When we talk to people about advertising, big companies and brands always come to mind. Small business owners are intrigued by what companies like Coca Cola, VISA and Apple do to show off their brand. Tactics like TV commercials, print ads, billboards and the like always seem so great. The idea of reaching so many people at one time can seem like the perfect solution to get more customers.
If you follow us on Facebook you will know that we put up a little piece of trivia this week about the billboards in Times Square. Big companies will spend large sums of money to get their ads up on the giant screens with the expectation that tens of thousands of people will see their brand. For larger, well-known companies this can be well worth their dollars. However, should small businesses be plunking down large chunks of money to get their story heard? Our short answer: no.
As a small business owner starting out a new year, you may be thinking about doing some new marketing tactics this year. The idea of doing something big like direct mail, a TV commercial, an ad in a magazine or newspaper seems like an easy way to get new customers. Why not do something big to increase sales? The new customers will offset the cost, right? Well, only if you are getting your ad in front of the right people.
Marketing isn’t all about making a great ad and getting as many people possible to see it. It is about getting your message to the right people. You have to think about all of the people who will see your ad who frankly don’t care. We will let you in on a little secret: Marketing is really all about figuring out your target market and finding a way to speak to them so they will hear you.
That all might sound great in theory but how should you actually put that plan into place? Well, we have some things for you to consider. First, embrace the power of the internet. Online advertising can be great because of the targeting potential, the low cost and the quick results. (Things like print ads and direct mail can take forever to see results.) The other benefit to using the Internet is that you can change what doesn’t work and try something else relatively easily.
Our other recommendation is to not be pressured to try every cool new thing. If your customers are using social media interacting with you, get on it! If not, don’t feel like you need to use Twitter because it is “cool”.
Now, this is not to say that we don’t like advertising. We love it. We also love to help our clients with those big advertising opportunities. There is something very exciting about it all. If it makes sense, there is nothing wrong with doing say a TV commercial. We would recommend putting on your analytical hat when looking into something like that. You really want to understand how much it will cost, who is going to see it, the cost per potential sale, etc.
We would also like to give you the advice that you have probably heard in many contexts before: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. In this context we mean that you need to test. Don’t give up a large chuck of your marketing budget on something new – you should save some of your money to continue using the tactics that have been proven to work.
Coming up next week we will be discussing the latest round of changes happening with Google.