If you are a small or local business, you might be wondering how to make your advertising dollars matter. How can you stand out from the competition and get in front of your audience without spending a small fortune?

It’s unlikely that you have a multimillion-dollar advertising budget, so we’ll share our top 5 budget-friendly advertising ideas that small businesses, can use to grow their client base.

1. Create Instructional Videos

Video is taking over as the preferred way to consume content. In fact, video is forecasted to account for 80% of Internet activity by the end of 2019. Further, 72% of people prefer to receive branded messages via video, so your potential clients are likely to favor this type of advertisement over a text or image ad.

Video has the advantage of showcasing your personality and providing your prospects with a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time. Your videos can be entertaining, thought-provoking, educational or inspiring. They’re also convenient to watch because people can consume the information passively without having to concentrate and read the text, which tends to be small on mobile devices.

For better or worse, when a potential patient is searching for information about their health, they’re bound to turn to the Internet. They might be wondering how to prevent gum disease, what kind of eye exercises they can do to improve their vision naturally or which meditation apps are best to help clear their mind.

You can make this search for information work to your advantage by creating videos that answer the questions patients in your target demographic are asking or show them how to do something that empowers them to take control of their health.

Further, you have several ways to publish this content to ensure it gets seen:

  • Publish the video on your YouTube channel and get organic search traffic.
  • Publish the video as an ad on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram and pay for views. Pinterest also has a new video ad platform you can test.
  • Publish the video on your website to boost your SEO results.
  • Release the video as a Facebook or Instagram Live to boost social media reach and engagement.

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2. Host a Free Webinar

Webinars have been a successful advertising tool since 1999 when a company called WebEx started providing online presentations to share content and information. These conferences are the epitome convenience, allowing people to consume information on demand and even in their pajamas.

A webinar can be a helpful advertising tool because it provides potential patients with valuable information in a setting that they can control. There’s no face-to-face selling, and if you’ve put some time and care into your webinar, it can become a new patient magnet.

One of the first questions you might have is how to narrow down what your webinar topic should be about. We suggest creating a presentation that covers something your patients would benefit from knowing. Or, think about the most common questions you get asked, and build a presentation around that theme.

If you’re a dermatologist, for example, you can discuss the importance of proper skin care and how to avoid sun damage. You can share pictures of different moles or spots that could be dangerous, and then invite your webinar attendees to come to your office for a free or discounted consultation.

A pediatrician might want to host a webinar about nutrition and explain how different foods can affect mood, health, allergies, etc. We suggest identifying a specific problem and sharing a regiment that would help parents cope with the problem. For example, you could talk about how to determine whether a child is gluten-intolerant, why it matters, and how to prepare healthy and delicious meals that don’t contain gluten.

These webinars can be advertised anywhere, including local magazines and newspapers, but you’ll likely find that advertising them online and on social media will yield the best results. Ideally, your prospects will be required to opt-in to attend the webinar by providing you with their email address. Then, you’ll be able to follow up with them in the days leading up to the webinar, reminding them to show up.

After the webinar, we also encourage following up with the attendees to see if they have further questions or if they’re ready to schedule an appointment (if they haven’t already done so). We also recommend allowing people to access a replay of the webinar if they weren’t able to attend the live broadcast.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to do the webinar live. You can also have a pre-recorded, on-demand webinar that people can access at any time. They would still opt-in and go through the same process, but instead of having to wait for the designated time slot to watch the webinar, they can access it at their convenience.

3. Advertise a Special Offer

Do you have an in-demand service that you can provide for free or at a discount as a way to attract people to your office? For dentists, it could be free or discounted teeth whitening. An optometrist might offer a special deal on frames or an irresistible offer for contacts.

In every healthcare practitioner’s office, there’s probably something that patients love that might not cost you a lot of money to offer, but it provides tremendous value to patients.

To avoid cheapening your image, we suggest having a legitimate reason for giving away something so generous. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by targeting people during their birthday month. It serves to make them feel special, and they get a “gift.”

If you run your ad on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll be able to use the social media platform’s advanced data mining techniques to target patients who are celebrating a birthday. You might want to test different offers for each month of the year to see which one gets the most response and resonates best with your audience. A dentist might run a special for May birthdays that provides free teeth whitening and then in June, the office might switch it to free teeth cleaning.

To be effective, the offer doesn’t necessarily need to be complimentary. As long as it’s generous, it’s bound to bring in some new patients.

Another type of special offer is a family discount plan. It can be expensive for a household to afford care for everyone in their family, but it doesn’t necessarily cost your office significantly more to see two children at an appointment than it does to see only one. You could try a BOGO (buy one get one offer). Depending on your margins, it might make sense for the promotion to be “buy one, get one free,” or “buy one, get one half off.”

4. Create Valuable Content

People are always looking for tips on tricks on how to stay healthy. Whatever your medical specialty is, you’re bound to have a wealth of knowledge to share. One of the best ways to gain exposure and get new patients is to create content and distribute it. You may decide to have a blog on your website or publish helpful articles on LinkedIn, Facebook or other networks.

There’s a common misconception that in order for this strategy to work, you have to be a content generating machine. Fortunately, that’s not true at all! One well-written article can serve you for years to come. There are three ways to ensure that your efforts get noticed:

  • Write something valuable. This doesn’t mean a long, dry essay about the importance of avoiding plaque. Instead, create something easy to read and provides actionable content. If you’re writing about plaque buildup, you could discuss how it forms and how to avoid it. Talk about the best foods to eat and what to avoid. You could even evaluate the most popular brands of toothpaste on the market and recommend one or two of your favorites.
  • Before sitting down to write, do a quick Google search about your topic and skim the content that appears in the top search result spots. The information in those articles will serve as the perfect guide, so you’ll know what to write about.

For example, if you plan on writing about how to prevent plaque buildup, enter that search term into Google and read the first few articles. Aim to make your content better than what already exists.

  • In addition to writing well and providing factual and actionable content, also include images, infographics and printable PDFs (when appropriate) to make your efforts stand out even more. If done correctly, the pieces you write can become valuable digital assets that bring clicks to your website for years to come.
  • Include a CTA, also known as a Call to Action. Naturally, after reading the information you’ve shared, people are going to wonder what next steps they should take. You can invite them to your office for a consult or allow them to take advantage of a special offer you’ve published.

Now that you’ve created a piece of excellent content, the challenging part can be getting it to be seen by your target audience. Here’s how to go about attracting eyeballs:

  • Publish it on your site. Ideally, your website will have a Blog section.
  • Share it on social media, especially Facebook.
  • Once you’ve shared it on Facebook, “boost” the post and target an audience in a 10 to 50-mile radius. The size of the range will depend on how far people tend to travel to get the type of care you provide.
  • If your content is newsworthy, share it with local media outlets.
  • Consider syndicating your content by requesting to have it published on media properties like Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc.

5. Run a Testimonial Ad

People tend to trust online reviews, and if you can get permission from a patient to turn a testimonial into an ad, that’s even better. When you run a testimonial ad, you get to share a positive experience with a larger audience instead of just people who stumbled upon a review.

Testimonial ads are also valuable because they allow to you share outcomes without making claims. For example, if you are a podiatrist, you can’t guarantee that you’ll get rid of a fungal infection or eliminate a patient’s foot pain entirely. What you can do, however, is share the story of a patient who had that result.

Here are some examples of what we’re referring to:

  • “For the first time in 48 years, I’m free from pain, thanks to Dr. Smith and her team. She really listened to my needs, discovered the source of my pain and showed me exactly what to do to get rid of it. I love my life now. Thank you, Dr. Smith.” If the advertising medium is visual, you might want to include a picture of the patient or even a video of the patient speaking the doctor’s praises.
  • “I’ve battled with an embarrassing fungal infection for years. I even wore socks to the beach! I thought that I had to take strong and dangerous medication to rid myself of this infection, but Dr. Smith showed me a natural alternative that worked wonders. For the first time in my life, I’m excited to hit the beach!”

In the first example, we mentioned capturing the testimonial on video. Remember when we said that video is a preferred ad delivery system? If you’re able to accomplish this, then you’ve got a powerful ad on your hands! And again, having video allows you to run your ads on more platforms, including YouTube or television.


As a small business, you have the advantage of being able to narrow your targeting to a specific demographic in a local market. This allows your advertising dollars to stretch further because you’ll be eliminating waste. You can speak to your audience with a more personalized approach instead of trying to cater your message to the masses.

By following these tips, you might just become a local celebrity known as the premier expert in your area or specialty.

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