There is always some form of advertising that small businesses can use to boost brand awareness and sales
Most businesses, large and small, start as a proposal to investors or banks. There is always a marketing section because promotion leads to sales. A well-conceived advertising strategy planned long before doors open or anything goes live may be the difference between success and failure to attract significant capital.
Large businesses have the resources and staff to make significant investments in advertising. Many small businesses do not, especially when building brand awareness is the most needed. Once up and running, many small businesses do not know how to run effective advertising campaigns or decide not to invest in that area.
Small businesses also encounter other barriers to advertising. They must navigate the new complexities of an increasingly diverse landscape of marketing channels, each with their language and metrics for success, which can seem intimidating or cost-prohibitive with no apparent link to a tangible return. However, no business can grow in a vacuum. There is always some form of advertising that small businesses can use to boost brand awareness and sales.
Advertising is your business making a first impression
Through advertising, you can communicate everything about your small business – location, phone number, website, products, services, and industry-specific information like menus. All the different advertising options, from a local newspaper to a social media post with an international reach, options old and new may benefit small businesses the most if applied in a strategic way that reaches the business’s target customers.
More than that, advertising is the first impression your business makes on the world. Whether it’s a tote bag you hand out to strangers or a TV commercial, you will build customer loyalty if you create a memorable experience associated with your brand. It is true that modern marketing is complex and best managed by educated and trained professionals, but for a small business that may not know where to start, here are some marketing basics.
- Establish an advertising mission objective: Every promotion has the same goal – to boost brand awareness and sales. A business should determine a specific mission objective that guides its marketing plan to achieve targeted and measurable results with favorable ROI. For example, suppose your small business is a restaurant located on a beach boardwalk. In that case, your objective may be to increase sales by a certain margin during summertime when the area is ripe with tourists and develop a different campaign during the “off-season” to draw in locals. Each approach requires a customized approach using both common and unique channels to leverage the various medium’s marketing reach.
- Create a budget: Decide what your overall investment in advertising will be. Do your research. See where and how competitors in your market advertise to get a general idea of what head-to-head ads will cost. As you work your way through the advertising basics, you will identify the traditional or digital mediums that will optimize your results. It may be many inexpensive ads or two bank-busting ones. It does not matter as long as the advertising has the intended effect defined in your advertising mission objective.
- If possible, hire professionals: An investment in an advertising agency specializing in the recommendations that comprise the rest of this list may be the best way to manage your marketing efforts. Experts will know advertising law, advertising costs, Bureau of Consumer Protection regulations, consumer protection principles, email marketing strategy, social media strategy, SEO marketing, digital marketing strategies, PPC advertising, Co-Op advertising, and other specialized marketing activities limitless potential best realized by professional advertisers.
- Determine your target audience: Until you know who you want to reach, you won’t determine the most effective and cost-effective ways to reach them. Allocate dollars after due diligence, vendor shopping, whatever it takes to maximum effect for the minimum investment. Get the demographic data. Know their habits. Know where they congregate in the natural and virtual world. Imagine going on the customer journey. The more you know about your existing and potential customers, the more personalized your approach and message can be.
- Invest time and effort to learn the various advertising channels: Every advertising avenue has its advantages, disadvantages, and cost structures. Get to know the multitude of marketing channels as well as your target audience. Think of yourself as a matchmaker, setting up your advertisement with prospective customers. What is the best avenue that will provide the maximum ROI? One size does not fit all, and a campaign does not need to saturate every possible channel to meet your objectives.
- Choose your marketing mix: There are so many traditional and digital advertising avenues to consider that it may seem overwhelming. However, once you understand your mission, have a budget, and know your target audience, it will make the process of determining your optimal marketing mix much more straightforward. Here is a list of many of the ways your small business can advertise.
- Business Website
- Word of Mouth
- Video Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Google AdWords
- Google Ads
- Google My Business
- Online Marketing
- Consumer Reviews
- Pop-up ads and banners
- Pay Per Click Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization
- Mobile Advertising
- Direct Mail
- Email Marketing
- Email Newsletters
- Blog Posts
- Trade shows
- Trade publications
- Public transportation
- Movie theater advertising
- Local online and print directories
- Novelty items (e.g., pens, totes)
- Business card
Talk about an all-you-can-eat buffet. Now choose five. That’s not a serious statement, but you get the idea. Your marketing mix may be all or one of the above. An effective marketing strategy matches the medium with the ideal customer and budget, which takes time and effort, but if you get the marketing tools right, your business will benefit.
- Develop your campaigns: DIY, ad agency, or your girlfriend’s mother. Now that you have a marketing mix, somebody, or some people, must create the mind-blowing ad campaigns that will catapult your business to success. Here is an additional opportunity to consider hiring professionals who specialize in telling a brand’s story through content marketing, digital marketing, or business marketing and have the talent and experience to develop creative ideas into intriguing advertising that will reach a wider audience.
- Choose your timing: Depending on your business type and its resources, you may not need to advertise year-round or have the money to afford to do so. Determine when an advertising campaign will have the maximum benefit to selling your product or service. It may be seasonal, or a specific holiday, or game day, or Wine Wednesday. Make your ad spend go as far as possible while achieving the maximum results.
- Monitor and measure your results: Nobody gets everything right all the time. Your advertising strategy should undergo periodic and scheduled reviews to determine which mediums and campaigns have had the most impact on your mission objective – sales. A business should get the data, analyze it, and make informed course corrections to sustain the desired level of exposure. Seek out customer feedback through customer interactions, customer inquiries, and a proactive customer relationship management strategy. Online analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics) are easy to obtain. Plow through those metrics and KPIs and see where the chips fall.
- Innovate: A campaign that works one year may not work the next. Constantly seek new ways to improve and promote your business that aligns with your mission objectives. Make sure you have relevant content, and your advertising messages are current. Customer retention is an ongoing process, and advertising is
The best way to build a brand and customer loyalty is to provide an excellent guest experience
No amount of clever marketing and advertising dollars will boost your brand and sales if you don’t deliver on the promises you make about your business. Happy customers are repeat customers and act as goodwill ambassadors of your business. High-level customer service creates a memorable and positive customer experience.