Marketing funnel unveiled: A step-by-step breakdown

10 best ways to do local online advertising for your business

9 MINS Team

The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests allocating 7-to-8% of your gross revenue to marketing. They, then suggest that you spend 50% of that marketing budget on digital marketing specifically. Online advertising tends to be less expensive than traditional advertising methods, so it is typically preferred by smaller businesses.

Local advertising takes many forms and the right one for you depends on the business you’re in. Local advertising can take place digitally online or in more physical forms like the local paper. However other forms of online advertising like a radio ad may work better for your business. In this post, I’ll share 10 types of local advertising you can use to grow your business, and how each one can attract new leads and customers. At the end you decide which one will work best for you!

Understanding local advertising rates

Before diving into different local advertising options, you need to understand how the cost of advertising is figured. Advertising is generally sold in units like cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per thousand people who view your ad (CPM). There are tools to help you determine costs of an advertising campaign ahead of time like this CPM calculator. But advertising costs aside, the real key is which ads will deliver the right kinds of customers for your business.

A lower-priced ad campaign may not be a good value if the people who’ll be seeing your ad aren’t in your target market. A campaign that delivers very select viewers may cost more, but is also likely to generate much better leads.

Advertising prices are often flexible. If you’re purchasing advertising that involves working with a sales rep, you can generally get lower per-ad rates by placing more ads, purchasing a package, or trying to negotiate prices. With that in mind, let’s look at 10 local advertising options for your business.

1. Paid search advertising

Unlike the traditional CPM cost model, with online pay-per-click (PPC) ads, you only pay for the viewers that actually click on your ad—not the ones who just glance at it and move on by. PPC ads are an important part of your local advertising mix because these ads show up in search engine results—and search engines are the number-one online source that consumers use when making a purchasing decision, as you can see below.

local advertising sources

Suppose you sell sporting goods and a local customer is looking for a specific brand of baseball shoes that they need to buy today. They might go to the Nike website, look for shoes and then look for a local retailer. Or they might go to your business website and see if your store sells Nike baseball shoes. But more likely, they’ll just search for “boys Nike baseball shoes” and check out the top few search results. This is where local PPC advertising can help.

See below for an example of PPC ads that popped up when I searched for Nike men’s tennis shoes. As you can see, even though they’re marked with “Ad,” they’re almost indistinguishable from the organic search results at the very bottom.

(For a detailed guide to PPC advertising, read How to Advertise on Google and Why). Remember to set up conversion tracking in your online ads so you can see how well they’re performing.

2. Local advertising on cable television

Cable television can reach very specific audiences based on the demographics of who watches what show. For example, if you do home remodeling services, you could advertise on HGTV in your local area to reach people interested in home remodeling.

One smart way to use cable television advertising is to get viewers to call your business or to visit a specific URL you create for that ad (such as to redeem a special offer.

Keep in mind that you may need to factor in the cost of scripting and creating your commercial. This is generally a service cable television stations offer.

Find local TV stations near you.

3. Local advertising on radio

With so many digital entertainment options out there, you might be surprised to learn that 93% of U.S. adults still listen to the radio on a weekly basis. Similar to cable television, radio advertising allows you to target specific demographics, based on the hours when your ad airs, the shows on which it airs, and the region that the radio station reaches.

Trying to reach a large metro area? Then you’ll want to advertise on a major station. Do you want to reach a select audience in a small city? A college or independent radio station could be the way to go.

Find local radio stations near you.

4. Direct mail advertising

Mailing ads to prospects can still be effective, especially if your target customers are seniors who may not be online very often. You can send prospects postcards, flyers and letters.

The U.S. Post Office’s Every Door Direct Mail service lets you map your marketing mail audience by age, income, or household size. The tool helps you choose the ZIP Code™ and carrier route that will target your best possible customer. Mailing prices start at under $0.20 per mail piece, but that doesn’t include the costs of designing and printing the mail piece itself.

5. Local advertising with door hangers

Businesses such as local restaurants, dry cleaners, maid services, landscapers and other home services business often promote their businesses with door hangers. You’ll usually get the best results from these if you promote some type of introductory offer or cost savings that prompts people to act quickly.


Door hangers frequently get saved for future reference, so be sure the hanger includes your website URL, phone number, address or map, and any other important information customers need to do business with you.

6. Transit advertising

Advertising on a bus stop bench, bus shelter, inside the bus or with graphics wrapped around the bus itself is an option for businesses in urban areas with good public transportation systems. You can also advertise on subway platforms, in train stations, on taxis, at airports and on just about every other mode of transportation.

local advertising transit advertising

While transit ads do reach a captive audience, you’ll need to consider how likely that audience is to be looking at their phones instead of at your ad.

Get estimates for the costs of bus and transit advertising.

7. Local advertising on billboards

You’ve probably seen billboards in your area featuring local lawyers, dentists, and restaurants. All of this is proof that billboards can be affordable for a small business. It all depends on the area where the billboard is located, the average speeds of traffic going by, and the average number of people who see the billboard per day.

Billboards tend to work best for two specific advertising goals: building brand awareness or driving immediate action. Do you want nearby commuters to see your laws firm’s billboard every day, so it’s top of mind when they suddenly need an attorney to defend them against a lawsuit? Do you want travelers to pull off the highway and head to your restaurant for lunch? In situations like these, billboards can be a good solution.

Find billboard companies in your local area.

8. Local search directories

Google My Business is by far the most important local search directory to be listed on. Wonder why? The chart below that displays the relative popularity of various search directories should answer your question.

So definitely start with Google. However, you should also get listed in Bing, which is the default search engine for some users of Microsoft products.

Getting listed in local search directory listings is free, so where does the “advertising” part come in? Well, you can pay to get extra promotion for your listing. This might include bold type, color, a border around your listing, extra images or other methods of making your listing stand out from the rest. If you’re in a competitive industry, boosting your presence with advertising can help.

Learn more about directory advertising on Yelp, MerchantCircle and

9. Local advertising on social media

Does your business have a strong presence on social media, with a lot of local customers who follow and engage with you there? If so, advertising on social media can be a great way to keep your business top-of-mind with existing customers and reach out to new ones.

You can advertise on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube — you name it. The key is to choose the social platform that makes the most sense for your customers and for what your business does.

Social media ads can target customers within your local area based on groups they belong to (such as a neighborhood Facebook page) or use geo-fencing technology to identify prospects’ locations and show ads when users are using the social media app near your business’s physical location.

To succeed with advertising on social media, keep your ads in the spirit of your regular posts — don’t make them blatantly commercial or “salesy.”  This Facebook ad from Red Bull is a great example—it shares interesting content that Red Bull customers may want to read.

local advertising red bull

Be sure to take advantage of the social media platforms’ free advertising analytics tools to assess you how well your social media ads are working.

10. Get professional help with local advertising

As you can see, there are many ways to do local advertising for a small business. But if you’re still uncertain of the best way to advertise locally, there is an easy solution. You could just hire someone! Getting assistance from professional marketing and advertising experts can put you on the right path to success. It may cost more but you’ll be hands free which is the real benefit, just make sure to hire someone reputable.

  • Team

    Our goal is to be your go-to partner in today’s always-on digital world.

Leave a Comment

Trending Topics