Internet search advertising has been hailed as a great equalizer for small businesses. No longer limited by the size of print- and broadcast-oriented advertising budgets, a one-person company has as much chance of reaching customers as its multi-national counterparts, yet at a fraction of the cost
One of the fastest growing tactics for capitalizing on Internet searches are pay-per-click (PPC) ads, which pop up as Google or Bing results when potential customers type in keywords and phrases related to a topic. Facebook and other popular social networking sites also offer this feature, whereby you as the advertiser pay a small fee every time your ad is clicked online. The fee may be a flat amount, or one that varies depending on the expected and actual number of clicks.
The PPC approach is particularly attractive to businesses seeking to raise their profile locally, and if many other businesses offer the same service. A search using the terms “car repair” and your city is likely to generate a lot of results. But a “sponsored link” from your firm will be displayed more prominently.
The leading outlets for PPC include Google AdWords (www.google.com/adwords) and Microsoft Ad Center (bingads.microsoft.com), which supports ads on Bing and tends to be less expensive. Facebook’s advertising section (www.facebook.com/advertising) provides guidance for developing a PPC strategy to attract its users.
Don’t overlook other PPC opportunities. Most major newspapers and television stations now have strong online websites offering a variety of online advertising options. If your market isn’t geographically located, consider trade association websites and profession- or industry-specific social media sites that offer search functions to members and visitors alike.
But as with any type of advertising budget, plan carefully before you spend. Compare providers and make sure they really do reach the customers you want, and that the per-click fees actually deliver the promised value. Resource Nation (www.resourcenation.com/business/pay-per-click-ppc) provides free PPC price quotes. Be sure to consider whether the fees include additional services, such as management of your account and other features.
To learn more about marketing your small business on the Web, contact Raleigh SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business.” Raleigh SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 60 local volunteers who provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule an appointment go to Http://raleigh.score.org or call us at 919-856-4739.