A small business owner taking a photo of her product to help with her advertising strategy.
Growing a business

28 highly effective small business advertising ideas to skyrocket your brand

Starting a small business is no easy feat. Once you launch, you’ll need to attract customers and retain them to keep them coming back for more. Your job is to persuade them and capture as many of them in your sales funnel as possible.

To achieve this, you’ll need a proper advertising strategy. Whether you’re a well-established small business with a solid budget or a solopreneur looking for budget-friendly ways to advertise your brand, this guide uncovers 28 small business advertising ideas you can use to attract customers.

An illustrated list of digital and online advertising ideas with different budgets, like Google My Business and pay-per-click ads.

1. Utilize pay-per-click (PPC) ads 

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a digital advertising approach where you pay a fee when a customer clicks on your ad. You can run these ads on platforms that support PPC, like Google Ads or social media platforms like Facebook by Meta. 

In a PPC campaign, you can select keywords and create ads that are highly relevant to your target audience. The cost per click is determined by the keywords or audience categories you bid on. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, hence the name “pay-per-click.” 

This form of advertising is preferable to small businesses because it’s easy to measure and often more affordable, stretching your budget further.

Money-saving solopreneur tip

When you’re just getting started, it’s best to go for keywords that are a little less popular since the price will be higher the more popular the keyword or audience is. Find smaller keywords that are highly relevant to your niche and will still target the right audience without breaking the bank.

2. Create content for YouTube 

As of publication, YouTube is the second-largest search engine behind Google—with user watch time averaging around 48 minutes per day, according to Oberlo

If you have the resources, you can approach this platform in two ways: 

  • Create video content: Since YouTube works like a search engine, you can optimize your videos to include keywords relevant to your target audience. This increases the chances of them seeing your products while also helping to raise brand awareness.  
  • Create YouTube Ads: Aside from organic video content, you can create ads for YouTube. These ads can appear through in-feed video ads, skippable and non-skippable in-stream ads, bumper ads, and overlay ads.  

You can target customers via keywords and have your video ad appear based on specific demographics, interests, niches, topics, and more.

3. Implement banner and display ads 

Banner or display ads are one of the most common forms of online advertising. They’re usually static or rotate a message that helps raise awareness of a new product or brand to drive immediate sales. They can run on most traditional media websites and can be created for and bought on social media platforms and blogs. 

You can buy them in different ways: 

  • Cost-per-thousand (CPM): Display ads are most commonly bought based on a set number of impressions or CPM basis. An impression is counted every time someone sees your display ad.
  • PPC: You can also buy them based on PPC, where you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You can either set that cost-per-click based on an agreement with the website or bid on specific keywords to pay a certain price.

Like all other forms of advertising, you want to find websites and ad placements that are highly targeted to your customers. The more targeted your banner or display ad is, the better it will perform.

Additionally, you can buy display ads on an ad network, like the Google Display Network. This approach will help you spread your message across various targeted sites all at once, rather than having to buy placements on each site individually. You can tell the network which audience you’d like to reach and often get placements at a lower CPM by purchasing ads this way.

4. Build an affiliate network 

Another great small business advertising idea is affiliate advertising. Affiliates are individuals or other websites that choose to promote your product on their website or social media platforms. When an affiliate makes a sale through the link they shared, you pay them a percentage of the sales they made. 

Like ad networks, you can explore affiliate networks to help spread your message. Bloggers and content creators are often members of affiliate networks because they can make passive income by including a link to your product on sharing platforms. 

They’re essentially the middlemen between you and your product or service. This is a pretty cost-effective way to drive additional sales or leads to your business and expand your reach.

5. Sponsor products on e-commerce marketplaces 

If you’re selling products on e-commerce platforms, like Etsy or Amazon, creating sponsored ads can help your products stand out in the search results. Since these platforms have so many sellers, it is highly competitive. 

With sponsored ads, you can promote your product listings to a larger audience and increase the likelihood of your products being seen. Typically, these ads run on a cost-per-click (CPC) model, meaning you don’t pay unless someone clicks on your ad.

You're never too small to feel more stable

With market-leading APY, no monthly fees, and seamless payments—QuickBooks Money works harder for those who work for themselves.**

6. Target customers on Facebook 

With billions of daily users, Meta’s Facebook is a great platform if you’re looking to reach a large audience. By creating a Facebook business page, you can start running ad campaigns in different formats—like image ads, carousel ads, video ads, and collection ads.

The great thing about Facebook ads is that you can tailor them to your specific campaign goals and budget. When running a campaign, you can start by selecting your objective, such as getting more messages, promoting your business page, or getting more website visitors. You can also set a daily budget and determine how long you want your ad to run for. 

Your budget will determine how many people the ad will be able to reach. Your daily budget can be as low as $1, making it an affordable way to get your business in front of more eyes.

7. Advertise to businesses on LinkedIn

If you’re targeting other businesses rather than consumers, consider creating a business page on LinkedIn and utilizing their self-service ads. According to LinkedIn, the platform has over 950 million users worldwide, making it a great channel to widen your brand reach. 

In addition to a free LinkedIn business page, you can purchase display and text-based advertisements. Your ads can be featured as sponsored content or presented as text or display ads on news feeds. You can also promote posts you’ve already created and tailor them to target specific industries or users—enticing the right audience to return to your page. 

You can also purchase sponsored messaging, which sends email messages to a group of targeted users. This can be a great option if you want a more personal approach to add to your advertising strategy.

8. Run campaigns on Instagram 

Since Meta also owns Instagram, you can run Instagram campaigns similar to how you would on Facebook. When advertising on Instagram, you can run story ads, photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and collections ads. The targeting is similar to Facebook as it’s booked through the same platform.

Running ad campaigns on Instagram can help you reach your target audience and build a community that will become repeat customers.

Money-saving solopreneur tip

Turn already published posts into Instagram ads with the boost feature. This is an easy and cost-effective way to get your content in front of more people without making separate ad content.

9. Create promoted pins on Pinterest 

Pinterest is a great social media platform for small businesses looking to target customers based on interests and aspirational imagery. For example, a home renovation business could target users who are pinning images of home decor and architectural designs.

There are many different ways to target customers, including promoted pins, promoted video pins, and shoppable pins, which let customers click to buy something immediately via that pin. Similar to Instagram and X, you only need one image and some text to create the ad—making it easy and affordable.

10. Advertise on X (formerly Twitter) 

X allows businesses to promote posts to reach a wider audience. With each campaign, you can use X’s targeting features to tailor your campaign to certain audience segments or create your own audience list. On X, there is no minimum campaign spend—you just have to set your minimum daily budget.

An illustrated list of social media advertising ideas with different budgets, like influencer collaborations and a LinkedIn business page.

11. Collaborate with influencers 

In today’s online landscape, influencer marketing is a powerful strategy. For small businesses looking to increase brand awareness and expand their reach, collaborating with influencers can be extremely beneficial. 

Because influencers are known for creating relatable content, it can make the ad feel more personal, which makes it more appealing to potential customers. Since they’ve built trust with their audience, influencers’ followers are more likely to buy products they recommend, thus increasing your brand’s credibility.  

Make sure you’re collaborating with influencers who are relevant to your industry and whose values align with your brand.

12. Host giveaways 

Online contests or giveaways are a great way to connect with your online community and get people talking about your products. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff? 

Giveaways attract the attention of potential customers and encourage them to engage with your brand. Your brand gains increased visibility and exposure as each person enters the giveaway. Online giveaways are a cost-effective way to generate buzz around new products while reaching a wider audience.

13. Tap into user-generated content (UGC) 

UGC has quickly gained popularity, and what better way to advertise your brand than with the help of your existing customers? If customers have created content organically reviewing your product, you can ask permission to share it on your platforms. 

You can also reach out to customers and ask them to create content and review your products in exchange for free items. This can help build up your social media strategy without costing a ton of money creating the content.

14. Send direct mail content 

Direct mail campaigns are one of the best small business advertising ideas if you’re looking for a way to send specific, targeted messages within a specific location. The cost of these campaigns can vary greatly depending on your overall budget and goal.

With this type of advertising campaign, you have to budget for copywriting, designing, printing, mailing list development, and postage. If you’re looking to save on costs, creating the design yourself and curating your own mailing list can save you a significant amount of money. All you’d need to pay for is printing and mailing, which can average around $230 for 500 postcards, per USPS.

15. Print flyers and handouts 

Distributing flyers and handouts is a tried and true advertising strategy to spread awareness about your product or service. It’s a cost-effective way to reach a wide range of people and break away from online advertisements, which we’re so used to consuming. 

Since they’re fairly simple to make, you can save on costs by designing them yourself—making sure to focus on a simple, legible design that clearly conveys your message. You can create flyers promoting a store opening, a new product or service, or offering a discount to potential customers to lure them into your business. 

When distributing your flyers, consider going to local events, school campuses, shopping centers, and other businesses to hand out or post your ads.

Money-saving solopreneur tip

Flyers are typically cheaper when printing in bulk, so consider printing a large quantity to save on costs.

An illustrated list of print and out-of-home advertising ideas with different budgets, like flyers and billboards.

16. Create promotional products 

Who doesn’t love company swag? Creating promotional products, like t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, hats, cups, and pens, to hand out at events can increase your brand’s visibility and be used as advertising. 

For example, if a person wins a t-shirt at a local event with your logo, every time they wear it, they’re a free walking billboard for your business.  

You can create promotional products to hand out at community events or offer them as a freebie when a customer makes a purchase.

17. Invest in billboards 

Billboards are a form of out-of-home (OOH) advertising that are effective because they can be targeted to specific geographic regions where your customers are most likely to see them. They’re designed to capture the attention of those passing by and are useful for local businesses looking to attract various consumers. 

Another option is to buy an electronic billboard ad placement, which can rotate or scroll your message rather than having just a static image and text.

Because of their size, billboards can get a little pricey. Since you often need to buy more than one to ensure customers recall your message, you could end up spending a hefty amount of money towards this advertising strategy—making it best for those with a robust budget.

18. Run transit and car ads 

While buying a billboard can cost you thousands of dollars per sign, transit advertising is a more affordable option and can help raise brand awareness in targeted areas. You can choose between different ad sizes and locations based on your budget and campaign objectives. 

Some common types of transit ads include exterior and interior bus ads, top-of-car taxi ads, and interior subway ads. Transit ads are versatile and allow you to reach a diverse audience.

19. Get creative with mural advertising 

Mural advertising is a form of OOH advertising that takes an artistic approach. These murals leverage public spaces and are usually painted on the sides of buildings or other outdoor areas. Mural advertisements include vibrant colors, images, and designs that capture the attention of those passing by while conveying your message effectively. 

Because these ads are so visually captivating, they increase the likelihood of people sharing on social media. This shareability can broaden your target reach and increase brand awareness.

20. Harness online review platforms  

​​While Google is the fastest-growing local review website right now, other platforms like Yelp are also useful for generating reviews online. Like Google My Business, you can set up a business profile with key information to promote your business to potential customers. 

If your budget allows, paying for ad placements on these platforms can help push your business profile in front of the right people and drive sales. Essentially, paid advertising on these platforms will move your profile to the top of search results. As with all platforms, it’s best to test it out with a small budget first to see if it works for you.

Money-saving solopreneur tip

Yelp and other review platforms often target small businesses with ad credits, so it’s worth checking on this incentive before running a test campaign. For example, Yelp currently offers $300 in free credit when you start with Yelp Ads.

21. Set up Google My Business 

It’s important to have a local presence on Google, even if you don’t plan to buy paid search ads. You can create a free profile on Google My Business, allowing your business to show up in Google search results and Google Maps. 

For example, let’s say you own an auto repair shop. If someone were to go on Google and search “auto repair shop near me,” your business would pop up if you’re in their area.  

Creating a business profile is completely free, and your profile can include essential business information like your hours of operation, website, phone number, and address. You can also customize your profile by adding photos, logos, or other important business attributes. 

Customers can also post reviews, book appointments, make reservations, or request a quote on your profile. This free business advertising option is an easy way to boost your business and build your reputation.

An illustrated list of local advertising ideas with different budgets, like local organizations and trade shows.

22. Publish newspaper ads

Even though circulation numbers have dwindled, newspaper ads can be hyper-targeted, just like direct mail. If you’re targeting a specific demographic, like baby boomers with a high disposable income, newspapers might still make a lot of strategic sense. 

Depending on your budget, you can buy local newspaper print ads or smaller classified ads. Local newspapers often price ads by column inches and whether or not you advertise in color or black and white. Or, you pay by the fraction of the page your ad will take up (e.g., ¼ or ½ page).

Money-saving solopreneur tip

Since national newspaper ads can be costly, focus on community newspapers for more affordable rates. For example, a 4-by-10-inch black and white ad might cost you $480 for a local newspaper but can cost thousands in a national newspaper.

23. Partner with local radio stations

Radio ads are a great way to raise awareness and can be just as effective as other traditional media advertising, like TV. Since you don’t have to design anything for a radio ad, all you need is a good copywriter with radio advertising experience. 

Radio ads are bought on a cost-per-minute, or CPM, basis because they’re more awareness-based, with the average CPM costing between $10 and $20. However, this price can vary depending on the radio station, day of the week, audience size, and the length of the ad.  

If you have a smaller budget, consider running local radio ads for a short time as a way to raise awareness, like ahead of a store opening or when offering discounts, for example.

24. Look for classified advertising options 

Classified ads are a form of text-based advertisement that are organized into categories or classifieds, like “for sale,” “jobs,” and “businesses and services.” They were traditionally published in local newspapers and magazines. However, they can now be found on online platforms as well.

This type of advertising is often geared toward local or regional audiences, making it a great option for small businesses looking to target customers in a specific location. Since classified ads are text-based, they are a more cost-effective option since you won’t have to spend money on design expenses like display ads.

Money-saving solopreneur tip

Many local newspapers offer free or cheap classified ads on their websites, so do your research to find these options and save on costs. You can also utilize free online classified sites like Craigslist.

25. Reach out to local organizations 

Many local organizations offer advertising spots in their email or printed newsletters or at events they host. Research and find an organization with a very targeted membership, event attendance, or email subscriber base. Not only can this broaden your reach, but it can also help you connect with and support other businesses in your community. 

26. Participate in local events and trade shows 

Local events like tradeshows, farmers’ markets, parades, concerts, fundraisers, street fairs, and business expos offer a great opportunity to connect with your community and promote your business. For example, you can sponsor a float at a local holiday parade, pay for an ad spot in a fundraising flyer, or sell your products directly to consumers at your local farmers market.

Engaging in local events can help you build a positive brand image and strengthen your connection within your community.

Move, manage, and grow your money

No matter what stage your business is in, QuickBooks can help you manage your business finances.

27. Post on local community bulletins 

If you’re a solopreneur looking for a free and easy way to advertise your business, start by posting flyers or business cards on community bulletin boards. You can find these boards at local libraries, churches, community centers, restaurants, gyms, grocery stores, coffee shops, and shopping centers. 

These local bulletin boards are most beneficial for those looking to advertise specific products or services that could benefit an entire community. Consider offering some sort of incentive like a discount or freebie to entice potential customers to engage with your business.

28. Connect with your local chamber of commerce

Advertising with a local chamber of commerce is a great small business advertising idea for those looking to promote their products or services within a specific area. They often maintain online business directories and have newsletters or other publications in which your ads can be featured. Every chamber of commerce is different, but you can usually advertise for free or for a small fee if you’re a member. 

Aside from the local exposure, chambers of commerce often host networking events and participate in community gatherings, which can help you gain additional exposure.

Grow your business with confidence 

Whether you want to attract new customers or bring previous customers back to your business, an advertising strategy is essential in today’s marketplace. With so many small business advertising ideas to utilize, you can create a winning advertising strategy that is highly targeted and attracts the right customers at the right time. 

When running a business as a solopreneur, you can start with low-budget advertising strategies. As your business grows, you can increase your advertising spend and adjust to what is working for your business. 

Ready to invest in your advertising strategy? Small business accounting software like QuickBooks can help you track and manage your advertising spending and small business expenses all in one place.

Small business advertising ideas FAQ

Intuit is a technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by our partner, Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC.

**Product Information:

QuickBooks Money: QuickBooks Money is a standalone Intuit offering that includes QuickBooks Payments and QuickBooks Checking. Intuit accounts are subject to eligibility criteria, credit, and application approval. Banking services provided by and the QuickBooks Visa® Debit Card is issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license from Visa U.S.A., Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association. QuickBooks Checking Deposit Account Agreement applies. Banking services and debit card opening are subject to identity verification and approval by Green Dot Bank. Money movement services are provided by Intuit Payments Inc., licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. For more information about Intuit Payments' money transmission licenses, please visit https://www.intuit.com/legal/licenses/payment-licenses/. No subscription cost or monthly fees. Other fees and limits, including transaction-based fees, apply.

Industry-leading Annual Percentage Yield (APY): Competitive rate information based on publicly available data for small business checking accounts provided by the largest national and online banks as of September 18, 2023. APYs are subject to change at any time.

Recommended for you

Mail icon
Get the latest to your inbox
No Thanks

Get the latest to your inbox

Relevant resources to help start, run, and grow your business.

By clicking “Submit,” you agree to permit Intuit to contact you regarding QuickBooks and have read and acknowledge our Privacy Statement.

Thanks for subscribing.

Fresh business resources are headed your way!

Looking for something else?


From big jobs to small tasks, we've got your business covered.

Firm of the Future

Topical articles and news from top pros and Intuit product experts.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.