When you’re a small business and just starting out, one of the biggest challenges can be getting your name out there and telling people what your business does. And as a new business, you probably don’t have a huge advertising or marketing budget. But getting publicity is a great way to get noticed and win clients.

However, there are some unscrupulous companies who will sell naive business owners advertising space in a publications which doesn’t have the circulation they claim it does, doesn’t actually reach the target market or even doesn’t exist at all.

I know of a few businesses who’ve been caught out this way – they get an unsolicited call, which makes them feel that their business is on someone’s radar. The persuasive salesperson offers a great-sounding deal and they’re so excited they hand over their account details without thinking it through or doing research into the publication.

Fortunately, there are other ways to get your company into the spotlight without it costing you a fortune. The easiest way is to submit a press release to your local newspaper. There is a preferred structure for these (which a copywriter will know!) but it helps if you have an ‘angle’ to encourage the news editor to feature you, such as providing jobs in the community, a novel product or interesting story on how you came to be in business.

There are now a lot of location-specific websites which will review new products and service providers, and you can always thank them by featuring a link to their website from yours (you could also offer them free or discounted samples).

Another option is to be featured in an industry magazine, if there’s one for your area of specialism. Professional bodies such as CMI and ILM have them. If this doesn’t fit your kind of business, you may also consider a local business support organisation.

There are a number of benefits to joining one, including deals on insurance and discounts on equipment, but they will also have a member magazine which spotlights how a company has been helped by the support organisation. The local Chamber of Commerce will have one, and the Federation of Small Businesses has both a regional and a national magazine.  They are always on the lookout for a good news story, so it’s worth asking your representative for details.