Advertising Techniques You Can Start Using Today

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 techniques 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. 

9 advertising methods for small business

Before we go over how to choose which advertising techniques 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 technique. An excellent social media profile that stands out from the competition can be an effective and free way to advertise to your potential customers. 

  1. 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

  1. Broadcast advertising

While fewer people listen to the radio these days, podcasts have become extremely popular. If there is a podcast in your niche, inquiring about the possibility of advertising on that show may give you access to a targeted group of potential customers.

  1. 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. 

  1. Print advertising

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.

  1. Trade shows and networking

There’s nothing quite like a personal connection with someone. Attending or displaying at trade shows in your industry can help you connect with potential customers and also stay informed on how competitors are positioning themselves, which may give you some ideas for advertising strategies.

  1. Public relations

You don’t necessarily have to hire a PR 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. 

  1. Email marketing

You can run email marketing campaigns for free with platforms like Mailchimp, and email marketing, in general, continues to bring excellent ROI compared to other advertising methods. 

  1.  Referrals

You can make use of the power of word of mouth referrals by creating a 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. 

How to choose the right advertising techniques 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 techniques 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 techniques that don’t require spending up-front.

Through 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 techniques are most profitable so that you can invest more in those.

Define your goals

Some advertising techniques 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 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 techniques 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 techniques 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.


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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed.  All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.