How Unpaid Advertising Can Skyrocket Your Startup

There are three general types of advertising that can be used to establish and grow your business: owned, earned, and paid media. Owned media sites are the sometimes-free outlets you control, like your social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) or your company’s website. Earned media is what develops from using owned media channels. These are things like shares, mentions, reviews, or word of mouth; things that are less in your control but are free and come from successful owned media content. Paid media is advertising that costs you money; this can range from promoting a Facebook post to shooting a commercial. However, with many startups, money is tight, so unpaid advertising can be a great way to start out and skyrocket your business.

Social Media Channels

Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can be great for promoting content and building followers for your brand. Social media can hit a wide variety of targets, from young to old, but you’ll want to do extensive research to understand who the target is for your company. This will help you choose the right channel, so you can reach potential customers who are familiar with your brand. Social media also helps build your brand by giving potential customers a way to engage and interact with your company, leading to more awareness and through that, more sales.

Company Website

Your company website bridges paid and owned media because you’ll likely spend some money to register and build your website. Your website is a great way to promote deals, products, services, and express your brand message. Spending the time to create a great website will do wonders for your business, especially if your business is primarily online-based. Having an informative, easy to navigate website can make all the difference when it comes to turning a site visitor into a customer.


If your business relies on those in the community (for example, if you’re running a local restaurant or shop), there are tons of ways to get free publicity. Getting the local newspaper to write about your company takes only creating a press release and sending it out to the appropriate reporter. The same applies to getting coverage on a local tv station. In addition, you can enter your businesses for awards; you’ll get recognition and free publicity out of it. Help the community by sponsoring an event or having employees contribute to a cause. Show the community your business cares and you’ll get the awareness you need. 

Rating, Reviews, and Word of Mouth

Online reviews and rating sites like Yelp can have a big impact on your business. A few bad reviews can make a startup go south. It’s best to handle bad reviews as constructive criticism to better your business. Even responding directly to users in a positive way can turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador. Having people talk about your business can be one of the most effective ways to get free advertising. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.

When it comes to your business, it’s not all about how many dollars you can spend buying ads and bombarding prospective customers with your company logo. It’s about creating a meaningful relationship with consumers. Sometimes, that doesn’t take any money at all.

References and Further Research:

Machin, Eric. “What is Earned, Owned & Paid Media? The Difference Explained.” (accessed August 4, 2017).

“Word of Mouth Advertising.” (accessed August 4, 2017)

“Word of Mouth, Social Media, and Viral Advertising.” (accessed August 4, 2017).