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14 Free Ways to Advertise Your Business

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

Here are 14 approaches to getting your name out there, each with its own strengths.

Promoting your business to your customers requires an aggressive budget – unless, of course, you look to free platforms to gain some exposure. Many sites – such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – offer your company the ability to promote its products and services without spending a fortune. This inexpensive visibility can get your business in front of the right customers, allowing you to take advantage of the power that these platforms can offer.

To find out what works, we asked 14 entrepreneurs from YEC to weigh in on the best free advertising platforms. Here's what they suggest you try.

1. A multichannel approach

"Use multiple online platforms to make the most of free advertising alternatives. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are perfect for social networking. Tumblr is great if you want to spread awareness about your brand via microblogging. Videos are all the rage now, and you may share them via YouTube, Vimeo and even Facebook Live. Instagram and Snapchat are best suited to connect with a young audience." – Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns 

2. Facebook Live

"Use Facebook Live to advertise your business completely for free while creating loyal, devoted fans. Make it into a weekly show where you broadcast live on the same time and day every week. Give your show a name. Encourage people to ask questions that you answer live. Have your watchers share the video. You'll quickly build a referral-based business from the people who watch your show." – Ally Lozano, Ally Lozano LLC 

3. Instagram

"I truly believe that Instagram is the best way to get free advertisement. Instagram has allowed businesses to maximize their reach with their native audience insights, as well as built-in features such as hashtags, shoppable tags and linked stories. It has transformed into a platform for images, videos and live content, giving your business endless possibilities to create engaging messages." – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions

4. Twitter

"This one will require a bit of ingenuity, since it helps to be able to say something funny and succinct. However, using your business's Twitter account to make posts around trending hashtags is an easy and free way to expose your brand to a large group of prospective followers or customers. It's minimal effort for an impressive amount of potential returns." – Bryce Welker, Crush the PM Exam

5. Thought leadership content

"I find the best advertising is the publication of thought leadership articles across key media channels and platforms. It requires careful research and thoughtful writing, which does take considerable time, but it gets me in front of my audience and illustrates how my company can help them. They see the advice and tips in the articles and know that my company can be a trustworthy resource for their needs." – John Rampton, Calendar

6. Help A Reporter Out

"Being seen on social media or talking about yourself on a live video is cool, but there is nothing better than free press! It not only gives your brand credibility but free traffic to your website. I use HARO daily for press leads. Sign up for free to get three emails a day. If you work the leads, the leads will really work for you. It's also a great way to perfect your pitch about your business." – Mikey Moran, Private Label Extensions

7. Answering questions on Quora

"Though it does take time to build out your audience, you will be able to provide urgent and immediate value to people who have questions that only you can answer. If you plan it carefully, it could also create some SEO value for you or help you when creating your products. The closer you are to your customers' questions, the better you will be able to modify your product in the right direction." – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now 

8. Yelp

"If you operate a brick-and-mortar location, Yelp is one of the best forms of free advertising. If you operate a restaurant, you can incentivize happy customers to review you on Yelp in exchange for a free dessert next time they come in. It's a win-win." – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

9. Podcasts

"Open yourself up to be a featured guest on other people's podcasts. This will position you as knowledgeable and can even elevate you as an industry leader. The vast majority of entrepreneurs I know of listen to podcasts on a regular basis, and this can open up your business to opportunities for little to no marketing dollars spent." – RJ Bates III, Titanium Investments LLC 

10. Q&A platforms

"I used to be a huge fan of the LinkedIn Q&A platform until they took it off their site. Now my focus has been Yahoo Answers, Quora and Facebook questions. I try to be the first person to answer questions in my domain. At the end of every answer, I specifically state who I am and have my website so I can drive traffic to it. This is free branding at your fingertips. And it helps you become a better expert as well." – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

11. Public speaking

"In the case of business-to-business advertising, it's very hard to get in front of targeted decision-makers. However, if you can land a public speaking gig, you have their attention for about 30 minutes. The key is to deliver so much value that the 'free advertising' becomes a side effect of your great and memorable talk. Public speaking has worked very well for me to add new clients." – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

12. Partnerships with influencers

"There are a lot of influencers out there whose entire business model is centered on sharing content from others. Partner with influencers who have blogs and email lists. Provide them with relevant content that will help their audience. This will not only provide free branding, but many times result in you receiving a backlink to your website, which could help boost your search engine rankings." – Bryan Citrin, Chiropractic Advertising

13. Networking

"I think networking is definitely the best way to gain free advertising. It will not only help you get free advertising, but also create more connections for you and your business, and you will get to meet great people. I think high-quality networking is the best way to get more exposure, not only speaking in terms of media outlets, but also word of mouth and social media." – Brian Condenanza, Alchemy Coin

14. Content

"Our company has gained invaluable free advertising by showcasing our stories and knowledge on both our own blog and by guest writing for several other publications, who then link back to us. We don't restrict writing to our industry, but instead tackle relevant information for a multitude of users, from business education to social media marketing, politics and more." – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

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Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber Member
Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.