Advertising Strategies for Small Business

The following is a guest post from Patrick Mackaronis, director of business development for New York City social network startup Brabble. For further reading on Pat’s ideas, please check out Home Business Mag’s piece Patrick Mackaronis Reveals Six Options for Ideal Startup Investment.

You’ve got a great business that can be very beneficial to many people. You know that advertising is the key to a successful business and the best way to promote your product or services, but can be rather costly, especially for a small business. You need direct advertising ideas that work well, and don’t come with the high price tag that big companies can afford. Here are some strategies that may work for your business.

Advertising can be as simple as word of mouth, and as varied as in print, online, by radio, and through television. Before you advertise, whatever the medium, make sure you know who your target market is so you can direct your advertising efforts in the right direction. Then you will best know the medium to advertise in, whether it be local or across the Internet, or both.

The Yellow Pages for Offline and Online Advertising

Your local Yellow Pages are still the best way to advertise, especially for new businesses. You want people to be able to find you. Many people still look in the Yellow Pages when they want to find a business. In today’s time, not only is your ad in the printed version, but it also includes your ad being available online at the main website where people all over the world can view it. Get the biggest ad you can afford, without overstepping your budget.

Some areas have more than one telephone book. Put your ad in as many as you can. A lot of the telephone companies will give you a discount for putting your ad in more than one listing or phone book.

There are also a few different types of “yellow pages” online where you can put your ad that is relatively low cost. Check out:

  • Yellowpages.com
  • Yellowbook.com
  • Superpages.com
  • Advertising.brightpages.com

Newspaper and Newsletter Advertising

Another excellent way to advertise your business is in your local newspaper. They offer box ads and advertising inserts. Some local newspapers will offer you special advertising to feature your local business. You will likely find discounts for agreeing to list your ad for multiple weeks or months as well.

If you have a new small business, do not neglect to put out a press release. These are usually free of charge, and it will introduce your business to the community. Check with your local newspaper for rates on press releases and any specials they may be running.

There are also lower cost newspapers, sometimes called Pennysavers that you can advertise in as well. These types of newspapers do not offer quite the exposure of metropolitan papers, but they are still quite effective, especially if you are a local business interested only in local customers.

Special interest newspapers can provide you with a target market as well. For instance, if you are selling medical equipment, a hospital newspaper or newsletter could be a good choice for you to advertise your business. Also check out rates on special interest websites that allow advertisers for their online newsletters.

Tip: Repetition advertising is very important. One-shot ads just don’t work very well.

Advertising through Direct Mail

Direct Mail is another option. There are a few places you can purchase mailing lists targeted to your market. If done properly, it can be very effective. You can mail promotional materials like “10% off” coupons, buy one get one free coupons, etc. Talk with your local postal office to get rates for Direct Mail, and the United States Postal Service website offers many great ideas for making Direct Mail a success.

Offering Promotions

Any time you send out an invoice, thank you card, or any other type of correspondence, put advertisement inside. Get customers coming back as well as new customers. Have them bring a friend for a discount. Put in discount coupons.

Do something a little extra for your existing customers. Give away little freebies. Customers really appreciate that, and will keep coming back. For example, you can set a bowl of candy at the checkout counter. If you sell artwork or do framing, give your customer a picture hanger for coming in or using your services.

Other Ideas

  • Hand out business cards.
  • Join a business organization in your area like your local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Vehicle advertising with large magnets.
  • Magazines and Ezines
  • Booths at trade shows

There are literally hundreds of ways to advertise your small business effectively, and within your budget. See what other small businesses are doing as well. And, never, never stop advertising. “Out of sight, out of mind” can kill your small business in a matter of time. Don’t let this happen to you.