There are many effective ways that you can advertise your consulting services at little or no cost. Exactly which methods you use depends somewhat on your specialization.
Once you have your business card printed, carry a stack of them with you wherever you go. Pass them out to anyone who may be or know a prospect. As you stop for lunch, put your business card on the restaurant's bulletin board. Do the same if you stop at a local market for anything: put your card on their bulletin board. All it costs is the price of a business card. In fact, order separate business cards for your specialties.
Many consulting services overlook one of the best sources of free advertising — publicity. As you start your business, write a short article — a press release — and give copies to your local newspaper, radio stations, shoppers, and other media. Include information about your business such as names of owners, experience, affiliations, background, expertise, purpose of the business, location, target market, and contact name. If your market is across an industry rather than a geographic area, send this press release to magazines in that particular trade, called trade journals.
You can promote your business and get free advertising by offering to write a newspaper or trade journal column on your specialty in exchange for an ad in the publication. A memory development consultant can offer a column on how to use memory to get ahead. A shipping consultant can write a column in a trade journal that reaches those who use shipping services.
Radio and TV Shows
If you're personable and would be comfortable doing so, offer to host a radio call-in talk show on your specialty. Or you can become a regular guest on someone else's talk show. The publicity will make you a local celebrity as well as an authority in your specialty.
Cable TV also offers opportunities for consultant owners who want to creatively market themselves. Talk with your local cable operator about current and upcoming channels that may need your services.
Donations and Awards
Consider establishing an award or scholarship at a local high school, trade school, or community college in your business's name. Not only will you be able to deduct the award as a legitimate business expense, you can also use the award to promote your business in the local media.
One more proven idea — seek awards. Join professional and business associations, entering all applicable business contests. If you win anything, from first place to honorable mention, use the award as an opportunity to promote your business through local and national media.