With so many options open to consumers on how they learn about products and services, a savvy marketer knows that they need to go to where their potential clients are. If you’ve done your research, ideally starting with a marketing strategy, you should have a fairly good idea of a few options on where you should advertise. Here’s a few tips on taking that information and creating a small business advertising plan.

Start with media outreach

Digital marketing is powerful and will continue to grow, but don’t put aside the tried and true media outlets for possible advertising options; remember many of these “traditional marketing” options now offer a complementary online component. Take time to reach out to radio stations, newspapers, industry magazines, and even television stations and request a media kit. These kits will give you insights on that outlet’s demographics of their listeners or readers, publishing schedules and what it costs to advertise with them.  Take a moment and really read it.  Do the demographics align with your target audience? If they don’t, pitch it, regardless of whether the advertising rates are a good deal or not.  If they do, set it in the “possible advertising option” stack. To make an intelligent decision on which channels to advertise on, get a good idea what a cost per impression (CPI) or cost per thousand (CPM) is. This will help you calculate what each potential lead may cost you. Compare this to what your typical cost per lead is from other sources. Now you can see which avenues offer exposure to your target audience, and what the cost per lead is. It’s not about getting the most leads possible; it’s about getting quality leads and a reasonable cost per lead (CPL) rate. Here are some possible media advertising resources:

  • TV
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Business publications
  • Radio
  • Billboards
  • Yellow pages
  • Direct mail
  • PPC and display ads

Do your homework before you choose a medium

Before you do any kind of paid advertising, think about WHAT exactly your ad will be about.  Are you positioning your company as a solution to a client’s problem? Do you have a clear understanding how to articulate that in a paid ad that will resonate with your prospects? Do you know where your prospects are right now?  A good idea might be to ask your current clients what magazines, newspapers or online blogs they read; chances are those are good places to find other potential clients too.

Use your chosen advertising mediums effectively

Let’s say you’ve done your homework, and for your small business, in particular, you’d decided that a magazine offering both print and a digital presence is the best-paid advertising option for you.  How did you decide this? The target audience was right, as your marketing plan showed you your potential clients are online but are impacted by print media as well. You understand what your average cost per lead is, what your typical cost per acquisition is (how much it costs you to actually obtain a client) and your average lifetime value of a client (how much they’ll spend over time).  You then looked at the advertising option and saw that rates, CPM and CPL all seem to align with those averages. Fantastic! In theory, this advertising medium is right for you IF you implement it correctly. According to Duct Tape Marketing, here are a few things to keep in mind as you get your paid ad created and executed:

  • Chose the right target audience – is your ad targeting any potential client, or are you advertising for one specific product or service in particular? Decide what will give you the best traction for this medium.
  • Attract and engage them – are you sending them to your website, a specific offer page, or asking them to pick up the phone? Be very specific in how you attract and engage your audience for best results.
  • Pick a budget and stick with it – you’re likely going to be dealing with a media salesperson. Be very specific in your budget and stick with it, especially if this is your first time advertising. You need to measure the impact of this paid advertising. More is not necessarily better. It’s still all about the ROI at the end of the day.
  • Review your ROI – when the campaign is over, look at the results. What was your CPL? Your CPA?  Did it fit reasonably well with your marketing costs overall? If so, congratulations!  If not, either talk with your media salesperson as to how you can improve the next campaign or, if it performed extremely poorly, move on.

Regardless of what paid avenues you pursue, be sure your paid advertising coincides with your overall marketing efforts to keep your messaging and brand consistent.  All your marketing efforts should be working together to bring awesome results to your business. If you’re unsure how best to pursue your marketing efforts, engage a small business marketing professional to give you guidance.

Patty Hughes
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