Brighter Messaging
How to get free publicity for your small business, cartoon woman lips with conversation bubble

How to get free (and low-cost) publicity for your small business

“Running a small business” and “limited budget” are two phrases that typically go hand-in-hand. But how are you supposed to get your name out there when you can’t afford big billboards and glossy magazine ads?

Here are 12 ideas we use for our clients (and our own business) to generate some buzz and get free (or low-cost) publicity:

1. Word-of-mouth and referral programs

Word-of-mouth marketing is the holy grail of publicity. Nothing beats the authenticity of a recommendation from a satisfied customer. And it couldn’t be simpler—focus on delivering exceptional products or services that delight your customers and watch as they become your most effective brand ambassadors. Encourage them to spread the word by offering referral incentives, such as discounts or freebies. Or just ask! You never know who in their network may also benefit from your services.

2. Showcase reviews

Social proof is powerful! Don’t be shy about prominently featuring your customer reviews and testimonials. Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences on platforms like Google Business profiles, Yelp, and social media. Highlighting positive feedback not only builds trust with potential customers but also boosts your credibility in the eyes of search engines, improving your online visibility.

Here’s what our clients have to say about us.

3. Partner with other businesses

Collaborate with complementary businesses to reach a broader audience, tap into each other’s networks, and attract new customers. Whether it’s co-hosting events, running joint campaigns, or selling collaborative products, partnerships can amplify your reach and generate mutual benefits. For example, we recorded an interview with an attorney, Venus Liles, about a website’s terms and conditions, providing helpful information to our audience while promoting her firm and reaching her followers and clients too.

TOP TIP: Identify businesses that share your target audience but offer different products or services.

4. Start an email newsletter

Build a direct line of communication with your audience through an email newsletter. Offer valuable content, exclusive offers, and expert advice to incentivize subscriptions and foster long-term relationships.

Many email marketing platforms offer free versions (generally dependent on subscriber numbers), allowing you to create professional-looking newsletters without spending a cent.

TOP TIP: Segment your email list based on customers’ interests and preferences to deliver personalized content that’s more likely to resonate and get them to take action.

5. Run giveaways or competitions

Who doesn’t love a freebie? Instagram accounts that run regular giveaways grow 70% faster, and receive 3.5 times as many likes and 64 times more comments than those that don’t. Host giveaways or competitions on your social media platforms to engage your audience and generate buzz around your brand. Encourage participants to like, share, or comment on your posts for a chance to win prizes (be sure to check each platform’s rules in this regard).

6. Guest on podcasts or speak at events

You have unique experiences and expertise, so share them! Position yourself as an authority in your industry by speaking on podcasts or at events such as industry conferences, webinars, or networking events.

  • Research podcasts and events relevant to your niche and reach out to hosts with a compelling pitch outlining why you’d make a valuable guest.
  • Look out for podcast or speaking opportunities on social media or sites like Qwoted (more on this later).

I’ve made it my goal to be featured on more podcasts this year. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to be a podcast guest on three awesome shows. The links are on this page.

7. Build community on social media

When it comes to free exposure, social media is a no-brainer. It doesn’t have to cost a dime for you to share information about your business, products, and services, along with your knowledge and experience in your industry.

If you engage thoughtfully, social media also gives you the (free!) ability to connect with others and build a community.

To build a strong community of followers for your business:

  • Create relevant and unique content
  • Establish yourself as a trusted authority
  • Provide valuable insights, answer questions, and participate in discussions
  • Engage with potential customers

Here are 10 tips for marketing your business on social media

8. Pitch stories to journalists

Research media outlets that cater to your industry or target audience and identify journalists who cover topics relevant to your business. Offer them a unique angle, timely news, or exclusive insights that would appeal to their readers or viewers. Personalize your pitches to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and understand their interests and preferences.

An even easier way to get press with zero budget is to sign up for Qwoted. Qwoted helps journalists find expert sources quickly and easily—one of those expert sources could be you! Create a free expert account and provide details of your subject matter expertise. You’ll receive email alerts when someone is working on an article about your industry.

TOP TIP: Follow up with journalists after sending your pitch to increase your chances of getting noticed and securing media coverage.

9. Claim your Google Business profile

If you haven’t claimed your Google Business listing, you’re missing out on some valuable free publicity and visibility in local searches.

Here’s what we suggest:

  • Claim your listing on Google Business.
  • Complete all the relevant information, including your business name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and categories.
  • Upload high-quality photos of your business, products, and team members.
  • Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.
  • Regularly monitor and respond to reviews, questions, and inquiries.

10. Give back to your local community

Our client, Financial Solution Advisors (FSA), makes it their mission to make a positive impact on their community. They choose several local organizations to support throughout the year. (You can learn more about their FSA Gives Back initiatives here.)

Engaging in volunteer activities and giving back has a secondary benefit for your business—it creates human interest stories for local publications and provides great content to share on your website, social media channels, and email newsletters to inspire others.

Financial Solution Advisors social media post showing how giving back to the community can help get free publicity for a small business

11. Get involved in your Chamber of Commerce

Joining your local Chamber of Commerce provides opportunities for networking and exposure. You can:

  • Connect with fellow entrepreneurs, business owners, and community leaders in your area to exchange ideas, share resources, and support each other’s growth
  • Take advantage of chamber events, workshops, and networking opportunities to promote your business, build relationships, and gain valuable insights into local market trends and opportunities
  • Participate in chamber-sponsored initiatives, committees, or task forces to demonstrate your commitment to the community and establish yourself as a trusted partner and resource for other businesses

Brighter Messaging recently joined our local Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, and we’ve had a blast getting out locally!

Brighter Messaging ribbon cutting celebration with Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce

12. Attend industry events

Step out from behind your screen and into the community by attending industry events, trade shows, conferences, or networking mixers. Build relationships, tell your story, and showcase your products or services in person to potential customers and collaborators. Collect contact information from interested prospects and follow up with them after the event to continue the conversation and nurture relationships. Getting out there—especially if you have an online business—may feel daunting, but it gets easier with time and is a great, perhaps unexpected way to get free publicity for your small business.

So, which tactics are you going to try?

No PR budget? No more excuses! Although marketing on a shoestring budget may seem daunting, these free publicity opportunities can help your small business gain visibility and attract customers. So, roll up your sleeves, get creative, and put yourself out there!

If you need some expert guidance, let our Brighter Messaging team coach you on how to DIY your marketing. With Marketing Mentorship, we’ll teach you how to work our magic—at a fraction of the cost of hiring us to do it for you. It’s the ultimate way to market your business on a budget.

Schedule your free 30-minute introductory call with me to find out if Marketing Mentorship is right for you.

You may also be interested in: 10 cost-effective marketing strategies every small business should try

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