Mark Twain once said “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

This is very, very, very true! Look at all of the companies that are now engrained in our everyday lives! Two of my favourite examples are McDonald’s and Tim Hortons. McDonald’s has poured millions (probably billions) of dollars into advertising their Egg McMuffin. A simple english muffin with egg, ham and cheese that you can also make at home, is the absolute best way to start your day and a healthy one at that. They’ve done such a good job at advertising this product that they pretty much don’t need to anymore, with the exception, I find, of the times of year that everyone is looking to make healthier food choices.

With Tim Hortons, they’re successful advertising has engrained them into the Canadian psyche and culture. Double-Doubles, Timbits and Iced Capps are pretty well synonymous with being Canadian, much like loving hockey and cheering for the underdogs. Go anywhere in the U.S. beyond the immediate border areas and order a Medium Double Double (my go-to standard) with a Canadian accent, and they look at you as if you are crazy. Trust me, I’ve done this in Delaware. Pay attention to Tim Hortons advertising next time you see one. Most times (except for Roll Up the Rim time), they aren’t overtly selling their product, their selling you an experience or they’re trying to evoke a memory (i.e. hockey arenas, family gatherings, road trips, catching up with friends, etc.) and showcasing how their products were or can be an integral part of that time.

These companies have spent millions, likely hundreds of millions, on attaining this type of success with their advertising (almost to the point where they really don’t need to do so anymore). But one thing to keep in mind is that these two massive international chains both started out just like you. When they launched, they likely didn’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising. In fact, I’m guessing that Tim Hortons had more money starting out to spend on advertising than McDonald’s (which originally started out as a BBQ restaurant owned by two brothers in 1940) because Tim Horton himself was already a fairly well-known member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

How’s a young(er) entrepreneur like yourself (and me) to advertise our products & services when we don’t have a lot of money? When most of us are starting out, one of the first things we do is create a social media page for our company, but we’ll save that for another post later on.  Let’s look at 5 other ways to advertise that costs little or no money! Caution: just because they’re cheap/free doesn’t mean that they will be easy!

  1. Craft an Elevator Pitch!
    • Advertise your product while advertising yourself.
    • People get their first impression on you in the first 6-8 seconds of talking to you.
    • Make an “elevator” pitch which is a short introduction to who you are, what you do and what product you have created.
    • This will help you understand who you are and what you want from a potential client.
    • For more information, see 1 Minute To Win It (The Elevator Pitch).
  2. Leverage Your Community!
    • Use the community you live in as an advantage.
      • Example: printing off bookmarks of your product and or service that you have created and leaving these in the local library and or book store.
    • Little, simple, and free ideas like this will help get your product and or service well-known throughout the community and ultimately help your company to grow.
  3. Collaborate!
    • Connect with small local businesses around your area, and while promoting your own business promote theirs as well, and have them promote yours.
    • This will bring in a new and larger demographic of clients, and really help get your business going and help to build a name for yourself.
  4. Network!
    • This is probably the biggest way to get your product and or service known.
    • To network you have to be willing to talk to everyone, shake hands of people you meet, and ultimately sell yourself and your company to them using that “elevator” speech we talked about earlier.
    • Networking will give people the real idea of who you are and how your business will benefit them.
    • For more information, see Networking- Not Just For Computers Anymore!
  5. Give It Away!
    • A big thing in business is knowing that sometimes you have to lose, or spend money in order to make money. I know I may have said differently in other posts, but this is the truth when it comes to advertising your product and service.
    • If someone has the opportunity to try your product or service before buying it, it will help influence their decision when they are actually ready to buy it.
    • Studies have shown that people buy products when they know they work, and know exactly what it does.

I hope this helps and good luck! Remember, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, drop me a line on through my contact page!