Before the advent of the Internet, smartphones and other modern methods of communicating, small businesses primarily used print, broadcast, outdoor and promotional advertising methods. These methods of getting your message to your potential customers and clients are still effective, and as you plan your marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to include them along with banner, pay-per-click and social media advertising.


Print advertising is one of the most traditional methods of advertising, because for decades, people relied on newspapers and magazines for much of their information. Traditional print ads included two main options: display and classifieds. Display ads are graphic images that can include text, photos, illustrations and your company logo. The use of graphics catches people’s attention and helps tell your story better. Classified advertising usually consists of words only, set among other text-only ads, although some classified listings may allow small photos. You cannot control the typeface used, and all classifieds on a page generally look the same. These ads are usually the most inexpensive way to advertise in print. When purchasing display ads, ask about and try to negotiate where they will appear to maximize the benefit you get from them.


With the advent of radio and television, advertisers found another venue to sell their wares. Because of the cost of creating these ads, they were more expensive than print and often too expensive for small businesses. They also lasted only 30 seconds, with advertisers hoping the increased impression the ad made would make up for its fleeting nature. Today, broadcast outlets offer advertising at more affordable rates and often provide creative services as part of your contract purchase or for a small fee. You can negotiate that your ads will run at a specific time, usually for an extra fee, or choose a less-expensive run-of-schedule option that lets the station choose when your spots will run.


Another longtime advertising option is outdoor advertising, which places messages where people will see them on a potentially daily basis. These include ads placed on billboards, buses, taxis, benches and buildings. You often get more viewers of your message than you do with print or broadcast ads but have less control over who sees them.


Some people differentiate promotions from advertising, while others consider some forms of promotions as advertising. Traditional advertising promotions include free logoed items such as pens, caps and coffee cups. Advertising promotions can also include direct mail, coupons, fliers and tabletop displays.