Bellingham is an awesome place to start a business; after all, it’s where we chose to open ours. An important part of business, and often times one of the hardest, is getting the word out. From online directories to parade floats, we’ve got the lowdown on the best places to advertise in the Bellingham area.
Marketing online with location-specific directories and organizations gives Google contextual clues about your own location. Additionally, the more links that point to your website, the more credible your site looks. Below are a few places you should consider signing up for if only for the backlink juice alone.
The Chamber of Commerce
The Bellingham Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry connects all types of businesses, from accounting to gardening and everything in between. They advocate for a strong business community and make it easier for local businesses to do business by offering networking events, an online directory, and more.
The Chamber is a membership organization solely funded by dues and event revenue. They provide a variety of membership options with different ways to advertise businesses.
The least expensive of these options is Supporting member. This membership allows you to use the chamber’s logo on your business, a listing on the Chamber’s website, and notary service. This membership costs $360 a year. The most expensive of these options includes a long list of benefits including an article in the Business Buzz e-newsletter, a business seminar, and free Certificate of Origins for Explorers. This membership costs $2,945 per year.
Sustainable Connections is a non-profit organization that holds events to build strong connections between Bellingham businesses. They offer business memberships which include, a listing in their online directory, articles in their local newsletter, inclusion in their printed publications, as well as free or discounted entry into workshops, conferences, and other events.
The cost of joining Sustainable Connections depends on whether you are a for- or non-profit organization as well as how much annual revenue you make.
WhatcomTalk is an online publication that focuses on local news around Whatcom County. This publication is a great place to do some content marketing. Although they have a few advertising sections, the publication is mostly articles.
This is a good opportunity to suggest an interesting article about your business, industry, or something similar and use that as a way to advertise your business.
Not in Whatcom County? The organization offers the same platform across many different counties.
Directories: Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local
Of course, these aren’t necessarily specific to Bellingham, but they are quite important. The main way customers find out about businesses is via search engines, so making sure that you have your bases covered on local search is very important.
Registering your company with websites such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and similar search sites, allows your business to be seen when people search for your business or your industry in the area. They also create a place where customers can get all the information they need about your company (phone number, address, hours, etc…) and also allow customers to rate and review your company (very important).
Many people like to listen to the radio on their commutes, at work, and at home – this makes radio an awesome place to advertise.Radio advertising is a really great way to advertise because it has a wide reach, it is cost-effective, and you can pinpoint a specific audience by choosing which stations to advertise on.
From classic rock to talk shows, Bellingham has every kind of radio show you could think of.
Newspapers and Business Magazines
Newspapers and business magazines are a great way to reach a large number of different people. Bellingham is the home to many different newspapers and magazines so you won’t have trouble finding somewhere that fits what you want to advertise.
There are a few different ways that you can advertise in newspapers and magazines. You could have an ad for your business posted in the paper or magazine. You could write an article to be included or have a photo spread.
The Bellingham Herald is Bellingham’s biggest newspaper publication – it reaches the widest variety of people. However, the Bellingham Business Journal (BBJ) focuses on business-related news. There are also a variety of different magazines such as the Bellingham Alive!, Whats Up! (a music magazine), The Betty Pages, and more. So no matter what you’re trying to advertise, Bellingham has a publication for you.
ValPak is an advertising tool in North America. It has gained a lot of traction here in the Pacific Northwest. The company offers three mediums of advertising: mailed coupons, coupon mobile apps, and a coupon website. You can register to be a part of Valpak to not only advertise but access to tools that measure your progress.
This is a unique way to advertise because so much of advertising and marketing is done online now – snail mail has somehow become a unique way to let people know about your business.
Bellingham is located right on the I-5 corridor so one way to advertise your Bellingham business is to advertise on the highway. Billboards, both digital and not, are effective ways to allow drivers to learn about your business. Stillaguamish Outdoors is a digital billboard company that rents out space on their I-5 billboards.
Bellis Fair Mall
You may have noticed the advertising stations throughout Bellis Fair Mall. They are usually two or three faced and are placed along the walkway between the shops. More information about these advertising slots can be found here. The mall is a busy place where many people are already in the shopping mood, ready to spend their money, this makes these advertising slots a great place to get the word out about your business.
Local Networking events
There are a ton of awesome networking events in Bellingham and Bellingham Business News has a great list of some of the best networking events. For example Green Drinks, Sustainable Connections, Chamber of Commerce, etc…. Being an active part of the business community in Bellingham can help you to make invaluable connections. Partnerships, networking, exposure, and advice are only a few of the assets you can gain from these events.
Every year Bellingham hosts the Blossomtime Parade; a parade featuring everything from marching bands to fire trucks. Being a part of this parade allows you to not only get the word out about your company but also to show everyone a little bit of your company’s personality. Register to be in the parade via the Chamber of Commerce, then decorate your float/car however you think best represents your company.
Budget-minded? No problem. Below is a breakdown of costs for each of the marketing avenues listed above.
Note: Online advertisements are tracked more easily meaning you can determine your return-on-investment (ROI) more easily than physical advertisements. That said, a diverse marketing strategy is more successful than a strategy that relies on only one or two avenues.
Need help fleshing out a marketing strategy for the Bellingham area? Contact us! We love to meet for a beverage and talk business!