A small business need not advertise; of course, in a marketplace where no one else is screaming; but in today’s competitive business world, most of the small businesses cannot ignore advertising if they want to survive. Often times, advertising and marketing are the terms used interchangeably; while they have significantly different definitions. Advertising is an activity, which introduces one’s product or service to the marketplace; whereas, marketing is a process aimed at promoting one’s brand and attracting the market share for that brand.
Online and offline are the two primary categories of advertising.
Offline Advertising Ideas:
1. Have a Unique Selling Proposition to beat the competition.
2. Develop a brand and position it in the marketplace.
3. Joint-venture with other related businesses to share the advertising budget.
4. Conducting workshops is a proven way to generate leads.
5. Leaving business cards and flyers in locations where the target audiences gather is one of the ways to spread the word.
6. Media advertising is useful when a business wants to reach the masses in a short time.
7. Directory listings and Yellow Pages are not as effective as before, but still work for some businesses.
8. Direct response advertising is appropriate when working on a tight budget and want to bring-in sales right away; a classic example of this kind of promotion is discount-coupons.
9. Pin-up flyers on the message boards and magnetic business cards are two economical ways of Advertising.
10. Businesses with huge budgets always take advantage of billboards on highways and intersections.
11. When one is on a budget, park-bench and bus-shelter signs are good options to advertise.
12.A little creativity can create a buzz about the business without spending any money; press releases and publicity can help achieving this goal.
13. Advertise on public transports like buses and cabs when appropriate.
14. Car wraps, magnetic signs, bumper stickers and window signs are few of the popular advertising methods.
15. Provide space for celebrations and gatherings in the business location to introduce the business to targeted groups.
16. Loyalty rewards convert customers into repeat visitors.
17. Many businesses use sweepstakes and drawings to build a database of customers for their future promotional efforts.
18. Become a member of local groups and special interest groups to generate leads.
19. Adopt a street or highway and involve in activities of local community to build goodwill.
20. Sponsor local-events and participate in trade shows.
21. Consider a Birthday-Club or something similar to get sign-ups and promote sale.
22. Discounted gift certificates can bring-in more sales and new customers.
23. Many businesses use direct mail and coupon books as an effective means to reach masses.
24. Launch something new as often as you can to grab attention of the marketplace.
25. Promote business with sale-events and customer appreciation days.
26. Sidewalk signs, yard signs, window signs and scrolling messages are some of the ways to get more walk-ins.
27. Use indoor displays, audio promotions and slide shows to increase sale.
28. Give away samples, present promotional products and use human billboards to increase traffic.
29. Take every opportunity like Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Valentine’s Day and Thanks Giving Day to promote business and improve customer loyalty.
Online Advertising Ideas:
1. Develop a website or blog to direct the targeted traffic; and optimize it for search engine ranking.
2. Take advantage of Google Maps, Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing, and similar services to drive traffic to the website or blog.
3. Participating in forum discussions, commenting on blogs, writing reviews and articles can help rising in search engine rankings.
4. Use free classifieds including craigslist to attract potential customers.
5. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked-in, Digg, and Google+ are some of the social media and bookmarking sites worth paying attention to.
6. The smart phones have gained popularity like never before; tapping that market is inevitable for business growth.
7. Online newsletters and email marketing are two cheap traffic generators.
8. When backed by proper research, online banner advertising can be as effective as print advertising.
9. Yahoo Answers, Just Answer, Answer Bag, and Wiki Answer are some of the sites where one can position oneself as an expert and build backlinks at the same time.
10. Hosting teleseminars and webinars will help conveying the message to a huge audience.
11. Include customer testimonials to build credibility.
12. Trust-Guard and Secure Sockets Layer certificates on the website can be used to gain customer trust.
13. Businesses with advertising budgets should consider investing in Pay-Per-Click campaigns.
14. Use scripts like Tell-A-Friend to bring more traffic to the website.
15. Split testing and tweaking different elements of the advertising campaigns can help saving advertising dollars.
Whether online or offline, build an effective advertising strategy and spend the budget efficiently. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Do not fall a prey to impulse decisions. Consult with experts, learn from experience and always check the results along the way. Creative without strategy is called art; creative with strategy is called ‘advertising.’