Small Business Advertising 101

You’ve got a small business and you know you need to promote it.  The question is – how? What small business advertising options give you the most bang for your buck?  Which ads work to generate revenue and which are a waste of your time?

These are the questions I get asked all the time as a professional marketing consultant, and I’m here to tell you that advertising your business doesn’t have to be complicated or overly expensive.  Simply getting intentional and strategic with your advertising plan can result in big gains – no matter what size you’re starting out at.  Read on to discover helpful tips on how to make that happen.

Know Your Options

There are many options available for advertising and a few factors that go into deciding which one(s) to use.  The first thing you need to consider is your audience.  Who are they? What specific demographical niche are you catering to?  The more targeted you can get with your audience, the farther your dollars will go – so knowing who you want to advertise to is a critical first step.  It also can help determine your platform – a Facebook ad is well-suited to millennials, for example, but wouldn’t fare as well with the over 60 crowd.  For them, a print ad may be more appropriate. 

The second thing to keep in mind is your budget.  If you’re serious about growing your business, an advertising budget is non-negotiable but how much that spend is per month will depend on your own financial forecast.  A smaller budget may be best contained with social media ads, while a larger budget may opt for print or TV, or choose a combination of several mediums.

So what options are out there and when are they the right choice? I’m glad you asked.

Google Adwords
When you type a search term into Google, you may have noticed the results that show up right at the top. Those are businesses that have paid for their result to be up there, and that functionality is available to anyone via Google Adwords.  What’s great about these campaigns is that they are in the moment – you want to engage people at the exact time that they need you, and what better way to do that than when they’re searching for a service or product that you provide?  And, with a really great ad, you can improve your Google rank so that you can show up at the top more often.

Facebook Ads
Facebook ads get a bad rap but that’s because they are not used thoughtfully enough.  As someone who has spent more than 100k in Facebook advertising, I can tell you that they absolutely do work when they are strategic and intentional.  It’s a go-to for many small businesses and here’s why – you can target your audience down to very specific factors beyond just age, gender and location.  It’s also where the people are, where so many spend their time.  When you hit people where they are already at, you are way more likely to get engagement.  It’s also affordable.  You can accomplish more for less with this avenue, as long as your content is up to par.  Content plays a massive role in the success of your social media ads – you can bring your cost-per-engagement price down to pennies if you have an engaging campaign.  Facebook is also consistently progressing and improving in their marketing technologies.  They are making everything better and faster, and that will only continue.

Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a fairly simple strategy – just find someone who is already popular, and then pay them to promote and broadcast your product.  You don’t need to find a mega-celebrity either, just look for someone with a high number of followers on blogs or places like Instagram, YouTube, etc., who’s lifestyle or values mesh with your business.  These are often just ordinary people who happen to have a far reach on the internet, and for that reason this avenue can actually be quite affordable.

Local Print
I’ll start off by saying that if you’re going to do print, opt for magazine ads.  Newspapers across the country are downsizing at the moment and readership is waning – they’re just not cutting it anymore.  Magazines, on the other hand, have actually grown.  There seems to be something especially attractive about local magazines and local content for people, and choosing a smaller publication (think airdrielife or Branded) in your demographic can give you a targeted angle for your business.

You might be surprised to hear that TV commercials are not as expensive as you probably think.  For the amount of reach (views) you can get from one TV ad, the price is in line with other options.  I used TV ads to promote a Christmas store I was working with and reached 225000 people in 4 months, many of whom saw our ad twice.  Plus with all our available technology and many available companies, creating a TV ad is no longer the production (pun intended) that it used to be.

Choose one channel or all of them – just make sure your approach is well thought out and cohesive.  Start small and work your way bigger, try things out, and stick with what works.  You’ll quickly find your advertising strengths and, if you play to them, you can grow your business and promote your brand.

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