interiors on your board to inspire people to buy your products. If you sell food, offer recipes like Maggi, the popular sauce company, did on their Pinterest board.

  • Services have their place, too

Bank of America, of all companies, is a success story on Pinterest. How did an old stodgy bank hit a homerun with Pinterest? They showed pictures of young people reaching their financial goals, like buying a house or going on a trip, and linked the pins to an educational campaign targeted to Millennials on financial literacy. Successful use of Pinterest requires out of the box thinking like this.

  • Learn the platform well

If you haven’t been to Pinterest in a while, you may be surprised at all the options they have for businesses. Between promoted pins, buyable pins, and other features, there are many ways to monetize your Pinterest board and turn it into a growth engine. Contests and giveaways are also popular on Pinterest, and have far fewer rules than doing the same on Facebook.

  • Crosslink your platforms

A standard rule for any social media is to make sure there is lots of cross-linking between your channels. Make sure your website allows people to pin photos on their own boards and encourage people to repin your material. If your Pinterest account sits in a bubble, it won’t work nearly as well.

If you have a business that is highly visual or targets women, Pinterest is something you must take a look at. Take a couple hours and look through their success stories page and you’ll discover there are lots of different ways to use Pinterest for your business needs.


Scott Vollero is an international entrepreneur and expert in the precious metals and automotive parts recycling industries.