Mike Michalowicz in an article for The Wall Street Journal reports on a clever way to get advertising for free.
Count the signs listing phone numbers as you drive down the street in a commercial area, or the number of ads you notice as you surf the net or leaf through the Yellow Pages. Signs and ads are often paid in advance for a few months or longer, which is why they stay "open" when a business closes up shop. The same is true for classified ads that run for six months or longer.
To take advantage of the prepaid advertising, call the number listed on your competitor's signs and ads. If you hear a ring, move on to the next ad. If you hear a recorded message informing you that the phone number has been disconnected, call your local phone company and ask it to redirect the abandoned phone number to your business line. Yes, it is that simple. And it works.
Once you redirect a former competitor's old phone number, your phone will ring almost immediately. Prospects who are calling on those up-and-running advertisements will now be automatically forwarded to you. When prospects call, don't be sneaky. Let them know that the company they are looking for is no longer in business, but you will gladly serve them.
After you've checked all of the ads, start with the phone listings for your local area. If you want to attract prospects outside of your region, check competitors' listings in the toll-free directories, which you can also find online. Then, move on to other online directories. Search industry-specific directories for ads, sponsored listings and regular listings. For example, if you are in the party-rental business, you might find competitors in one of the resource directories for event planners.
Photo by legacymarketing.