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From the Financial Hotline

By: Financial Hotline
Spring 2020 (Vol. 38, No. 1)

Q: My small business doesn’t have much money this year for advertising. How can we take advantage of low cost or free online advertising?

A: Free advertising at top online sites is a great resource for small businesses on a budget. You do need to spend some time setting up and managing your accounts but you don’t need a lot of experience to get started. Most sites are user friendly and some even offer online marketing training programs free of cost and prompt you with suggestions and updates to help you maximize their marketing services. Social media savvy teens or college students are a great source for hiring a low cost marketing manager.

Google My Business is one of the best free online advertising sites. You can create a profile to direct traffic right to your store or website. Plus, it features your business’ precise location on a mobile-friendly map for smartphone users. You can also create a website for free that automatically ties in AdWords, Google+, Maps, Search, and Insights which manages your online presence much easier.

Facebook Marketplace has over 2.38 billion active users and allows sellers and buyers to interact in the marketplace via their Facebook profile. The format includes automated chat boxes that handle customer service more efficiently and filter options include searches for the local marketplace up to 100 miles from your current location.

Amazon ( is a good choice if you are in the eCommerce industry. Facebook knows interest levels, Google has search data, but Amazon has real power since it knows what users are buying and how they are doing it. Its built-in algorithm recommends your products to people who search for similar items. The cost is $39 per month for a professional seller account.

eBay is a multinational company that provides consumer-to- consumer and business-to-business sales service via the internet. It helps people find what they are looking for in their local communities such as apartments, jobs, various equipment, financial services, tickets, and many more.

Craigslist has its critics but with almost 55 million monthly visitors, Craigslist is still a world-renowned classified site. Your ads are free but you need to renew them regularly, in most locations they remain active only 7-10 days.

Oodle has over 15 million users worldwide and utilizes the network of online marketers such as eBay, BoatTrader, and ForRent to deliver more relevant results. Oodle is also compatible with Facebook for your updates.

OLX Group is a global online marketplace, operating in 45 countries. The OLX marketplace is a platform for buying and selling services and goods such as electronics, fashion items, furniture, household goods, cars and bikes.

Classified Ads is another free site that is easy to use for both buyer and seller.

Adpost is like Craigslist except it is has a more worldwide reach. Post here to reach a larger audience or create an international network.

PennySaver USA is an easy solution for uploading your coupons and discounts.

Hoobly is a U.S. site that lists a large variety of options including events, books, collectibles, jobs, pets, vehicles and clothing.

Geebo offers categories like farm equipment, real estate, rentals, vehicles, jobs, merchandise, and resumes.

Adoos is a site made specifically for mobile phone platforms like Android and the iOS. Sellers can chat directly with buyers to fill needs in their local area.

Finder Master ad services are free with the ability to add photos and deal packages to attract potential buyers. It is available in many locations and automatically detects your region to connect you to buyers in your area.

Q: How do I optimize my business for voice searches?

A: More households are using smart speakers with virtual assistants like Alexa or Echo. A voice search is when the consumer speaks a question instead of typing it. Google, Apple, Siri and Cortana have relatively equal voice search market share. You will need to register or update your business in each. Go to Google Assistant to update information for Google My Business. For Apple Siri, you can find tips for optimizing local business search results by accessing Apple Maps Connect. Visit Bing Places to maximize local search results for Microsoft Cortana. Amazon Alexa gets local search results from Yelp. Yelp also provides photos and reviews for Apple Maps and Bing Places.