Strong, well-placed advertisements are essential to the success of a business. Though this is something of an obvious statement that even the Ancient Egyptians understood given the first ever written advert was found in the ruins of Thebes, the direct correlation between successful advertising and a successful business cannot be underestimated. Less than a century ago, a well-placed advertisement may have appeared on the side of a bus or in a prolific, popular magazine disseminating information about the business and its flagship products or services to the masses hopefully drawing in customers however, a beauty product in a car magazine is not going to attract an equal percentage of the business’ target audience as advertising on the cover of Vogue therefore the medium through which we advertise is equally as crucial as the advert itself.

But while advertising is relatively easy for large multinational corporations such as Amazon, McDonald’s, Apple, Toyota… it can be difficult for smaller corporations, or independent back-room businesses only just finding their feet. When we discuss ways to advertise your business, the obvious catalogue, billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, digital streaming services, the websites of other businesses and so on, it alienates a good proportion of businesses that simply can’t afford to shell out vast quantities of hard-earned money. Between an advert on daytime Sky TV and an advert on Channel 4 you can expect to spend anywhere between £150 to £2000 for a 30 second advert. That’s without factoring in the costs to produce the advert itself which, depending on its complexity, which could be anything from £800-£10,000+.

However, it is possible to successfully advertise your business without forking out the big bucks or in fact a single buck. You may even find that the following information puts you ahead of some of your far larger competitions merely because you streamlined your advertising process and invested not your money but a little time into the strongest advertising methods currently available (for free!) to you.

Tweet It, ‘Gram It, ‘Book It, Work It: The Importance of (you guessed it) Social Media…

Among the best ways to advertise your business for free is social media. It sounds entirely obvious to those of you among Gen Z and Gen Alpha, but it is absolutely paramount to the success of a business to have some kind of online presence and social media is the gateway. Most expert website and marketing strategists, or influencers well-versed in this topic will recommend social media as the best way to advertise your business at present.

Equally it is important to consider that though there is casual controversy regarding which social platform carries the most clout, a social media presence

regardless of platform is still going to benefit your business over none at all. Of the nearly 8 billion people currently on Earth, 4.8 billion are internet users, and the majority of them will use multiple social media platforms. Therefore, it may be worth occupying space on multiple platforms linked by similar handles in order to maximise the reach of your business and the awareness of your product.

Chasing the Latest Social Media Trend

However, it is also important to stay on top of what it currently trending on social media to guarantee that your business stays seen in the best, most visible spots. Website strategy expert, Wes McDowell, recommends as part of his five top ways to advertise your business for free, not just being present on social media but chasing the latest social media trends as an optimum way to advertise your business. Forget that it costs nothing to do so, it makes sense to stay in line with the top trends to keep your business and your product relevant.

Although my Gen Z little sister says, ‘everybody knows it’s only Boomers that use Facebook now’ that does not detract from the fact that 62.09% of people worldwide have a Facebook account while a comparatively measly 11.75% have Instagram. While this figure demonstrates decreased usage on the platform since March 2023 it is important to consider that the rise of TikTok as the ‘popular’ social media platform for her generation and Gen Alpha in the past few years may have contributed to this decline. Put simply, there aren’t less users on social media they had just moved their business elsewhere.

Generally, the running trend of the moment is prompted by the younger generations. As of 2021, a survey found that 91% of 15–16-year-olds in the UK used social media while 87% had their own social media profile. As of June 2023, a staggering 94% of Generation Z were using social media actively. Being the largest generation on Earth it is understandable that any online trends tend to be driven by the young ‘uns. So, when a large proportion of young people move to a new platform such as TikTok it makes sense for business owners to move in kind particularly if your target audience is largely among the Gen Z and Gen Alpha demographic.

Equally, McDowell comments that when Instagram first released their ‘reel’ function back in 2020, Instagram gave a lot of preference to accounts that included reels in their socials and marketing promotions which meant that these accounts grew faster than those who had not engaged with the ‘reel’ function. Now, of course, reels are a common feature across almost every Instagram account, personal and profession alike, and the function has been picked up by other social media platforms such as YouTube the same year, and Facebook in 2021, although YouTube shorts have taken longer to take off possibly due to the popularity of Instagram reels and the wider community active on Facebook. Initially however, it was the accounts and savvy businesses who jumped on a new social media trend that managed to grow more substantially than those who didn’t, even the platform itself provided support in this respect.

Iykyk (If you know you know)

However, staying on top of four or five social media platforms is incredibly time consuming and not an easy feat to maintain in the long run, particularly for those who aren’t accustomed to some of the newer social sites such as TikTok. This is where streamlining your social media presence can be more effective than jumping on all the new trends simultaneously across every social media platform available without working closely with a marketing agency specialised in the world of Social Media.

According to Ross Welch, an exceptionally well-established entrepreneur in the production industry, it can be equally as productive to advertise your business through perhaps even just one social media platform provided your content production is consistent, varied, and exciting. For this, consideration of your target audience is essential, ask yourself: Do I know which social media platform corresponds best to my business’ target audience? To help you answer this question, information relating to social media statistics are easily retrievable with a quick Google search; for example, if we were to stick with the target audience of Gen Z, an age range between 14 and 26-years-old, we know from 10 minutes research we need to stick to among Snapchat (41%), TikTok (35%), or Instagram (32%), whereas if our target audience were Gen X, aged 44 to 59-years-old, you would be wise to choose among Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Twitter (X).

If we were to stick solely to Instagram then, given its seniority as social media platform over TikTok (after all Vine only lasted four years) it makes sense to make use of absolutely every function the platform has on offer, reels, stories, posts, collabs… and Instagram ‘guides’. Instagram guides is a function of the platform that never really achieved ‘trending’ status and is, according to McDowell, ‘criminally underused’.

However, now that you’re “in the know” regarding Instagram guides it’s definitely worth diving into this feature. Instagram guides essentially allow a business to create a resource for their ideal customers that will work with and bounce off similar businesses in order to merge with there customer bases. For example, if you were running a dog-training business in Clapham and wanted to promote and grow your business, you could create a guide to the best dog day-care centres in the nearby Clapham area linking to specific posts by specific day-care centres followed by a link back to your page at the bottom. By linking individual posts from other businesses into your resource you give them incentive to share your guide and thereby reach their followers who are likely to form a major part of your target audience. It’s a free way to advertise your business that is equally profitable for similar businesses without stepping on anyone’s toes.

The Rise of the Podcast and Modern Networking

Speaking of chasing the latest trends, a final way to advertise your business that’s free but more complicated than the accessibility of social media, and not for the faint-hearted.

Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular and increasingly prevalent and, although not technically a social platform in themselves, they often go hand in hand with social media profiles as social media can act as way to advertise small portions of the larger recorded content of the podcast. Rather than creating your own which can be expensive and time-consuming it is better to make use of already established podcasts that have a wide following than corresponds with your target audience. Once you have found a few podcasts that are linked to your business or product you can market yourself as a viable guest appearing as an expert in the industry or related products of your business, thereby advertising not just yourself but also “plugging” your business simultaneously. A great way to find such podcasts is to search on Matchmaker, a site uniquely dedicated to connecting podcasters and guests, and networking your way through the online community of likeminded entrepreneurs.

But while we’re here, on the subject of networking, it is definitely worth mentioning a tried and true to round off the best ways to advertise your business in 2024, and that is physically networking. Searching for conferences, or local business fayres, markets topically relevant to your portfolio or business wherein you can give presentations and physically advertise yourself and your company. Head Nerd, Tom, discussed why conferences and networking is vital in a recent episode of Nauti Nerds, watch here. More often than not, the majority of people appreciate the effort in a business putting a face to a name.