10 Ways to Advertise Online for a Small Business
Small businesses have a definite need to advertise, to reach their target market in a way that is fresh and inviting, in a way that draws potential clients and customers to them and leads to conversions. However, they don’t have the unlimited marketing and advertising budgets that larger corporations do. Because of this, some creativity is required to take an advertising strategy to the next level.
Check out 10 ways to get started below.
1. Go Old School
Email is not dead, in fact, it might never be. People still rely on it as a top form of communication, and many have 24/7 access to it through mobile technology. Use this to your advantage. Keep your e-mail list fresh and up-to-date, send special deals and promotions to those on your list and use it to remind them that you exist.
The best way to do this is to ask your customers to subscribe to your emails, thereby gaining their consent to receive your communications. If you’re just emailing coupons for mosquito protection products to random people, they likely won’t respect your brand very much. However, if you only email people who subscribe to your emails and are interested in getting discounts on such products, you’re guaranteed to seem more results from your efforts.
By staying in the inboxes of your customers, you’re staying on their minds. This is a no-brainer advertising technique that small business owners should take seriously.
You’ve heard of blogs, but probably don’t consider yourself to be a blogger. This doesn’t matter; for small businesses, content is king. Look for ideas everywhere – from questions you receive from customers, from current events and stories in the news and on other sites that you follow or that are relevant to your industry. Keep your blog linked to your email list and share posts across social media networks for best results.
Many organizations, especially professional organizations, host yearly award competitions. For a small entry fee – or sometimes for free – you may be able to enter a product, service or project that you’ve completed in the last year. Take your time to organize your entry and to demonstrate your accomplishments. The payoff? By earning recognition for awards, you’ll have something to publicize and you’ll catch the attention of members of the organization hosting the show and their audiences as well.
4. Get Social
It should go without saying, but in case it doesn’t, if you’re not using social media to your advantage, you’re missing out on an important market and on the ability to reach an entirely new public through viral sharing possibilities. Research where your target audience spends their time and become familiar with one network at a time. In many cases, Facebook is an excellent starting point. Build a brand presence, establish a following and stay active.
5. Consider an Ambassador Program
Sometimes a singular company blog isn’t enough; sometimes it takes the voices of others, of more established bloggers to make an impact. Consider starting an ambassador program. This can take on many forms – ambassadors receive product discounts or discount codes to share with their readers, or products to review, the possibilities are endless. However, the end result is the same; your company receives more attention, usually for free.
6. Use Directory Listings
Many sites – Google Places, Yellow Pages and so on – offer free small business listings. Your hours and basic business contact information can be shared, for free. This helps in building a search engine presence, and allows users to share reviews, boosting your company’s credibility. While not viewed as traditional advertising, it’s a way to spread your company’s message, get started today.
7. Publicize your URL
Your URL is your unique code, the way users find your website and the way you’re first represented online. It should be obvious that thought should be put into creating the perfect business URL. However, afterwards, it’s not done. Posting your company URL on everything – bumper stickers, guest blog posts, receipts, you name it – allows your brand to reach just a little further with every customer that notices it. Start plastering.
8. Consider Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Sure, it’s more traditional. But, it works. PPC advertising campaigns allow brands to advertise cautiously, only paying for customers who actually click on the ad in question. These campaigns allow small businesses to set strict parameters for when ads will be displayed, leading to a higher success rate than traditional advertising, making them worth the money in most situations.
9. Become a Part of the Conversation
Check out what’s trending on Twitter, what LinkedIn Groups are discussing and what’s going viral on Facebook. Now, find a way to make your business relevant and to insert yourself into those conversations. In doing so, you’ll be establishing credibility and expertise while increasing recognition: advertising at its finest.
10. Offer Free Samples
While it’s not the same as going to a store and handing out samples, think of what you could offer to those who visit your website and provide their contact information. Most people will do a lot for something free, even if it’s a sample. By putting a little money into this endeavor, you’ll attract new online attraction and increase brand loyalty without breaking the bank.
Advertising doesn't have to be an expensive task that’s a luxury only for large businesses. Small businesses have the same ability to advertise online, it just takes a little more creativity and a willingness to experiment.