It’s often said that marketing budgets are one of the first to be culled when times get tough for businesses; but isn’t this somewhat counterproductive? After all, if business is quiet, ensuring your brand has maximum visibility in front of the right people should be more important than ever, right?
A solid advertising strategy from day one should help to ensure the best possible exposure for your business, communicating your brand personality, your product(s) and/or service(s) and what makes you different from your competitors.
Let’s take a look at the advertising channels available to New and Growing Companies, giving you the opportunity to mould these channels together into a multi-faceted marketing approach:
Traditional and online PR
Show confidence and craft a press release to announce the launch of your business. Within this release you should articulate the proposition of your business and what makes it newsworthy to readers. There are online press release websites out there that you can pay to have your article shared across the most influential news feeds and aggregators on the web.
Don’t discount the power of traditional PR too: pinpoint all relevant newspapers, magazines and radio stations and distribute your press release to them too. You could be forgiven for thinking that news of your business launch may not be the most exciting to some, but it’s all about timing. If you catch them on a slower news day, it’s possible your press release could fit the bill, giving your brand precious column inches.
Social media promotion
Social media has fast become an integral advertising channel for start-ups and growing businesses given its minimal cost. In fact, running Twitter and Facebook business pages doesn’t cost you a penny. It’s a very useful channel of not only ensuring previous customers remember you, but pointing more potential customers in your direction.
Social media also you to build and nurture customer relationships easier and more cost-effective than many other advertising channels. Given that it’s a lot cheaper to retain a customer than acquiring a new one, social media gives you the chance to stay in contact with customers – informing them of new products, exclusive discounts and by imparting expert knowledge through blog posts.
Keeping your social media pages up-to-date with fresh content doesn’t need to cost a penny. In terms of resource, it’s only your own time that you’ll be using, with no need to reach into your wallet.
If you’re a keen writer then blogging should come very naturally to you: it’s all about engaging with existing clients and enticing new ones with relevant content that adds value to their everyday lives, enriching your brand in the process.
As part of an integrated marketing approach, online outreach should also form an important part of advertising your business online. Outreach involves reaching out to relevant websites within your industry and customers with an influential social media presence, encouraging them to mention your brand.
You don’t tend to get something for nothing online, so to entice an individual customer to mention you, a free product review may suffice or perhaps a discount on their next purchase. Similarly, a relevant industry website may also desire something free in return. On the other hand, an authoritative site may simply require something newsworthy that they deem relevant to their readership.
Another way to make online outreach work for you is to consider guest writing an editorial piece for an external website that demonstrates your expertise in your field. If the web editor uses the article, make sure you reference your name, business name and contact details to give readers i.e. potential customers the ability to start a conversation with you.
Traditionalists will say the old advertising methods are always the best and that’s certainly still the case with competitions. If you are prepared to give something desirable away to prospective customers you’re almost guaranteed to get them talking about your business.
If it’s an online competition for instance, your social media channels can be used to advertise the competition, encouraging your followers to share and engage with your brand to be in with a chance to win something awesome; growing your exposure in the process.
Host a free event
Networking also remains one of the most effective ways to advertise your business. Word of mouth may not offer immediate gratification in terms of improving your bottom line, but it can certainly put you in front of the right people to grow your authority and credibility. Consider hosting your very own free event; it can be inexpensive and is another great way to get your target demographic in the same room.
Some people dislike public speaking, but it needn’t be daunting providing you have information to share to the audience that’s digestible and useful. Once you’ve broken the ice and spoken at one event, you may feel more confident in signing up to speaking slots at external events, allowing you to spread the word and further position your brand as a credible authority in its field.
Workspace and Club Workspace customers have exclusive access to a jam-packed calendar of events, workshops and seminars, featuring a host of entrepreneurs and businesses looking to impart their expertise. It’s a great form of self-advertising too and there’s nothing stopping you from doing something similar!
Online ad directories
Online advertising directories can still generate free exposure. Make sure you set up a well-written and engaging listing for your business in local directories such as Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Meanwhile dedicated internet ad directories such as Gumtree can also prove useful.
Paid online advertising
Paid search campaigns are increasingly used by New and Growing Companies due to the tangible results that can be achieved and the ability to completely control advertising costs in line with budgets. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising positions ad copy above, below or to the side of organic search engine results for specific keywords.
For example, a design agency would consider paying for online ad space any time searches are made for relevant keywords such as ‘UX design agency’, ‘web design agency’ or even location specific e.g. ‘design agency shoreditch’.
Much like a well-written ad for an online directory, you’ll need to write concise and engaging ad copy that best describes your business using highly relevant phrases and keywords. Clear calls to action are also a must, e.g. ‘buy now’ or ‘order a copy’.
It’s really easy to test the water with a PPC campaign for your brand. In fact, it’s possible to get a free advertising voucher from the leading search engines such as Google that allow you to play around with ad copy and targeted keywords to measure their impact and long-term potential before dipping into your own online advertising budget.
Search engine optimisation
Without a comprehensive search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy you’re making it very hard for web users to find your site. If you’re not using keywords on-site that spell out exactly what your business is all about, search engines are unlikely to correctly categorise and rank your site for search phrases that are hyper-relevant to your business.
Google Analytics is a very useful piece of free software which gives business owners a clear picture of how many visitors their site receives and the keywords visitors are using in search engines to find it.
These are just a few ways of improving your website’s visibility:
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you spot relevant keywords with the least amount of competition online, allowing you to increase your exposure.
- Get the basics of your website right on-site i.e. include page specific keywords for each individual page title and marry that with an engaging meta description which is no longer a ranking factor, but still a major influence on click-through rates from search engines to your website.
- Create and deliver a content plan for your website: whether it’s blog posts, thought-leadership articles or press releases, studies show that by creating regular content and growing your website you will naturally accrue traffic from relevant long-tail keywords.
- Optimise your Local search listings: as hyper-local searches are becoming more relevant to a consumer’s online experience, it is more important than ever to optimise your Local listings and steal a march over your competitors. Claim and verify your Google My Business Listing and add relevant information such as opening hours and reviews to enhance your presence in the local search engine results pages (SERPs).
Mail-outs and e-newsletters
Discovering new customers is always exciting, but it’s equally beneficial to reach out to your existing ones too. Mail-outs and e-newsletters can work equally well, but e-newsletters tend to be more cost-effective and offer a better potential ROI given that you can target e-shots to people who subscribe on your website.
E-shots and traditional mail-outs can feature similar content; from industry news and insights to customer successes and business awards. It’s all geared towards demonstrating your expertise and personality, further encouraging prospects to become customers and customers to become long-standing advocates of your product(s) or service(s).