advertising and promotion ideas

Advertising and promotion are nothing new. According to Britannica, word of mouth was used to promote businesses in medieval times. The first written advertising came with the development of print in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Since then we’ve evolved and now small and micro businesss owners have an entire arsenal of marketing options available in the marketing mix and a range of advertising and promotion opportunities in the promotional mix.

Still, people get stuck on the idea that Facebook has changed its algorithms and not as many people are seeing their organic posts as they used to.

Advertising and promotion is rarely free

At the risk of bursting your bubble, advertising and promotion is rarely free. Social media giants convinced you it was, while the product they were selling to others was you. When you invite followers, only small percentage of those followers will ever see your posts. However, social media platforms now reserve the right to charge you and your competitors to reach your existing customers.

Although free marketing options still exist, such as digital marketing and link building for SEO, their growth potential is limited. If it’s free now, you can bet it will be a cluttered and highly competitive environment tomorrow.

Position your brand and be ready

Advertising can be low cost and cost effective but this idea that everything is free will not serve your business well. You don’t want to be on an equal footing than your competitors. You want to be better known, so your brand is positioned in people’s minds when they are ready to buy.

Advertising and promotion ideas

Advertising ideas

Business directories

One of the oldest forms of advertising , which is still relevant, is a business directory, like Yellow Pages Local Search, Google Business Profile or Bing Places. Not every customer will need what your business sells right now, however, you need to be available and easy for them to find to find when they need you.

Est. Min. Budget: $0 -$1,500 per month


Cinema advertising to a captive audience

67 percent of Aussies have gone to the movies each year, since 2000. Cinema advertising can help you reach a captive audience, while they’re out of home.

In cinema, viewers can’t change the channel or get up and do some house work, so there are less distractions from your advertising message. According to Cinema Advertising Australia, most movie goers live within 10km of the cinema, so it’s great for targeting local.

Cinema advertising often requires a lock in contract, from 1-12 months.

Est. Budget: $1,000 per month + production, depending on location and length of contract


Display ads, such as online banner ads, images, video ads and gifs are a great way to get the attention of an audience who are already browsing online. In some cases, you can buy display advertising directly on a website or blog. Alternatively, you can pay to reach multiple websites on a single network, with Google Display Ads or Adroll.

Est. Budget: $50+ per month, depending on the site an audience quality


Search Engine Marketing is when you pay for your advertising message to appear at the top of or alongside search results. Obvious spaces to buy this type of advertising are Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, Yahoo Gemini, Apple (for app store results). Statista estimates the search advertising marketing is worth about $5.06 billion and set to grow.

Est. Budget: $150+ per month, depending on the total audience you need to reach


Magazines may have become more competitive in recent years, with a more fragmented media landscape. Yet magazines can be an effective way to reach a niche audience or specific interest group. Roy Morgan reported a resurgence in print magazine readership by 1.4 percent from 2020 to 2021. If you are trying to reach a specific group, who are spread out nationally, magazines can be an effective targeting tool to include in your campaigns. Find out more about magazine readership by visiting Media Week.

Est. Budget: $500-$20,000 per edition, for a full page ad, depending on circulation

Commercial Radio

Radio is one way to advertise to consumers who are out of the house. Generally speaking, radio in Australia reaches a more narrow audience geographically than TV, however, radio is more listened to out of home. Coupled with a timely sale, local event or the radio station’s event promotions team, advertising on radio can be a good fit for small, locally focused business.

Est. Budget: $750+ per month, plus production, depending on location

Free to air television

Free to air television still has powerful reach, despite digital media advocates telling you it’s dead. Like every other form of media, free to air TV has a fragmented viewing audience and there may be less people watching than before. According to the Social Rsearch Centre, 77 percent of Australians still access and view free to air TV in Australia, compared to 83 percent of people tuning into subscription services.

Local TV campaigns from as little as $2,000 per month, depending on your area and what you hope to achieve with your campaign. You can access weekly TV ratings and longer term surveys at Compare TV (for metropolitan areas) or Regional TAM (for regional locations).

Est. Budget: $2,000+ per month, plus production, for a 15 second ad campaign

Movie streaming

Popular but fragmented streaming services

As mentioned previously, 83 percent of Australian viewers are tuning into subscription TV services such as Amazon Prime Video, Binge, Disney Plus, Netflix, Paramount and more.

Advertising on “TV” no longer just means mass media and free to air channels, however, small and micro business owners need to check each service to see if they include localised options for a small business budget.

Social media

Social media is popular with advertisers, as part of a broader integrated marketing communications campaign. Remember, Facebook is not the only option. In fact, where you choose to advertise may depend on the type of audience you want to reach, the context you want to reach them in and the potential reach.

Statista reports Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram are the most popular. Facebook is the largest with 2.9 billion users but according to Sprout Social their biggest audience is people aged 25-34 and 57 percent of their audience are male. So, if you planned to reach a female majority, a younger or older audience, you might consider another platform.

Est. Budget: $100+ per month, depending on the platform and audience reach


Roy Morgan reported, as of March 2022, 20.5 million Australians engaged with written news content. About 2 in 3 Australians still read an old fashioned print newspaper.

Advertising in newspapers can work if your product or service appeals to a broad demographic in a single country, city or town.

Papers with big circulation numbers can be expensive for a single ad, so make sure you combine it with other mediums or advertise over the long term. Readers need to see your ad between 3 and 10 times as a minimum.


In August 2022, Australia overtook the U.S. for percentage of podcast listeners, with 40 percent saying they listened to a podcast during the previous month. Podcasts are very niche audiences. You can start advertising on Spotify or Acast with a budget of $250.

Podcast advertising empowers you to reach highly specialised audiences, with very niche interests. They vary in popularity, so make sure you find one with an audience big enough to make it worth your advertising investment.

Est. Budget: $250+ per month, plus production

Print marketing

Print marketing is thought to be the oldest form of marketing, after word of mouth, dating back to the 15th century. Surprisingly, after all these years, print still has its place.

Today, there are ways to integrate print with digital marketing, for example, by including a QR code link to a website in the printed material. Another example would be providing a poster or backdrop for photos and including a hash tag on that material, as a suggestion for anyone who wants to share on social media.

Business cards

Business cards are essential for any professional’s toolkit. I still opt for good old fashioned printed business cards because they are fast to hand out and I can leave them with anyone, even if they don’t know how to use a smart phone. I’ve had good experiences with Vistaprint business cards, which set me back about $20 for 250.

If you want something slightly more impressive, you might consider upgrading to a V1CE business card, which allows you to transfer your details to anyone’s smart phone with a single tap. Full price is over $100, depending on the design you choose, but you only need 1 or 2.

Est. Budget: $30+ for 250 colour business cards, depending on card and print quality


Catologues might sound old school but I recall Dell using them in the early days. Michael Dell started with an older style direct mail order system using catalogues (circa 2000). Even after adopting Internet sales, Dell kept catalogues as one of his tactics to cut through the clutter and target end users directly.

Est. Budget: $200+ for 50 catalogues, depending on paper, print quality, and number of pages

Carry and postage packaging
Amazon brands their mailing boxes

Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world and they still go to the trouble of including their logo and their branded packing tape on every box.

Imagine a package sent from across the globe. How many staff, truck drivers, couriers, mail sorters, post office staff and mail men and women are likely to be exposed to this branding, as it circulates around the globe?

Now multiply that by the number of packages Amazon ships each year, which Forbes states was around 2.5 billion in 2019.

As a small or micro business owner, your numbers are on a smaller scale… but isn’t any promotion of your brand a good thing?

The price to print on packaging can vary considerably, however, you might also consider using stickers or branded tape as an alternative.

Est. Budget: $180 for 200 large stickers OR $310 for 100 branded boxes

Door hangers

Door hangers are a great way to get people’s attention, whether at a business or commercial premises. You might also get permission to distribute in local hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts if the hanger serves some other function (like do not disturb messages with a bit of humour) than advertising.


Est. Budget: $50 per 100, depending on printer and quality

Fridge magnets

Fridge magents are handy if your product or service is generally contacted in an emergency or urgent situation. Consider getting fridge magnets made if you provide a service like mechanical, electrical, plumbing or anything else that has regular emergencies.

Est. Budget: $60+ for 200 magenetic business cards

Greeting cards

Previously I used a service called send out cards, however, similar services exist from others like Cardly. Send a card to your most valued clients, especially if your profession or industry can benefit from repeat business or better word of mouth. At leat half of the time I sent cards to clients or prospects I received excellent feedback. People like to be surprised and these days and anything other than a bill in the mailbox is a pleasant surprise.

Est. Budget: $250 for 50 cards, printed and posted

Laptop decals

I work from a cafe every other day. I use co-working spaces, work in front of friends or sometimes work from a park or other public space. If I have a decal or sticker on my laptop, perhaps 20 people will see this every day. If you do that yourself, multiply that number by the staff you have. There’s no promotion quite like the free kind.

Est. Budget: $20 for 16 stickers


Printed merchandise can be a great way to get your brand seen. First, think of something people use every day. Second, make sure it’s something people enjoy with company, in public or around other people. Third, make sure it relates to your brand. For example, a liquor shop might brand a bottle opener, a coffee shop an insultaed mug and a local gym might brand a sweat towel or backpack.

Ideally your merchandise will make it obvious customers are using your brand in front of other people. It’s called conspicuous consumption and that recognition can sometimes be a status symbol. That’s one reason people like driving a Ferrari or carrying a Chanel bag.

Post cards

When was the last time you recieved a post card in the mail? If you’re like most people, you probably only get bills or flyers in the mail box. Rarely does anyone receive mail they want to receive. Most people will give a post card a second glance to see where it’s from and who sent it, so now you have their attention.

Est. Budget: $30 for 100 post cards, plus delivery

Integrated Marketing Communications is key

No single advertising or promotion idea will make or break your business. Integrated marketing communications is all about making the parts of your marketing work together. TV and a website work better together than just a website. Social media and print work better together than social media alone. There’s no silver bullet but you can get creative with your ideas. Your options are only limited by your imagination.


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