This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

A lot has changed in the way that businesses advertise and market their services and products. You owe it to yourself and your small business to stay current on the latest practices so that your advertising and marketing efforts can be their most effective. Utilize the newfound power of the Internet and be sure to incorporate some of the more classic and most effective advertising strategies. As a small business owner, you’ll want to utilize advertising that’s both effective and affordable.

1. Make Friends

You shouldn’t see every other business out there as competition, some of them can actually help you and you can help them in turn. Look for other companies and businesses that overlap with your target audience and develop a way to steer clients to you both in a way that benefits you both. Alternatively, you can use both of your services and products in a way that will draw interest to both companies. You can also create a sense of community between local small businesses by pooling your money together for advertising and marketing strategies that none of you would be able to afford on your own. Think of the partnership like creating a book, where writers, agents, publishers, publicists and editors all work together to release a single product.

2. Utilize the Power of Free

Free place-based advertising opportunities can be one of your most effective advertising tools. If your small business caters to parenting and childcare, then you might want to work with local daycare centers to advertise your business by having business cards or small pamphlets that parents can take or that children can take home to their parents. This is where your partnerships come into play, especially since your efforts might be that much more effective if you have both the permission and support of the business that you want to advertise through. If you have a small business that focuses on finance, you’ll want to ask permission of a bookstore before you slip advertisement bookmarks in financial books. Otherwise your bookmarks might wind up in the trash.

3. Have a Strong Website

With the power of the Internet, many people will research a store online before they shop there. If your website doesn’t grab the visitor’s attention and make them feel as if they have to do business with you or visit your store, then you could be missing out on a lot of business and revenue. It doesn’t matter how nice your store looks or how good your services or products are. If that doesn’t translate over to your website, then none of that will matter. Combine your website with social media platforms, search engine optimization articles and blogs to give users the full picture of your business. One thing that you’ll want to make sure of as you use all of the Internet tools is that you remain consistent with the voice and image of your business so that you start to develop a personal brand.

4. Attend Webinars and Teleseminars

Attending an actual seminar or trade show can be expensive. Not only do you have to pay for a booth, you have to advertise that you’ll be attending the trade show, pay for transportation and pay for lodging. Webinars and teleseminars are much cheaper than an in-person seminar. They’re also excellent if your small business has an extensive purchase process or if the product you sell is especially complicated and you have to demonstrate how it works in order to sell it effectively. If necessary, you can add a demonstration on your website or another social networking tool.

5. Generate Leads

It’s a good idea to have a form on your website that collects the email addresses and names of users who are interested in receiving news, special offers, coupons and additional information about your small business. Since many people don’t like to have their inbox cluttered with junk mail, make sure that whatever you’re offering is of actual value. One way to find out what your customers and clients would really like to receive is to simply ask them. Make them feel that they’re part of your business and are helping to make it grow. Let them know how much you appreciate them because without them you wouldn’t have much of a business. Doing so might persuade them to tell other people about how wonderful your business is. And just like that your customers and clients have become a powerful, effective and free advertising tool.

Small business owners usually don’t have an abundance of money to spend on advertising, so they’ve got to get it right the first time. Do your research, know your market and know your audience in order to see the best results.