Last week we started talking about How to Promote Your Business in Today’s Economy. Today’s tip is all about how you can start advertising your business on a small budget. In this week’s marketing tip we will continue looking at the fourth P of Marketing: Promotion. To learn more about the 4 P’s of Marketing check out Marketing Tip #1: What is Marketing.
Advertising Your Business on a Small Budget
The great thing about advertising today is that it does not have to cost a fortune. Back when I first started my career as a Marketer advertising, even for a small business, often meant making huge sacrifices to your checking account in order to achieve any sort of meaningful results. Now, you have the opportunity to start advertising your business on a small budget while actually seeing results.
The Function of Advertising
The function or purpose of advertising is to generate awareness and gain interest. In fact, there are two separate ways of advertising; “top-of-mind-awareness” and “call-to-action”. Both should be used hand-in-hand but are meant to produce different results.
Top-of-Mind Advertising is designed to promote awareness and help ensure that potential customers think of you once they are ready to buy. These can include more traditional (and expensive) options such as TV, radio, billboards, magazine ads, etc. that simply tell the world you’re open and ready for business. But they can also include free advertising such as informative (no sales pitch) social media posts, customer testimonials, helpful blogs, educational videos, and email newsletters. The main distinguishing factor for Top-of-Mind advertising is that they do not have a direct correlation between the ad and gaining an immediate sale.
Call-to-Action Advertising is all about directly encouraging a sale. For example, you could run an ad campaign on Google or Social Media that leads directly to your webpage where people can make a purchase, contact you for a free consultation, or signup to receive a coupon to use in your store. You can even include “call-to-actions” in your “top-of-mind-awareness” campaigns by presenting an offer inside your blog or email newsletter. Of course, these are just a few ideas. The opportunities are really endless and depend on your business.
Free Versus Paid Advertising
Free advertising is great…well, because it is free. But it is also very indirect and can be slow to produce results. It takes a lot of time and planning to keep your brand front and center without spending any money. You have to build up an audience over time and work hard to keep them engaged. Meanwhile, your competitors who are paying for advertising are also building up their audience at the same time, just much faster. Free advertising may attract views and interest. However, paid advertising has a better chance of showing up exactly when someone is interested in making a purchase.
Free advertising is a great way to promote your expertise and build relationships with customers. However, its reach is dictated by the success of your website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and the size of your current audience, whereas paid advertising can reach people who have never heard of you but need exactly what you are offering.
Yes, you can achieve results off of free advertising and even attract new customers with it, but it should be seen as just one tool out of many. Paid online advertising can be implemented on almost any sized budget. It is a great way to affordably enhance your free advertising efforts and boost some instant interest in your brand.
Advertising Your Business
The main takeaway is that advertising your business on a small budget is a reality in today’s world. As business owners, we no longer have an excuse not to advertise. If we want to grow our business, we have to put the effort, time, and (yes) money into promoting ourselves. If we don’t advertise, our next customer will most likely end up at one of our competitors. Not because they didn’t trust us or want what we had to offer, but simply because they didn’t even know we existed.
One final thought. Advertising is only as effective as the ad itself. For this reason, the graphic design and message of the ad also matter. To learn more read: Why Graphic Design Matters to Your Small Business