The old saying in business is that you should be spending a minimum of 10% of your profits on advertising. There are many stories of people who owned businesses that refused to spend anything on advertising their service or products – until they were declaring bankruptcy. Then they would advertise their “Going Out Of Business” sale. Don’t fall into the thinking that all your leads and sales will come only from referrals. Eventually, everyone runs out of those. You have to keep the pipeline filled with new prospects and leads. Those can come from many areas: Networking meetings, online advertising, leaving your business card at the local oil change place, etc. But you can never stop prospecting for new sales from people you have never met.

A lot of small business owners – as well as mid-sized owners today – are operating on thin profit margins, and coming up with an extra 10% for advertising isn’t easy, nor is it possible at times. I understand because I have been there myself a few times.

But if you don’t have 10% extra to spend, then you better be spending 10% of your time. It has to be one or the other, and most of the time, 10% of your time pays off better in the long run because you spend some of that time developing long term relationships.

There are many things you can do that are either low cost or free.

  • Place about 12 ads on Craigslist and keep them running forever. It’s only FREE. Mix up your titles and content on the ads so that each are unique. Place these ads over a 1 week period of time, and then go in everyday and relist / repost your ads back to the top of the listings.
  • There is also Ebay Classifieds and Oodle that do work for some people’s businesses.
  • Friend a bunch of people on Facebook and throw up occasional ads about your business with a link to your website. If your friends are offended by that, then they aren’t really your “friends”.
  • Try the many Facebook Groups – there are many that allow business advertisements and postings.
  • Start blogging about your business services on your website each day or every 2-3 days and make sure it’s tied in to all the social networks.
  • Advertise your business for free in the LinkedIn newsfeed and post your website blogs into the LinkedIn Posts / Articles – by the way – you should be building out your connections on LinkedIn as large as you can get them to be.
  • This is the only one that will cost you a bit of money, that you were going to spend anyway. Go to and find a few local networking meetings near you and visit a new one each week. It’s usually only the price of a lunch or breakfast to meet new people and talk about what you do. You are likely going to go out and eat lunch anyway – so why not make it a business expense write off and promote your business.

I am sure there are others that I am not thinking about at the moment, but you get the idea. Spend some time – at least 10% of your time –  promoting your business where you can and keep putting yourself into situations where you have the opportunity to meet new people that could become your clients or referrals sources.