It can be off putting thinking about advertising options when you maybe don’t have the budget to invest very much into it, but done right, advertising is the quickest way to get in front of your prospects.
There are so many options when it comes to advertising, it makes an advertising A-Z a viable option in itself to be honest. We will try and touch on some basic nuggets of information here.
Google my business
It’s absolutely free to have a Google My Business account, it allows you to manage your online presence within Google and is particularly beneficial within Google Maps. So great for local advertising when someone is searching for your type of business within your immediate location.
Go to https://www.google.com/business and click start now.
You might be thinking noooooooo not for me thank you very much and you wouldn’t be alone, but as much as you might dislike it, it does have its place in your advertising arsenal. Depending on the type of business you run, networking can be a fantastic way to grow your network on social media. Linking up with people you have met will extend the reach of your future marketing content. It can also give you the all-important word-of-mouth referrals that, for some businesses, is their life blood.
So networking isn’t exactly free, networking companies and circuits are plentiful and if you can find the one that you feel comfortable with, costs can vary but typically include an annual membership fee and a weekly fee for the refreshments at the meetings themselves.
Speaking at events
This ties in a little with networking, in fact networking events allow you to take up a speaking slot where you can present a little more about your business. Exploring opportunities to speak at events allows you to position yourself as a total genius in the field that you’re involved in. If you can bypass the scaredy cat within yourself first!
Posting brochures or flyers
A good old-fashioned flyer drop could be a good way to attract attention offline. Importantly this is something that can be targeted. Let’s say that you’re a hair salon targeting new mums with pamper events and promotions. A few strategically placed leaflets in places where these ladies hang out might serve to get you noticed, unless they’re totally occupied by their new bundle of joy of course.
Running targeted Facebook ads
Facebook allows you to narrow down your target audience based on interest, description and location. You can also limit the amount of money that you spend so that your costs don’t run away with you. As a paid advertising option, it is one of the few you could have a dabble with at a relatively low risk to your bank balance.
Direct mail campaigns
Assuming you are a business with an existing database of customers, this option isn’t a particularly cheap one. Producing physical mailers, printing, distribution and postage costs aside, sending your marketing material directly to the homes or businesses of your potential customers is a great idea!
Direct mail has had a bad reputation for many years now with many people arguing it’s dead in the world of marketing, but a targeted approach might bear fruit.
For new businesses, focus on collecting your data and capturing as much insight into buying patterns as you can. This will have a real impact on the success of any future DM campaigns that you might try.
Guest blogging for other businesses
Have we mentioned blogging in general? Blogging for your own business and then for other businesses will help you to push that content, that you work so hard to create, as far and wide as you possibly can! There could be some obvious relationships that might benefit from a collaborative, ‘you scratch mine and I’ll scratch yours’, type of approach. For example web design consultants and SEO specialists or bridal shops and florists.
Publish content on social media
Content is here again! That means writing stuff that your customers might want to read. Such as my A-Z for example. Social media is the place to be for all brands, even personal ones without an actual business page. In fact many people don’t bother with ‘business pages’ and just post content through their personal social media. That said, it is still crucial to develop your own personal style to support your overall message.
Email newsletters can be a good way to pop up naturally and consistently in your customers inboxes! It’s inoffensive, informative and engaging if it’s done the right way. Subscriptions to your email newsletters can be a great way to collect that important customer data.
Freebies or competitions
People love a good freebie and there is nothing like a competition to raise awareness and
interest in a brand. Potentially perceived as more gimmicky, but it’s all in the delivery.
Giving stuff away, helps to endear yourself and your brand to your customers. They walk away feeling a little bit special. For a high value client, corporate gifts need to reflect that but you have to be careful with bribery connotations.
Competitions, tied into what you do as a business, gives you multiple options for subliminal messaging and awareness. Give it a go with a low value prize to start with and see how you go.
Create You Tube content
You Tube is a platform for sharing video content. So whether that is sharing your corporate videos or user tutorials and guides, people use You Tube for all sorts of weird and wonderful things.
Where the rules of engagement on social media videos are more inclined to support short and sweet content, on You Tube, people have the capacity and time to engage with longer content and use it to learn how to do something. What content could your turn into a video tutorial?
Encourage customer reviews
Facebook pages have a review section which gives opportunities for your happy customers to place a sterling review on your business’s products or services. Perhaps you could incorporate the request in your next email newsletter. Likewise Google My Business also provides an area that people can leave rated reviews. Google likes businesses with multiple reviews too, so this can support your SEO efforts.
PPC or Pay Per Click advertising
PPC is a form of search engine marketing (SEM) which includes bidding for an advert placement in a search engine’s sponsored links. The advertiser only pays when that link is clicked, hence the name Pay Per Click.
How it works;
A user bids on a keyword that they would like to feature on a search engine for. Everytime the keyword is searched for, the search engine scours through the herd/gaggle/crowd of bidders for that word and determines the best of them to feature in the coveted spots at the top of the search engine.
You’d like to think ‘great, I’ll just pay my way to the top’ – not so unfortunately, the search engines choose the winner based on more than just bid size. It also considers the quality of your content in terms of its relevance to the keyword and landing page quality, so it is possible that someone could pay less than you but beat you to the top if their content is better and more relevant to the searcher.
Should I invest in print advertising, is a question that many people ask. It’s not without a complicated answer unfortunately. Whether you should advertise in things like magazines or newspapers or your trade publication, really depends on your business, your target audience and your objectives.
Advertising objectives might include things like creating brand awareness, in which case a one off advert is not going to work, the important thing here is consistency. You would need to repeatedly and consistently send out the same message week in week out, which obviously can get quite costly.
Another objective might be to promote a special offer, a one time thing, maybe you are attending a trade show and you want people to know about it. Or you advertise your business within an exhibition show guide for example. These one hit wonders could be beneficial and a lower hit to your budget.
All this aside, where to advertise is another huge consideration, which depends on your target audience. The more specific the message, the more targeted the approach needs to be. How much do you know about what your audience reads? Do you want to attract a local audience or a national one?
Most business sectors have a specialist trade publication, like Marketing Week, for example. Find out what your specialist publication is and consider placing your advert with them. It offers a much more targeted approach to print advertising than paying to advertise in a national publication.
Print advertising is generally not free so many businesses focus on the advertising that is free first before venturing on to investing in something like this. Readers have become a little blind to advertising these days, so you have to ask yourself what really works for you? Maybe a well written editorial feature would work better if you have more to say?
TV & radio advertising
Not going to pretend to know anything about TV or radio advertising here. Never done it because it’s always been well out of my budget. If you’re fortunate enough to have the readies for this type of advertising, seek specialist support in this area.
Events and tradeshows
Last but by no means least, events and tradeshows!
There are a multitude of specialist exhibitions for businesses to get involved in. No matter your niche. Home and travel, automotive, camping and caravanning, weddings, food festivals, arts and crafts you name it there is something for everyone!
Tradeshows have been used by B2B marketers for decades and whilst the glory days of exhibitioning are well and truly behind us, they present an ideal opportunity for much sought after face-to-face time with customers and prospects.
Like window shopping for businesses that would traditionally not have a shop, a tradeshow gives you a place to demonstrate your products and services, arrange meetings with customers, do something a bit different to the norm AND if your personality is your biggest asset, it gets that well and truly in front of people.
Tradeshows vary in size and cost from small pop-up types to huge scale exhibitions with national brands bringing stands to rival a small house. You have simply got to ask the questions, who visits the show and are they your target audience?
If the answer is yes, it’s a no brainer & probably worth the investment.
With so many options available for advertising your business, is it any wonder people put it on the 'too hard' pile. My advice would be to start with the free stuff and build up from there. Pick one or two things to invest your time in and get on and do it. If you need any help getting started, please give me a shout!