Advertising Ideas

Advertising involves paying a third-party to deliver a message to people they have access to. Advertising is by far the most popular form of marketing, but many people mistake advertising and marketing as synonyms.

Advertising is only one type of marketing. Be sure to include other forms of marketing in your marketing mix. An advertising-only strategy can be expensive.

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Advertise in Local Businesses

Pay local business owners with similar target markets to your own a fee to place hand-outs, flyers, or a poster promoting your product/service in their store or office.


Advertise on Bus Stops

Purchase a bus stop advertisement nearby your business. If your bus stop ad will be seen by cars, follow billboard creation guidelines and keep the text minimal. If the primary audience is foot traffic, you may be able to get away with a bit more text.

Guerrilla Bus Stop Advertising Technique

"Take a picture of this bus stop, and bring it in for a free _______ or X% off your bill!". Everybody has cell phones with cameras these days.


Arial Advertising

Have a plane or hot air balloon fly above your city with an ad for your product/service.


Bandit Signs

Bandit signs are low cost ($2-$5) custom made signs people place in high traffic areas. The signs are named “bandit signs” because they are placed in areas where they will eventually be taken down by the city. The idea behind them is to generate leads before being taken down.

Not the most ethical advertising option to be sure, but if you watch for them you’ll see they are frequently used.


Bathroom Stalls

Advertise on flyers in bathroom stalls of local businesses or public facilities. Where else do you have a person’s undivided attention?



Purchase a billboard in a location nearby your business. Make a short clear offer. Less is more with billboards. If you find yourself wishing you had just a bit more space, you’ve said too much. 



The classifieds often offer much cheaper rates than advertisements in the same paper, and unlike ads – people open the paper wanting to read the classifieds. Place refurbished units in the buy sell and trade and on online classifieds like Craigslist and Kijiji.


Community Events

Get a list of community events in your town, and highlight the ones you believe your target market will be attending. Think up creative ways you could tie your business into the event.

A restaurant could offer to provide an appetizer for each table, and include small card which says the name of the dish and which restaurant it is from. They could also host an activity for children, where children can learn to create a dish the restaurant serves.


Door Hangers

Door hangers are a creative alternative to flyers. They often have a higher response rate because they aren't as widely used by marketers.


Direct Mailers

Send a mailer to local houses or businesses. Try to create something unique and different from the other ten to thirty mailers the recipients will receive that week. Search Google for unique direct mail formats.


Encourage Employees to Advertise

Reward employees who place an advertisement on their vehicle, generate leads, or otherwise help to promote your business.


Flyer Marketing

Print flyers and post them on bulletin boards around town. Have a few with you in your car at all times in case you find a new bulletin board you can post one on.


Kiosk Advertising

Set up a kiosk in local shopping malls or high-traffic outdoor areas. Make it semi-mobile, so that once you saturate a location you can move it to a fresh new location, and hit a new market.


Local Advertising

Advertise in community directories, recreation guides, newsletters sent out by other local businesses, and other local publications in your community.


Magazine Advertisements

Advertise in a magazine that focuses on your industry or niche. Because there are magazines on thousands of subjects you can pick and choose the audience that most closely matches your target market. Use an offer you don’t feature anywhere else so you’ll know where the lead came from.


Mobile Advertising on Buses and Taxis

Good because you’ll reach a broad audience. Bad because a lot of the people who see your advertisement may be very far from your business.


Movie Theater Advertising

Local theaters often display ads prior to the previews. People can’t help but look at the giant screen.


Newspaper Advertisements

Advertise in the local paper. Always be sure you can track every response to the ad. Newspapers know exactly what their space is worth, and often charge just a bit more than that, so it’s important to track every lead they generate.


Radio Advertisements

Advertise on the radio. Listen to radio stations for ads that don’t sound like ads.

Instead of advertising on a radio stations, a lot of businesses get involved in contests the radio is running, have the radio station broadcast live from their business, have the hosts recommend their product, or ask to be interviewed on the air.

There are dozens of creative advertising options with radio stations that don’t sound like ads.


Publish Your Own Magazine or Monthly Newsletter

Distribute your own magazine or newsletter through the mail to zip codes that fit your target market.

Support the mailing/production costs through ads for complementary products/services.


Purchase a Booth at a Tradeshow

Network with the decision makers in your industry by exhibiting your product at a tradeshow. If your audience is the general public there are public tradeshows and community events you can purchase booths at.


Restaurant Placemats

Local restaurants often offer advertising space on their menu or placemats.


Sales Territories

Offer exclusive sales territories to commission salespeople.


Telemarketing/Cold Calling

Telemarketing has a bad name, but that is because it’s associated with calling a broad audience which includes many who don’t want/need your product. Cold calling highly targeted lists of people who have shown some type of interest in your product can be very effective. If you purchase a list, go for quality not quantity.


Television Advertising

TV advertising on the big networks can be expensive, but there are lots of cheaper spots available on local networks.

If your town has a channel that lists what’s on, or a public access network, it’s usually pretty affordable to get some TV ads there.


Trade Associations

List your business with trade associations and in directories related to your industry.


Trade Magazines

Purchase an advertisement in a trade magazine. Trade magazines are among the most focused print advertisements you can find. Their audiences are often laser targeted.


Transit Advertising

Advertise inside buses, taxis, subway trains, or subway station nearby your business. Like mobile advertising, many of these options advertise to people may be far away from your business.

However, unlike mobile advertising you can generally deliver a longer sales message because you have the prospects undivided attention for a longer period of time.


Tourist Marketing

Advertise in tourist guides or on tourist maps.


Vehicle Advertising

Purchase vehicle stickers that contain your businesses logo, website address, and a short statement about how you make your customer's lives better.


Vehicle Advertising 2.0

Stick a few magnetic business cards to your vehicle that say "Take One" that include your logo, what you do, and your contact information.


Windshield Advertising

Place coupons or flyers on windshields at nearby parking lots.


Yellow Pages

The Yellow Pages Group is now a full service marketing agency that can help your business reach customers through print, SEO, pay per click marketing, and even mobile.

People who say the Yellow Pages are dead don't realize how far this company has evolved over the past few years.



Advertise your own business. Wear clothes with your company logo on them. Have a laptop bag specially printed with your company logo. Have a hat printed with your logo.


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