Stuck pouring money into traditional advertising channels only to get zero leads? We get it. We love figuring out creative strategies for our clients, because no two businesses are alike. So why advertise them all the same way? And especially for small business owners who don’t have big ad budgets, every single dollar matters.

So we’ve put together a list of a few “outside of the box” and more budget-friendly advertising ideas that usually have a pretty good ROI, if done the right way. Shall we?


If you’re aiming at acquiring and retaining new, local customers, the most effective form of marketing is hands down word-of-mouth. Influencer marketing is essentially word-of-mouth online, albeit a bit less organic.

Simply put, an influencer is someone who either gets paid to promote a product or service on their own social media channels, or someone who trades free goods/services for the same promotion. A micro-influencer is a niche influencer with fewer than 100,000 followers and usually a large local following. And for a small business owner, that’s really what you want! Choosing a reliable and professional micro-influencer is so important, and in fact, we wrote a whole blog on micro-influencers last year if you want to go check it out!

If you don’t want to read a whole blog, here are the cliffs notes:

1. Make Sure They’re Legit— Do the influencer’s followers seem legit? Are they local? Real people? Are they regularly engaged on their posts? It’s a good idea to make sure their following is genuine and actually engages with their content, that way you know they’ll see it and be interested when that person posts about you!
2. Set Clear Expectations— Have an agreement ahead of time for how often you want the micro-influencer to post about your brand on social media, what platforms the posts should be on, and what they should include.
3. Use a Contract— Have them agree to the partnership – this can be done with a verbal agreement, software forms and tracking, or a formal contract committing them to meet the established expectations.

Brand Ambassador Programs

Brand ambassadors are pretty similar to micro-influencers, but there are a few key differences. While an influencer will only work with a brand initially through a formal relationship, brand ambassadors are often people who already engage with your brand naturally… they’re your biggest online or word-of-mouth advocates. What sets them apart is they love having genuine one-on-one conversations with people who are interested in your brand and products, rather than sticking to a script, like some influencers. Brand ambassadors are people who love your brand, who want to see your brand succeed, and who actively use your products in real life.

A brand ambassador program simply makes your relationship with those people who already love your brand official, and brings them on board with promotions. You can even incentivize them with discounts or points towards products/services for everyone who uses their referral or even a code to shop.

Podcast Ads

Podcasts are increasingly becoming a more and more popular media, because of their on-demand and accessible nature. Listeners can fine tune their interests (there’s a podcast for everything) and they can listen whenever it’s convenient…whether it’s on a morning commute, a mid-day walk, or an evening jog. All these combined have turned into 73 million American podcast listeners, and according to recent data, that audience is projected to grow 81% by 2022.

Needless to say, podcast ads are a multi-million dollar industry at this point… but do podcast sponsorships deliver a solid return on investment? The answer is definitely yes, if done right. So why do they offer so much potential?

According to a recent report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 67% of listeners could recall products and brands featured in ads. Even better, 61% actually paid for a product or service they learned about on podcasts.

It’s important to note if your target audience is listening to podcasts. If they are, you may want to seriously consider this form of advertising, instead of continuing to dump dollars where there is no name recognition or conversion whatsoever!

Blip (Billboard Ads)

Blip billboards are no minimum contract digital billboards that allow small and medium-sized businesses to advertise at their budget level. The good thing about Blip billboard ads is, you can get started on any budget. They’re very similar to social media ad campaigns in that you can choose what level of visibility you want based on what you want to pay, and they’re capped when you hit your budget limit.

A blip is anywhere from 7.5 to 10 seconds on a rotating billboard. The cost depends on the location(s) and time(s) you choose.


When you’re a small business with a small budget, it’s so important to get the best ROI for your advertising dollars. You don’t just have to keep dumping money into Google Adwords or other marketing strategies that aren’t getting you conversions.

Maybe it’s time to get creative and look outside the traditional advertising box to reach new audiences…

As always, if you want help with strategy or even execution, we’re here to help.