What are the alternatives to promote a business other than advertising?
Who said no one looks at ads? Unless everyone has gone blind overnight, that isn’t possible.
If you mean that advertising is more competitive, and older formats such as TV and print ads are losing their strength, sure. I’ll even admit that people are more savvy to advertising than they were in say, 1950. But when consumers get smart, advertisers get smarter. Mobile ads are enormous, and everybody is spending half their week on the internet, which even with an ad-blocker, is going to lead them to sites where they’re forced to tolerate viewing ads. This is to say nothing of influencer marketing, which has blurred the line between authentic content and advertising, so that much of the time we are viewing ads and sponsored content without even realizing it.
It’s true that with competition growing, the cost of advertising has increased and rewards now go to the those who are willing to learn new things and implement more innovative tactics in ads to attract customers. That’s the reason businesses have now started to look for alternatives to advertising. Which is fine. There’s more to promotion than spending money to make money. But advertising works. It would not exist otherwise. I want to make that clear. The thought that advertising is competitive, or difficult now, should motivate you not to just look for other avenues, but also to get better at advertising. Without that twofold approach, promotion and business expansion is going to be difficult.
That said, let’s discuss the alternatives to promoting a business other than advertising, as like most people who start a business, that was important to me in the beginning.
1. By offering your insights to others, initially for free. You can do that by writing or speaking about your business subjects wherever and whenever you can, by linking to an appealing offer, such as an eBook, or offering free consultations wherever you can. If your thoughts strike a chord with the right person, they will want to do business with you. You can make use of blogging for that. You can also write for other people and vice versa. Really, I would just put up listings wherever you can and do direct outreach. Notice how the former is technically advertising?
2. By being active in offline and online areas. You can host/sponsor events to promote businesses or relevant groups. By taking part in online discussions through forums, social pages, groups, etc. you can do online promotions without really ‘advertising’. It’s just creating attention and making things happen, with the knowledge that your business is what sponsored or participated in it.
The above are two places where I’d start. If I knew more about your business, the products/services you deal in, I could offer you more specific suggestions.
I would still suggest that advertising has no replacement. Unless your brand is huge, some level of impersonal promotion is required to grow a brand in a reasonable amount of time. The point is to adopt smarter strategies of doing that, which fit in your budget. Being into online business for a long time, I can firmly say that it would be hard for any business to survive in a competitive world without advertising. I won’t deny the exceptions, but those exceptions are companies like Tesla, which are definitely not comparable to most small businesses and startups.
I have discussed why advertising is important and why entrepreneurs shouldn’t try to avoid it in my post: Welcome to a World Without Advertising. If you are interested, then you can read that post through the link.
To sum up, advertising is a reliable strategy for the promotion of any business. However, besides that, you can approach and interact with potential clients through the more personal and time-intensive promotion methods I described. Just be prepared to spend more time than money.
Please feel free to reply if you have any questions.