Choosing the Best Advertising Channels for your Small Business
Emma Author + Marketing Specialist
Where to direct your marketing efforts
Modern businesses are willing to spend a fortune on their branding, from designing their logos to crafting the right language for all online and offline content, and the bill can often go as high as $50,000 according to Forbes, if not even higher. However, the ROI for a strong branding strategy is practically immeasurable, including your reputation in the eyes of your customers, all the way to continually attracting new clients despite the strong competition. But how can small businesses match such investments and where does all this effort come to life? Small businesses entering the already oversaturated market have an arduous task of maintaining their existing clientele and making sure their visibility is growing outside of the word-of-mouth realm. And opting for the right advertising channels is precisely what you need to give that fine-crafted brand voice substance and a megaphone to reach your vast potential audience.
Mind the learning curve
Unless you are a manufacturer of toothbrushes, your future customers likely don’t include every person on the face of the Earth, and as such, you need to make sure you keep getting to know your audience. Use surveys, create a customer profile based on your success thus far, do your homework on their behavior on different channels, and discover where you’re likely to find them and what can grab their attention. Placing your ads in the right place and the right time can make all the difference and bring you more profit and long-term loyalty than randomly assigning funds to all possible channels of communication. If your customers are likely to listen to the radio, then aim for their favorite shows, but keep in mind that you simply don’t have the luxury to be everywhere at all times.
Use your social footprint
The main perk of running a small business is that it can maintain a genuine impression of understanding its community, and base its social media actions on relatable conversations. And depending on your business and where your customers can be found, using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and similar media is a wise way of spreading the word of your latest promotions, as the popularity of these social networks is only growing. But tread lightly when defining the right balance between your promotional posts, ads and simple updates that don’t put an emphasis on your brand. Studies have shown that if you overuse your social presence to promote your products and services, your efforts will ultimately backfire, as almost 60% of research respondents stated that too much promotion on social is the most annoying step a brand can take. Hence the need to use the social wisely and in moderation, to keep your audience happy.
A personal touch
Not every business, big or small, can go all out and set up and entire event devoted to the community, but you can still make yourself visible and memorable at fairs and charitable events with the help of branded promotional merchandise, free samples of your products as well as free trials of your services. If you’re a baker, sampling cupcakes is the best way to include your future customers in choosing the perfect recipe, while a local car mechanic can stand out with a fun keychain, or a branded cap. It not only shows your generosity and gives people a chance to test before they buy, it also helps them remember you, your logo and most importantly, your demeanor during that one-on-one conversation. Notepads, calendars, mugs, pens, umbrellas, you name them, if they have a purpose, your giveaway will be appreciated and remembered for a long time. And unlike a fleeting TV commercial, a well-designed USB drive with your name on it will outlast many other advertising efforts.
Enter the blogosphere
One of the more underestimated methods of reaching out, blogging is slowly emerging as the powerful tool that it truly is and more businesses are starting to utilize it to find and engage with their clients. Smaller businesses in particular can greatly benefit from a consistent blogging strategy, as research shows that 81% of US customers trust the information they gain from blogs, and it’s a brilliant place to offer an occasional promotion, without devoting your entire blog strictly to that purpose. Less direct than actual ads on Facebook, but with more potential to help you connect with your audience, a well-written post is the best way to shape your voice, gain authority and establish a trusted reputation in your field. Not to mention that optimized blogs make your website much more visible and loved by search engines, making your business more accessible to your potential customers.
Let your customers promote you
If your business already has a few satisfied customers, no matter your field, their word will have high value in your community, and perhaps even beyond. You can encourage them to fill out your questionnaires and leave feedback of your service, or ask them for a review while handing them a complementary product, and ask them if they would feel comfortable for you to place their comments on your website. And while it is a valuable way to promote your business via your own website, it would be even better if you could find your way onto a reputable review website (think TripAdvisor and the like), where your customers’ voices have even more relevance for those who search for a similar service. Hand them a pamphlet or a flyer explaining what you’d like them to do, along with a coupon for their next purchase or that complementary cupcake, and they will likely be more than happy to endorse your business.
Orana Creative Contributor
Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She's a contributor Orana Creative and BizzMark Blog.