Advertising have always been an essential part of marketing any business, whether offline or online. As it is commonly said, if you are doing business and not advertising you are like a man winking at a beautiful lady in the dark – you’re the only one who knows what you are doing!
So as a small business one of the challenges is how to effectively put the word out there about your business without breaking the bank. The fact is, as a small business you do not have the kind of funds that other bigger corporation have. To stay competitive and afloat therefore you need to be proactive and creative in your advertising spend.
One of the wise things to do is to factor in your advertising costs as part of your overall expenses. You must understand that advertising cost like phone directory ads, business association block ads, and print media are quite high while your budget would definitely be negligibly small.
But that shouldn’t mean that you should be left out of the advertising arena since, as you can see above, advertising is important to the growth of your business. In this article therefore we will look at a few ways you can “get the word out” about your small business without hurting your budget!
1. Be creative in your use of the internet
The rise of the internet has spawned an entire industry with it. While the late 1990s stories of the internet was mostly about dot.com companies who made a fortune and then went bust, the internet has today created a more robust, rational and lively market.
It will interest you to know that while Christmas season sales typically increase around 4% year over year for “brick and mortar” retailers, the internet has been seeing year over year increases of 30% and higher! These are figures you really do not want to ignore as a small business operator when crafting your marketing plan.
2. Make use of search advertising programs
The biggest players of the online game today are search engines, with Google, Yahoo!, and MSN leading the pack. When making your advertising plan it is important that you do not overlook advertising networks like Google Adwords, run by Google and Yahoo! Publisher Network by Yahoo!
You can use these networks to get your ads on websites in your local area or across the world for a small amount per click. What this means is that you don’t pay for advertising unless someone clicks on your ad and goes through to your site. To keep clicks from getting out of control you determine the price per click and the amount per day, week, or month you are willing to pay. A really great way to control your small business budget!
3. Advertise on small target sites
Banner or text ads on select sites can also be helpful for your small business. If there is a web site you like and you suspect that a lot of your customers would frequent that site, contact the webmaster to learn what his advertising charges would be. Perhaps in exchange for submitting a few helpful articles, the webmaster would waive your advertising fee altogether. Or, at the very least, accept any other help you could provide.
4. Set up your own website
There is no doubt that a website is an essential for any business that wants to compete profitably in today’s economy. Starting your own site will help you easily get the word out about your small business. If you are feeling intimidated about starting a website, it will interest you to know that, while it does help to have someone who can guide you through the set up process, you don’t really need some geek knowledge to establish your site. Your set up cost might just be within the range of $100-$125 per year for hosting and domain name fees. And if you can get a web professional who will help you optimize the site for the search engines that cost could be easily gotten back in a matter of months.
5. Article marketing
You can also generate plenty of attention by writing articles, just like the one you are reading now. No, you don’t need to be a professional writer, but if you can clearly convey your thoughts and present a plan of action for your readers [such as: buy my product] you can get what amounts to be free advertising. How so? By submitting what you write to article submission sites for wider dissemination. By including helpful links in the author resource box you can cause search engines to make your web site much more visible as your article gets reprinted on other web sites. Furthermore, readers will perceive that you are an “expert” and will likely inquire to find out just what you are all about. You can call this, “small business advertising on the cheap!”
If you consider this carefully, you will come to see that you don’t have to be strapped by high advertising costs as a small business owner. You simply need to be creative in your use of the internet since the internet offers several cost effective ways of informing people about who you are, what you do, and where they can find you.