How to promote your business: 14 ways to get your small business noticed in 2024

Getting customers in the door (or to your website) is key for business growth. It’s kind of basic math: you need customers to buy your products or services in order to do things like pay rent, pay your employees, and ideally take home a little profit yourself. But how do you get yourself noticed and cut through the noise of your competitors? 

The answer? A multi-pronged promotional approach to promote your small business and land loyal customers.

Promoting your small business is crucial, and, thankfully, there are a ton of different avenues to get the word out about your goods or services.

Ahead, we’ll go through tactics like how to get your business noticed in the busy digital age of 2024, some free ways for new businesses on the block to bring in customers, and how to turn social media engagement into dollars.  

How to get your small business noticed in 2024.

There was once a time when promoting your business could be as simple as sending out a flyer in the mail, or putting a few balloons in the window. Heck, add a ‘grand opening’ sign and get yourself an ad in the local paper and you were considered a marketing genious!

To say times have changed is a bit cliché, but true nonetheless.

Nearly all U.S. businesses are considered small businesses or have an entrepreneurial flavor to them. While not all of that competition is going to be direct competition, that’s still a lot of other businesses to set yourself apart from. 

No matter if you’re focusing on local, in-person marketing tactics like direct mail campaigns or newspaper ads, or focusing your efforts on web searches to capture the nearly 9 billion searches performed on Google’s browser every day, your message needs to stand out and mean something to reach your customer.

Elements to include in your key messaging.

In order for your message to resonate with your potential customers, think about incorporating the following into all of your messaging:

  • Authenticity: Think more speaking from your heart and not telling customers what they want to hear. What’s your brand’s message, and how do you convey that in a way that feels geniune?
  • Storytelling: A strong narrative is so important in setting your business apart from any other. Is your restaurant based on homemade recipes from your grandma’s kitchen? Are all your items handcrafted by local residents? Do you provide zero-waste packaging options? Tell your story how you want to—just make sure you’re telling it.
  • Community: Neighbors are key to growing a community in-person. Even online, consider how building a place for people to come together helps promote your business. Consider an active social media presence, in-person events, or a newsletter.
  • Social commerce: Even if you don’t have a social media footprint (though you probably should), think about ways to make purchasing easy. Maybe that’s a QR code on your direct mailer that leads right to your website, or if you’re next-level, it’s an integrated buying function on every social media post that showcases your products.

How to market your business for free.

Though important, marketing and advertising costs add up. The average amount businesses spend on marketing costs is around 9% of their budget, which can feel like a lot for a new business that also has to pay rent, salaries, and product costs.

Thankfully, there are a number of easy ways to market your business for free and generate some excitement around your business. 

1. Create and maintain a website.

First and foremost: build a website. A website allows your business to show up on Google searches and gives people important information like your business hours, your services or product inventory, and an opportunity to learn about why they should shop with you vs. a competitor.

A heads up: while getting a professonal website built isn’t free, building one yourself is. Costs typically range anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000 depending on the complexity of your site, but with some YouTube videos, free templates, and some extra time on your hands, it’s completely possible to build at least a functioning website for free using sites like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

Better yet, if you have someone on your team who has an interest (and preferably experience) in web design, hire them to give a hand outside of work hours, or schedule them for shifts specifically related to building the site (you don’t want your restaurant host trying to juggle responsibilities while on the clock!).

2. Connect with local media to secure press coverage. 

If you’ve never reached out to a magazine, newspaper, or local blog, the prospect of pitching your business for news coverage may seem a bit daunting. But we promise, connecting with local media to get your business some attention doesn’t have to be scary. 

Start by searching local publications like newspapers or a blog that talks about events in your city or town. Most websites have easy ways to contact their team these days; you’ll want to look for people in charge of local happenings or specific beats that relate to your business (e.g. if you own a restaurant, look out for the food and beverage writers). While you could search online for a free press release template, you’re probably better off just connecting with them and sharing a bit of info on your business, and asking them to stop by for a visit sometime. Make sure if you’re hosting any kind of soft opening or soft launch that they’re on your guest list!

3. Create a Google profile.

Remember all of those searches people perform in a single day on Google? Make sure you’ve got your bases covered by creating a Google profile. Here, your business has a chance of showing up if someone types in the keywords of a specific business near them. (“Think restaurant near me” or “hairdresser near me.”)

With a Google Profile, you’ll also be able to add the most important information about your business, including hours, closed dates, and contact information (like that new website you just created.) 

4. Start an email marketing list.

There’s no better way to a) get customer information and b) freely promote your business than an email marketing list. First-party data is the primary way to retain customer information vs. the more regulated third-party cookie data. An email marketing list is an excellent way to keep track of customers who may want your business’s information and to hear about upcoming promotions, new products, or fun events.

For a new business, try setting up a free email list and offer a small promotion for those who sign up, like 10% off on their next online or in-store purchase. This small incentive gives prospective customers another reason to make a purchase, and it gives you a free pathway into someone’s inbox to let them know all about what’s going on in your business. 

5. Hold a contest or throw an event.

A fun way to get folks in the door of a new business is to entice them with an event or contest. Grand openings can be the perfect time for these events, but so is any old event, like the start of summer, back-to-school, or hey, maybe Groundhog Day is the perfect time to promote your veterinary clinic.

With an event, you can think about prizes, games for kids (and adults), and maybe even partner with another local business to provide some treats. It’s a great way to connect with your neighbours and meet them in person while giving them a fun reason to come out. If enough other businesses want to join you, turn it into a street party that’ll make it easy to reach out to media (see above!) and get them talking about it.

Wanna dial things up? Host a contest to get customers interested in your business’s offerings and add a little competitive edge to it. Try having a social media contest (which we’ll get to further down) where followers repost or comment on a post to win a free service or goodie bag from all the local businesses involved. Which leads us to…

6. Partner with other businesses.

Other local businesses are often your first and best line of support as a new owner or manager. There’s a camaraderie in the small business world, and they get what you’re going through as you initially wade into entrepreneurial waters. Consider partnering with other local businesses on giveaways, contests, or even an event.

With the foot traffic from those businesses now coming through your doors, enjoy an easy and free way to promote your business to potential new customers. 

How to promote your business through social media.

Social media can be an incredibly straightforward way (and free) way to promote your business. Some platforms even offer advanced business options with extra analytics that could be useful as you grow. There are ways to level up, like business tools and creator tools on Instagram or Facebook. 

A mix of digital and in-person promotion is always going to be a potent cocktail for success, but it’s important to consider where and how often you’re posting to your social channels for maximum reach. 

Below are some of the best social media channels to promote your business and how to do it. 

1. Instagram

These days, Instagram is probably the most common social media platform for businesses to start with. With reels, stories, and in-post content, the only downside is it can be a lot to keep up with.

Since Instagram is mostly a visual channel, it can be particularly awesome for business that lean towards video and photos. Think sushi restaurants with incredbile presentation, or fashion boutiques that want to showcase new merch. But it’s not just about posting pics; level up with simple videos like styling tutorials or how-tos to provide content your community actually finds valuable.

2. Facebook

Like it or not, Facebook is still one of the leading social media platforms out there. For businesses with a physical store or location, having a Facebook business page is extremely useful. Think of it a lot like the Google profile, and post your store hours and contact info.

With Facebook, you can share videos, photos, or tutorials to create engagement with your customers. Restaurants do particularly well here, especially if the restaurant runs regular events or special nights. You can create an event for people to join that’s synced to their digital calendars so they can keep track of it. 

3. TikTok

TikTok is maybe the zaniest way to promote your business. It won’t be right for every business, but it could be worth a shot. TikTok’s popularity and sustained success means a large, highly engaged audience that’s waiting for you.

Like Instagram, but maybe a little less formal, TikTok is a great place to build community. And because its algorithm has such an immense reach, it’s a lot of eyeballs that could see your new product demos or watch your team mow cool patterns into lawns.

The business type that best suits TikTok is kind of a mystery. CPG brands have fared well, with viral videos featuring their product without any attachment to their business page. Makeup brands can absolutely do well on the platform, with user-generated content (UGC) a phenomenal way to get engagement, reach, and brand awareness.

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn will always be known as the professional networking social channel. And sure, it’s great for sending requests and looking for jobs—but it can also be a great spot to advertise your business. 

Consider creating posts about your journey as a small biz owner. Maybe you talk about the struggles of starting your own business, or maybe you’re talking about juggling raising a young family while working full-time. Whatever it is, people on LinkedIn are still potential paying customers, so know your audience.

Bonus: LinkedIn can be a great place to recruit future employees who can easily see how great it is to work with you.

5. X (Twitter)

X has gone through its fair share of identity shifts in its lifetime, including its recent name change away from Twitter. It became a place to shoot off any thought you had for retweets or likes to where people get their news.

Businesses using X as a social channel may want to promote themselves in a more creative, casual way. This can include posting in-store content, memes, polls, or questions to spark conversation.

How to market your business online through paid sources.

One of the best ways to promote your business in the digital world? Paid media. Online paid sources can grow your reach, and are definitely the way to go once you’ve got the funds.

Consider the following paid sources to promote your company:

1. SEO

With Google search an important way for anyone to find your business, consider search engine optimization (SEO). SEO helps expand your reach to a highly specific target market; with the goal of getting your biz to show up first when people Google, ‘hairdressers in Baltimore’. There are lots of great companies that offer SEO services, or look into freelancers to give your website the SEO boost it needs.

2. Social media ads 

The cousin to SEO is paid advertising. They work similarly in that there’s a target audience, but money is put behind the ads to show up where you want them to. For social media ads, you can target specific demographics of your ideal customer to show up in their feed. Even if they don’t make a purchase from the ad, a click or like is engagement and proof that maybe a purchase is on the horizon.

3. Google Ads 

Google Ads work on a pay-per-click model, putting your ad at the top of a Google search. The good news is that you only pay for how many clicks it generates. This is a very targeted and more immediate way to go for reach. Organic traffic, while it has its payoffs, takes a lot longer to rank on the first page of search results. If you wanna get there faster, paid Google Ads is the way to go. 

The best way to advertise your business.

We’ve talked about a lot of great ways to promote your biz. But do you wanna know what’s the best way to advertise for your business?

People.

When you’ve got a killer service and products people love, they want to spread the word. But it’s not just about your customers; you’ve also gotta think about your employees. Because when you have a business where people actually enjoy going to work, they’ll talk—and they’ll have good things to say.

So if budgets are tight and marketing isn’t on the cards right now, don’t give up. Instead, prioritize strong team communication, do away with toxic work environments, and create a rewarding culture based on celebrating wins. The best way to do that? Homebase. It’s an easy-to-use, all-in-one app that helps you schedule shifts, communicate with your team, and even run payroll for your hourly workers. It’s how smart teams are making things look easy—even when they don’t feel that way. Try Homebase today and see what it’s like to run a team more efficiently.

How to promote your business FAQS

What is the best platform to advertise your business?

Answer: Google is always going to be one of the best places to advertise your business. This can be through a Google Profile for your business so anyone nearby can find it via search or with Google Ads, putting your business’s ads at the top of the search results page.

Can I promote my business for free?

Answer: Yes, you can promote your business for free through tactics such as building and maintaining a website, email marketing, and creating and verifying a Google Profile.

What is the best social media platform to advertise my business?

Answer: Instagram and Facebook are the leading social platforms to promote your business. Here, they foster community, generate reach, and even allow for social commerce integration.

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