It wouldn’t matter how great your products were or how great you may be if no one knows you exist. For this reason you must dedicate a material part of your resources to the advertising and promotion of your company and the products and services you sell. While you may have to start out with cold calling just to find interested customers, you should plan to work toward the day whe you’re able to dedicate up to a third of your available resources to promotion.
Most literature on the subject will imply you can open a business online more cheaply than a brick and mortar business. While there is some truth to that philosophy, link building, online advertising and pay per click services can be very expensive. And to be easily found online all these things will be necessary. There is much more to online advertising than simply placing an ad on the Internet and hoping for the best. The most effective advertising campaigns combine numerous interconnected elements, all of which perform unique functions to maximize the campaign’s potential. Not every online advertising campaign will have every element, but the following components of a digital marketing initiative will be common to many campaigns.
An extremely effective method of promoting your business online would be to have a link building strategy. Hiring a consultant to build links for you can be very expensive and cost up to several hundred dollars monthly. Learning to do it yourself can be time consuming and require substantial study. Links or backlinks as they are commonly called act as votes for your website and have a great deal to do with your ranking in search engines. Understanding that large companies may have tens of thousands of links, if you plan to do it yourself it could easily take years of repeated work. Ifyou use a consultant or link building company it could cost you thousands of dollars.
A few months after starting your link building strategy, you should consider the wisdom of starting a pay per click campaign, commonly know as paid advertising.
When you think of online advertising, the chances are pretty good that you’re thinking of paid search advertising. Paid search – also known as pay per click advertising, or PPC – is one of the most common and effective types of online advertising.
Paid search allows you to automatically bid on relevant key words or terms and phrases that may cause text-based ads to be displayed to users when they enter specific search queries into Google or Bing. These terms and phrases are known as kew words or keyword phrases, and they form the basis of PPC advertising. Advertisers will have predetermined bids on keywords as part of an ad auction. This ensures that all advertisers have a fair chance of their ads being displayed to users, rather than those with the biggest advertising budgets.
Keywords should be highly relevant to your business, organized and structured into logicalad groups separated by campaign type, and aligned with the correct match type in order to be displayed to the right visitors, at the right time, for the right campaign.
While paid search may have transformed Internet advertising, paid social is transforming the web of tomorrow. Social networking remains the most popular online pastime for adults all over the world, and advertisers have evolved their strategies to target consumers where they spend their time, namely on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Paid social advertising functions similarly to paid search, with the notable exception that advertisers, not users, take the initiative – advertisers must “search” for users, rather than the other way around.
One of the greatest strengths of paid social advertising is the granularity with which advertisers can target specific customers, and this principle underpins many social advertising platforms and products. Advertisers can target users with hundreds of parameters, from demographic data (such as age, gender, income, level of education, and marital status) to browsing preferences and social behavior.
Facebook allows advertisers to target users based on their level of educational attainment, and even specific schools attended. Advertisers can also target users based on the types of pages and profiles they follow, the things they buy, and the news they read. These custom audiences can be created from existing customer data (to create “lookalike” audiences of similar users) to email lists, which Facebook and Twitter can pair with their data about these users to reveal greater insights about their behavior.
Email marketing is important because it can produce an instant result – depending on what you sell. If you have a ‘click to buy’ elenment then you can see exactly how effective your email marketing campaign is. Not unlike all types of online marketing, email marketing is about money and how much you’re prepared to spend
With good email marketing you can move from touching the client to securing the sale in one easy trackable process. Better yet, if you’ve dealt with the client before, they’re already exceedingly qualified and you’re more than 90% there.
If you have a brick and mortar store or location for your business, physical signs are a great way to catch customer attention. Running a sale? Launching a new product? Offering an introductory offer? Put it on a sign or chalkboard outside of your store to catch attention and bring customers in! But signs can alos be useful on taxis and buses as well as well placed stationary signs.
Word of Mouth
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most natural, and consequently one of the most compelling methods of promotion. Word-of-mouth advertising is a result of a fantastic customer experience. When a business goes above and beyond what is expected, its customers talk. These customers serve as potential ambassadors or evangelists for your company, as their recommendation can make or break a new customer’s decision to purchase your product or service over another option. In fact, 65 percent of new business comes from new referrals.
No matter what your business’s size or budget, you can get the benefits of customer referrals through simple, smart ways of promoting word-of-mouth marketing.
Free Promotional items
Free promotional items are a good way to reach customers. Items like sunglasses, frisbees, hats, drink koozies, pens, and temporary tattoos are popular with younger generations. If you’re looking to get more customers between the ages of 20 and 40 and have a decent budget, these types of free promotional items might work for you!
Newspapers are the traditional print media, and newspaper advertisements have been around for hundreds of years. Small and new businesses accustomed to online advertising may be confused as to how offline advertising works.
Most newspapers, from large national papers to local city ones, use rate cards which will tell you exactly how much an advertisement would cost. Advertisements are measured by widths (across) and inches (deep). Newspaper ads are typically quoted in unit costs. A unit is a box one column wide and one inch deep, and is also known as a “column inch.” The total cost of an advertisement is calculated by multiplying the size of the advertisement (in column inches) by the average circulation of the newspaper and the cost per thousand people “reading the ad”.
Circulation of paper. Don’t get this number quoted by the newspaper itself, as it could easily be exaggerated. Request audited circulation numbers from The Alliance of Audited Media.
Cost per thousand. Remember, the more people reading the paper, the higher this cost will be. On average, for a full-page advertisement, the newspaper advertising cost ranges from $80 to $130 per thousand. $100 is a good rule of thumb to go by. Newspaper ads can be pricey but many papers offer introductory rates for new advertisers.
Are newspaper advertisements for you? That depends entirely on what industry you’re in and, most importantly, on your target audience. If your audience is a bit older, say middle-aged or seniors, you may benefit from newspaper advertisements. Print newspapers are most commonly read by those over 35 years of age. If you choose to try out newspaper ads, make sure that you’re tracking your marketing efforts by printing a specific landing page or tracked telephone number so you can tell which leads are coming from the newspaper ad.
Another way to advertise your business offline is to sponsor an event, team, or group. Often part of a sponsorship includes getting your business’s name and logo in a program or on a t-shirt. For a little bit of money you can sponsor a local baseball team and get your plumbing, floral, or tutoring company in front of tons of people!
Flyers and Postcards
Remember the days when flyers on bulletin boards were the best way to get your information out? Although it’s much less significant, flyers still have a place in the world today. Businesses that are in a college town or an area that gets a lot of foot traffic may benefit from flyers placed in common areas like community bulletin boards, signposts, or other common areas.
When using flyers or postcards, include relevant business information directing people to your website and social media pages so that interested people can learn more about your business. Tracking marketing with flyers or postcards is easy to do if you have a tracked phone line through a company like Thrive Hive. With a tracked line, you can place a unique phone number on a flyer and see how many calls come into that specific line.
Events and Trade Shows
A great way to grow your business is to promote it at physical events. Whether you’re going to a local community event or a national trade show, having a physical presence is undoubtedly a good way to get your business in front of potential customers.
If you have a locally oriented business, getting involved in community events like industry networking events, niche groups, or referral groups like BNI. Another option is to use a tool like meetup.com where you can meet like-minded individuals in person.
While video is the leader in story media, radio is not dead. Radio advertisements have consistently proven to be one of the most effective advertising techniques. Indeed, about 77% of adults tune into radio, and the average listener spends almost two hours daily listening to AM/FM radio (typically during their commute). Radio is also useful for international companies who may have target audiences in areas with low rates of Internet penetration. In such places, such as rural areas, radio tends to be extremely popular.
Radio advertisements could be good for you if you’re trying to advertise to a local population. With over 11,000 commercial radio stations in the United States alone, you can target your advertising very effectively. Radio ads are also beneficial because you can reach people at very convenient times. Most people tune in to radio at popular shopping times, such as driving to work, lunchtime, and driving home. This makes radio ads particularly useful to retail and restaurant businesses. Keep in mind that radio advertisement is best for simple messaging. If you have a complex message or if the benefits of your company are not easy to describe quickly and succinctly, radio may not be the best medium for you.
There is no perfect promotional mix for any company, but the items listed above for both online and offline advertising are strong possibilities that may be used for most companies. You don’t need to have them all at once but your goal should be working on getting and keeping the promotional methods that work for your company. If you can’t develop a means of keeping a regular stream of leads coming into your business, it will be hard to stay open and your company could well be on a cash flow roller coaster that has caused many businesses to fold. Thus, if you’re serious about going into business, you must make promotion an integral part of the management of your company.