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20 Free Advertising Channels for Increased Visibility on a Budget

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

Free advertising has leveled up, as there are now more alternatives to paid ads than ever.

The world's economy has taken a massive hit, which means that companies will be looking to cut down on different expenses to stay afloat. Unfortunately, many of these businesses will look at their advertising budget when considering what to cut. While advertising can be a significant expense to a business, it's necessary if the company intends to reach out to new and existing customers. 

Eliminating advertising completely could spell disaster for a company, but luckily, there are ways to reach out to clients even if you have to make some cuts. Several channels exist that give businesses a chance to advertise without the added cost. Businesses concerned about spending on marketing and advertising should explore these channels since they offer a unique way to interact with clients. 

Even if your advertising budget hasn't been slashed, these channels still provide massive value for the money if you use them right. Twenty associates of YEC discuss some of the best channels and strategies for advertising on a budget, and explain how they can help boost interest even though they cost nothing or very little to use.

1. Social media

"The best way to have advertising for free is social media. Social media platforms help create viral and trending content. Creating this content will make your videos or ads – shared by others because it's funny or interesting – go viral. Using social media to your advantage and having your content shared by millions of people due to the content of the video going viral is key to free advertising." – Steven Ridzyowski, Ridz Media LLC

2. Instagram

"Instagram is a very useful tool for promoting your products and developing your brand, and it doesn't cost anything. You can also select the option to promote a post with the monetary amount you desire to invest in order to reach more people. It helps if your Instagram posts are aesthetically pleasing and have a congruent theme." – Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID Inc.

3. Facebook Marketplace

"This landscape is constantly changing, so to get the most value you have to be able to adapt and try new things. Currently, Facebook Marketplace has been the best option for us. It has a broad reach and a cost of zero, as Facebook works hard to grow this marketplace platform on their website. We have also found that Meetup.com is a great way to reach people in niche communities for free." – Kyle Michaud, Experience Expositions

4. LinkedIn

"LinkedIn is massively underrated. Not many people post regularly on it despite it containing hundreds of millions of professionals. This means that the platform is hungry for content. A like on LinkedIn has massive outreach potential. LinkedIn Premium is very affordable for most businesses. With Premium, you can send in-mails to prospective clients and others in your industry." – Ibrahim Alkurd, New Mine

5. TikTok

"I'm a true believer in social media branding. Building my personal brand has allowed me to reach people all over the world and has opened up business opportunities I never imagined in the past. Being true and genuine in my content ultimately helps me connect to people with whom I have mutual interests. Surprisingly, TikTok has been the platform that connected me the most with other professionals." – Samuel Geller, Geller Law PC

6. Reddit

"Reddit is a great resource to use to answer people's questions and position yourself as a leader in your industry. You can join relevant communities and help people with any problems they may have. The more active you are, the quicker you'll be able to build a following. You can then encourage those users to move to your website to increase your conversions there." – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

7. Google My Business

"Google My Business is one of the most valuable advertising platforms for any small business. It is completely free, and it allows you to target the local customers that are most likely to utilize your services. Another benefit of Google My Business is the ability to display reviews. When people search for your business on Google, your star ratings are displayed in the search results and map listings." – Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance

8. Your own website

"Yes, it takes time to write articles, but if you write informative articles, you can post them on your website and rank high for specific topics. Moreover, if your writing is good enough, you can get them posted to various publications and gain new traffic to your website." – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

9. Guest posts

"For businesses that blog, guest posting is a valuable strategy that builds brand awareness, positions yourself as an industry expert, and grows your brand. For most platforms, it's free to be a guest contributor, as it's beneficial for both parties. Even on a small budget, guest posting can make a huge difference in your conversions and growth rate." – Jared Atchison, WPForms

10. Word-of-mouth

"Leveraging word-of-mouth with a small giveaway or an altruistic campaign can go far. There are multiple platforms that allow for free signups before you need to pay, such as Rafflecopter. If you have some technical chops, Prelaunchr by the team behind Harry's is also free. Once you collect enough emails, Mailchimp can be killer to bring in consistent activity from then on."– Richard Fong, Ready Green

11. Organic marketing

"Most platforms, online or offline, require a decent ad budget to see results. But organic distribution via search engines and social media platforms can give you success despite having a small budget. Just know, it'll take significant manpower, skill and time to get results. Don't be discouraged though – organic marketing is the least-traveled path to success despite having the best ROI." – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

12. Referral marketing

"Referral marketing is a very powerful advertising platform. Sure, you're paying out to people that refer people, but those are sales you wouldn't have had otherwise. Sometimes, you can even create such a compelling referral system that customers will share your product or service for free to get something, such as being higher up on the list for a new feature. Robinhood does this well." – Andy Karuza, LitPic

13. Affiliate marketing

"Affiliate marketing is the easiest way to promote your product or service. The best thing is that you don't even have to pay anything to affiliate partners from your pocket. Just price your product to include the cost and predetermined affiliate commission payable to partners, and post it on major affiliate platforms. And make sure you prompt payments and engage with your partners on a timely basis." – Vikas Agrawal, Infobrandz

14. Collaboration with other companies

"One way you can get free advertising is by working with other companies. Look for businesses in your industry that offer products and services that complement what you're selling. See if they are open to writing guest posts together, featuring one another in ads or other forms of promotion. This type of marketing cross-pollination is common for many small businesses." – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

15. Niche industry forums

"Find niche forums related to your product and/or industry, and join in the conversation. By consistently adding value and not pushing your products, you will earn consumers' trust and, hopefully, their business." – Josh Weiss, Reggie

16. Relevant communities

"If you're on a really small budget, look to communities to boost visibility and thought leadership for yourself, your company, and your product or service. A few places to start: Quora, Slack groups (I recommend the Rands Leadership Slack channel), LinkedIn groups, etc. The key is to provide enormous value for a long time before you make an ask of any sort. Build relationships – it's free and long-lasting!" – Erin Blaskie, Fellow.app

17. Quora

"One underestimated free platform companies can use to amplify their message is Quora. Quora gets over 2 million unique visitors a day, and by its very nature, allows you to target users very effectively. Simply answer questions relevant to your business and subtly promote yourself and your company at the same time. No other platform provides this level of targeting to so many eyeballs for free!" – Matt Diggity, Diggity Marketing

18. Online classifieds

"An effective and free ad platform that you can use is your local online classifieds. Places like Craigslist, for example, are very specific for every location. You'd be able to get free advertising space and become better known locally. Make sure that you add images and detailed product descriptions to get a better response.” – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

19. Regional news websites

"Many cities and communities have local or regional news websites that are always looking for local stories to highlight. They also tend to have smaller advertising rates, making them an affordable option for your budget. If you supply products or services outside of your area, look for regional sites elsewhere that you can reach out to as well.” – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

20. HARO

"You can advertise your brand by submitting pitches to the PR company Help a Reporter Out (HARO). This website has a wide range of topics and daily reports where you can submit pitches to writers and reporters that want to publish stories. In many cases, you can get exposure by providing a crisp answer and a link to your brand in your bio." – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images
Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber,
business.com Writer
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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.