8 ways to promote your business if you live in Calgary

8 min read
Paul Teitelman

Calgary is a city with countless local businesses in all sectors, ranging from food to agribusiness to finance, so it can be hard for one small business to get attention. But while advertising can be pricey, local business promotion doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

With the right tools and marketing efforts, your Calgary business can get the attention you need to:

  • Generate leads
  • Support day-to-day operations
  • Bring people through your door, whether physical or online

Many business promotion efforts are more of an investment of time and attention than dollars. After all, there are many tools and strategies you can use to promote your business.

A balance of these eight business promotion ideas can help you either kickstart your new local business or expand and grow an established business.

Editor’s note: If you have a small business but no business website, now is definitely the time to get one. Build it yourself with Websites Builder (truly no tech skills needed!) or let the pros at GoDaddy build it for you.

1.   Get a digital marketing strategy

When business owners think of marketing, they often think of things like billboards or a business Twitter account.

The vast majority of Canadians are online. You need to be there too.

Regardless of your niche, you need a balanced business promotion strategy that includes:

  • Pay-per-click ads (PPC), ad spots, sponsored content
  • Social media posts, content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO)
Graphic collage of social media images

First, start with the basics. Ask yourself, how will you use SEO, social media and content marketing like blogging? Do you want to focus on one social network or use a handful? Do you have a campaign — say, a semi-annual sale — you can promote everywhere?

All your digital marketing efforts should be treated independently but should work together in tandem. Map out a marketing plan that includes individual strategies for all streams (SEO, PPC, social media, etc).

Why not use the blog you wrote to inspire a script for a YouTube video?

You may be able to reuse an SEO-optimized blog for a Linkedin post. That same blog can then be shared or promoted on Instagram, whether by an infeed post or a Story.

According to Statista, there are 31.8 million social network users in Canada. This is one more reason to create a digital marketing strategy that incorporates and caters to all platforms and powerful search engines like Google.

Related: Small business secrets to competing with big box stores

2.   Post cheeky signs

Calgary, like most cities, is seeing significantly more foot traffic as people feel safer about being out and about. You can be sure that Calgary's busy streets will have lots of passersby, who are all choosing one store over the next.

Large orange signs reading yum yum
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The art of cheeky signs should not go underappreciated because a vibrant sign showcasing a promotion or a punny slogan is bound to catch someone's attention and entice them to enter your store.

For online businesses, cheeky signs can come in the form of tongue-in-cheek social media ads and captions that will get a response from your customers.

3.   Use local SEO and local business citations

One of the most effective business promotion ideas has to do with search engines.

Local SEO is specialized search engine optimization that focuses on a ranking city or geography-based keywords related to your location.

Focusing on local SEO often includes link-building, gaining backlinks from local publications and creating local citations that act as business listings.

Local business citations are one of the most important parts of SEO and help to improve your local business' online visibility organically (in other words, for free).

Any local Calgary business can use local SEO, whether it be a:

  • Finance business like a debt consultant or accountant
  • Food business like a local coffee shop
  • Agribusiness like a manufacturer
  • Business in the creative sector offering creative services

Related: Local SEO for Canadian businesses

4.   Form a business partnership

Sometimes the best way to promote your business is to team up with another one. There are various approaches and advantages to this, the biggest one being getting exposure to another business’s existing following.

You can team up with a business that markets to the same type of customer as you. Or you can team up with a business in an entirely different space to get exposure to a new group of potential customers.

The options are endless, as you can partner up with another business to:

  • Sell your product at their location
  • Join forces for a shared giveaway
  • Pool funds together to rent out a shared space and more

Your partnership can be as creative as you want and there is no way to go wrong! Two is stronger than one. Supporting one another will also help you create a community while increasing your visibility.

5.   Attend conferences and network online

The idea of networking is not new, but it’s still important. After all, networking gives you face time with like-minded individuals who can help you promote your business.

Networking events are business promotion opportunities because you can:

  • Verbally promote your business
  • Get face time with investors
  • Share your business card with potential customers

Business cards might seem outdated, but if someone likes what you are saying, you want to make sure they can get in touch.

Networking doesn't look like it did years ago.

While there are industries that still hold in-person conferences, digital networking is more prevalent for many industries.

Think about it this way. LinkedIn's network of 500 million people is essentially a business network where like-minded professionals can connect, reach out to one another, and learn about one another's experiences. Get out there and introduce yourself!

Related: Brush up on business networking at these fall conferences

6.   Set up shop at markets and events

One way for your business to be seen is to show up where many people will be.

Having a booth at a popular local market or a massive event like the Calgary Stampede is a sure-fire way to get eyes on your business.

Spots at events can be expensive, but this is a good way to market yourself to a big group of people.

This business promotion is worth it.

By setting up shop at a market or event, you can interact personally with potential customers. You can advertise your business by providing information for your location, whether you have an online or brick-and-mortar business (or both).

The best part is that markets happen all year round, and it's just a matter of catching the right spot at the right event to get your business in front of the right people.

7.   Have a website you keep up-to-date

Websites don't have to cost you an arm and a leg — not anymore. And because it can be opened by anyone with a smartphone, your website is your best business card.

Countless Canadian ventures exist only online; the majority of physical businesses also have online websites.

Regardless of your business model, your website is where most people go when they are interested. You don't want your website to be something that turns them away.

Your website should have all relevant business information, including hours, location, how to contact you and current sales.

Get this right and so much falls into place

It’s not enough to just have a website anymore. Your website should be user-friendly, searchable and often updated. You should be doing regular maintenance on your website to ensure the information is up to date, everything is moving smoothly (slow site speed is a killer for user experience and search rankings), and your servers are able to keep up with web traffic.

The last thing you want is your site to go down because of a faulty server.

For a lot of Calgary businesses, their website is their business. Back in 2018, Global News reported that Calgary was actually the first Canadian city to allow businesses to start online. If you are an online business, your website should be user-friendly so that a high percentage of visitors turn into customers.

8.   Offer promotions

This goes for all types of businesses and is not only pertinent to retail stores. Everyone loves a sale or a discount, and promoting your product as a package or at a reduced price gives people additional incentive to try out your product or service. Even marketing agencies and business software can offer one-time-only promotions to show potential clients or users their capabilities.

Your social media accounts, website and paid advertisements are great ways to spread the word about a promotion. Promotions can be incredibly lucrative, and countless businesses are known for their once-a-year or bi-annual sales, whether for Boxing Day or a specific season.

Related: You’ll want to bookmark this guide on how to price products

Get to the next level with these 8 business promotion ideas

Whether your Calgary business is a brick-and-mortar store or online only (or both), you can use these eight business promotion ideas to raise awareness of it and bring people in the door.