If you’re a small business owner with a modest budget, you may be wondering where to begin with advertising. Although the advertising world can be overwhelming, the good news is that you know your business better than anyone else. Here are a few things to consider when creating your advertising plan.
1. Define your goals
You may think your goal is to increase visibility for your product or service. But take it one step further. You don’t just want people to know about your company, you want people to become customers of your company. In order to covert people from an audience to your customers or clients, you’ll need to solve a problem for them.
Either your product is something they need or would like, or your service offers a convenience or skill that is sought after. As you define your goals, you’ll also need to define your potential customer’s problems and how you solve them.
Then, this solution will need to be communicated in your advertising.
2. Learn where to find your audience
Reaching your audience is important, but do you know where to reach them? If you’re a DIY woodworking company, would a roadside billboard work best or would you be better off targeting bloggers who like your medium?
Advertising is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You must tailor your content and choose your advertising platform based on where your customers are most likely to be reached.
3. Do your homework before committing to an advertising method
If you’ve defined your goals and think you know how to best target your audience, you’ll still need to do some research before signing a contract or sending money to a partner. When working with a local advertising agency or freelancer, do your due diligence in calling references and searching the web for reviews.
Be wary of too many 5-star or “perfect” reviews online. While many companies really are that good, sometimes, a perfect record is forged with fake reviews. You don’t want false advertising for your company, so it’s best to avoid any companies or individuals you suspect may be using these tactics. You want real results from real people.
And you want to know how your advertising partner’s clients felt about their bottom line results.
4. Stay on brand
Although almost anything goes in the advertising world, it’s important that you know who your company is and the importance of staying on brand. What may work well for a beer or entertainment company may not translate to your industry. Knowing what’s appropriate in your field is as important as knowing where to reach your customers.
Many advertising agencies or contractors can help you develop a brand for your company if you don’t already have one. It’s critical to keep the messaging consistent throughout all your campaigns.
By keeping your brand front and center, customers will remember it when they’re looking for your product or service.
5. Learn how to do some things yourself
Let’s say you have a small business that does a lot of online sales. If your business has active social media sites, you may want some help branding those, but if you’re proficient at using the platforms you may want to interact with your customers on your own.
Be aware that the world is watching you. Keep everything very professional. If a customer or client has a complaint or leaves a bad review, acknowledge it, and then try to take the conversation into a private setting.
Above all else, avoid getting into an argument with your client or customer on a public forum. Even in private, this is very bad for business. But one rude or nasty comment from a business owner online can haunt your company’s reputation forever.
6. Be realistic about your goals
If your company is brand new and you’re just getting into advertising, don’t think you’ll become the next national sensation overnight.
Building a quality business with reoccurring and loyal customers takes a lot of time and effort. Every “overnight success” is actually years in the making. You probably won’t have new customers or clients knocking down your doors in the first week of your advertising campaign. But over time results will come.
7. Commit what you can afford to ongoing advertising efforts
Instead of running one or two random campaigns, consider your financial situation and determine how much you can afford to have an ongoing campaign or contract with an advertising agency.
By consistently advertising your business, you’ll drive more traffic. People are more likely to try something they’ve heard about or feel they are familiar with so getting name recognition for your company is often the first step in an ongoing campaign.
After you’ve gained the trust of your advertising audiences, you can move on to promotions, events and other advertising campaigns for more specific things.
8. Make use of free resources
Things like Google Maps, Google Locations, Yelp, and Facebook pages are free to create. If you have a physical location or website for your business, you’ll want to make sure it can be discovered through Google, Yelp, Facebook or other prominent social media sites.
To create a listing in Google, visit the Google Business page  and create your listing. You’ll need to verify it, but once it’s done your place of business will be easy to find and review on Google. For Yelp, the process is similar. Visit the Claiming your Business page on Yelp  and follow the steps to get your business up on the site.
Remember that when you begin advertising, instant results are unlikely. Advertising should always be part of your long-term business strategy to establish and maintain awareness of your brand.
To keep customers and clients coming back, you’ll need to stay top of mind. Consider rewarding your loyal customers with some sort of incentive to keep using your small business, and focus on customer service. Word of mouth is still some of the best advertising of all.
About the Author
Woodworking is one of my true passions, and I love to share this passion with other interested people on my website. At woodworkboss.com, you’ll find woodworking tips, free project plans, buying guides, and inspirational posts.