Advertising Ideas for Small Businesses: A Local Approach
There's a reason small businesses depend so strongly on word-of-mouth advertising. Advertising can be expensive—especially when your only options are cable TV, radio, and newspaper ads.
But if you're looking for advertising ideas for small businesses that can fit a tight ad budget while still delivering value, a number of new digital channels are making it possible for small businesses to get their voice heard by their target audience. These enhanced ad products have even transformed some traditional ad channels like TV, creating new, economical ways to build brand awareness, drive referrals, and connect with new customers in your local market.
All advertising comes at a price, but this isn't a sunk cost. If you choose the right advertising solutions, you can realize even greater returns on your investment, and accelerate your company’s growth. Here's a look at some of the top digital advertising solutions available for small businesses:
SEO and Content Creation
A combination of keyword research, search engine optimization (or SEO, as it’s more commonly known), and a content strategy can help climb higher in search engine results page rankings. As you become more prominent in these search results, your brand’s organic search visibility will grow.
Keep in mind that SEO and content creation aren't an overnight solution to generate new brand awareness and sales leads. But as you regularly publish content that is relevant to your business and aligned with your SEO strategy, search engine algorithms will reward your business with better search engine results page (SERP) rankings and greater website traffic.
This content can take many different forms, including blog posts, FAQ pages and other static website pages, as well as a linking strategy that connects external websites and web pages with your company's branded content.
For best results, create content that serves your audience in multiple ways, responding to different pain points and incentives to engage with your brand, while also showcasing the unique qualities that separate your brand from the other competition. Ultimately, your content should be created for the consumers you want to do business with.
Local Review Sites/Google My Business
As search algorithms place a greater emphasis on location as a context when ranking content in SERPs, a strong local presence is essential when advertising your business online. You can increase your standing in local search queries by establishing a strong presence on local reviews sites such as Yelp and Foursquare, along with other directories where user-generated reviews are used to evaluate local businesses.
Your business should also claim control of its Google My Business listing and make sure all of your business information and meta-data are accurate to your company. This includes verifying that the address, phone number, business website, and store hours are all correct. You can adjust the category of your business and other data points that affect how your target audience discovers and understands your company and its offerings. Search Engine Journal reports that you can identify your company's service area to tell Google exactly where your company is seeking customers. By establishing your local presence on Google and other search engines, you also help your company's content appear in relevant local rankings.
Make sure you keep this listing update to ensure customers aren't deterred from doing business with your company, especially when your store location, hours, or other basic information changes over time.
Creating business profiles on social media is free for businesses, and they create a direct channel for organic engagement with your followers. Your social accounts can also be used to deliver paid social ads to a targeted audience, including local consumers. Large social networks like Facebook and Instagram have access to extensive user data that can be used to develop user profiles, target the right consumers, and optimize your spending all at the same time.
While SEO takes time to deliver results, search engine marketing (SEM)is one way to leap to the front of the pack in related SERPs. Search engine marketing is any paid form of advertising that takes place via search engines, including sponsored results that appear at the top of every SERP. This can be a useful strategy if your keyword research identifies high-value keywords that are affordable for you to bid on through an ad platform.
For small businesses, SEM focused on local search targeting can reduce the competition for certain keyword phrases, which lowers the cost while also increasing the relevance of those ads. One variable to consider is the amount of competition for any given word or phrase: the more competition there is, the higher the cost will be. And be aware that Google’s algorithm can influence the cost of these bids based on whether it views you as the expert or “right” answer to a user’s query. Google has an interest in making sure sponsored ads are relevant to its user base, so it wants to see good, relevant content on your site—particularly video, if you have the resources for it.
When executed properly, this local approach to SEM can deliver a better ROI than campaigns without a local element.
Display ads have been used to reach online consumers since the early 1990's. But new targeting capabilities allows small businesses to display these ads only to customers in their local area. When you use display advertising products available through an ad network, you can take advantage of geographic targeting based around events, your business location, the location of your competitors, or other location-based criteria.
Display ads also offer scalable pricing, so your business can choose ad campaigns that fit limited ad budgets. Meanwhile, the geographic targeting ensures that you aren't wasting money on consumers outside of your target area.
Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes online, left the online store without making a purchase, and then noticed that those shoes are being advertised to you on a bunch of different websites? This is search retargeting at its finest.
While search engine marketing is a popular approach to digital advertising, search retargeting offers a number of benefits that make it a similar, but often superior, approach to leveraging paid search ads as a channel for reaching your company's target audience.
As CMS Wire points out, the value of retargeting campaigns tends to be much higher than traditional PPC, with the best campaigns earning conversion rates around 70 percent—far surpassing the value of PPC campaigns available through SEM advertising solutions. Retargeting is such an effective advertising strategy because it zeroes in on users who have previously taken an action on a past ad for your company. This action indicates a level of interest in your company, making these prospects much greater in value than even a carefully targeted online audience.
The reality for advertisers is that a single touch with a consumer isn't likely to lead to a conversion. Businesses need multiple touches, coming in the form of different kinds of advertising. For small businesses, this can be a costly proposition—but retargeting offers a cost-effective way to reach this audience, using online search to focus your ad spending on the highest-value users.
Local Associations in Your Area
When trying to advertise to a local audience, small businesses can find value in making their brand name visible at local area events. Sponsoring local events or youth sports teams can create brand awareness and familiarity that leads to trust.
Small business owners should also seek out local professional organizations, such as the small business association or local chamber of commerce, as a way to boost your local visibility and generate referrals. Seek out speaking engagements when possible, and be an active member to develop professional connections and become a more prominent business in your community.
The right advertising partner can provide access to ad inventories that help you place your brand in the perfect locations, while sponsorships should be chosen to strategically align with your brand voice and your advertising goals.
Cable television continues to expand its content offerings, and that has been a boon for small business advertising. With more channels and shows to choose from, as well as better targeting abilities and competitive pricing that beats network and broadcast options, cable is making it easier for small businesses to get in on the action and reach even a niche audience through TV content.
Cable also makes it easy to market only to specific users within your designated market area (DMA) as well as more localized zones within these areas. For example, an HVAC business providing service to the entire Omaha, Nebraska metropolitan area may want to market to that entire DMA. To reach that audience, it may choose to purchase ads on a broadcast network that reaches the entire market. But if it only serves buildings within Omaha city limits, it may prefer to advertise on a local zone restricted to Omaha addresses, rather than nearby towns and counties. In this case, cable likely offers a more cost-effective option.
Thanks to these advertising options, small businesses can use TV ads to reach consumers at a low cost and high efficiency they never experienced before. And through programmatic ad buying, the process is much less labor-intensive than negotiated ad buys that come with traditional TV advertising, alleviating the resource strain that can come with this type of advertisement.
When it comes to seeking out advertising ideas for small businesses, companies have excellent options to choose from, depending on their current advertising strategy and the specific constraints faced by their organization. Budgets can be accommodated by competitive, scalable pricing, and automated ad buying processes reduce the amount of time required to design and launch these campaigns.
In the end, small businesses want advertising options that help them reach their target audience and expand their active consumer base. By having access to more advertising products, your company can pick and choose which channels and strategies are the best fit to achieve your company's goals.