Advertising on a Budget for Small Businesses & Startups in Charlottesville

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Launching a new business or start-up can be really overwhelming! You’ve developed a product or service you’re excited about and NOW you’re FINALLY ready to share it with the world (and let’s be honest, ready to start making money). Enter the dreaded word… ADVERTISING! But where should a small business or startup in Charlottesville, VA put their advertising dollars to get the most bang for their buck? I took a look at the cheapest options for advertising in Charlottesville, VA and here’s what I found: 

Who Are You Talking To?

Before we get started with our list of TOP places to advertise in Charlottesville, do you want to know the biggest secret to making the most out of your advertising budget? Narrow down your target audience! Although, I’n sure you would love to have everyone in the county walking through your door, it’s much more realistic to profile your typical or ideal customer and start there! 

  • How old is your customer? 
  • What neighborhood do they live in? 
  • Where does that person hang out? 
  • What stations do they listen to on the radio? 
  • How do they get around town? 
  • What other businesses do they frequent? 

If you know your customer like the back of your hand, you’ll be able to maximize your advertising budget AND grow your business beyond your wildest dreams.

Tourist Sites & Town Guides 

Whether or not your target audience is an out of town visitor, one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get your business to the forefront of the internet is a listing, profile or advertisement on your local town guide website. Sites like…

These pages pop up at the top of search results when potential customers are hunting for “Things To Do In Charlottesville”, “Charlottesville Photographer”, or “Best Plumber in Charlottesville.” Some of these sites require a monthly or yearly membership fee, other pricing structures will be priced like typical advertising and will be based on size, colors, and dates you’re hoping to run your ad. Occasionally, sites like this will even list your business for free just to have the most updated information on their website. All you have to do is ask! 

Paid Advertising: Newspapers 

When people think of advertising, they jump straight to the newspaper advertisement option. If your target audience is reading these papers, it’s not a bad idea! In Charlottesville, you have quite a few options: 

*** Budget Friendly Tip: Is your business having an opening, launching a product, serving the community or hosting a “newsworthy” event? Most newspapers will run a story and/or feature photos for free! Don’t stress if you don’t know how to write a press release! Just give your local journalist a call or send a few emails!

Paid Advertising: Radio

Radio is another go-to option for targeted advertising. You can find a list of Charlottesville stations on Radio Station World or Radio-Locator. However, before you advertise with any station, make sure to ask for a media kit that lists not only their prices, but also their typical audience, reach and stats! 

*** Budget Friendly Tip: Just like the newspapers, radio stations will often feature newsworthy events, non profit announcements or exciting openings for free. Many stations also have interview segments where they are happy to host business owners and contributing interesting community members. The best way to find out about these opportunities is to call or email your local station. 

Consider A Community Calendar

If your business hosts the occasional special event, you should be posting the event on free online calendars! These calendars rank high on search engines and are often as simple as filling out an online form! Charlottesville’s top online calendars include:

Depending on your budget and the scale of your event, you can also list on national sites such as Eventful or EventBrite

Get Creative With Social Media 

One of the cheapest advertising options is on Instagram and Facebook. Make sure your profiles look sharp and are up to date, you post regularly, and all your information is accurate and on-brand. Classes on Facebook Blueprint are free and can walk you through the basics of posting, growing and running advertisements on social media that are specifically targeted to the customers you want to reach! 

Design, Print, Distribute 

And finally, the classic print marketing campaign! Where do you see other businesses advertising? Have you checked out community bulletin boards at the local library, gym or coffee shops? Flyers, posters, brochures and business cards don’t have to cost a fortune. Try designing your own print materials with easy-to-use online programs like Canva, bulk print locally or online, and poster the town!

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