Unless customers know about your store, product, or service, they’re not likely to give you much business. The key to raising awareness for many small businesses, is a well-crafted, cost-effective advertising strategy.
Too often, however, the word “cost” seems to stand between many a small business and that desired customer base. The most familiar and popular advertising channels tend to be expensive, not to mention creating an ad that will capture customers’ attention in today’s information-saturated marketplace.
But there are a number of highly effective options available to small business advertising budgets of every size. All it takes some research to determine whether they will indeed reach the right audience, and are most feasible for a business such as yours.
The Internet is an obvious starting point, but don’t limit your thinking to pop-up or front display ads. Search engines and social network sits offer numerous options for pay-per-click advertising. And by following search engine optimization practices (timely content, use of customer-oriented keywords and phrases, etc.), your company’s website and blog will advertise themselves by appearing higher on search result lists.
Don’t overlook “conventional” channels such as print or broadcast. In many areas, particularly small towns, newspapers and radio stations remain primary sources of news and information. Most have consultants who will also help design or produce your ad. Again, these options tend to cost more, so ask for the latest demographic data on readership/listeners.
Don’t limit your thinking to ads either. Many newspapers will run prepared news releases from your business for free. Just make sure the content focuses on issues of interest to readers. You may well have the best new restaurant in town or be a top-notch accountant, but so what? Tell them what you do that’s unique. Also offer to write a story about a timely issue or concern related to your industry. Newspapers often run such features for free, giving you valuable exposure as an expert in your field.
Finally, there’s direct mail. While this option puts your ad directly in the hands of customers, it’s essential to have a targeted, up-to-date mailing list. Broader mailings will cost more, but also increase your odds of success. You can design the mailing yourself, or get assistance from online and local printing consultants who will also help with distribution. Don’t scrimp on looks; dull or inappropriate ads are more likely to wind up in the trash or recycling bin, along with your investment.
To learn more about advertising your small business, contact Raleigh SCORE. We provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule a free appointment with our experienced counselors, go to http://raleigh.score.org, or call us at 919-856-4739.