My first stint as a business owner began at age 14, when I sold greeting cards and wrapping papers for pocket money. I quickly discovered that marketing to the mothers of friends and classmates was far more effective – and much more fun – than cold calling. In those days before the Internet made online shopping possible, people liked the convenience of setting up an appointment to see the latest samples and catalogs in their own homes. The ‘warm’ leads provided by those loyal customers led me to additional clients and convinced me of the power of word-of-mouth promotion.

Since then, I’ve discovered additional low-cost ways to publicize and promote my business. For small businesses and professional practices wanting to generate publicity and raise awareness for their products or services, here are nine:

  1. News Releases announce items of interest to the media’s audience.
  2. Public Service Announcements and Calendar Notices announce seminars, workshops, and special events. 
  3. Letters to the Editor express an informed point of view.
  4. Tip Sheets and blog posts offer useful info to reporters, presentation attendees, prospects and clients.
  5. Articles and White Papers establish expertise while providing useful information to the reader. Can be used in a media kit, as a follow-up to an initial contact with a prospect, or as an offer on your web site
  6. Testimonials describe how your product or service solves problems for your target audience. Can be used on your web site and in print materials.
  7. Case Studies demonstrate competency. Can be used on your web site and in print materials.
  8. Social media can spread the word by making relevant comments on blogs, Facebook postings, participation in LinkedIn groups and other online forums.
  9. Radio talk shows and on-demand online podcasts look for interesting guests to interview.

If you have a small budget, consider spending time instead of money on getting the word out. By adding one or more of these activities to your marketing toolkit, you can leverage your networking and paid advertising activities for little cost.

Robin Peel opened Robin Peel Marketing & Public Relations in 2002 to assist professional practices, small businesses and professional organizations achieve success in promoting and publicizing their businesses. Over 30 years of experience in advertising, public relations, business development and community service has prepared me to help businesses use free publicity, savvy promotion and public relations activities designed to generate publicity and revenue.

Article originally appeared on on June 29, 2011.