How to boost brand awareness on a small budget

Creating a successful business is a very difficult task in today’s economic climate. Over 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% within the first five years. There are a number of reasons for this such as poor business strategy, location, employee relationships and failure to embrace new technologies, to name a few.

In my opinion the most important factor is demand. If there is no demand for your products/services then your business will fail. If there is a continuous demand for your products/services then you have the potential to succeed.

How do you create the demand for your product? Well you need to get eyeballs on your product, website and social media profiles. For a small business with little to no budget for marketing this can be really difficult. You need to think outside of the box.

Advertising space in newspapers, magazines, on TV, radio and websites does not come cheaply. Let’s be honest, most people don’t buy a newspaper or switch on the telly to view the adverts. The question you need to be asking is simple;

Why do you buy a magazine or visit a website?

Content. I visit the Mashable website to read the latest social media news and stories. So to get your brand in front of my eyes, and the thousands of other visitors to these websites, you need to be the story.

How to become the story

It depends on how far you want your story to reach. You need to do something newsworthy. If you are a local business and only need to reach people within your county then your story does not necessarily need to be too unusual. Most regional newspapers are happy to run a story about a local business.

If you are an online ecommerce site and want to reach people on a national scale then your story needs to be bigger, more unusual or affect more people

Here are my top tips for creating and running a newsworthy, brand awareness campaign.

  1. Location – Can you apply you advertising message in an unusual place? Don’t feel limited by the usual marketing channels such as billboards, posters, bus stops etc. Think about using people as advertising space, clouds, lakes, fields, empty space (holographic),
  2. Cause marketing – Can you combine your campaign with a charity? Check out our recent cause marketing campaign on why this form of advertising is so beneficial.
  3. Think big – To get noticed you need to stand out. How big can you go with your campaign? Maybe use tower blocks, local stadiums, projections onto buildings etc.
  4. Think many – If you can’t go big what about going multiple. Can you put up thousands of small items up overnight in a city centre to create a real buzz about your brand?
  5. Unexpected – If you can capture an audience’s imagination then a real affinity will grow around your brand. It can be something tiny and personal or creative and general. Whatever you do you need to make it unexpected. If you sell a fishing/water sport product, maybe you could convert a local park into a lake for a few days, complete with rubber ducks with your marketing message.
  6. Peak hours – The more people you affect the more influence you will have. Whether you put on an event or do something in a city centre make sure you reach as many eyeballs as you can by running your campaign during peak hours and peak days.
  7. Keeping costs low – Prime advertising space in cities is not cheap. However, this does not mean you cannot show people a large marketing message. Why not set up a telescope in the small space you can afford in the city and point it at a field that contains a much larger message or maybe point it at a window that has a poster with your message. Provided the telescope is fixed on that location it should create some intrigue.
  8. Technology – Motion sensors are a relatively cheap technology that can be used in your campaign to create that shock value. These motion sensor pandas were used to this effect. The pandas would watch you as you walked past the shop window.
  9. Press – Make sure you let the press know about your campaign. If your campaign is successful they should find out anyway but just to be sure it helps to tip off the newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. Mediauk is a directory that contains useful contact details.
  10. Social media – Social media users love to share interesting and unusual news. Before your campaign it is a good idea to build up a list of high profile Twitter users and send them a tweet during the campaign. Twellow is a great site to help you find your local Twitter users.


There is so much that can be done on a tiny budget. With a little hard work, creative thinking and determination you can really increase your brand awareness and help drive demand for your product.

Don’t feel limited by stereotypical advertising methods. If you put you’re “logical” or “sensible” thoughts to one side whilst thinking of a creative campaign then you can really push the boat out. It can help to ask yourself – What advertising campaign would I do if anything was possible? If you could defy gravity, move buildings or even walk on water.

To help get you started with some advertising inspiration I recommend that you check out the Ads of the World website. They continually update their site with a range of adverts with everything from outdoor ads to direct marketing.

Written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator, Fasthosts Internet Ltd.

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