Monday, August 21, 2017

Question of the week: What's the best way to advertise my small business?

When you own a small business, you don’t have a multi-million dollar budget to hire celebrities, employ pyrotechnics, or combine the two to land a celebrity willing to set him/herself on fire. 

Which is best. Really.

So How Do You Advertise Your Small Business Then?

Since you have a more limited budget, you’ll want to ensure that you're getting the most bang for your advertising bucks. Start by answering the following questions:

1. Are You Targeting Your Audience?

We’ll assume you’ve done the research and gathered the data to determine your target audience. (And, more importantly, that you actually have one.)

Your campaign must be appealing to them. Your copy and imagery should reflect what they would want to read and see. For example, if you’re selling clothing for toddlers, you don’t really want articles on your blog about welding. Most responsible parents are keeping their two-year-olds away from fire.

2. Are You Measuring and Tracking Your Advertising

Four words for you. Google AdWords and Facebook. Unless you’re running your business blind-folded and from an underground bunker, you’ve likely heard of them. And so you know that they can provide you with extensive stats related to your ads so you can figure out what’s working and what isn't. 

Yeah, you’ll still need to do some testing and experimenting. But doing so with a head full of this valuable information can help you make faster decisions about what to try next.

3. Are You Advertising At the Right Time?

Do you think the right plan of attack is to advertise year-round and spread out your budget equally from month to month? Could be. Then again, maybe not.

Keep in mind that for many businesses, Black Friday and Christmas are high-performing seasons, so you may want to allocate more money to your budget during November and December.

And also consider stashing some cash aside for those times when your competitors launch a big promotion. That way, you’ll have the capital to fire back with a counter promotion. 

4. Are You Branding Well?

You want your customers to identify your ads based on consistent copy, color choice, imagery logo and typeface. So avoid the temptation to change your brand each time you create a new ad. 

And show up in familiar places where people expect to find you. If your specialty is fishing gear, it isn’t going to fly at ComiCon. Stick with your image and you’ll build loyalty this way. 

5. Are You Effectively Using Your Resources?  

It should go without saying that if you have a small budget, a full page ad in the New York Times is not going to be an option. A Facebook ad is going to be more your speed. And it doesn’t hurt that you can control your daily spend with it.

Be honest about the resources available to you, and then leverage them in a way that helps you grow your small business.

Take advantage of customer surveys. Get a sense of where your customers like to hang out online, what books and magazines (i.e. those things made of paper) they read, what podcasts and radio shows rock their worlds. Because matching your advertising with the right understanding of your customers is going to attract more worthwhile leads.