I just started a business which is not doing well. I have not done a lot to advertise as it is expensive. How much does a new business need to rely on advertising?

You can have the best product or greatest service in the world, but if nobody knows it's there, you're going broke for a living.

Marketing and promotion are critical to any business success and growth.

Try this:

Create a billboard web site – a website that describes your services and products and allows buyers to buy on line.

If you're only after local business, Google offers a lot of local search options. Just add your address to the keywords.

You can build a good-looking website using templates. Just add copy. Add a free checkout like osCommerce, open a Paypal account and start hyping the website through traditional marketing outlets.

For example, use the classifieds in the local newspaper with nothing but your URL. It piques curiosity. Once the visitor is on site, that's where the sale is made.

Put your URL on all stationery and other paper associated with the business.

Use local cable to advertise your business and URL. True, you can get 100 30 second spots on a rotating schedule at $5 a spot. You can even pick the channels where the adverts will appear.

And make sure your site's URL appears in text on screen throughout the spot.

Volunteer to write a column for the local newspaper. These outlets are dying for content. You might even get paid.

You need buzz, excitement, and ultimately WOM – word of mouth – marketing.

Good luck with the biz,
Paul Lalley