The word “advertising” may evoke traditional imagery of billboards and television ads, but the reality is that there are endless opportunities to reach your audience in a smart and targeted way. Consider these five tactics to spread the word about your business and its products or services.

1.    Manage directory listings
According to Google, 97 percent of consumers search for local businesses online. Don’t miss the opportunity to register with listings like Google Places and Bing Places, so your business will show up in search results and maps. Include photos, services offered, and other details to help customers find you.

2.    Maintain a social media presence
Free social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great options to promote your business. However, just being on these platforms is not enough to create an engaging experience or grow a fan base. To reap the benefits:
•    Share customer-focused updates often (a few times per week is recommended)
•    Engage with followers by responding to questions, compliments or complaints
•    Keep profiles updated with accurate business hours, contact and location information

3.    Utilize location-based review services
Combine tips 1 & 2 to utilize services that recommend businesses based on customer reviews and geographic proximity. A business account with Foursquare not only allows you to manage your listing, but post promotional updates and advertise special discounts. Similarly, with Yelp, businesses can respond to reviews and offer deals to attract new customers.

4.    Maximize in-store space
Be resourceful and use creative spaces like napkin dispenser displays as a marketing tool. Showcase advertisements for specials, loyalty programs, or events. Consider partnering with another local organization and swap ad space to expand your reach outside of existing customers.

5.    Serve as an expert
Spread the word about your business by connecting with journalists and offering yourself as a potential resource. A free service called Help A Reporter Out (HARO) delivers opportunities straight to your inbox that may be a good fit. For example, a reporter working on a story about renewable energy may be seeking a facility manager who can address how their property is using solar power to improve efficiency. This presents an opportunity to publicize the company in a positive way.