What is the best way to advertise your small business?

Cognite MarketingDigital MarketingMarketingMarketing TipsSales Tips

(Updated: 11 April 2024)

So, you’ve decided to start your own business and have the necessary products or services you want to sell, but now what?

Advertising your business in South Africa may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be, all you need is a clear starting point and a plan.

With so many ways to market your business, we cover the top 10 ways in which you can advertise your business

Top 10 ways to advertise your small business in South Africa

1. Create a Business Website

  1. Online Presence: In today’s digital age, having a website is essential for establishing an online presence and reaching potential customers who search for products or services online. A website serves as a virtual storefront where customers can learn about your business, browse your offerings, and make purchases or inquiries at their convenience.
  2. Credibility and Trust: A professional-looking website instills trust and credibility in your brand. It gives potential customers confidence that your business is legitimate and reputable. Without a website, some customers may question the legitimacy of your business or choose to do business with competitors who have an online presence.
  3. 24/7 Accessibility: Unlike a physical storefront with limited operating hours, a website is accessible 24/7, allowing customers to interact with your business at any time of day or night. This accessibility increases convenience for customers and enables you to capture leads, make sales, and provide support around the clock, even when your physical location is closed.
  4. Marketing and Branding: A website serves as a central hub for your marketing efforts, allowing you to showcase your brand, products, and services to a wider audience. You can use your website to share valuable content, run promotions and campaigns, collect customer feedback, and build relationships with your target market through email marketing and social media integration.
  5. Reach and Expansion: With a website, you can reach customers beyond your local geographic area and tap into new markets. Whether you’re targeting customers in different cities, states, or countries, a website provides a platform for expanding your reach and growing your customer base without the limitations of physical location.
  6. Competitive Advantage: Many small businesses already have a website, and those that don’t risk falling behind competitors who do. A well-designed and optimized website gives you a competitive advantage by making it easier for potential customers to find and engage with your business online.
  7. Customer Support and Service: A website can serve as a valuable resource for providing customer support and service. You can include FAQs, knowledge bases, troubleshooting guides, and contact forms to help customers find answers to their questions and resolve issues efficiently, reducing the burden on your customer service team.

2. Marketing through Google Ads

Advertising through Google Ads is important for small businesses for several reasons:

  1. Targeted Reach: Google Ads allows small businesses to target their advertising to specific geographic locations, demographics, interests, and search keywords. This targeting capability ensures that ads are shown to relevant audiences who are more likely to be interested in the products or services being offered.
  2. Cost-Effective: Google Ads offers flexible budgeting options, allowing small businesses to set their own budget and only pay when users click on their ads (pay-per-click or PPC). This pay-as-you-go model makes it cost-effective for small businesses to advertise online, as they can control their spending and track the return on investment (ROI) of their advertising campaigns.
  3. Immediate Visibility: Unlike traditional advertising methods that may take time to generate results, Google Ads offers immediate visibility for small businesses. Ads can appear at the top of Google search results pages (SERPs) and on relevant websites within the Google Display Network, putting small businesses in front of potential customers right when they are searching for products or services.
  4. Measurable Results: Google Ads provides robust analytics and reporting tools that allow small businesses to track the performance of their advertising campaigns in real-time. Business owners can monitor metrics such as clicks, impressions, conversions, and ROI, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and optimize their campaigns for better results.
  5. Brand Awareness: Google Ads can help small businesses increase brand awareness and visibility online. Even if users don’t click on the ads, they still see the business’s name, logo, and messaging, which can help build brand recognition and familiarity over time.
  6. Competitive Advantage: Advertising through Google Ads allows small businesses to compete with larger competitors in their industry. With the right targeting, ad messaging, and optimization strategies, small businesses can effectively reach their target audience and attract customers away from competitors who may have larger marketing budgets.
  7. Flexibility and Control: Google Ads offers small businesses flexibility and control over their advertising campaigns. Business owners can easily adjust ad settings, targeting criteria, ad copy, and bidding strategies to optimize performance and achieve their advertising goals.

3. Email Marketing

Email marketing is important for promoting a small business for several reasons:

  1. Direct Communication: Email marketing provides a direct and personalized way to communicate with your audience. By sending targeted messages directly to subscribers’ inboxes, you can engage with them on a one-to-one basis, building relationships and fostering customer loyalty.
  2. Cost-Effective: Compared to traditional marketing channels like print or TV advertising, email marketing is highly cost-effective. With minimal expenses for email marketing software and list management, small businesses can reach a large audience at a fraction of the cost of other marketing methods.
  3. High ROI: Email marketing consistently delivers a high return on investment (ROI) for businesses. According to industry reports, email marketing has one of the highest ROI among digital marketing channels, with an average return of $42 for every $1 spent. This makes it a valuable marketing tool for small businesses looking to maximize their marketing budget.
  4. Targeted Messaging: Email marketing allows you to segment your audience based on demographics, interests, purchasing behavior, and other criteria. This segmentation enables you to send personalized and targeted messages that resonate with specific segments of your audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversions.
  5. Automation and Scalability: Email marketing platforms offer automation features that allow you to set up automated email campaigns based on triggers such as sign-ups, purchases, or specific actions taken by subscribers. This automation saves time and resources, allowing small businesses to scale their email marketing efforts effectively.
  6. Measurable Results: Email marketing provides detailed analytics and reporting tools that allow you to track the performance of your campaigns in real-time. You can monitor metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and revenue generated, enabling you to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions to optimize future campaigns.
  7. Promotion and Sales: Email marketing is an effective channel for promoting products, services, promotions, discounts, and special offers to your audience. By sending targeted promotional emails, you can drive traffic to your website, increase sales, and generate revenue for your small business.
  8. Brand Awareness and Engagement: Regularly sending valuable and relevant content to your email subscribers helps build brand awareness and keep your business top-of-mind. By providing value through educational content, industry news, and exclusive offers, you can keep subscribers engaged and interested in your brand.

4. Post Valuable Content

Content marketing is important for sales for small businesses for several reasons:

  1. Establishing Expertise: Content marketing allows small businesses to showcase their expertise and knowledge in their industry. By creating high-quality and informative content, such as blog posts, articles, guides, and videos, small businesses can position themselves as thought leaders and trusted authorities, earning the trust and confidence of potential customers.
  2. Building Trust and Credibility: Content marketing helps build trust and credibility with potential customers by providing valuable information and insights. When businesses consistently deliver helpful and relevant content to their audience, it demonstrates their commitment to providing value and solving their customers’ problems, which builds trust and fosters long-term relationships.
  3. Educating Customers: Content marketing educates potential customers about the products or services offered by a small business. By creating educational content that addresses common questions, concerns, and pain points of their target audience, businesses can help potential customers make informed purchasing decisions and overcome objections, ultimately leading to increased sales.
  4. Generating Leads: Content marketing is an effective way to attract and generate leads for small businesses. By creating compelling and engaging content that addresses the needs and interests of their target audience, businesses can attract qualified leads who are interested in their products or services. Content marketing strategies such as gated content, lead magnets, and email opt-ins can help businesses capture contact information from leads and nurture them through the sales funnel.
  5. Increasing Visibility and Brand Awareness: Content marketing helps increase the visibility and brand awareness of small businesses by providing valuable content that attracts and engages their target audience. When businesses consistently publish content that resonates with their audience and is shared across various channels, such as social media, email, and search engines, they can reach a wider audience and increase awareness of their brand, products, and services.
  6. Driving Traffic to Website: Content marketing is an effective way to drive traffic to a small business’s website. By creating content optimized for search engines and sharing it on social media and other channels, businesses can attract organic traffic from search engines and referral traffic from social networks, leading to increased exposure and opportunities for sales.
  7. Supporting Sales Process: Content marketing supports the sales process by providing valuable resources and information to potential customers at each stage of their buyer’s journey. From awareness and consideration to decision-making and post-purchase support, businesses can create content that addresses the needs and concerns of customers at every stage, helping to move them closer to making a purchase.

5. Register for a Google Business Profile

Having a Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is important for small businesses for several reasons:

  1. Increased Visibility in Google Search and Maps: A Google Business Profile appears prominently in Google search results and Google Maps when users search for businesses or services related to your industry or location. By having a verified business profile, small businesses can increase their visibility and make it easier for potential customers to find them online.
  2. Enhanced Online Presence: A Google Business Profile provides a dedicated space where small businesses can showcase important information about their business, including their name, address, phone number, website, business hours, and photos. This helps potential customers learn more about the business and makes it easier for them to contact or visit the business.
  3. Improved Local SEO: Having a Google Business Profile is essential for improving local search engine optimization (SEO) and increasing visibility in local search results. Google prioritizes businesses with verified profiles when displaying local search results, making it easier for small businesses to rank higher and attract local customers.
  4. Customer Reviews and Ratings: A Google Business Profile allows customers to leave reviews and ratings, providing valuable social proof and feedback for potential customers. Positive reviews and high ratings can improve the credibility and reputation of a small business, while negative reviews present an opportunity for businesses to address customer concerns and improve their services.
  5. Insights and Analytics: Google Business Profiles provide valuable insights and analytics that allow small businesses to track how customers find and interact with their business online. Business owners can monitor metrics such as search queries, views, clicks, and requests for directions or calls, enabling them to understand their audience better and optimize their online presence accordingly.
  6. Free Marketing Tool: Google Business Profiles are free to create and manage, making them an accessible marketing tool for small businesses with limited budgets. By taking advantage of this free resource, small businesses can increase their online visibility, attract more customers, and compete effectively with larger competitors in their industry.
  7. Integration with Google Services: A Google Business Profile integrates seamlessly with other Google services, such as Google Maps, Google Search, and Google Reviews. This integration ensures consistent and accurate information across multiple platforms, providing a cohesive online presence for small businesses and making it easier for customers to find and engage with them.

6. Distribution of printed advertising

Handing out printed marketing materials can improve sales for small businesses in several ways:

  1. Tangible Presence: Printed marketing materials such as brochures, flyers, and business cards provide a tangible presence for the small business. Unlike digital marketing channels that can easily be ignored or forgotten, printed materials physically occupy space and can leave a lasting impression on potential customers.
  2. Brand Visibility: Printed materials increase brand visibility by putting the small business’s name, logo, and messaging directly into the hands of potential customers. Whether it’s a brochure handed out at a trade show or a flyer distributed in a local neighborhood, printed materials help raise awareness of the business and its offerings.
  3. Targeted Distribution: Printed materials can be strategically distributed to target specific audiences or locations where potential customers are likely to be found. For example, a small business might distribute flyers in local neighborhoods or hand out brochures at industry events to reach their target demographic effectively.
  4. Informational Content: Printed marketing materials provide an opportunity to convey detailed information about the small business, its products or services, and its value proposition. Brochures, for example, can showcase product features, benefits, pricing, and customer testimonials in a visually appealing format that engages and informs potential customers.
  5. Personalized Interaction: Handing out printed materials allows for personalized interaction between the small business and potential customers. Whether it’s a face-to-face interaction at a networking event or a flyer handed out by a street team, the act of physically handing someone a marketing piece creates an opportunity for engagement and conversation.
  6. Call to Action: Printed marketing materials can include clear calls to action that encourage potential customers to take the next step, whether it’s visiting the business’s website, making a purchase, or contacting the business for more information. Including a compelling call to action increases the likelihood of converting leads into sales.
  7. Brand Recall: Printed materials can help reinforce brand recall by providing a physical reminder of the small business and its offerings. Even if potential customers don’t immediately take action after receiving a flyer or brochure, the presence of the printed material can keep the business top-of-mind and influence their purchasing decisions in the future.

7. Consider Renting Digital Billboard Space

Billboard advertising can be a good option for small businesses for several reasons:

  1. High Visibility: Billboards are large, eye-catching displays that can be placed in high-traffic areas, such as highways, urban centers, and commercial districts. Their size and prominent placement ensure that they capture the attention of a large audience, making them an effective way to increase brand visibility and awareness.
  2. Targeted Reach: While billboards have a broad reach, they can also be strategically placed to target specific geographic areas or demographics relevant to the small business’s target audience. For example, a small business may choose to place billboards near its location or in areas where its target customers are likely to frequent.
  3. Brand Recognition: Billboards provide a continuous presence for the small business’s brand, helping to build brand recognition and familiarity over time. As potential customers see the billboard repeatedly, they become more familiar with the brand and are more likely to remember it when making purchasing decisions.
  4. Impactful Messaging: With limited space and time to capture viewers’ attention, billboard advertising requires concise and impactful messaging. Small businesses can use billboards to communicate key messages, promotions, or unique selling points in a memorable and compelling way, driving interest and generating leads.
  5. Complement to Digital Marketing: While digital marketing channels offer precise targeting and measurable results, billboard advertising offers a complementary offline strategy that can enhance overall marketing efforts. By combining both digital and traditional marketing channels, small businesses can reach a broader audience and reinforce their messaging across multiple touchpoints.
  6. Long-Term Exposure: Unlike other forms of advertising that may have a limited lifespan, billboards offer long-term exposure for the small business’s brand. Once installed, billboards remain in place for an extended period, providing continuous visibility and reinforcement of the brand’s message to passersby.
  7. Cost-Effective: Despite their large size and prominent placement, billboard advertising can be cost-effective compared to other forms of advertising, such as television or radio commercials. Small businesses can choose from various billboard sizes, locations, and durations to fit their budget and marketing goals.
  8. Local Impact: For small businesses serving a local market, billboard advertising can have a significant impact on driving foot traffic and increasing sales. By targeting billboards in specific neighborhoods or communities, small businesses can reach local customers effectively and generate awareness within their immediate vicinity.

8. Add Your Business to Local Listing Websites

Listing their websites on free online directory services can provide several benefits for small businesses:

  1. Increased Online Visibility: By listing their websites on online directories, small businesses can increase their online visibility and make it easier for potential customers to find them when searching for products or services in their area.
  2. Improved Local SEO: Many online directories are location-based and allow users to search for businesses by location. By listing their website on these directories, small businesses can improve their local search engine optimization (SEO) and increase their chances of appearing in local search results.
  3. Backlink Opportunities: Online directories often provide backlinks to listed websites, which can improve the website’s search engine rankings. Backlinks from reputable directories can increase the website’s authority and credibility in the eyes of search engines like Google.
  4. Enhanced Online Reputation: Being listed on reputable online directories can enhance a small business’s online reputation and credibility. Potential customers may view businesses listed on directories as more trustworthy and legitimate, leading to increased trust and confidence in the business.
  5. Access to Targeted Audiences: Many online directories cater to specific industries or niches, allowing small businesses to target their listings to relevant audiences. By listing their website on directories relevant to their industry or target market, small businesses can attract highly qualified leads and potential customers.
  6. Cost-Effectiveness: Free online directory services provide small businesses with a cost-effective way to promote their websites and reach a wider audience. Unlike paid advertising or marketing campaigns, listing on online directories requires minimal time and resources, making it an affordable option for small businesses with limited budgets.
  7. Networking Opportunities: Online directories often include features that allow businesses to connect and network with other businesses and professionals in their industry. Small businesses can leverage these networking opportunities to build relationships, exchange referrals, and collaborate on projects.
  8. Local Community Engagement: Listing their website on local online directories allows small businesses to engage with their local community and connect with potential customers in their area. This can lead to increased foot traffic, word-of-mouth referrals, and support from the local community.

9. Promotional gifts

Small companies can benefit from using promotional gifts in several ways:

  1. Brand Awareness: Promotional gifts, such as branded merchandise or corporate gifts, serve as tangible reminders of a company’s brand. When recipients use or display these gifts, they help increase brand visibility and awareness, exposing the company to a wider audience.
  2. Customer Engagement: Offering promotional gifts can help small companies engage with their customers and foster positive relationships. By providing valuable and thoughtful gifts, companies can show appreciation for their customers’ loyalty and support, leading to increased customer satisfaction and retention.
  3. Lead Generation: Promotional gifts can be used as incentives to attract new customers or generate leads. Offering a free gift with a purchase, for example, can incentivize potential customers to make a purchase or sign up for a newsletter, helping small companies expand their customer base and grow their business.
  4. Marketing Campaigns: Promotional gifts can be integrated into marketing campaigns to increase their effectiveness and reach. Companies can use gifts as part of giveaways, contests, or promotions to drive engagement, encourage participation, and generate buzz around their brand or products.
  5. Brand Loyalty: Providing promotional gifts can help small companies build brand loyalty and affinity among their customers. When customers receive a gift that they find useful or valuable, they are more likely to develop a positive perception of the company and become repeat customers.
  6. Employee Morale: Promotional gifts can also be used to recognize and reward employees for their hard work and dedication. Offering branded merchandise or corporate gifts as employee incentives or rewards can boost morale, improve job satisfaction, and foster a positive work culture within the company.
  7. Trade Shows and Events: Promotional gifts are popular giveaways at trade shows, conferences, and other events. Small companies can use gifts to attract attendees to their booth, initiate conversations, and leave a lasting impression on potential customers or business partners.
  8. Differentiation: Promotional gifts can help small companies differentiate themselves from competitors and stand out in a crowded marketplace. By offering unique or creative gifts that reflect the company’s brand and values, companies can distinguish themselves and leave a memorable impression on recipients.

10. Run a competition

Running a competition can help with small business sales in several ways:

  1. Generate Buzz and Excitement: Competitions create anticipation and excitement among customers, driving interest in the small business and its products or services. By promoting the competition through various channels, such as social media, email marketing, and advertising, small businesses can generate buzz and attract attention to their offerings.
  2. Increase Engagement: Competitions encourage customer engagement and participation, providing opportunities for interaction and involvement with the brand. Customers may be required to perform certain actions, such as sharing content, tagging friends, or submitting entries, which increases engagement with the small business and its marketing efforts.
  3. Grow Email List and Followers: Competitions can be used to grow the small business’s email list and social media followers. Participants may be required to provide their email address or follow the business on social media to enter the competition, allowing the business to expand its audience and reach more potential customers for future marketing efforts.
  4. Showcase Products or Services: Competitions provide a platform for small businesses to showcase their products or services and highlight their unique selling points. By featuring prizes that align with the business’s offerings, competitions allow businesses to demonstrate the value and benefits of their products or services to participants.
  5. Drive Traffic to Website or Store: Competitions can drive traffic to the small business’s website, store, or physical location. Participants may visit the website to learn more about the competition or browse the business’s products or services, increasing the likelihood of making a purchase or engaging with the business further.
  6. Boost Sales and Conversions: Competitions can lead to increased sales and conversions for the small business. Participants who are interested in the competition prizes may be more likely to make a purchase or take advantage of special offers or discounts offered by the business, especially if they receive incentives or discounts for participating.
  7. Create User-Generated Content: Competitions can generate user-generated content (UGC) that can be used for marketing purposes. Participants may create content, such as photos, videos, or testimonials, related to the competition or the business, which can be shared on social media or used in future marketing campaigns to showcase customer experiences and satisfaction.
  8. Build Brand Loyalty: Competitions can help build brand loyalty and affinity among customers. By offering opportunities to win prizes and rewards, small businesses can show appreciation for their customers’ support and loyalty, fostering positive relationships and encouraging repeat business in the future.


Marketing your business can help you take your brand to the next level, improve sales, brand awareness, ROI, organic rankings and so much more. Cognite uses their own proven marketing strategies to form personal relationships with SME decision-makers; guiding and helping them to feel empathy for the pain of their prospective clients.

Contact us today on info@cognite.co.za or 0861 001 975 and begin your marketing journey