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17 Effective Advertising Methods for All Businesses

No matter how incredible or unique your product or service is, customers have to find out about it for your business to succeed. That’s where advertising comes in. Advertising encompasses all the ways you can let your potential customers know who you are, what you offer, and why they should support your business.

Many new entrepreneurs understandably hesitate to invest a lot of money in advertising, since it can feel a bit like gambling when you’re just getting started. There is no perfect advertising formula that works for all businesses, and all the advertising methods on offer today can feel overwhelming.

The good news is there are many ways small businesses can start advertising without breaking the bank. As an entrepreneur, by trying out these different advertising methods and seeing what works best for your business, you’ll learn where it’s best to invest your advertising budget and attention for maximum results.

17 types of advertising methods for businesses

Before we go over how to choose which advertising methods are best for your business, let’s look at the range of potential options available to small businesses. You can implement these methods for free or with a small budget, and you can always choose to increase your spending on a particular technique that is proving to be useful for your business.

1. Social media marketing

Social media marketing includes advertising on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. While you can buy ads on any of these platforms, there are other ways to use them to gain exposure. For example, conducting a giveaway contest for your product or service that requires users to share your page to enter will expose your business to new potential customers.

Maintaining a well planned out social media profile that is in line with your business branding can go a long way as an advertising method. An excellent social media profile that stands out from the competition can be an effective and free way to advertise to your potential customers.

2. Google Ads

Google Ads allows you to advertise to potential customers when they search for specific terms on Google or as targeted ads as they surf the web. You can set a small monthly budget to start, and increase your budget as you see what works for driving traffic to your site and getting new customers

3. Broadcast advertising

Radio and podcast advertising are both broadcast advertising methods that can reach a large audience. For small businesses, radio advertising can be a cost-effective way to reach a local audience. For large businesses, podcast advertising can be a valuable way to reach a targeted audience, as they can advertise on a podcast in their niche market to reach potential customers who are already interested in the topic.

For example, a business in the tech industry may want to partner with entrepreneurial podcasts to reach out to an audience of startup founders and business owners. By advertising on the podcast, the tech business can position themselves as a trusted resource for entrepreneurs looking for technology solutions to help grow their businesses. For example, the tech business could create a short ad or sponsor a segment discussing the latest tech trends and innovations, and how they can help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.

4. Speaking engagements

While people may not be gathering in person for conferences and other events very much at the moment, you might be able to participate in online events in your industry. Speaking as an expert in your field can help establish you and, therefore, your business as trustworthy and knowledgeable.

5. Print advertising

Print advertising involves placing ads in print publications such as newspapers, magazines, or local directories. For small businesses, this could involve placing ads in local newspapers or niche magazines. Print advertising is similarly decreasing in popularity in favour of digital advertising. Still, you might find great results by advertising in publications that have an audience that overlaps with your target audience.

6. Trade shows and networking

Trade shows and networking events are great opportunities to connect with potential customers and stay informed on industry trends and competitors. For small business owners, attending or displaying at trade shows in your industry can help you make valuable connections and gain insights into the market. To make the most of your time at trade shows and networking events, be sure to utilize effective networking tips for small business owners.

7. Public relations

You don’t necessarily have to hire a PR (Public Relations) expert to gain exposure. You can create your own press release with news about your business and submit it to publications and websites that may be interested in sharing the information. Nowadays, online publications need to create a large amount of daily content to keep visitors coming to their site, so many are happy to receive relevant press releases.

8. Email marketing

You can run email marketing small business campaigns for free with email marketing services like Mailchimp or Hubspot, and email marketing, in general, continues to bring excellent ROI (return on investment) compared to other advertising methods.

9. Referrals

You can make use of the power of word of mouth referrals by creating a customer referral program to incentivize existing customers to spread the word about your business. Reward them when the people they referred become customers. This way, you don’t have to spend any advertising dollars up-front.

10. Content marketing

Content marketing involves creating and sharing valuable, relevant and consistent content with the aim of attracting and retaining a target audience. For small businesses, this could include blog posts, infographics, videos, and social media posts that provide helpful information for their target customers. To ensure that your content marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to have a solid search engine optimization (SEO) checklist in place to optimize your content for search engines and reach your target audience more effectively.

11. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing involves partnering with individuals who have a strong following on social media to promote your brand, or paying bloggers to create sponsored posts about their products. For example, financial service businesses could partner with financial influencers who have a large following in the finance industry to help promote their products and services. This strategy can be effective in reaching a wider and engaged audience who trusts the influencer’s recommendations. Including influencer marketing in your advertising plan can help you reach your target audience more effectively and drive more leads to your business.

12. Event marketing

Event marketing involves creating an event or attending events to promote your brand and engage with potential customers. For small businesses, this could involve hosting a product launch, attending a trade show, or participating in a community event.

13. Direct mail marketing

Direct mail marketing involves sending physical mail to potential customers to promote your brand. For small businesses, this could involve sending a postcard or brochure to a targeted list of customers.

14. Outdoor advertising

Outdoor advertising, also known as out-of-home (OOH) advertising, involves placing ads in public spaces such as billboards, bus shelters, or subway stations. For small town businesses, an effective OOH advertising strategy could be to utilize local bus stop posters or street level advertising to reach commuters and foot traffic in their specific geographic area. For example, a small cafe could advertise their daily special and menu items on bus stop posters near their location, targeting hungry commuters looking for food options during their lunch break. By utilizing out-of-home advertising, the small cafe can effectively reach its target audience with an eye-catching and informative message, drawing more customers to their business.

15. Mobile advertising

Mobile advertising involves placing ads on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. For small businesses, this could mean sending text messages (SMS) or push and in-app messages on their mobile app to potential leads and existing customers with a special discount or offer. Another option could be in-app advertising, which is ideal for startup app businesses looking to reach their target audience through other mobile apps they might frequently use. An example would be a new workout app purchasing in-app ads with other health and fitness related apps to display their advertisements to users who have shown interest in fitness and wellness. This type of targeted advertising can be highly effective for reaching potential customers and increasing conversions.

16. Location-based advertising

Location-based advertising (LBA), also known as location-based marketing, is a form of mobile advertising that leverages GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular data to deliver ads to users based on their current location. This can be a highly effective form of advertising for small businesses, as it allows them to reach potential customers when they are most likely to be in the market for their products or services. Another location-based strategy to leverage with location-based advertising is local SEO best practices. By optimizing your website for local search engines, your small business can increase visibility to customers in near you.

For example, a local coffee shop could use location-based advertising to reach customers when they are nearby, offering them discounts or promotions on their favourite drinks. Or, a small clothing boutique could use location-based advertising to reach customers when they are shopping in the area, showcasing their latest fashion collections and tempting them to come in for a visit.

How to choose the right advertising methods for your business

While there is a wide range of advertising methods to choose from, they aren’t all going to be the best choice for your business. As an entrepreneur, you already have a lot of tasks to juggle, so managing a wide array of advertising methods at once would be overwhelming and probably ineffective. When it comes to choosing the best methods for your business, it’s best to be strategic.

Come up with a budget for your advertising methods

When creating your plan, the first step is to determine how much you are willing and able to spend on marketing and advertising. If you’re just starting out and have very limited finances, that budget may be zero. Even if this is the case, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on advertising altogether; it just means you have to choose advertising methods that don’t require spending up-front.

Through business budgeting, you can make sure that your plan is realistic and that you don’t accidentally overspend. As you spend more on advertising, you can calculate your ROAS (return on ad spend) to see which advertising methods are most profitable so that you can invest more in those.

Define your business goals

Some methods of advertising are better suited to meet certain goals than others. Before choosing your advertising strategy, spend some time thinking about what your desired results are, as with any goal, the more specific you are, the better.

Your goal might be to introduce people to your new brand, build stronger brand awareness, increase your sales and profits over time, build your mailing list, or get an immediate sale.

Let’s say your goal is to build your mailing list. You know that email marketing is a great way to stay connected to your customers and keep your brand top of mind, but your current list is short. Just saying “I want to build my mailing list” is too vague of a goal. A more specific, measurable goal would be, “I want to add 200 email addresses from interested potential customers to my mailing list.”

This goal helps you narrow down the potential list of advertising methods. For example, a print ad or PR campaign might not be the best way to go. Instead, creating a google ad that tells the potential customer they can save 20 per cent on their first order by signing up for your newsletter is more likely to get people who are interested in your product to sign up.

By making your goal measurable, you can do things like run two ads and compare the number of new email addresses gained from each one. This way, you’ll refine your ad creation and copy skills and learn what works for your target customer base.

Define your target market

When you start a new business and create a business plan, defining your target market is an important step. When determining which advertising techniques to use, refer back to your target market and even your more specific market segments. A different advertising strategy may best reach each market segment. For example, if you have a jewelry-making business, one market segment you try to reach may be millennial women interested in minimalist fashion. In contrast, another segment may be the retailers that sell to this type of consumer. Advertising on Instagram for Business may be a great B2C (business to consumer) strategy to reach your customer directly, while showing at trade shows may be a better B2B (business to business) advertising method to connect with potential retailers who might buy your designs wholesale.

Consider your sales funnel

Your ideal advertising strategy may require a few different advertising methods in order to reach customers at each part of the sales funnel. You can think of your sales funnel as the path that takes your customer from first hearing about you to become a paying customer. You can divide the sales funnel into three sections: the top of the funnel, where they first encounter your brand or business, the middle of the funnel, where they reencounter your brand through targeted ads or other means, and the bottom of the funnel, where they make a purchase or become a client.

You can get much more detailed with your sales funnel, but thinking of it in three segments is a good place to start when exploring advertising strategies for your business. Think about your customers’ journey from first hearing about you to becoming a paying customer and consider how you can best reach them at each stage of their journey.

Choosing your advertising method strategically by considering your budget, goals, target market, and sales funnel is a great way to get the most out of the many advertising methods available to small business entrepreneurs. From digital advertising to new media such as podcasts and more traditional advertising methods like print media, you have many potential ways to reach your customers. Sometimes the hardest part is starting; start small and see what works best for your business.

Maximize your advertising potential

There is a vast array of advertising techniques available for businesses of all sizes to reach their target audience and grow their brand. By utilizing a combination of the techniques outlined in this article, small businesses can effectively reach their customers, increase brand awareness, and drive conversions. However, effective advertising is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to growing a business. That’s where Ownr comes in. Ownr is a one-stop-shop for small business owners, offering everything from business registration to online minute books, and everything in between. With Ownr, small business owners can focus on what they do best – running their business – while leaving the rest to the experts.

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