Professional doing small business advertising

Don’t Waste Your Money on Pointless Advertising!

When you think of advertising, what immediately comes to mind?

Most people will think of TV commercials, billboards, flashy magazine ads, and probably those annoying pop-ups on YouTube.

As a small business owner (or future owner!), cost-control should always be on your mind. Though there are almost limitless advertising mediums you can choose from to reach your target market, the reality is many of them are just not financially feasible or very inefficient for a small service-based business.

Here’s a list of the marketing mediums you’ll probably want to avoid for small business advertising!

TV Ads

Let’s start with the obvious. As a local business, you have no place on national TV listings. Not only would a single ad slot probably cost you more than your annual income, but over 99.99% of the audience you reach will have no use for your services.

Advertising on local TV channels or listings might be more financially feasible, but the reality is that not many people will see or respond to TV ads for your services.

If you’ve done all other forms of marketing and are looking for a way to expand your business, however, then local TV advertising might be something to consider… though be prepared to pay a lot and not have much data to support whether they’re effective or not.

Instead, try this:

If video is your thing, you could create a more inexpensive video yourself and pay a few bucks to promote it on Facebook. This way, you can get very granular to the type of person who will see your video. You can also include a link straight to your website, and with the tracking in place this will give you a concrete understanding of whether video advertising is worth your time!

Video for small business advertising

Newspaper Ads

In most cases, printed ads in newspapers have very little effectiveness. Not many people sit down to read a newspaper anymore, and those that do have mostly developed a blindness to printed ads, unless it’s a very large, very unique ad. So while this can be an inexpensive option (depending on the newspaper), the odds of you receiving any clients from newspaper advertising are actually very small.

There is a flip side to this argument. If your business is located in a small town where the local paper is part of the community, or if your target market is an older clientele who may not be fully comfortable with the Internet, then newspaper advertising might be to your advantage. If this is you, then I encourage you to try it out!

Instead, try this:

While newspaper ads might not be the most effective, you should absolutely try out online banner ads. This is called “display advertising” and when done right it can bring a lot of traffic to your website for a very low cost. You can even set up your account to target users based on:

  • Their age range, gender, family dynamics or income levels
  • The specific websites they’re visiting or a specific set of key words on the page
  • Their areas of interest
  • Or all of the above!
Display advertising for small businesses

Talk about reaching your target audience!

What’s more, these ads will link straight to your website so you’ll have concrete numbers to tell whether your advertising dollars are spent wisely.

Unaddressed Ad Mail

Same as the previous few examples, the problem with Ad Mail (also commonly known as “junk mail”) is that your ads are blasted to a very large number of people, most of whom do not require your service. There’s also a very good chance that your ad will end up in the recycling bin without ever having been seen by the bulk of the recipients.

And again, Ad Mail is a tricky one when it comes to measuring the results of your advertising efforts. The question “was this campaign worth it?” should not be a difficult one to answer!

Instead, try this:

With the vast majority of your target audience, the first thing they’ll do when they’re looking for the services you offer, will be to turn to Google. For that reason, Cost Per Click Advertising (or CPC) is something every business owner should invest in.

When you do a Google Search, have you ever noticed that the top 2 or 3 results are ads? Businesses pay for their website to show up at the top of the Google rankings, and this is known as Cost Per Click because you only pay Google if the user actually clicks on your ad.

Cost per click small business advertising

Just as with display advertising, CPC can be as targeted as you want it to be. You can have ads running only for your immediate area, and only target very specific keywords that users type into Google.

Other search engines like Bing and Yahoo offer similar platforms, so be sure to advertise on the search engine(s) your audience uses the most!

Flyers & Business Cards

Physical flyers and business cards do have their place in your advertising repertoire. If you have a studio or office where you meet with clients and potential clients, a flyer outlining your services or at least a business card that displays your contact information is absolutely a good idea!

That said, posting flyers or business cards on community bulletin boards, telephone poles and other public areas is probably not worth your effort. Not only are the odds of these helping your business extremely low but, even worse, flyers on bulletin boards can backfire, making your business look cheap and actually drive potential customers away!

Instead, try this:

If community engagement is your goal, participate in community events as much as possible. Find some charitable causes where you can donate your business services, and share those events on your business social media accounts and your website’s blog.

The more you can do to actually showcase your talent to the community, the more potential clients will pay attention. Participate in a cause that your target audience cares about, and your chances at landing clients will be so much higher than any flyer will ever accomplish!

Volunteering for a good cause

The Takeaway

We live in a digital age, and that’s where most of your advertising efforts should go. Focus on online advertising and you’ll see much more return than the “traditional” advertising that most small businesses focus on. The key to doing online advertising properly is to be as specific as possible with your targeting.

On the flip side, since the world is so digitized, any opportunity to network in-person should be embraced! Take the time to meet vendors and potential clients in person. Donate your time and services to community causes that relate to your line of business. Your efforts will be noticed!

Have you had major successes or failures in advertising your services? We’d love to hear your story! Leave a comment below!

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