3 Creative Ways to Market Your Small Business Beyond Ads

In today’s saturated media landscape, there’s just so much for people to read, listen to, watch, and experience. To cut through all that noise, small businesses need to engage their potential customers in a variety of different mediums and contexts.

While it may be tempting for you to create a marketing campaign centered around display advertising and call it a day (and while that might have worked in years’ past), the best use of your marketing dollars is a robust multi-channel campaign that meets customers in as many places as you can. 

Whether it’s becoming a sponsor or underwriter, collaborating on giveaways, sweepstakes, or quizzes, or working with an editor like me on native content that educates readers, reaching new customers today is all about thinking outside of the traditional advertising box. 

Sponsorship and Underwriting

Sponsorship is probably the most popular avenue for businesses to get their name out into the world outside of display advertising in publications and on websites. Sponsorship comes in many forms—from live events to the production of content such as special sections of publications, videos, or podcasts to media sponsorships. 

Becoming a sponsor typically provides a business with enhanced visibility in exchange for monetary support, either through prominent display of the business’s brand or involvement in the project itself. While you may not always be able to provide direct messaging to potential customers, this heightened visibility allows a business to gain brand awareness and positive association based on the merit and quality of the project they choose to sponsor. 

At Chronogram Media, we provide many opportunities for businesses to achieve this kind of brand exposure sponsorship, including the below: 

  • Sponsorship of Chronogram Conversations or events from The River Newsroom, which include “mic moments” for a representative of the business to speak. 

  • Special section sponsorship in our publications, including annual opportunities such as Upstate House’s home and shelter-specific sections, the Clean Power Guide, Passive House Guide, and Architect’s Guide and Chronogram’s much-loved Summer Arts Preview and Fall Arts Preview. By sponsoring special sections, businesses are better able to reach a highly targeted audience interested in that content.

  • Media sponsorship of events held by other businesses and organizations, in which Chronogram Media’s network of print publications, digital properties, and social media channels are utilized to promote the event.

Like sponsorship, underwriting is a form of financial support that helps fund specific projects or organizational efforts. Where the two primarily differ is that underwriting doesn’t offer the business or organization input into the direction of the project or the work produced. However, because of this, it’s a particularly strong statement of your business’s values. 

Underwriting is a great way for businesses to associate their brands with the organizations, community efforts, and cultural movements that they aren’t directly addressing with their operations, but want to be known for, such as the fight against climate change or support for local journalism. Our news organization, The River Newsroom, offers underwriting opportunities that support its mission to bring in-depth reporting and analysis to the Hudson Valley and Catskills. 

Native Content

Native content has come a long way from the days of the advertorial. It’s no longer just the direct voice of the advertiser: It’s a creative collaboration between a brand and an expert publisher, engaging audiences with branded content in the publisher’s voice.

Importantly, native content doesn’t ask the reader for a direct conversion, but instead uses the content as a way to establish your brand’s authority and trustworthiness with readers who are searching for authentic knowledge from a trusted source.  

By collaborating on native content with a publisher like Chronogram Media, which has 25 years of experience connecting to audiences, businesses are able to create articles that readers will engage with for months or years to come. 

Because of that longevity, native content also optimizes your marketing costs because it has the power to reach your ideal customer long after a traditional advertising run. Learn more about the long-term return on native content here. 

Giveaways, Sweepstakes, and Quizzes

Sponsoring giveaways, running sweepstakes, or creating custom quizzes are all incredibly engaging forms of marketing. They’re a great way to create reader affection for your brand because they’re just plain fun. 

But don’t be fooled by their light-hearted reputation. These forms of marketing offer incredibly valuable opportunities for businesses to engage with current and potential customers, such as brand exposure, lead generation, direct sales conversions, social media engagement and follows, and increasing your email list. 

It’s important to remember, however, that engagement marketing activities like these are a two-way street that should benefit both the giveaway participants and your business. Prizes should be valuable enough that readers want to provide their information in exchange for them, and they should be matched to your target demographic so you’re catching the attention of the potential customers you really want to reach. 

We dive deeper into how to create a winning giveaway strategy here. 

If you’d like to partner with Chronogram Media on any of the above opportunities, get in touch with our Sales Manager Andi Aldin at [email protected] to learn more. If you want more marketing tips geared toward small businesses in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, The Art of Business!


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