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The Most Cost-Effective Advertising Strategies for Your Small Business

So you’re a small business. You might be a startup or operating from a virtual office with a minimal budget and maximum ambition. Either way, the only way your company can realise its ambition is if you can create a sufficient amount of brand awareness.

But when you don’t have a blue-chip budget enabling you to spend millions on advertising, you have to find the most efficient means to get your product “out there”. That does not mean the quality of your advertising should suffer. Instead, you must get the most out of what you have — without compromising on the quality and message.

Here’s a list of some of the top advertising strategies you can adopt to be heard online.

1.   Social Media

Creating television and radio ads are expensive and require a lot of time. Gone are the days when companies had to rely solely on media broadcasts to reach potential customers. The biggest advantages of using social media are that it’s free and, with scheduling tools, requires little time to use!

Great for retailers

If you’re a retailer with a modest shop, it’s unwise to assume you don’t need social media. You could be losing out on a lot of potential customers. Before social media, people would gather and talk about a new business, where word of mouth would help it to grow. Social media is the new word-of-mouth platform. The more people who are aware of your brand, the more opportunity you have to turn those people into paying customers. For context, there are approximately 2.8 million monthly active users of Facebook alone!

Today, it’s also expected for a company to be socially active. A strong social media presence can increase your credibility, build trust and provide you with a place to gather opinion and communicate directly with those buying from you.

Inform and educate

Use social media platforms to create and share informative and educational pieces about your service and products. This is a great form of advertising, as customers can easily be engaged by a short video that explains how to use a certain product or service or answers a commonly asked question.

Additionally, if you use an authoritative and knowledgeable voice, you’ll give off a strong and credible impression of your company. Create a YouTube channel and upload well-edited videos weekly to explain a new service, or publish tips and provide expert advice. For example, if you’re running a marketing company, you might create videos giving your spin on the latest industry news. For an HR-related business, your topics might include “how to organise seminars” or “the best way to minimise your overheads”.

Create media that engages your audience and you’ll soon find that you’re getting a lot more followers and subscribers — and potential paying customers!

Tweet treats

Use Twitter to give away prizes. This might be a free product or access to your service for a specified period. Ask a question about your latest offering and ask participants to retweet the answer using a clever hashtag related to your brand or industry. This will help create awareness and generate interest in your business.

Don’t be lazy on LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows you to network with industry professionals and share industry news. Join as many relevant groups as you can and be active. Ask a weekly question in the group’s forum or provide a useful link to a recent blog on your company’s website, asking for opinions to generate engagement.

Don’t forget Facebook

You MUST have a Facebook account if you want to be taken seriously. The world’s leading social networking site is a great way to “sell yourself” and create brand awareness.

When you’re starting a small company, you’ll likely be operating out of obscurity. One sure-fire way of getting instant attention is to tag your friends in your latest update and ask them to share the details. Your closest contacts will surely oblige and you might end up being pleasantly surprised by the number of keen prospects.

2.   Web Branding

Having a professional and informative website is one thing, but getting people to your website is another. Here are a few ways you can drive traffic to your website:

Keywords

Make sure that your website is optimised for keywords related to your business. Don’t forget that your website works as a 24-hour calling card for your company. When you’re not working, your website continues to promote your services. It can feel intimidating keeping on top of the latest Google algorithm updates, but using your keywords naturally on your website and providing value will help you in the long term.

Email lists

An email list is often an underused tool is a business owner’s arsenal. Your list is full of warm leads who have specifically opted in to hear from you — so don’t neglect your email marketing strategy. Consider sending weekly reminders about your latest product and services, give them “exclusive” insights into what you’re planning next (before you announce it via your social media channels), or just thank them for their loyalty with a kind monthly message. Try to keep the content personal as if you’re talking to each individual. Try something like: “We really appreciate you for purchasing one of our products and look forward to offering you more personalised rewards in the future”.

You should always ensure that your content is useful, engaging and relevant — that means no spam!If a recipient receives useless and irrelevant content on a regular basis, they’ll unsubscribe.

Leverage locally

Don’t forget your closest customers. This is especially true if you’re a small retailer. You might place an ad for your website in your local newspapers, but you’re not limited to offline promotion. Consider using a platform like Gumtree, look out for local directories and invest some time into your Local SEO, such as making sure your Google My Business profile is accurate, which improves your visibility in the Local Pack (the prominent box that appears in location-based searches, which includes a map and a list of local businesses).

3.    Content Marketing

Whether written content, print materials, videos or infographics, every piece of content your company produces should be relevant, engaging and informative. If you produce fresh content regularly and can amaze your audience with on-point articles in authoritative publications, your ranking will improve and your customer base will scale.

Write for a magazine

Get in contact with a local trade magazine or newspaper and ask to write articles on your area of expertise. If you can create great content, readers will be drawn to your work. They’ll want to keep reading to find out more about the author.

If the publication uploads its content online, link back to your website naturally — this might send traffic from the magazine to you and it can support increased ranking on Google.

Articles and blogs

Keep your website fresh with engaged, regular blog posts. If possible, write your own articles and share valuable information that helps customers with their problems or gives them insight into the latest trends and updates — establish yourself as a leader in your industry.

The length of your content will depend on your topic. If it’s a dialled-down topic, keep it short and succinct. If, on the other hand, you’re writing an ultimate guide to a broader topic, don’t be afraid to write longer content. However, make sure that every sentence is relevant — don’t pad out your content for the sake of creating a longer blog. Use catchy, click-worthy headlines and break each blog down using sub-headings and paragraph breaks to make it easier for readers to digest your content — this is especially key for mobile users, who will likely be turned off by text taking up the entire space.

If you’re not confident in your writing ability, you might choose to hire a specialist writer or two who can create your content for you, leaving you time to focus on other areas of your business. Every time a user clicks onto your website is an opportunity to convert. They might not be ready to take that next step, but continue creating useful, shareable content and you increase your chance of turning visitors into paying customers tenfold!

Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing is increasingly important today, with 58% of all searches taking place on mobile devices. Mobile marketing is all about connecting with visitors by mobile devices such as phones and tablets. To be successful here, you need to make sure every piece of real estate on your website — such as graphics and marketing messages — is worthy of a customer’s time. Mobile customers are savvy individuals who have little time for mediocrity.

For an in-depth overview of mobile marketing, follow Kim Dushinski’s 5 Steps to a Dynamic Mobile Marketing Campaign”. In short, these five steps are:

1) Figure out what your target market wants and offer it

2) Align what your target market wants with your desired outcome

3) Choose the right mobile marketing tool for this campaign

4) Launch your mobile marketing campaign and market it

5) Track what is working and make any necessary adjustments

Remember to focus on every word in your marketing campaign. Mobile marketing is vital, with many consumers relying solely on their devices to read information from various sources.

Whether you’re going to focus solely on social media or branding or increasing the amount of content you publish, you have to pay attention to every word you write and action you take. Once you perfect your “advertising blueprint”, you can begin to monitor what works and what doesn’t. Tweak what fails and increase the output of what works. If you’re gaining great results from your social media advertising, find ways to increase this further. You might decide to tap into the lesser-known social media sites to gain new customers, for example, or invest in a small Facebook Ads campaign to reach people in your target demographic.

Whatever your decision, it’s crucial that you take advantage of all the advertising strategies your small business can afford. Remember, a good advertising strategy is the only way you can grow your business!