Local Marketing and Advertising Ideas for Small Businesses in Bellingham
Updated: Aug 18
One major pain point for local small businesses is marketing and advertising. Many find themselves asking "where do I start?". This blog post will go over some of the ways you can advertise here in Bellingham and beyond.
Advertise in a Local Publication
When you think about advertising, one of your first thoughts is probably print and digital advertisements. Local publications are a great way to get information out to a large number of people in the community. They provide informational, helpful, and trustworthy content that can help you establish your business. Here are some popular Bellingham and Whatcom County publications:
Bellingham Herald: The Herald offers options to advertise in their traditional print and digital newspaper and on their social media pages, newsletters, and website. Their print newspaper reaches thousands of readers each week while their website gets more than 750,000 visitors per month.
Cascade Daily News: Since debuting in early 2022, CDN is gained a large audience for their locally owned newspaper by local reporters, columnists, editors, and visual journalists. They publish content on their website seven days a week and have a weekly printed version available around town.
WhatcomTalk: With over 18K followers on Facebook and over 65K unique visitors per month, Whatcom Talk has a large reach in Whatcom County. You can have sponsored posts written about your business, place ads on their website, and get featured on their Facebook page and weekly newsletters. They describe themselves as a "community social network delivering positive stories about what it's like to live, work and play in Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, and the surrounding Whatcom County area."
Bellingham Alive: "We speak to where you live" is the motto of this magazine that is available in over 400 newsstands from Seattle to the Canadian border. They have a wide range of advertising options depending on the season, such as 30 days of giveaways, pros to know, menu talk, and shop local.
Whatcom Kid Insider: "By advertising with "the premier resource for family-friendly events, activities, and businesses in Whatcom County," you can reach the parents of Whatcom County by advertising through Whatcom Kid Insider's website, social media, newsletter, and guides.
Bellingham Parks and Recreation's Playbook: If you're a recreation and education-based agency, organization, or company, then you may be eligible to advertise in this seasonal playbook whose mission is to "support a healthy community by promoting high-quality parks and recreation services." They mail 27,500 copies to residents throughout Bellingham and distribute another 1,500 copies to advertisers and businesses in the area.
Get Listed on Directories
Many people are turning to online search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yelp, to find local businesses. Ensure your hours are always up-to-date and your contact information is available so your potential customers know when and where they can reach you.
Listing your business on these platforms is free, so make sure to take advantage of them! You may find that your business already has a profile, but you will need to verify you're the owner of the business to update your information. Here are some popular directories we recommend getting listed on:
These platforms also give customers the opportunity to review your business, which can help your business build a reputable brand image in the community.
Run Digital Ads
Digital ads are great because you can target potential customers in a way that isn't available for traditional marketing. Most digital advertising platforms have a wide array of options so you can target your ideal customer based on demographics. Here are some common platforms to purchase ad space:
Join Local Networking Groups
Joining groups is not only a great way to get your name out there, but it also provides the opportunity to connect with other local business owners. Here are a few networking groups here in Whatcom County:
Chamber of Commerce: Being a member gives you promotional and sponsorship opportunities, business resources, and the opportunity to attend networking programs and events. Starting at $330 per year.
Sustainable Connections: Members can have their businesses advertised to the community through events and job boards, monthly newsletters, social media, and a directory. Networking events and workshops are also available to members at a free or discounted rate. Starting at $190 per year.
Women's Professional Network: Benefits include getting listed on the member directory, free announcements and event listings on their website, and networking opportunities. Starting at $120/year.
Whatcom Women's Network: Limited to one per person per profession to ensure a non-competitive atmosphere, members meet weekly to "combine a social atmosphere with networking, business promotion, and quality member-to-member referrals." $20 per month + $30 to join.
Connections: As a member, you can receive business referrals, expand your professional network, and get access to social events and professional presentations. $15 per month.
Another great way to network is to join Facebook groups. There are a number of them focused on Bellingham and Whatcom County. However, if you're going to join these groups, make sure you follow the rules. These groups are not supposed to be a place for free marketing but rather a way to collaborate and help those in the community. Make sure your posts offer value to those in the group.
The following groups provide the community with information about the current status of local businesses and how to support them:
If you're looking to connect with other local business owners for advice and support, here are some great groups:
Partner with Local Businesses
Another great way to get your name out in the community is to partner with other local businesses and organizations. This is where joining a networking group can be very beneficial since you already have business connections. Some ways you can partner with another business is by doing cross-marketing, sending each other referrals, or sponsoring events.
Sponsor an Event or Organization
You can find sponsorship opportunities by searching online for "Bellingham/Whatcom County Sponsorship Opportunities" or connecting with some of your favorite organizations to see if they have a sponsorship program. Here are a few opportunities for local events and organizations:
Even though digital marketing has taken over, traditional advertisements can still be very effective. Let's get into some traditional marketing methods you can utilize in Bellingham and Whatcom County.
A great way to make sure your message gets all around town (literally) is to advertise on the bus. They offer different placements and ad sizes so you can choose the one that will fit your marketing goals. Learn more about bus advertising.
Advertising in the mall can be a great way to reach shoppers. There are plenty of places to advertise within Bellis Fair. Learn more about mall advertising opportunities.
Bellingham International Airport
The airport has opportunities to advertise using digital video, physical displays, and sponsorship opportunities. Learn more about their advertising space.
Some of the advertisements that stick with us the most are the ones with a catchy jingle or slogan. That's why advertising on the radio can be a great way to build awareness for your brand. The Cascade Radio Group provides advertisement spots to 5 radio stations that serve the Whatcom County area and beyond.
KPUG 1170 AM
KISM 92.9 FM
KAFE 104.1 FM
KGMI 790 AM / 96.5 FM
KBAI 930 AM / 98.9 FM
Determine the message you want to convey and they can help you from there. Learn more about advertising on the radio.
Sending mail can be an extremely effective way to market your business, especially for those with local storefronts. It allows you to reach those in the community in a way that's very personal.
Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a service provided through USPS that lets you send direct mail based on mailing routes. This is a great way to run a large, direct-mail campaign without purchasing a mailing list. Learn more about EDDM.
Thinking About Marketing & Advertising for Your Business?
Marketing is not one-size-fits-all. It will take a lot of trial and error, and the success of your marketing depends on a wide variety of things such as timing, audience, and luck. The best thing to do is try out a variety of marketing channels and see which one sticks.
At Summit Bookkeeping, our mission is to provide small businesses with essential services and the resources they need to reach their goals. Give us a call at (360) 756-5020 to learn more about our full-charge bookkeeping, payroll, tax reporting, and marketing services and see how we can meet your business needs.