If you are ready to get the word out about your business, one of the steps that you need to do is to select the right advertising medium where you will promote your small business.
For a small business, every dollar is precious. Small businesses do not advertise for the sake of advertising. Instead, they want to get the most return for their investment. Your advertising campaign should translate to greater sales, more profits and healthier bottom line.
While there are a number of venues where you can promote your business, you need to ask three important questions:
- Where are my target buyers?
- What is the best medium to reach them?
- Can I afford to launch an effective campaign using this medium?
An important step to developing your sales and marketing plan is to select the right media to send out your message. There are no hard-and-fast rules as to which media is better. The right media for one business may be wrong for another.
>> RELATED: The Truth about the Different Types of Advertising
Below are the relative advantages and disadvantages of the various advertising medium used by small businesses:
Pay Per Click Advertising (Search Engines)
As the Web becomes a must-use daily medium today, pay per click (PPC) advertising has grown by leaps and bounds. PPC advertisement is a form of advertising where ads are run and shown in search engines (including their partner sites). PPC ads allow advertisers to pay for visitors on mostly cost per click basis, though some options for cost per impressions are available as well.
Advantages of Pay Per Click Advertising
- Pay only for results (clicks)
- Ability to select where your ads will be shown, giving a better chance to reach target audiences
- Can generate immediate visibility, as ads go live immediately
- Ads can be easily modified, adjusted even deleted instantaneously depending on the results
- Allows for quick, easy tracking of the effectiveness of the campaign allowing you to better analyze the return on your investments (ROI)
Disadvantages of Pay Per Click Advertising
- Broad match, the default option where the ad is shown and automatically matched against a broad array of related queries, can result in ads that are irrelevant to the intended search.
- Bid price inflation as more advertisers compete for the keywords and bid the prices up for the terms
- Bidding war could also result where competitors can bid a higher amount than your bid, lowering the position of the ad and decreasing its visibility
- Click through fraud where users maliciously click on the adverts, from disgruntled competitors to website owners who earns from ads shown on their pages
- Requires constant monitoring; otherwise, outsource to a PPC management company which in turn will increase the cost of your advertising campaign
For more information, read the following:
- PPC vs. SEO: And The Winner is….
- How to Choose a Pay-Per-Click Firm That Turns Clicks into Clients
- Top Tips To Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Success!
- Pay Per Click Marketing: 6 Tips for Making Effective Use of Video in Your PPC Ads
- Pay-Per-Click Marketing – Better Quality Score Means Increased Profits
Social Media Advertising
As Web has evolved into a medium that fosters social connection, social media has experienced an astounding growth in the last few years. Social media consists of both social networking sites and social bookmarking sites and includes blogs, video sharing sites such as Youtube, microblogging platform Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon and the like.
Advantages of Social Media Advertising
- Social media sites are great for building customer relationship and offers an incredible reach and the opportunity to connect with customers in an entirely new way
- Offers a wide reach, with its potential for viral marketing
- Traffic generated can be extremely targeted
- Social media tools are relatively inexpensive
Disadvantages of Social Media Advertising
- Targeting is so low because of the diversity and breadth of audiences, resulting in low ROI as visitors do not convert
- Visitors mainly go to social media sites to socialize, and are not interested in advertising
- Traffic is typically in the learning stage of the buying process; hence it is more important to inform and teach than sell outright
- Social media can be a hard branding tool for small businesses, and it is not easy to build awareness, create appeal and generate traffic
For more information, read the following:
- Facebook Ads: From Click-Through to Conversion
- SEO or Social Media: Making the Choice
- How to Use Twitter for Your Small Business
- Social Media and Business: Challenges of Small Business Owners
- How to Use Pinterest to Market Your Business
Banner advertising is one of the dominant forms of advertising online. It entails the display of a graphical advertising unit, with the typical size the 468×60 banners. However, it also includes buttons, leaderboards, popups, popunders, interstitials, and flash banners. Banner advertising can be run for cost per impression, cost per click or even cost per action.
Advantages of Banner Advertising
- Prices (CPM and CPC rates) have gone down through the years
- With good placement and design, banner ads can deliver above-industry average click through rates
- Banner ads are good branding tools
- Easy to track with the available ad serving tools and tracking tools
- Banner ads can bring in targeted traffic interested in your offerings
Disadvantages of Banner Advertising
- Some types of banner advertising — e.g. flashing banners, popups, popunders, interstitials — are often seen as annoying and highly intrusive
- Growing usage of popup and ad blockers that prevents users from seeing the ads
- Click through rates have significantly declined, due to poor banner design to accumulated bad experiences of web users
- Oversaturation of banner ads leads to ad blindness
For more information, read the following:
- How to Create Banner Ads that Work
- 6 Tips for Surviving the Online Advertising Marketplace
- Online Advertising: Remnant Traffic
- How to Make Your Advertising More Effective and Cost Less
- How to Track Online Marketing ROI Using Cost-per-Action
Direct mail, often called direct marketing or direct response marketing, is a marketing technique in which the seller sends marketing messages directly to the buyer. Direct mail include catalogs or other product literature with ordering opportunities; sales letters; and sales letters with brochures.
Advantages of Direct Mail Advertising
- Your advertising message is targeted to those most likely to buy your product or service.
- Marketing message can be personalized, thus helping increase positive response.
- Your message can be as long as is necessary to fully tell your story.
- Effectiveness of response to the campaign can be easily measured.
- You have total control over the presentation of your advertising message.
- Your ad campaign is hidden from your competitors until it’s too late for them to react
- Active involvement – the act of opening the mail and reading it — can be elicited from the target market.
Disadvantages of Direct Mail
- Some people do not like receiving offers in their mail, and throw them immediately without even opening the mail.
- Resources need to be allocated in the maintenance of lists, as the success of this kind of promotional campaign depends on the quality of your mailing list.
- Long lead times are required for creative printing and mailing
- Producing direct mail materials entail the expense of using various professionals – copywriter, artists, photographers, printers, etc.
- Can be expensive, depending on your target market, quality of your list and size of the campaign.
For more information, read the following:
- How to Use the 3 Most Common Direct Marketing Measurements
- Direct Marketing: 10 Steps to Preparing Your Data
- Expand Your Business Through Direct Mail Advertising
- Postcard Marketing: How Much Is Too Much?
- Get More Business with Postcards
Newspapers are one of the traditional mediums used by businesses, both big and small alike, to advertise their businesses.
Advantages of Newspaper Advertising
- Allows you to reach a huge number of people in a given geographic area
- You have the flexibility in deciding the ad size and placement within the newspaper
- Your ad can be as large as necessary to communicate as much of a story as you care to tell
- Exposure to your ad is not limited; readers can go back to your message again and again if so desired.
- Free help in creating and producing ad copy is usually available
- Quick turn-around helps your ad reflect the changing market conditions. The ad you decide to run today can be in your customers’ hands in one to two days.
Disadvantages of Newspaper Advertising
- Ad space can be expensive
- Your ad has to compete against the clutter of other advertisers, including the giants ads run by supermarkets and department stores as well as the ads of your competitors
- Poor photo reproduction limits creativity
- Newspapers are a price-oriented medium; most ads are for sales
- Expect your ad to have a short shelf life, as newspapers are usually read once and then discarded.
- You may be paying to send your message to a lot of people who will probably never be in the market to buy from you.
- Newspapers are a highly visible medium, so your competitors can quickly react to your prices
- With the increasing popularity of the Internet, newspapers face declining readership and market penetration. A growing number of readers now skip the print version of the newspaper (and hence the print ads) and instead read the online version of the publication.
Magazines are a more focused, albeit more expensive, alternative to newspaper advertising. This medium allows you to reach highly targeted audiences.
Advantages of Magazine Advertising
- Allows for better targeting of audience, as you can choose magazine publications that cater to your specific audience or whose editorial content specializes in topics of interest to your audience.
- High reader involvement means that more attention will be paid to your advertisement
- Better quality paper permits better color reproduction and full-color ads
- The smaller page (generally 8 ½ by 11 inches) permits even small ads to stand out
Disadvantages of Magazine Advertising
- Long lead times mean that you have to make plans weeks or months in advance
- The slower lead time heightens the risk of your ad getting overtaken by events
- There is limited flexibility in terms of ad placement and format.
- Space and ad layout costs are higher
There are several forms of Yellow Pages that you can use to promote and advertise your business. The Web version of Yellow Pages (and its many competitors online) have been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, with many foregoing the traditional Yellow Pages supplied by phone companies. But you can also check out specialized directories targeted to specific markets (e.g. Hispanic Yellow Pages, Blacks, etc.); interactive or consumer search databases; Audiotex or talking yellow pages; Internet directories containing national, local and regional listings; and other services classified as Yellow Pages.
Advantages of Yellow Page Advertising
- Wide availability, as mostly everyone have Yellow Pages
- Action-oriented, as the audience is actually looking for the ads
- Ads are reasonably inexpensive
- Responses are easily tracked and measured
Disadvantages of Yellow Page Advertising
- The Internet has led to the decline in the usage of the Yellow Pages, as users find the Web to be an easier, faster and more comprehensive
- Pages can look cluttered, and your ad can easily get lost in the clutter
- Your ad is placed together with all your competitors
- Limited creativity in the ads, given the need to follow a pre-determined format
- Ads slow to reflect market changes
Advantages of Radio Advertising
- Radio is a universal medium enjoyed by people at one time or another during the day, at home, at work, and even in the car.
- The vast array of radio program formats offers to efficiently target your advertising dollars to narrowly defined segments of consumers most likely to respond to your offer.
- Gives your business personality through the creation of campaigns using sounds and voices
- Free creative help is often available
- Rates can generally be negotiated
- During the past ten years, radio rates have seen less inflation than those for other media
Disadvantages of Radio Advertising
- Because radio listeners are spread over many stations, you may have to advertise simultaneously on several stations to reach your target audience
- Listeners cannot go back to your ads to go over important points
- Ads are an interruption in the entertainment. Because of this, a radio ad may require multiple exposure to break through the listener’s “tune-out” factor and ensure message retention
- Radio is a background medium. Most listeners are doing something else while listening, which means that your ad has to work hard to get their attention
Advantages of Television Advertising
- Television permits you to reach large numbers of people on a national or regional level in a short period of time
- Independent stations and cable offer new opportunities to pinpoint local audiences
- Television being an image-building and visual medium, it offers the ability to convey your message with sight, sound and motion
Disadvantages of Television Advertising
- Message is temporary, and may require multiple exposure for the ad to rise above the clutter
- Ads on network affiliates are concentrated in local news broadcasts and station breaks
- Preferred ad times are often sold out far in advance
- Limited length of exposure, as most ads are only thirty seconds long or less, which limits the amount of information you can communicate
- Relatively expensive in terms of creative, production and airtime costs
Telephone sales, or telemarketing, is an effective system for introducing a company to a prospect and setting up appointments.
Advantages of Telemarketing
- Provides a venue where you can easily interact with the prospect, answering any questions or concerns they may have about your product or service.
- It’s easy to prospect and find the right person to talk to.
- It’s cost-effective compared to direct sales.
- Results are highly measurable.
- You can get a lot of information across if your script is properly structured.
- If outsourcing, set-up cost is minimal
- Increased efficiency since you can reach many more prospects by phone than you can with in-person sales calls.
- Great tool to improve relationship and maintain contact with existing customers, as well as to introduce new products to them
- Makes it easy to expand sales territory as the phone allows you to call local, national and even global prospects.
Disadvantages of Telemarketing
- An increasing number of people have become averse to telemarketing.
- More people are using technology to screen out unwanted callers, particularly telemarketers
- Government is implementing tougher measures to curb unscrupulous telemarketers
- Lots of businesses use telemarketing.
- If hiring an outside firm to do telemarketing, there is lesser control in the process given that the people doing the calls are not your employees
- May need to hire a professional to prepare a well-crafted and effective script
- It can be extremely expensive, particularly if the telemarketing is outsourced to an outside firm
- It is most appropriate for high-ticket retail items or professional services.
This kind of advertising entails the use of imprinted, useful, or decorative products called advertising specialties, such as key chains, computer mouse, mugs, etc. These articles are distributed for free; recipients need not purchase or make a contribution to receive these items.
Advantages of Specialty Advertising
- Flexibility of use
- High selectivity factor as these items can be distributed only to the target market.
- If done well, target audience may decide to keep the items, hence promoting long retention and constant exposure
- Availability of wide range of inexpensive items that can be purchased at a low price.
- They can create instant awareness.
- They can generate goodwill in receiver
- The items can be used to supplement other promotional efforts and media (e.g. distributed during trade shows).
Disadvantages of Specialty Advertising
- Targeting your market is difficult.
- This can be an inappropriate medium for some businesses.
- It is difficult to find items that are appropriate for certain businesses
- Longer lead time in developing the message and promotional product
- Possibility of saturation in some items and audiences
- Wrong choice of product or poor creative may cheapen the image of advertiser
Recommended Books and Products on Advertising:
- Online Advertising Tips and Strategies
- Marketing to Generation X
- Elements of a Successful Advertising Campaign
- How Audio Website Content can Help Bring Online Sales
- The Dangers of Using the Wrong Lead Generation Tool