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How To Advertise A Small Business

Updated on September 14, 2016

Small Business Advertising Saves Companies From Failing

There are a lot of small businesses that fail in the world. Some start out pretty strong thanks to their network, family, and friends. Others start out slow and never really get off the ground at all. As a small business owner, I know exactly how complicated it can be to keep your business floating upright. Even as a computer scientist, I've had plenty of complications with getting customers to buy into the products I sell. Everyone is worried about your reputation , which won't exist when you start, or about your sample products. You could build a toilet seat that is self-cleaning and lowers itself after use. What an idea right? You would have the most amazing new little product that would eventually become standard on every new home build and fill Home Depot trucks daily. You decide you don't want to invest or you have other things to worry about and never advertise it. Instead you rely on your product to sell itself. This is the death of your business. May the self cleaning and lowering toilet seat of the future rest in peace. Why? Common sense really. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound? Of course it does but no one will hear it so why would anyone care? Sorry sociological majors, sound creates waves and physics trumps ideology. This same logic applies to your business and your products. If no one notices your business or products then no one will care.

Small Buisness Advertising,But It's Complicated

Well of course it is. Nothing about owning or growing a business is simple. How many people would work for themselves if it was all easy. You do have options however. In this blog I will walk you through some of the "secrets" business advertisers, like myself, use to help your business advertising succeed. I won't tell you everything(because this blog would never end), but I will give you some of the free tips and tricks and discuss other aspects of paid advertising as well as targeted advertising.

Where To Start

You have a few options when advertising so let's explore and discuss them in minor detail.

  1. Hire A Company- I sell business advertising on my website. See what I just did? I advertised! For 80 dollars I sit down and discuss your business with you via phone, email, text, or other messengers like Skype and Team Speak. We discussing setting up and maintain social media pages, linking websites to your social media pages, ad campaigns, free and local advertising, cost analysts to make sure we are paying the right price for our ads and other details of targeted and general advertising. I do it all for you and can continue to in the future if you wish. You can retain my services monthly for just 60 dollars. There are plenty of companies who offer advertising services though some can be very steep in price. Shop around before you choose a company. You don't need one in your local market but you do need one who can explain and help set you up in your local market. Generally, local advertising firms are very expensive. They feel they have the drop because you live near them. There is not a service they provide that I can't and most of what they provide I will go over here. My business aims to get you started and explain the details for you so you can run a successful self advertising campaign or I offer monthly services.
  2. Do It Yourself- Advertising your business yourself is stressful but possible. Plan on spending at least a few days a month preparing yourself. Remember that your business is a tree in the woods, we don't want it to fall but we do want people to know it's there. Doing your own advertising when starting out can save money but it can also destroy your business if you get into the mindset of, 'this is easy', because advertising is a science more than anything.

DIY Small Business Advertisng

How To: Do Small Business Advertising Yourself Guide

So where do we start!!!?? First off you need to know your product and your business. What are you selling? How many other people around you are selling it? Is this E-commerce market or are you offering services like painting and carpet cleaning? What deals do other companies have. How can you beat their companies deals without breaking the bank? We need photos, videos anything we can get our little hands on and the better the quality the better the results. Do you have a website? If you don't have a website please hire someone to build you one. I offer a 3-4 basic website on WordPress for 150, includes your first month of hosting and a free domain name. You pay 150$ then 46$ for hosting and you have a website for a year. I also do tutorials on how to change information easily and how to use your site. Many developers work this way, some work for 15 an hour but be careful as they might do shotty work. You need a website for several reasons, Yelp, credibility, professionalization, SEO/targeted advertising through search engines, the list goes on. You can build one yourself at a cheap website or GoDaddy but that's really a scam, you pay a lot per month over time and you won't get the advertising or search engine results you want. You build a website to be FOUND after all. GoDaddy gets you by making you pay up to 170 dollars a year for SEO services that are less than perfect. SEO it's self is another beast and requires its very own blog. You may think you know SEO as a blogger yourself but the rabbit hole goes much deeper when you are talking about websites and a lot of the top blogger are either web developers, had their page build, or spent a grueling 160 hours learning SEO themselves. I mean grueling because the content, videos, speeches, and examples are not going to be stuff or excitement to most people. You will think 'this is redundant' but every cycle and comparison makes a new point you need to know. Any ways, if you do not have a website please work on getting one asap. Spend the money, it's not much. We can do a lot of this without a website but even if you just plumb, people are more likely to find John's Plumbing who has a website over your company.

Getting Started

Before we think about how to advertise we need to take some time to prepare. You are going to need logos, images, video and other things such as sales and deals to start advertising. YouTube is your best friend so explore taking before and after videos of a job site and editing them in. There are a ton of editing software out there but for every 30 minutes you record you will spend about 2 hours editing. Try to use high resolution photos and stay away from your camera phone. Invest in a camera that works for you. Even if you have to go to BestBuy and purchase a 800 dollar camera only to take a few photos and return it a week later. Now, BestBuy frowns upon that so don't tell them you are doing it and you didn't hear it from me. Hiring a professional is also a good idea though it'll cost you about 20-40 an hour. The advantage is that these companies have an array of tools to make you look good. They do most editing for free and can save you time. Now that we have content to make our ad look good we need to take our notes from before and compare them. If Johns plumbing is offering inspections for 75 dollars we need to beat that price. We can't always beat the price upfront but we can combo things together to offer more appealing deals. For example, we could offer an inspection and another service half off. Just think about what you could do to save the customer money and make yourself a bit more appealing. Appealing is the key theme in every advertisement because we want people to believe our products are outstanding and of great quality. That makes you look professional and people trust photos and videos over even bad yelp reviews. Don't believe that? Check out a local restaurant that has a very interactive website with photo galleries that come alive off the menu. Look at their food and think about them. Now go the reviews and filter the bad reviews. Read them, based on what you have actually seen and know about its food and presentation, do you believe these people are like you or the type that just cry about everything? Customers are going to complain and it's something you can't avoid. I have tried my hardest but I have still gotten a few 2 and 3 star reviews despite going over and above what any other company would. One lady changed the theme of her website 14 times and was upset I told her I had to charge her if she made me change it again. I did 45 hours of work for 180 dollars. She gave me a 2 star review for being impatient with her. Go figure.

Steps In Small Business Advertising Explained

In the image above I have placed a photo of a cute dog with his own tail in his mouth. I did this not because it is related to business but because I can mark up this photo to relate it to my blog. Sometimes thinking outside the box can really help you succeed. Imagine Taco Bell dogs and Lizards that sell insurance.

  • Free Advertising - Nothing in life is free! Clearly grandpa didn't know about sites like Craigslist. You should develop advertisement to target people on sites like Craigslist. This will allow you to get your name out in the local market and appeal to anyone searching the site for services or products. Just because it is free doesn't mean we want to cheap out with our advertisement. Use any videos , graphics, or photos you can to spice up the ad. Make sure you use words that are technical and have impact. Check for spelling errors and don't let your email be public on this site. These sites include : Craigslist, Yelp, Yellow pages and various other sites. There are some services out there that claim to post your ads to over 16 thousand sites for free. I can not post them here as they seem very spam like but if you look on YouTube you will find it has a very positive rating. It may or may not work so use with caution.
  • Local Advertising - With some of the steps above we have already began our journey of advertising locally. Our next step is to expand this. You put up signs and give out flyers on your business. Leaving business cards at doors is another good idea. Find ways to advertise at local stores and shopping centers, it'll likely cost you a little but you get massive coverage of the local market. Investigate getting a tensile for your vehicle to let everyone know who you are. These are usually little magnets that stick to your car or fake tattoo like film that can be easily placed on your vehicle. Show up to celebrations for holiday events and hand our cards and flyers. Let them community know you are there.
  • Targeted Advertising- This really works in several ways. It is perhaps the hardest section to explain. Let's take the plumbing business for example. People love to DIY, but the truth is that most DIY projects don't go as plan. Knowing this can allow you as a plumber to work with your local hardware store. You could even become a contractor for Home Depot or place advertisement posters outside. These are people who are definitely looking for your services. You want to present yourself to them when they need you. Online this works a little differently. You can enter in various zip codes when setting up your ad. If someone in those zip codes searches things like 'how to unclog a toilet' your business will be much more likely to appear in their search and your ad will appear on advertisements for pages they view. We have targeted our audience in there time of need and we are begging them to check us out.
  • AdSense - AdSense works, it absolutely brings you traffic and customers. The reason people fail with AdSense has less to do with AdSense and everything to do with them not understanding the math. Lets take your average AdSense ad, now the average Ad will display 20 times, out of those 20 times only 4 people will actually interact with that ad. Out of those 4 people likely only 1 will actually inquire or purchase your product. That means out of 20 ads you only attracted one potential customer. Now the math becomes essential at this point. You have to understand that paying more per ad will equal more ads that are better placed and distributed. At the same time this also means we will be spending more per customer. The secret is to find the balance that works for you. If you pay .50 per ad that is 10 dollars for 20 ad displays. Now if you get one customer , essentially you have spent 10 dollars to get one customer. Whatever profit you will make is reduced by 10 dollars. If we are selling products we are only making 15 dollars on, this make not make much sense. You may ask, why not just offer a penny per ad? Your advertisement will become of low priority. Meaning you'll still reach 20 people but instead of doing it in a day, you'll reach 20 people in a month. The key is to find the middle ground. You need to understand what a customer is worth to you and subtract whatever your ad cost from your profit margin. Losing 10 dollars may sting but getting no business at all is even worse.
  • Groupon- Everyone loves a good Groupon. Get your business out on Groupon asap. Offer services for little payoff. The idea is to spread via word of mouth. When customers come in you can offer the same services for less than groupon and make more money next time. Back to our plumbing example, if you offer to unclog a drain for 15 bucks to Groupon they will sell your services for 40. Next time a customer calls you just inform them that you are willing to do it for 30 if they call you instead of Groupon next time. You have doubled your profit for next time and got your name out there.
  • Facebook and Social Media- You can advertise via social media and it is extremely effective. Build a group or page for your business. Post all the relevant information about your business on your new page or twitter. You can even link your website and make a Facebook store. With social media comes great responsibility so make your own Facebook private and make sure you never let political thoughts or un politically correct post show up. I don't care about your party, post one thing and all those guys who say 'no pc' will not buy from you. It will ruin your reputation and destroy your business. You have been warned. Stick to strictly business and you will be fine. Find a free meme maker and run your own custom advertisements on social media. Use cute dogs or complex ideas not Barrack Obama. Let's be smart, whatever politician you hate will be gone in eight years max, your business is forever. Get friends to like your page and offer small discounts for customers liking your page and leaving good reviews. Sell yourself and build your reputation. Use clever post and tweets and stay on topic and on point. For example, posting Olympic rings and 'Your always a winner at John's Plumbing' is thoughtful and clever. Posting a photo polluted waters in Rio and 'John's Plumbing, We could fix this Rio. Need a Plumber?" is brilliant. Posting a photo of congress in session and 'John's Plumbing, We can even clean this toilet" is brilliant for a political statement but it walks into waters you don't want to be in. You may only have a few thousand democrats in your area but is your political pride worth losing them as customers? You may be gay or lesbian but is that fact worth losing tons of customers and failing at business? Weigh your actions heavily on social media, they kill businesses. Ask the Texas Mattress company who shut all of its doors because of a 9/11 ad

Well those are the tips and secrets I am willing to share. If you are interested in how to quickly build your own website using WordPress that blog is coming up next. This won't be a professional site, I won't lie to you like people in other blogs or on YouTube. A professional would destroy their blogs and videos in sales and SEO. There is a reason the professionals make 150 dollars an hour while bloggers and how to guys are blogging and chewing for click bait. Yet it will look professional and bring you some decent traffic until you can afford to upgrade. I will also be writing an SEO blog. It will go in depth and explain a lot of details but I can't possibly cover everything in one blog. It would take more like 80 blogs. We can however cover the main points that should help increase your traffic some. A lot more than GoDaddy can for what it charges.


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