When I first got out of college, I was ready for my $100k job. To my chagrin, I discovered that nobody was willing to offer that kind of pay to someone fresh out of school. So I decided to lower the bar a bit and go after what was available. Despite holding a degree from a prestigious university, I kept running into the same problem with each inquiry – experience. The most frustrating part about that time in my life was the old catch-22; I can’t get experience unless I land a job – I can’t get a job without experience!

Many small business owners experience frustrations that are similar in nature – “If I had more revenue, I’d advertise – if I advertise, I’d see more revenue!” This marketing conundrum often leaves the average business stuck somewhere in the middle – helpless to effect change in what matters most.

Given my obvious bias, I am of the mind that you can overcome this inertia with a decision to advertise. The problem, however, is usually found in affordability – hence, our original impasse.

So, let’s explore some sensible, low-cost ways to advertise.

Partner Up
Joining forces with another business for the sake of marketing may be a great way to save; you would simply split adverting costs. This scenario works best if you were to partner with a business that offers related, yet noncompeting services. Here are some examples: a fitness club and a sports apparel store, a car dealer and local insurance agent, a florist and a jeweler, and so on.

Social Media
When it comes to managing your costs, nothing is better than free. Social media (for the most part) is absolutely free and serves as a major tool for small businesses. So your question is, “Why isn’t everybody doing it?” They are and therein lies the catch. Social media is overrun with businesses shouting for attention. So it is incumbent upon you to read up on each of the major players (Facebook, Twitter and etc.) to figure out how to make an impact. As you look into social media, just remember that “free” and “easy” are not synonymous. It’s going to take some smarts and persistence.

Online Advertising
Online advertising is a great option for businesses on limited budgets. I’ve seen campaigns started on as little as $50 a month. This is especially true when advertising with a major search engine giant. Many of them offer $25-$75 in incentives in order for you to try them.  Plus most do not require a long-term commitment or contract. Besides affordability, online advertisers can benefit from real-time stats and data - information that allows for more effective marketing.

When it comes to your business, don’t settle for the place between a rock and a hard place. Look for smart, low-cost and even free ways to get out of the rut.

Walter Dailey is a practiced marketing professional with ad agencyexperience . He is a marketing consultant and executive producer at Dailey Sound Vector Media, a creative services organization that specializes in developing commercials, jingles and marketing campaigns for small businesses throughout North America.  Ask Walter your questions at walter@dsvmedia.com