7 Simple Ways To Advertise Your Small Business On A Small Budget
You've done it! Your company is taking off after mounds hard work, sweat, and probably some tears (both of joy and major stress). But don't let your efforts fall to pieces due to lack of awareness and interest from potential clients and customers. Advertisement and promotion of your company is a must, no matter its size, strength, or status.
If you're not in the market for shelling out thousands (or more) for advertising, that's no problem. There are many ways to put your company's name on the map and into the hearts and minds of those you want in the know. A lean budget always has some wiggle room to plug your business with pride and personality! Try any or all of these ideas and you'll see consumers knocking down your door in no time.
Get with Google
Be sure to show the world that your business has arrived with a Google My Business account. Display your address, hours, phone number, and what you're all about. And talk about lean… this is a free service! Clients and potential customers will be able to see positive reviews of your company and you can post photos to give an inside account of your unique qualities. Locals will see your company pop up with their search, but you will be searchable far and wide as well. Let the world get their goggles on your Google page! Log in and follow the clear-cut instructions. You'll be visible in no time.
Bring on the Blog
A great way to stir up interest is with an informative content section on your company's website. This is a useful way for readers to learn more about the industry you're in and know they can educate themselves thanks to the content your company provides without being sale-sy or pushy. The more the reader comes to trust your information, the more they'll be inclined to purchase from or use your services when the time is right. You can set up a blog relatively easily and cheaply, (with WordPress, for example) and as long as you hire dedicated and in-the-know writers, you're set. Plus, the 'comments' section will help you gain more readers and followers who will learn about your offerings. Your company can get started with WordPress for as low as $3.95/month. As you grow, you can expand to get more features and services, but a basic setup will get you moving in the right direction. Start with short posts to garner attention and see what resonates with readers to help you plan your future content. Then tie in with what you can offer.
Business Cards Mean Business
Be a live advertisement every time you walk into a room. When you meet someone and tell them about your business, leave them with a standout card so they can reach you if and when they need your company's goods or services. Make yours special with a unique design that coordinates with what your company does or stands for. Be sure all your employees have a nice stack of cards and to never leave home without some to shell out in pocket. Vistaprint can whip you up 500 cards for less than $10 bucks. Pretty good business!
Shine on Social Media
If your company doesn't have a page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., then you are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Nowadays, if you're not on social media, you may as well not exist. Folks of all ages tend to turn to social media to see if a company's up-to-date and relevant. You can hire a fresh-out-of-school social media-savvy employee or even an intelligent intern to manage your social media messaging. The more you post with relevancy and regularity, the more followers and fans you'll amass. Watch your presence peak and more and more people will become aware of and purchase your goods and services. Offer special social media-only deals and promos too for extra attention on your pages daily. Starting up a social media page is free and you can get more intricate as your company flourishes. Start small and let your fans help you grow.
The Need to Network
Get out there and talk the talk. Attend seminars, speeches, conventions, and the like related to your industry. Keep it local or travel – whatever your business is best suited for. You'll get your name out there and learn from those already in the field. Come prepared with information, handouts, and samples (when applicable) from your company and put a friendly face to your company's name. Eventually, you can request or be invited to speak on panels and lead discussions about your field. Be sure to post your experiences on your website and on your social media pages for added interest and input. Networking events have a range of fees, setup costs, and registration packages, so find the ones you can afford, then expand your reach as you get more customers and reach new heights.
There are a variety of platforms, such as Outmarket, where your company can send out your own press releases when there're something new or noteworthy to announce. Alternatively, you can invest in a PR pro to guide you through the experience of spreading positive messages about your company to the masses or those of importance to your business. With proper presence of press and publicity, your company will become recognized and well-regarded. Your PR rep will have your back and make sure your company is handled with class and character. PR pros and programs are available at all price points, so there's an option for any budget. Outmarket packages start at around $300 a month, which is a pretty good deal for what you'll get in return. When it comes to a personal PR pro, shop around, ask for references, and work with the person. The right fit will respect your budget and help you grow.
Engage with Email
Develop a strong database of customers via past purchasers, social media opt-ins, site sign-ups, and other inquiring minds in order to email company updates, new products or services, sales, promos, and even benevolent content to keep them interested, engaged, and eager for more. There are a variety of email management services that you can use on a trial or low-cost basis, such as MailChimp or Bronto, that guide you with every step of the email process – from design to messaging to frequency of send. Emailing will keep your customers informed and in-the-know and your name will be top-of-mind when they are ready to make a move – unless your excellent email inspired them to do it there and then! Start an account with a mail service provider and find the package that works within your budget. A customer service rep can tailor a program to suit your individual needs and keep things clean and lean.
It's time to advertise with knowledge and energy. Money may be tight, but your advertising is going to be all right! Get started now and see the customers and clients roll in and ready to purchase.
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
The world of travel is not the same as it was two years ago. From the surge in "revenge travel" to the TikTok-inspired itineraries that make the most random destinations suddenly the most popular, there's so much about traveling that's out of your control.
What you can control — to some extent — is how much you pay for it.
According to CNBC, “Between dining out and taking trips, Americans are now spending an average of $765 more a month compared with last year when much of the country was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index … Young adults, in particular, are determined to make up for lost time. Millennials and Gen Z, who reported feeling the financial impact from the rise in reopenings and social gatherings, said they are shelling out $1,016 more a month, on average, than they did during the summer of 2020. MassMutual polled 1,000 U.S. adults from July 21 to 28.”
While some are okay with making up for lost time by gleefully spending all their money, not everyone has the desire to blow up their budgets on trips. Yet, the allure of travel still calls. Thus, the appeal of travel hacking.
Travel hacking has been around as long as credit card rewards have. But during the pandemic, travel hacking gurus found unprecedented fame on TikTok and Instagram. With time to learn about the points and miles community, suddenly people were planning for future travel using tips and tricks gleaned from experts sharing their knowledge on social media.
Though it might sound complex, anyone with a fair credit score can enter the travel hacking game. Here’s how:
What Is Travel Hacking?
Travel hacking is using reward points and miles from airlines, hotels, and credit cards towards free or heavily discounted travel. This ranges from opening a number of credit cards for the reward bonuses, optimizing your normal spending in order to max out your points per shopping category, and leveraging loyalty and status for awesome perks.
To a lot of people, the term “travel hacking” can sound shady. The “hacking” scares people off. Is it illegal? Is it a scam? Can you get punished for opening too many cards? Will you ruin your credit score? The answer to all of these concerns is no.
There’s no hidden trick to travel hacking. It’s not a game of risk or cheating, it’s a game of research and planning.
Travel Hacking 101
Most commonly, travel hacking hinges on the points you can get from certain travel credit cards. Credit cards aren’t merely a way to manage cash flow. Many offer rewards programs that give you points for each purpose. These points can then be repurposed to pay for part or all of a trip.
Different networks have different systems, but most can be transferred to a range of partners. Top credit cards are with Chase, Amex, Citi, and Capital One. Simply accumulate points on your credit card, then you have the option to transfer those points to airlines, hotels, and more — for free.
When learning travel hacking, The best tip is to go backward. Don’t just open popular cards with high bonuses. Identify where you want to go, then find out what actions to take. Which airlines travel there? Which cards’ points can be transferred to that airline? Where do you want to stay? Which hotels can you book with points? Once you’ve planned out your dream vacation, see how many points you need. Then strategize for the best way to nab them.
Choose which cards are right for you, then start stockpiling those points towards free travel.
One way to quickly amass points is to take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Many credit cards use sign-up bonuses to entice users. And if you play smart, just one or two sign-up bonuses can account for one entire flight cost. However, there’s one catch: you must meet a minimum spend requirement to qualify for the bonus.
The best way to approach this is to funnel all of your regular expenses through those credit cards to chip away at the minimum spending. Pro tip: open your card right before you need to make a lot of purchases. The holidays are a good time to open a card so the cost of festivities ends up working for you.
And remember: it’s key to always pay off your monthly credit card balance before the due date! The benefits of those points are useless if you go into debt to accrue them.
And here’s a hack for you newbie travel hackers out there — be sure to manage your money and keep track of how much you’re spending for that bonus with the MeetCleo app.
MeetCleo is the personal finance tool that’s actually fun to use. Taking control of your money while “earning” free travel using your credit cards? Finances have never been more fun.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!